left on walnut

Tag: nature

Water is Life

Cambodian WellAs in most developing countries, Cambodians have little access to clean drinking water. We saw grass huts with jugs of cloudy water. Maybe the water was for washing. I suspect it was for drinking, too. With the help of Phal, our guide in Cambodia, Tom and I donated money for a well to be built in a Cambodian village.

Phal sent us a photo of the new well. It’s located in Tanorl Trorng, a village in the Soni Kum district, 25 miles east of Siem Reap, Angkor. Phal thanked us with this note:

We would like to say thank you for all your good heart. 
Your donation make our people life difference.
Water is life.
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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.

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

 

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.

Hạ Long Bay

We began our trip through Vietnam with a night on Hạ Long Bay. A four hour drive east of Hanoi, rice paddies and rural villages finally give way to the town of Hạ Long. Hạ Long Bay, otherworldly in its misty silence, seems insulated from the rest of Vietnam, tucked among mythical limestone islets. Traveling to Hạ LongFishing boat Kayaking Hạ Long Bay Fishing the mist Sunrise on Hạ Long BayVietnam's flag

afternoon at the zoo and other good things about my birthday

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A new purple water bottle.

New hair bands to tie back my hair during yoga.

A free “Nutty Professor” birthday smoothie at Four Seasons.

Drinking my smoothie with Tom and Vicki.

Roses, from Tom. A beautiful surprise.

A warm fall afternoon.

Holding Tom’s hand while we walked through the zoo.

His patience, as usual, while I took photos of animals.

Talking to Katie while I opened the new hair dryer she gave me.

A voicemail from Reva wishing me happy birthday.

Lots of birthday wishes on Facebook.

An unopened package on the dining room table.

Knowing Sarah and Eric will call.

Opening the package when they do.

The Elephants of Jaipur

Elephant bulls aren’t kept in the elephant barn. Cows are more cooperative.

During British rule, elephants were put to work clearing the very forests from which they’d been captured. Timber was in huge demand for the new rail system of India.

By the time the British left, much of the forests of northern India were destroyed. Since then, poachers and tuskers and population growth have all taken a toll. As farming expands, elephants have little habitat remaining. Elephants in the wild now ravage farmers’ fields to find food. Villagers chase them back as best they can to save their crops.

Elephants are still domesticated for heavy construction. Others give rides as tourist attractions.

Our best choices preserve the land and the integrity and stability of its animals. These elephants may or may not have better lives than their cousins in the wild. I’m certain they have better lives than most livestock raised and killed in cruel conditions in the US.

We did not ride the elephants of Jaipur.

Spring Buds