left on walnut

Python

While we were touring the Cambodian fishing village on the waters of Tanlé Sap, a father and his two kids motored up to our boat. The older boy sat in the front of the sampan. The younger son sat in the middle, with a live python draped around his neck. After everyone shot some photos, we tipped the dad a couple dollars and off they went.

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Tonlé Sap Fishing Village

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On New Year’s Day, our biking group took a boat ride through Tonlé Sap, a fresh water lake in Cambodia. The lake is home to a fishing village.

Monkeys at Angkor Wat

Just as we were approaching the ancient temple of Angkor Wat, a monkey stole Cindy’s bottle of water right out of her hand. At the side of the path, he opened it and had a drink. He may be resourceful and smart, but he doesn’t know how to share.

Pink Stripes

These little convenience stores are all over Vietnam. I first noticed the pile of pink striped fabric on the floor of what might be a convenience store in Vietnam.The little open-air factory was abandoned when I was there taking photos. Then, next door, I noticed a little clothing factory behind a chain link fence where the dresses were being made.I've had dresses like this: big, comfy, cotton knit. I've not thought much about where and how they were made. All was quiet in the open-air factory. The women were on a lunch break, I suspect.Sweatshop 2-2In a few minutes, one lady came back to work in the convenience store. Her job was to trim the threads close to the seams.chickenA chicken, tied up outside, wore the same striped fabric, but in green.

The Faces of the Bayon Temple

Some two hundred stone faces gaze down from the walls of the Bayon Temple in Cambodia. Historians say the faces might be the likeness of King Jayavarman VII. He was the Buddhist king responsible for building the temple when he ruled the Khmer Empire. Cambodians love this king. He built “resting houses” which now are hospitals.

Others say the faces are of a Buddhist god of compassion. Either way, the faces seem serene.

The Jungle Temple

Trees grow up through the stones of the temple of Ta Prohm. We arrived just as the sun was setting on this mythical place.

Jungle temple 2

 

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat was the first of four temples we visited in Cambodia. Angkor Wat-2-3 Carvings grace the stone walls of Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is an expansive temple city, dedicated to the Hindu god, Vishnu. Inside the city walls of Angkor Wat. The blocks of the walls are laid without mortar. I'm not sure who this is. She rests in an inner sanctum of Angkor Wat. Bas-relief frieze detail in Angkor Wat.

Graduation Day in Vietnam

Like much that matters, graduations are the same in Hanoi as in our town. Stand tall, the future is yours.

Cashews

Biking on a day in the mid-90’s, the water stop couldn’t come soon enough. After pulling off the road, I drank half a bottle and poured the rest down my back to cool off. John, one of our guides in Vietnam, planned water stops at places of local interest. We’d watch men mend fishing nets one day and we’d talk to a local farmer the next. Once we walked through a shady grove of latex trees. Breaks meant drinking water, finding a WC, and taking a few photographs. At this stop, young women were hulling and skinning cashews.

If I’d thought at all about how cashews were produced, I would have guessed groves grew somewhere in California and Kraft Foods operated processing plants that hulled, roasted, and packaged them. But that’s not so. We import them. Our imports primarily come from Vietnam. They’re processed, at least in part, through forced labor or under harsh conditions.

One fan under the corrugated tin roof hardly moved the air. The hullers wore masks and long sleeves because oil from the husk is caustic and burns the skin. These women might make $5 a day, according to John. He didn’t say how long the days were.

I walked back out into the mid-day sun and biked away. Pouring more water down my back didn’t make me feel cleaner.

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Biking Vietnam

Our bike trip through Vietnam was booked through Vermont Biking Tours. We flew to Hanoi in mid-December to meet eight other couples. Some folks were in their 40’s. One man, an incredible cyclist, was 78. Most were in their 50’s. Two men in our group served in Vietnam during the war.

Biking started when we arrived in the central region of Vietnam, near the towns of Hue and Hoi An. After a short flight south, we biked through the Mekong Delta. Along the way we saw temples, pagodas, markets. We visited Ho Chi Minh’s house and watched water puppetry. We saw Da Nang and bamboo boats. We saw small temples within rice paddies. We saw thousands and thousands of mopeds and scooters. We visited the heartbreaking Củ Chi tunnels.

My thanks to Cameron for most of these photos. It takes a rider more coordinated than I to snap photos as we pedal along.