I was planning a post called Chasing Spring
It would have been a, retrospectively, funny story about us sleeping in the car in a snow storm and shivering our way through France and Spain to Portugal, where the shivers continued and were probably the worst we've every experienced. Because most Portuguese don't believe in central heating. (Can't afford heating? Think any kind of heating is wimpy and not worth the trouble for, uuuh, just three short months? Or four- or five??). Whatever. Even a week feels too long, when you're
Stuffed to the brim with all things travel-
Joy and frustration and fascination, and with no room for more, we left Thailand for one of our favorite places of all, at home with family and friends, to regroup- and mainly, re-pack! Gladly, we came for the company, not the weather, (it shock froze us with a 30°C temperature drop....)
For all the ambivalent press Thailand has been getting, and for all we’ve learned about the culture behind the perennial “show a smile- any smile” front, (thanks Elio dC. and
It was just idle Sunday evening curiosity that attracted me to an article called Going Nowhere: Ten tips for expat Stayers who want to stay well. It's probably one of those boring listicles bloggers use to pad their pages, I said to M. But it was a bombshell! All the faint warning bells, the unsettling thoughts, the disturbing reserve we'd been feeling this time around in SE Asia, were brought into sharp focus by the article: What it takes to stay- to stay well- somewhere on the planet, away
It took a heck of a lot of coffee time
-and strong spirits (in every sense of the word haha)
to find the love
for the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. But we did it. We fine-tuned our attitude, learned to navigate the impossible waves of completely lawless traffic
and to turn a blind eye
to unrelenting touts and sneaky scammers
We savoured the novelty
beauty and deliciousness
Vietnam had to offer, and came to terms with its sometimes confusing
or disappointing, and erstwhile tragic aspects
The Flower Hmong, Black Hmong, Giay, Dao, Nung- magical names,
Our sliver of a boat is wedged between two bushes midriver. The swift current creates the illusion of an armada of treetops gliding silently upriver. Between these islets dolphins play, tantalising us with glimpses of a glittering fin or a blunt prehistoric head. I can hear them breathe- Same like people, the captain says. It feels like some sort of initiation into the fast disappearing magic of creation......
There were other animals too, overland
but not really that much going on
on the road less
What a roller coaster ride Cambodia is turning out to be! We soak up the wonders of sublime ancient workmanship
and are on the receiving end of countless lively Khmer smiles- and almost simultaneously, we baulk at the horrors of recent history and at tales of desperate poverty and iron-fisted corruption…..
The temple cities of Angkor outshone any expectations we might have had. Words just don’t do them justice (at least mine don’t). M’s camera does a better job
With a little cyber help from Amsterdam, of all places,
“I tramp a perpetual journey
My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff cut from the
woods......” (Walt Whitman, Song of Myself)
We left Switzerland for SE Asia five days ago. It already feels a lot longer- andit feels just right.
In other news- Incomparable Paul Theroux has a new book coming out and an impressive interview in the Wall Street Journal. I think I'll get myself the book for my birthday, (which is today by the way *hint hint*), although
Leaving Portugal’s inspiring landscapes
and homey comforts
for busy booming Switzerland
was *kinda* hard. I mean, who wants to leave a country where homemade soups and buttered toast fingers figure prominently on restaurant menus, and run-of-the-mill fields are home to exuberant displays of wild flowers and squadrons of pollen-drunk honey-bees…
Not to mention the peaceful river beaches large and small that are scattered all across the country and along Portugal’s sparsely populated west coast
and a capital city as elegantly laid-back as Lisbon. (Even M of the Wide Open Spaces didn’t
Wispy early morning air softened our arrival on bare, volcanic Lanzarote
which a few hours later, I was secretly starting to call another ol’ heap of rocks.... My gaze skimmed indifferently over black ash fields, past tortured twisted lava badlands and up treeless conical mountains, yearning for forest green....
Were relentlessly dry blue skies clouding my view of an island famed for its artful landscapes? I badly needed César Manrique eyes!
We were the very first visitors of the day, at Cesar Manrique's last home on the island. And because everything looks exactly