July 24, 2009
Jack always says: “If something (I say) can be taken more than one way, I mean it in the best possible way it can be taken.”
If that is to be taken further, I should be pleased??!!
Phnom Penh -
No sh*t, there I was….. We were in a pub called “Walkabout”. Not a bad place, cheap beers, pool tables and all the women in the place (myself excepted) were “free-lance” working girls.
What does this mean???? They are not in-service to the pub. They pay the pub nothing, the pub just lets them be there, play free pool, and drink water – the rest is up to the guys who come looking for them. The men buy drinks and food for themselves and the girl(s) of their choice.
So…we stopped into this place on the recommendation of a Phnom Penh local and new acquaintance. It was “Joker Night” – basically a drawing with even cheaper beer – good way to pack the place!
We’d just finished dinner, and Jack was feeling overstuffed from the great food. We had ordered a couple of beers, found a seat at the bar when Jack excused himself to get some air. Mish mushkela – I sat at the bar, chatted with the bartenders and watched the spectacle of girls and Johns.
The girls found me to be quite a spectacle too. I was the only non-Asian, non-working girl in the entire place. Mish mushkela. As I sat and sipped my beer an older (perhaps mid-50′s to early 60′s) gent stood next to me at the bar to order a drink. [cue the music, maestro]
This “gent” (who looked something like a cross between WC Fields and Archie Bunker) mumbled something to me that I didn’t catch. I smiled and returned to my beer.
“Gent” said something again. I ignored it and asked the bartender something inane to start a conversation.
“Gent” said something to the girl standing on the other side of me that caused her to fairly vibrate with excitement. As she bounced up and down, she leans to me and:
- points to “gent”
- points to me
- points to her
- makes a triangle/circular shape in between the three of us
- lines her two index fingers together, separates them, puts them together, separates them, puts them together
Go ahead – try the motions…. I’ll wait…..
What do YOU make of it???
Yup – she was telling me that “gent” wanted a three-way with her and me! LOL!!
The funny thing is, I wasn’t flustered, I wasn’t upset, I wasn’t angry – I just flat out said, “NO.” Not harsh, just “NO”.
She burst out laughing and repeated my “NO” and “gent” skulked/sulked out onto the patio.
I was still chuckling about this when my gallantly protective (NOT) husband returned and asked me what I was laughing about. I recounted the story – punctuated by the girl waking behind him, giggling and saying “NO” – and what does my hubby do????? Bursts out laughing. Thanks!!
May 11, 2009
I have been horribly remiss in posting more about Zanzibar. I manged to post FROM Zanzibar, and then only a SINGLE photo once I got home. I apologize but am not sorry. Things are quite hectic.
So…here goes. We were in Zanzibar for about 10 days for Spring Break. One word: SPECTACULAR!!! Hot, hot, hot, humid, humid, humid. Beautiful white-sugar-sand beaches, fresh fish every day, reading fiction and swimming in the Indian Ocean. We spend 7 days on Kendwa Beach at the northern end of the island.
After a week of relaxation we headed to Stone Town and the Zanzibar Coffee House for a three-day stay. (The photo at the bottom of the page is the room we stayed in – the Macchiato!) We continued our slothful ways in Stone Town, doing little of the usual tourist stuff. We DID, however, manage to break the high-gravity and book a trip to the Zanzibar Butterfly Center & Jozani Forest (southeast of Stone Town).
We spent half-a-day hiking in an old-growth forest of red mahogony and gum trees with (at least) 5 different types of palms and figs. We saw blue monkeys WAY up in the trees, crab spiders too close for our comfort and Zanzabari Red Colobus Monkeys that wanted to play with us. We also went to the mangrove forest on the West side of the island.
I really enjoyed taking pics of the plants, flowers and critters.
Zanzibar – Flora & Fauna
The beach, the sunsets, the doors were also great fun
Zanzibar – Views
April 13, 2009
We are sitting on Kendwa Beach on the northwest tip of Zanzibar. We just finished lunch – I had a lovely fresh fish chiapati – and I have a few pictures.
I have been dreadfully remiss in my posts. I will try to go for short and more frequent, rather that posting a long and (in my imagination, anyway) well crafted update.
Zanzibar is GORGEOUS. It is an island (former independent sultanate) off the coast of Tanzania. It is known for being a former major hub of the spice trade, and also the slave trade.
We have, thus far, experienced or toured none of the historical aspects of the island – we have been on the beach.
Enjoy the photos!
January 12, 2009
They are, by no means, masterpieces (although some of them are works of art!) but I put together 3 pages of Paris photos. Click on the links below to see each batch.
- Paris Walks – loads of photos of all kinds of things we saw while meandering the City of Lights.
- Paris Museums – most of these are from the Rodin garden and the Louvre. The light for the photos in the Rodin garden was awful, and these photos are as good as I could get without completely “retouching” them.
- Paris Cathedrals – Sacre Coeur and Notre Dame, mostly vista and detail shots.
The photos are a mixture of point-and-shoot and XTI, so some are better than others (All the ones from the Catacombs are terrible, but I like them anyway!). Hope you enjoy a little of our view of Paris.
December 22, 2008
Our Eid holiday in Paris (8 days in early December) was lovely and COLD. Gozi and I have not experienced anything verging on *real* winter since moving to Cairo. Paris in December was quite a shock to our systems!
Yes – although the photo is TERRIBLE, that is SNOW. We walked the Rive Gauche to Musee d’Orsay in the SNOW!
Our decision to go to Paris was fraught with uncertainty, as it was MUCH more expensive than we were hoping for, but gozi had never been. He wanted to go for 2 main reasons: (1) go get map on me, (2) for the food. I was in total agreement on (2) AND I could get good wine. Sounds good enough for me – so I bought my baby Paris!
We had probably 100 things we wanted to do/see. We did perhaps 10. That is actually a reasonable ratio for Paris, especially in the winter, and when both travelers are spent from work. We took the Car Rouge around on the first day, to get an overview of the city, and where the major monuments were.
As you can see from some of the pictures, we got to the “BIGGIES”.
We also ate and drank like royalty! Best meal of the week: Aux Vin des Pyrenees near the Bastille – a HUGE slab of foie gras to DIE for, gorgeous wine (from the Pyrenees, of course), boeuf bourguignon for me and a softball-sized rump steak for gozi. All followed up by lovely cognac and armagnac.
Worst event of the week: breaking my baby toe the morning we were leaving Cairo!
OUCH!! Ice, tape and pain killers made all the beautiful walks in Paris well worth the inconvenience.
Best find of the week: La Gueuze – Belgian beer specialty and great food, two blocks from our hotel.
More photos forthcoming – when we return from our Asia trip (boy is life HARD!).
I have multiple “back blogs” to post….it will probably not happen in the next few hours. We leave for nearly 3 weeks in Malaysia and Thailand in a few hours.
Paris blogs and pictures will have to wait until we return. Adjunct to the discussions of Paris, my post about Egyptian wine will have to wait. Those of you who have HAD Egyptian wine will not be too worried about this delay!
We are off for food, Asian culture, Asian art, and diving. We will spend Christmas in Kuala Lumpur – we will raise a toast to the ?East – Seattle, ?West – Cairo. New Year’s will be celebrated in Bangkok. We will be diving in the Andaman Sea before returning to Cairo.
We will probably be “offline” for our holidays. I hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday/break season. And remember, no news is good news – even if you don’t hear from us ASSUME we are happy, healthy and having fun.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
October 11, 2008
Ramadan is over, the Feast (Eid) is now ending after 4 days of celebration, and a national holiday (6 October). Many AUCians “get the hell outta Dodge” during the Eid. In years past, we’ve been to Morocco and Lebanon. Friends have been to Thailand, Madagascar and other exotic places. For us, this year, we had certain criteria -
- First and foremost, we DID NOT want to be in a country that was ALSO celebrating the Eid. You may ask, “Why?” Well, just as in Cairo, other predominantly Muslim countries essentially shut down for the feast, making vacation and sight-seeing very difficult.
- Second, we wanted a direct flight. The Eid was only a few days long, and we didn’t want to spend most of the time traveling or recovering from jet lag.
- Third (and this was really just for Jack), we had to try to go somewhere that I had already been, but he hadn’t. Again, you may ask, “Why?” Well, he wants to “catch up” on the countries visited tally – in which I am currently comfortably ahead.
We chose Athens. Greek Orthodox, direct flight, my last visit was in 1987. Check, check and check. And for me, as with our trip to Rome, the years have been long enough that it is practically a new place for me. We planned virtually nothing, and simply got on a plane and left. It was a much needed break for both of us.
HERE are a few select photos from the trip.
June 28, 2008
After 2 weeks of relaxation in Barcelona, we flew to Rome for 4 days of being REAL tourists. I had not been in Rome for over 20 years (OMG – how is that possible??), and this was Jack’s first visit, so we had things to do.
Rome was MUCH hotter than Barcelona (although cooler in temperature than Cairo, it was much more uncomfortable due to the humidity). We made a valiant attempt to see as much as we could in four days. Unfortunately, both Jack and I were “out-of-shape” for the tourist blitzkrieg. The heat, humidity and hills took their toll on us!
The day we arrived, we met TV&KC near the Spanish Steps for a glass of wine and a nosh. The four of us had a beautiful postprandial stroll to the Trevi Fountain before heading off on our separate ways.
This is one of the cool perks of this job and location. How often does anyone get the chance to say, “We flew to Rome and met XYZ for a drink and a stroll….”? I know I am incredibly lucky to be able to do it – and it makes me giggle to see it in “print”.
Day 2 in Rome was scheduled for a FULL itinerary of tourist stuff: Colliseum, Forum, Pantheon. We got a very late start, and only managed the Colliseum, due to the heat.
Day 3 was mellow, in that we used one of the Hop-on-Hop-off busses to get around the city. We stopped at the “Bocca de la Verite”, Plaza Venezia, Plaza Navona, Plaza de Popolo. Again it was hot, so we would stop for a few pictures, something to drink and a short walk around each area before getting back on the bus. We drove by the Circo Maximus and the Forum, and the Vatican, but did not have the energy to explore either place. In the evening, we went back to Plaza de Popolo for an outdoor “show”. It was similar to the one we saw in Lisbon 9 years ago. There was scaffolding and guy wires around the fountain on which acrobats performed “dances” in mid-air. There was also a stage around the fountain, where dancers performed short choreographed pieces in shallow pools of water! Very odd, surreal and fun!
Day 4 (our last day) we went to the Vatican museums. I *had* to see the Raphael “The School of Athens” fresco. It is one of my all-time, Renaissance favorites. I was nearly in tears (really!) to see it in person!
And, of course, we were both excited to see the Sistine Chapel. I cannot express my awe at the frescos of the Chapel, and my horror at the general behavior of the masses of people in the Chapel. There are signs everywhere, and guards “reminding” everyone that this is a religious place – BE QUIET and no pictures or video are allowed. I think Jack and I were the ONLY TWO PEOPLE who DID NOT take any photos in the Sistine Chapel. EVEN THE NUNS WERE TAKING FLASH PHOTOS. I was horrified and offended by people’s behavior, and I am not Catholic, or even religious!
After the Vatican, we went to another religious structure – the Pantheon. This was a bit more in line with my ideas. It has survived for over 2000 years by serving as a site of worship for “all gods”. The interior is still beautifully covered in marble and inlays, and there is nothing quite as captivating as the “Oculus” in the ceiling, allowing a single beam of natural light to illuminate the interior.
More Rome photos HERE.
June 27, 2008
We just got back from nearly 3 weeks of PURE vacation. This is very rare for Jack and me, since he has a “real job” and does not get the buckets of vacation that academics are afforded. THIS was a REAL vacation – neither of us did a single iota of work. It was incredible. And needed.
Thanks to my family (THANK YOU EVERYONE), we rented a studio apartment in the Gothic district (Barri Gòtic) of Barcelona for 2 weeks. We were 3 blocks off the Ramblas (right at a Metro stop – Liceu) and about 7 minutes from Port Vell and the Passeig de Colom.
The “reason” for picking Barcelona (other than the OBVIOUS – charm, beauty and amazing food, wine and people) was MotoGP (pics are HERE). Yes, we went to ANOTHER GP event!! It was WONDERFUL. The weather was spotty, but the practices, qualifiers and races were excellent. Unfortunately Lorenzo was badly hurt in practice, and did not participate in the race.
(Both of these photos are from Friday, before free practice. We had paddock passes and were hanging out near the residence RV’s as the GP guys headed for the pits for practice!! LUCKYLUCKYLUCKY!)
After race weekend, we spent the remainder of the time on vacation. **I had to be reminded of that, on occasion, when I would hyperventilate and have small fits over Jack sleeping in. I eventually loosened up.**
We were in Barcelona for the first time in the summer of 1999. A lot has changed, not the least being the ECONOMY. The Euro has made all of Europe VERY expensive and much harder to live in. The days of certain countries being cheap (Spain on the peseta) are over! Given that, we still LOVE Barcelona, and Spain, and would move in an instant, given the opportunity!
Having been there 9 years ago also meant that we had already done/seen a lot of the standard tourist attractions. So this trip we could just relax into and enjoy the city without the strain and rushed chaos of trying to “do all the sights”.
We did some touristy things (the Picasso museum, Parc Guell, the Dali museum in Figueres), but for the most part, we wandered, ate, drank and relaxed. A short smattering of pictures are HERE.
January 29, 2008
After our cruise, we spent one night in Aswan before heading down to Abu Simbel.
David Roberts litho reproduction (from: All About Ancient Egypt)
The plans had been quite convoluted, and “arrangements” changed many times. The extra day in Aswan, although not a real “tourist-let’s-go” day, was nice for rest and recuperation.
In trips past, Jack and I have relied heavily and quite successfully on the Lonely Planet and Rough Guide to help us find accommodations and restaurants. For the most part, they have been spot on for our taste, until Aswan! Both guides gave decent to excellent reviews of the Marhaba Palace Hotel (“…a fabulous rooftop. Their buffet breakfast is a treat.” Rough Guide p433, Aug2007; “…the Marhaba overshadows the competition. …has two restaurants, friendly staff and a roof terrace with excellent Nile views. Recommended.” Lonely Planet p313, May2006).
I will concede that our room was large and comfortable, although our shower had no curtain (and this was NOT designed to be a “wet bathroom”). The “fabulous rooftop” was more-or-less abandoned, and had not been cleaned or maintained in a VERY LONG time. The “two restaurants” were closed, and the “treat” of a breakfast buffet was a paltry selection of stale pastries, watery foul, stale cheese and bad coffee. Either rough times have come swiftly and crushingly to the hotel, or someone was wearing rose-colored (or baksheesh tinted) glasses! We were quite disappointed, and eager to leave.
The only touristy things we managed in Aswan were a brief foray to Elephantine Island and a walk through the souk. We were all exhausted. I was recovering and Mom and Jack were coming down with light colds/coughs.
We were excited and tense as we checked out to go to Abu Simbel. Excited for obvious reasons. Tense because the “best layed plans” had not been going so well. We had been unable to reconfirm our convoy transportation and were only guardedly optimistic that the car would show up. After much fretting, the car arrived and we headed to the convoy meeting point.
As we were waiting to leave, I casually asked Jack, “You have the passports, right?” Chaos ensued.