Tag Archives: border

A Rainy Season Odyssey

14 Jun

clouds descend over mountain gorge with waterfall visible in distance. Sapa, Vietnam.

View from a bus window #1. Mist, mountains and waterfalls, near Sapa, Vietnam.

The start of the monsoon season in Vietnam’s northern highlands is a beautiful thing.

The rivers turn turbid and golden, rapids smearing the surface like toffee coming to the boil; young rice seedlings and their older siblings stipple paddy terraces in varying greens; waterfalls appear everywhere you look.

Old women from the hill tribes carry leaves for making hats, sporting bright wellies over their leggings. Fireflies switch on their mating lights at night. Dramatic storms with sheet lightning pass over, sky darkening like a giant’s hand cast over the sun and after the rain, the earth has a rich, deep scent of settled soil and teeming life.

The nine-year-old was looking forward to our first proper rainy season journey. As he put it, “We might as well stay up all night. I’ve always wanted to stay up all night, and I’ve never done it. The bus the next day leaves so early we might as well… Plus, we’ll save sooo much money on the hotel room…” Continue reading

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Welcome to Cambodia!

29 Jan

There is something particularly unwelcoming about the phrase, “You give money now.”

Particularly when spoken in a Khmer accent. The language isn’t tonal, so you lose all the mellifluous softening you’d get in Thai, there’s a different set of vowels and consonants, a lot of plosives, and, what with the khaki and the nurses waving thermometers at you to check for swine flu, it all gets a bit Bridge Over the River Kwai. Continue reading