Thursday, September 25, 2008

green hope buds

I am really grateful for this summary of some really important issues that up until now, I’ve honestly had a bit of trouble grasping.

What’s more is that, since I took an interest in the environment about 20 years ago, I haven’t felt very optimistic. Of course global warming has since become apparent and the growing urgency is awakening many fellow globe dwellers from their apathy.

But now (again, thanks to this article) I am heartened to realize that the big players, the money makers, are starting to see that action is in their best interest too. And since they are the holders of so much power, my pessimism has been given fair notice.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

fall brings summer

Several days ago it finally cooled off in Tokyo and we shut off the airconditioning, which had been set at 25-27C since July.

But sorry mes amies back in colder parts of the globe, when I say cooled off, I just mean the humidity diminished and the sans humidex temperature dropped below 30C. It's felt to me like early July in Montreal, though today it's raining and "only" 24C thanks to typhoon Sinlaku.

I'm personally most looking forward to 'June', by which I mean October. Fall is my favourite season in Japan. Not only is it warm and finally dry (after the terrible humidity of real Tokyo summer, aka Hell), but as a bonus it extends through December and into January. Like a Canadian October-November, except it's sunny most of the time. February's the only month that is actually winter-ish, in that the temp falls below zero on the odd occasion.

Anyhoo, how dull am I to be bragging about the weather? I wanted mostly to post to say I Flickred a bunch more Hanoi photos for anyone interested in having another look at that particular set. I've got to get around to weeding through the next batches, particularly the Mekong Delta stuff because that was one of my fav parts of the trip.

Aside from that, I'm busy editing a big report for a UNU centre and generally cooking my buns off -- feeding A breakfast lunch and dinner and G just breakfast and dinner. I've been incorporating more vegetarian dishes into our routine as I've decided to go entirely V when we get back to Canada (here it's too hard to find/expensive to buy most seeds, supplements, etc.). I've got so many enviro-allergy issues and ethics-related thoughts that it's time for me.

What else? Tomorrow we're going to see a concert -- yahoo, we never seem to go out! Aran has become a bit of a jazz lover of late so we're off to see Roy Hargrove. And then, to reminisce, we'll be heading to a Vietnamese festival in Yoyogi park on the weekend. That reminds me, I should post the recipe I invented earlier this week for faux Pho (or cheaty Pho anyway).

Okay, enuff rambling, I gotta throw some lunch together before the breadwinner gets home.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

from H to H to H

August 13-16

Hue is oh so hot, worse still for a Canadian to bear than Hanoi because here the tropical sun, in cahoots with the killer humidity, shines with a vengeance. But the Citadel and royal tombs are worth two sweat drenched days, evoking glory long past with peaceful desolation.

Then it's on to Hoi An, a tourist's dreamland that bustles with foreigners but hordes of Vietnamese tourists too as resto after resto, myriad cafés, tailors and traditional craft shops beckon. The local food is scrumptious and A develops an addiction to a noodle dish called cao lau, while I'm loving the glutinous rice pancakes stuffed with small shrimps.

Despite our disinterest in shopping (read: we still must carry our backpacks for 2+ weeks), we are nonetheless captivated by the magic and energy of this quaint and well preserved lantern-strung town.

We saw: Thien Mu Pagoda; the Citadel; Tu Duc, Minh Mang & Khai Dinh tombs; Hai Van Pass; Lang Co beach; the Marble Mountains; Cua Dai beach; Hoi An's Japanese covered bridge; plus local temples, historic buildings & markets

We ate: lots of fruits such as passionfruit (I particularly like it as juice!), dragonfruit, rambutan, sugar apples (not apples at all), and longan; at two spectacular restaurants, Miss Ly's Cafeteria (she's a hot mama!) and the Cargo Club.

We drank: lots and lots of water, more wine, more café sua (it's awesome iced too), etc., etc.

Monday, September 08, 2008

the colourful city-village

This is one installment in what will likely be a multi-post summary of our voyage.

Aug. 9, 2008

Hanoi's Old Quarter is a colourful city-village that teems with a million motor scooters zipping in all directions through roundabouts and seemingly chaotic intersections on streets lined with shop after shop, each topped by narrow faded colonial houses featuring wood shutters and/or laundry hanging on a wrought-iron wrapped balcony.

Seated on tiny wooden stools or brightly-hued mini plastic chairs, Hanoians spend their days on the sidewalks where they share meals, drink coffee, conduct commerce, gossip, play games, and vie for space amongst parked scooters, shop racks, restaurant tables, large trees.

And though the main feature of the Quarter's soundtrack is the constant tooting of car & moto horns, the pace is not actually fast--the short honks are in fact solely polite advisories as motorbikes weave in and around cars, trucks, pedestrians--and moto riders (usually 2-4 per moto) are able to chat with those on other scooters, eat, make cell calls.

Meanwhile, cyclos (pedi-cabs), the occasional tourist pedestrian and vendor women carrying twin baskets dangling at the ends of long poles balanced across their shoulders, negotiate the fringes of the streets, skirting broken gutters, large potholes, garbage, and hopping on and off available bits of sidewalk when need be.

Dive right in, don't be shy.

Today we saw: Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and the stunning Temple of Literature
Today we ate: fresh spring rolls among many other things
Today we drank: caffe sua aka Vietnamese coffee with sweet milk, and our first (but far from last) bottle of Dalat wine

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