Hong Kong harbor at night

---------------- and in the daytime, other things memorable about Hong Kong: We didn't spend too long there to really get a feel for the city. We had consistently dramatic sky/lines at sunset, courtesy of the ever-present smog. It's a great shopping destination, and has a vibrant culture and arts scene. What's visually distinctive about HK is the immense billboards advertising anything and everything--EVERYwhere. Even on the harbor, the skyline's marred by monstrous advertising signs on buildings. Back home it's like something's lost when a stadium was But I love the food, and the gamut is available here for any price range. We ordered blind usually, having absolutely no idea what anything was and unable to communicate with the super … [Read more...]

Kuala Lumpur: Culinary destination!

KL is one of my favorite places to pass through. As in most Asian countries, legislation aims to protect the dominant native population against immigrant ethnic influence, sometimes to disastrous effects, and constantly keeping its politics on edge. This charged convergence of ethnic and religious mixes (it was my best introduction to the rich history and diversity of Islam) is what--to me, as a tourist--makes Malaysia such a fascinating destination. And this is where I have always the best food experience! This time we had a true foodie take us around. Malaysia is a premiere culinary destination in SE Asia, and boasts a confluence of truly powerful taste sensations, blending many ethnic influences: Indo-, Malay-, and Chinese. Many … [Read more...]

Kuala Lumpur: Pulao Langat Seafood Center

“Where the heck are we going?” We were bumping along on this dirt road in the middle of a palm oil estate trying not to run down goats and the occasional child on a tricycle. Even though there was a huge sign at the start of the road stating restaurant 3km, it’s still kind of ominous. In the back seat we had two travellers from Cambodia wondering what on earth they got themselves into. And then suddenly the road opens into a clearing where a large boat with hanging tanglongs sits in one corner and the main restaurant at another. The view was wonderful. We are somewhere where the river meets the sea. The scene is languid, relaxing with even a tranquil boat puttering in the distance. I quickly grabbed my camera to go down by the rocks to … [Read more...]

Night over Phnom Penh

Check this out, a very close meeting of Venus, Jupiter and the Moon. Photo courtesy of Bill Tucker, from 01 Dec, 2 days ago. . … [Read more...]

… far from roads in rural Kampot

This 18 year old mother was taking her baby to the health centre. This facility, built just last year with funds from a German NGO (can you tell it's new?), is relatively far from the primary and secondary roads and can't be accessed by vehicle. This is the main transport option in rural areas. You can't see the motorbike pulling this remorque (it's basically a wagon that can hold up to 35 Khmer). It's a horrible bumpy ride (I feel this way and I'm healthy, imagine a pregnant mother about to deliver riding this contraption up to 15km to get to a skilled birth attendant!). Development efforts --ours and a host of others working in MCH (Maternal and Child Health)-- sadly haven't sufficiently implemented a continuum of care to respond to this … [Read more...]

Go to Hanoi for the food and Halong Bay

I swear everyone is an entrepreneur in Vietnam. There's a palpable sizzle of business-orientation in the air. If you want to get a vibe of the Asian economy in real-time and see what the emerging markets buzz is all about, come spend some weeks in Vietnam! That said on the individuals level, overall Hanoi wasn't as interesting as I expected (granted, I was there for a workshop, and spent just a few days exploring the city). It's most definitely progressing at a rapid clip, but it remains unapologetically provincial. Old temples and historic sites seem either non-existent or not yet identified, restored and put on the map. It gave the impression of an architecturally simple, culturally uncomplicated and unpretentious city-- despite the high … [Read more...]

Vietnam: Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island in three days

Halong Bay on the Gulf of Tonkin, as with other popular destinations, isn't without the attendant scams and traps awaiting travelers. Getting the most out of any trip is a matter of arriving with an open mind. Expect to haggle and stay flexible; you'd be surprised how far patience and good humour goes. I normally avoid package tours but it's unavoidable here, unless you have the luxury of time and nettle to dicker your way onto a private boat with the locals (it's legally not allowed). As of May 2007: 2day-1night boat trips ranged the gamut of $30 for a small junk to $180+ for an Emeraude cruise. Know your traveling style and philosophy, as there are benefits to all options. For example, the bare-bones trips offer a glimpse into local life … [Read more...]

beyond Phnom Penh.. in Kampong Cham

Photos courtesy of K KellyWe just wanted to go for a walk to get some air, after two whole days indoors through several ceremonies. We attended a Buddhist ceremony in Kampong Cham for a friend's grandmother who passed away 10 years ago. This is the province with the beautiful women, according to many Khmer men in Phnom Penh. It might somewhat be validated by the recent legislative crackdown on weddings to foreigners, to prevent trafficking of women. Apparently Korean men looking for a nice obedient wife tend to look for one to buy/marry in this province, until several miraculously escaped abusive relationships in S Korea and reported it upon return. But I digress. This couple were guests at the event, and we inadvertently followed them … [Read more...]