Monday, January 28, 2013

For the Five Years Directly Before Today...

Happy Anniversary Nellie!

Here are some of the songs that have shaped our time together:

"We are not two, we are one."

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Kuala Besut, Malaysia

Kuala Besut is the quaint port town where one catches a boat to the Perhentian Islands from the main land.  This is where Steinbeck's California coast meets the Orient. 

Multicolored clapboard houses, the ever-present smell of intermingled boat exhaust and fried fish, and toothless septuagenarians perusing the latest news.  

We strolled through the town on our way out before hitching a ride down the coast and thought it was pretty charming.

Random nice guy offered us a ride for a little spot of ringgit.  We were able to make a few stops along the way and explore a bit more of the Malaysian coast line.

We visited the north-eastern coast of Peninsular Malaysia in July 2012. You should go there too...

Monday, January 21, 2013

Life on the River: Can Tho and the Floating Market

Can Tho is the "Great City of the West", the red-raw beating heart of the dust-choked, somnambulant Mekong Delta. Residents once boasted of having the whitest rice and the freshest water in all of Vietnam and a recent trip to Can Tho found us embracing life on the river, bobbing up and down one early morning on a boat ride to the floating market. 

A floating gas station...

Timber for housing foundations and construction scaffolding.

Fishing by the river.  Many of the major ports in the Delta (especially Soc Trang) once had a thriving Chinese population before the expulsions of 1976-77.

A hot bowl of soup to start the day.

Foreign direct investment (which still makes up a huge proportion of Vietnam's economy) has led to the construction of huge new bridges over the Mekong and has eased the traveler's burden.  The trip from HCMC to Can Tho now only takes about four hours by land. 

Smaller, personal boats buy their harvest from huge wholesalers (like the one above with an entire boatload of watermelons).  The re-sellers then take their diverse bounty down the smaller canals to sell to individual homes along the riverside.

The wholesalers flaunt their wares by tying an example to a long bamboo rod.  The boat below is flying the great flag of pumpkins!


The effervescent and knowledgeable university-student tour guides and the boat-gal.

The blue door leads to nirvana.

By mid-morning, the sun is at its height and the river empties as people head to shade and their much-deserved nap.