To describe Cambodia/Vietnam in a paragraph is a tough challenge. There was so much to see and do. A short flight from Hong Kong took me to Siem Reap, where the largest temples in the world reside. The temples cover a vast area of land within the cleared jungle so one has to get around using the tuktuk . The sheer scale of each temple makes you wonder how a more primitive society constructed such buildings. Phnom Penh is a much more suffocating city, attributable to both the humidity and the people harassing you on the streets. Phnom Penh offered a more sombre touristic visit with their Killing Fields and Prison S21 tours, exhibiting the brutal regime of the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge was responsible for the largest proportional genocide of the 20th Century, murdering over 20% of Cambodia's population. Hanoi was a little lighter ; it's colourful colonial architecture and wide roads is a left over from their French oppressors. Again, examples of torture were displayed at the Hanoi Hilton, as well as anti-American propaganda. The art gallery was surprisingly one of the highlights. Beautiful Vietnamese artwork, scarcely found in the West. Visiting the embalmed Ho Chi Mihn was a strange experience , watching hundreds of locals queuing to pay their respects to their revered leader. His museum was even more bizarre as there was no order to it and it was difficult to follow but for 25c it wasn't a waste. The trip was rounded off with a junk boat trip to Ha Long Bay, gliding past gigantic rocks, some of which housed caves that told stories with their stalagmites and stalagtites formations, and venturing out to a floating fishing village.
I have posted some of Lisa’s photos here from our New York trip. She really took some exceptional shots in my humble opinion, capturing the places we went to and the things we saw with great vision and enthusiasm. Lisa took terrific pictures of everything, but her photos from the Bronx Zoo were particularly exceptional, especially of the lions and butterflies. But not to be limited to just animals, Lisa also took some truly terrific shots of the carnival that we happened upon on 5th Avenue. In my view, she captured the dancers in a most intimate flattering way, showing moments that draw the viewer into the movement and colour, rather than just spectating from afar. I hardly ever photograph people, so I learned a few things from her shots!
New York City is somewhere that I was always reluctant to return to after my first trip there exactly 11 years ago. I’m not entirely sure why that was, but any reservations I had were entirely unfounded, as my recent trip there with my friend Lisa proved to be another amazing vacation for both of us. It was for the occasion of Lisa’s birthday, and we had entirely too much fun! And not least because my New Yorker friends, Gene and Ralph, took such amazing care of us during our brief stay.Gene had been so typically considerate in providing us with passes to museums and the botanical gardens, the latter of which we didn’t have time to see. And Ralph, a New York detective, chauffeured us around like a police escort in his unmarked squad car, clearing traffic with a combination of sirens and microphone! Both joined us for dinners, the most delicious of which was a Korean restaurant on 34th Street (also known as Korea Street), a first for both Lise and myself. We cannot thank Gene and Ralph enough for their kindness.
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