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...]

frequent flier? how to not shrivel up dry in that cabin

Life is a journey, especially for expatriates. Keep the destinations coming, but traveling takes its toll with dull lifeless hair, skin and nails, after being trapped in a tiny seat with a cabinful of people literally breathing down your neck in recirculated air (especially on our 15++ hours annual leaves, uggh!). Give yourself some TLC in-flight and look glam at the arrivals gate with these quick tips for gals on the go: DO PRE-FLIGHT • start / keep a list of must-bring items-- in purse, carry-on and checked luggage. save these lists so you don't leave important things at your destination. it's also a good record that can help with last-minute shopping when luggage got lost • ask for and save samples of your fave products for … [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...]

A common sight

Photos courtesy of H. Prytherch This is a common sight along the roads of Cambodia-- a patient riding on the back of a moto on the way home, hooked up to an IV. There's large demand for IVs and injections in the country, and people seek it out whether or not it is medically necessary. The problem of overuse of drugs/IVs is more prevalent in rural areas where educational levels are much lower. We asked some people in the communities when they typically get IVs, and we were told it's good for making the body strong again after many days out fishing or working in the fields. We're told they can be bought at any pharmacy or clinic, and the colored IVs are better because the medicine in it makes it more potent. (Unknown to them, oftentimes … [Read more...]