Xiao Chen thinks it’s great how much I’ve travelled, that I speak Chinese and enjoy Chinese food. What truly stunned him was my explanation that in western food potato is considered a staple (starch) food more than a vegetable.
August is rainy season in Cambodia. There was rain most days, some thunderstorms and flooding. I love it here. It is, the perfect blend of familiar and foreign. I speak survival Khmer – enough to get around, not enough to converse.
Broome is a town of about 15,000 people on the northwest coast of Australia, in the Kimberley region. I enjoyed both expaneses of blue – sky and sea – plus Cable Beach, Gantheaume Point Beach, Courthouse markets, and stargazing.
I made the mistake of going to a shopping centre by myself. I was overwhelmed by everything! Strangers speaking English to me, English all around me, new products, familiar stuff repackaged, self-service checkouts – and SO many choices.
I enjoy chatting with Xiao Chen while he drives me home. We have real back and forth, and both learn from each other. He asks questions and is happy to answer mine, and he follows up my comments with questions and genuine interest.
The travertinepools, waterfalls, and wide swaths of limestone bumps, stretch up to 70m across (230 ft) across the valley. The mix of greens – dark pines, bright deciduous – fascinated me. Equally stunning were pools of clear bright aqua water.
The highest point of the pass was 4,000m (13,000 ft) above sea level; the sky was a stunningly deep blue and we saw yaks grazing. The base of the mountain was 3,200m (10,500 ft); ten minutes in a cable car later we were at 3,500m (11,500 ft).
Occasionally I meet a driver who has interesting things to say, and a good attitude, so it’s fun to listen. This was one of those times. I don’t share all his opinions but I’m always interested to learn more about another person’s perspective on life.
I made a decision a while back to tell stories, not write a newsletter. While there’s room for improvement, I’m getting better at looking around me for stories that others may find interesting – stories that show a little of what life looks like here.
Siem Reap is 6 hours from Phnom Penh, on small two lane roads through rice paddies, wooden stilt houses, palm trees, haystacks, and skinny cows. We stopped to buy snacks – fried tarantulas, bugs, pineapple, green mango with chili salt.
Moganshan is a mountain resort area near Hangzhou. It was settled by missionaries in the late 1800s as a retreat from the hot, humid Shanghai weather. Wealthy foreigners built sprawling houses with tennis courts and swimming pools.
The scenery along the Li river was wonderful – huge bamboo stands along the riverside dwarfed the boats, then were dwarfed by the karsts that reared up behind them. At times, wisps of cloud swept along the karsts – it was so beautiful!