Saturday, January 31, 2009

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Carrie and I took a 3-day trip to Halong Bay, which included an overnight on the Imperial Junkboat (it was not junky) and hotel in Cat Ba city. It was all lovely. Cycling, kayaking, walking, a small village, caves, lunch on the beach with only 2 other tour members (there were four of us on the 3 day tour, an unusually small group) filled up our days there.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Deep ache.
I close my eyes.
Chest vibrating.
Is it just a feeling?
I’m holding my breathe.
For something real.

Friday, January 23, 2009

TET -- Vietnam's New Year! (And Saigon)

Saigon, aka Ho Chi Minh City. The land of speeding motorbikes. Luckily we escaped in one piece.

Cu Chi Tunnels, one of the major sites of the French and Vietnam Wars

On the way to Hoi An via not one, but TWO overnight buses. I won't explain how we were so lucky.

So happy to be sleeping on my plastic seats.

Hoi An, Vietnam- a small town about halfway between Saigon and Hanoi full of artists and old buildings. It was completely untouched by all the wars, so buildings are over 300 years old.

Carrie at the cafe. Super food.

Lotus flower candles on the river.

Singing, dancing and fireworks on the river stage.

The Hoi An River, where they had all the signs of the Chinese zodiac floating among candle-lit lotus flowers.

Hoi An silk lanterns, we were pretty blown away by their simple beauty-- and $5 each.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cambodia, chronologically backwards

Anyone else want tarantulas for dinner? I didn't either. But it seems you can't NOT eat fried tarantulas when they're at your table. I decided to deem spiders, an insect, "vegetarian." The legs were not so bad. The body. Sick. It just tasted like it was dirt or mold or something. The texture was all wrong to me! But please try them for yourself! Don't take my word for it.

Mmmm. Aren't you hungry?

Phnom Penh. Very French feeling... but the poorness of the country transcends all. It's hard to shake off.

The Shop. We bought the melti-est in your mouth chocolates here. Some for Mark, some for us.

FCC, Phnom Penh. That's Foreign Correspondent's Club. Off that balcony is where our host, Mark, decided to stay in Cambodia way back in 1994. With that view of the rivers, I can't say I wasn't tempted also.

View outside the FCC of the National Museum in the distance and a building yet to be restored in the foreground.

Mark and Carrie at Comme le Maison. Wins "Best Croissants in Asia" award.
Phnom Penh Post office. Circa 1894.

The pig with the biggest balls I've ever seen running next to our tuk-tuk on the way from Kep to Kampot. If only it was in focus, you could have the same visual pleasure that we experienced. Very sorry. Very.

Mr. Tuk-tuk from our seat. Carrie and I rode about 45 minutes. Maybe the most enjoyable transportation experience I've had in SE Asia, as we rode through the Cambodian countryside in the open air, bouncing along in the tuk-tuk with no shocks.

Cambodia countryside.

Beach on Rabbit Island, where we spent the day doing nothing but laying on the beach.

Sweet little cows out for a walk and a bite to eat.

My beautiful sister on the boat ride to Rabbit Island.

Our boats to Rabbit Island from Kep.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

From my slatted bench...

Sitting on a multicolored slat swinging bench overlooking the Gulf of Thailand, the sun warms my lower legs. An occasional light breeze whips open magazines lying about. The murmer of Kmer in the distance intermixed with the garden hose watering plants. Forks ding plates and pans meet water in the kitchen, where ladies cook over an open flame whatever you choose off their menu. Earlier, Carrie and I shared a veggie curry with rice, which took about thirty minutes to arrive but was filled with fresh green pumpkin, potatoes, baby corn and green beans. It was as divine as any we’ve ordered.

A motorbike rumbles quietly as the boy-driver directs it up the hill. Coasting down again, I wonder where is this guy going over and over again? After one trip to the top, he and another man loaded a box with books and what not, then took off again.

I’m in the town of Kep, in the province of Kompot, in the Kingdom of Cambodia.

The rooster crows. Again and again.

What is that knocking noise? Are they building a house?

We wonder what the true history is on this tiny fishing village, which was described as “a ghost town until recently” by our guidebooks. I wanted to ask the boy who checked us in (the only one who speaks English at our guesthouse, “Vanna Bungalows”) but it is hard to know what questions to ask. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. The Cambodian people smile with their eyes. The tiniest tots will say hello from their parents’ hips. Yesterday one little boy blew kisses at Carrie and me after waving to us first with his mini hand.

It’s hard to believe what horrors most of those people have witnessed. And what is the role of the United States in their history? We’ve been to museums, read books, watched “The Killing Fields” and yet I guess you never really understand these things, but you have to try.

I wondered today, “When will I get sick of Asia?” I’ve been here just shy of two months. I’m still trying to understand things. The joys of a new bug, a successful bus ride, a visit to the post office, a new taste happen daily. I’ll keep traveling and learning until the joy disappears.

Cambodia Photos

Carrie and me on our slatted swing bench in Kep, Cambodia.

Dinner in Angkor Wat. Yum.

I don't think I ever loaded my car to maximum capacity. I thought I did. I didn't. This car we passed on the dirt road on our way to Siam Reap. Carrie was sleeping next to me.

Angkor Wat at 5:30AM... when everyone else was waiting outside for their sunrise photos, we were the only ones inside except for a monk and a little boy. It was like the temple of doom...

Sunrise at Angkor Wat.

Market in Siam Reap... love the ladies sitting on the tables. That was the first time I've seen that.

S-21 Toul Sleng Genocide Museum--a harrowing museum, unlike any I've experienced.
It's where 20,000 Cambodians passed through between 1975-1979 with only seven survivors. Part of the Khmer Rouge cleansing of educated Cambodians and foreigners in attempt to create a worker-peasant Cambodia, this museum was left largely intact as an exhibit of the worst side of human nature. As we walked through, there were wooden doors banging in the wind, blood stains on the floor, and beds and torture instruments on display. It had been a school, converted to a prison.

View from one of the cells in the prison.

Hotel le Royale, where refugees hid out for a while before moving to the French Embassy.

View from Mark's balcony.

Mystery baked goods. Posers.

Happy Endings.