Friday, 27 September 2013

Heigh Ho. (Tra Que Village near Hoi An)

You know how after a hard day's work you fancy a swim and a massage, well today I got both.  This was the day I had been dreading all holiday and it turned out to be the best so far.  After breakfast we turned up to be given our bicycles.  We had a quick practice then we were off.

  I gave a cheery 'good morning' to anyone who caught my eye.  I shouted 'Ding ding' to those in my way as I had no bell.  I was soon enjoying the thrill of cycling Vietnamese style.  Traffic lights are great.  You see the green ones counting down, so pedal like crazy to get across, ignoring traffic coming over the red lights!!  I just followed my dear Mum's tactics.  Blind in one eye, she would hurtle across the road on the premise 'They can see me better than I can see them, so I just keep going!'  It worked for me.  Now traffic lights on red, we lined up like the start of the Grand National.  Count down.  Press down and push hard.  We were away.  No casualties at this one.  A few Wobblies but everyone over safely.

The breeze and feeling of freedom was exhilarating.  I didn't want to stop for a photoshoot until I saw the water buffalo.  At last.  All was going well until someone overtook me and wobbled, putting me off course into a small pile of sand.  Off I toppled.  Nothing hurt except my pride.

We turned into our work place.  We were given a welcome drink that looked like frog spawn but tasted yummy.  Made from ginger, basil, lemon grass, turmeric, rice flour and water.  Very refreshing.  

Then our task master took over. We donned our conical hats and work tops.  I was given a rake and Loretta the hoe.  With a 'Heigh Ho, it's off to work we go' , we headed to the fields.

  Hubby was set to work ploughing a trench.  Frank took up the challenge.  UK versus Australia.  It was neck and neck for a short while but then my little Hubby took second place.  He'll always be my gold though.

When neatened, we added the algae seaweed for fertiliser and to hold the moisture in the sandy soil.  We took it in turns to carry the balance pole.  I felt and probably looked like a rider in a dressage event.  Seedlings were planted and the area watered.  We had all just paid to do the farmer's work.  A little like those people who buy food to feed the animals when they visit a farm.  Still, it's fun.

The weary workers plodded back to soak their feet in tubs of lemongrass.  I took the added bonus of a foot massage.  I have grown quite fond of this punching, squeezing and beating you up technique.  The masseuse must have liked me.  She added back, neck and head for free.  I did fear the top of my skull was about to be lifted off and added to a stockpot at one point!!

Now we had to make our lunch.  Somehow, and not by choice, I found myself in the first set of sous-chefs.  Fire extinguisher close at hand, we set about making rice pancakes.  If you want the recipe, I will email it.  Two dollars please. It wasn't the extinguisher I needed, just a defibrillator as the flames almost singed my eyebrows.  Flipping heck!  (Pancakes.  Flipping.  Did you get it??). Pancake made, I sat and ate it.  Still hungry.  Others joined me and felt the same.  No worries.  After everyone had cooked, a veritable feast wended its way from the kitchen.  With fresh herbs and vegetables, simple food was transformed into a sumptuous banquet.  But spare a thought for poor Pete.  Asleep in the corner, he really was not a well man.  

Time for home and back on the bikes.  Like the Grand National, we had a few fallers on the way home.  I managed to keep out of harm's way this time.  Poor Rose made a mess of her leg but brushed her injury aside bravely.  Gemma had a couple of tumbles.  Her last one hobbled her and she had to be taken back in style on the motorbike.  Pleased to report no major injuries to any of the Happy Family.  Not quite sure about the other road users and roads in Hoi An though. 

My competitive spirit took over on the home straight.  I made a burst for the final finish but was beaten into silver place by the very fit looking Win (what is his name?)  We high-fived to show no hard feelings.  Well, he low-fived as be must be 6'4''.  A fine race.  

Win must have thought it had taken too much out of me because he offered to collect our laundry.  What an excellent job had been made of that.  Not only was it sweet smelling, it looked ironed a d she had removed the varnish from an M & S t-shirt, damaged whilst drying on a newly  varnished chair in Laos.  Shame we're not stopping longer.  

A dip in the pool then off to sample the free eats in the hotel's garden.  A guitarist played well-known tunes in an unknown way.  We played 'I'll Name that Tune' in between munching our way through numerous goodies.  We had to stop ourselves from over-indulging as Happy Family had a night out planned.

Wearing my best bib and tucker with flip flops, we joined the rest in reception.  Many wore new shoes or clothes purchased here.  Someone remarked that Tanya's lovely footwear looked like 'Follow me Home' shoes. This was a new expression for Hubby and me.  We enquired as to its meaning and rather wished we hadn't.  So the next time you want to attract a man, you should buy yourself a pair.

The Old Quarter was all in darkness.  What a disaster.  Our restaurant was candle-lit but the lack of air-con did not heighten the romantic atmosphere.  The chef came out to talk about the problem and the menu.  Try as I might, I could not decipher his words.  Then Gemma noticed two of our happy family were missing.  In the dark we had not noticed.  Whizzing Wind shot off in pursuit of Rosé and Loretta.  Fortunately they had the good sense to stand under a street lamp on the lit side of town.  Like ladies of the night they waited until Wind rescued them, like a knight in shining armour.

The lights came on.  I could have my watermelon juice (No electric, no juicer!!)
Peace and harmony restored.  

We'll tak the High Road. (Hue to Hoi An)

A longer stay in Hue (hey that rhymes) would have been wonderful.  I was totally confused, as usual, and thought we were there for three days.  Never mind.  At least I got to sample their lovely food, although I will pass on the rice porridge in future.  I prefer my oats!!

When we arrived in the lobby, Rose informed me that I had missed some excitement for my blog.  She had fainted just after Ieft.  When she came to, a strange man was looking into her eyes and asking, 'Are you awake lady?' She was somewhat confused and thought (please say the next part in a South African accent as it sounds so cool) 'Where did this man come into my life?'
Even when she is not one hundred per cent, she makes me smile.  I promised I would mention it, even though I was not around,

Wise Wind advised leaving the tour of the Royal Tombs until today.  On a hot, hot day, we stood and listened about the Nguyen Dynasty and how the tombs were created.  I understood how people might want some reminders of their life in their tomb.  After all, I did pop a pouch of  Dad's favourite baccy in his coffin.  That said, I could not get my head round having twelve virgins buried alive with the Emperor.  What a waste.

I took many photos to show the skilled embroidery work on the gowns and photos here.  You must see this one.  Hubby appears to have a tree growing out of his head which is sapping his strength - ha ha!!

Extremely large cauldrons were dotted around the place.  Filled with hot oil, they served as a warning.  One false move and it would have been deep fat fried PJ for tea!  Sometimes restoration has not improved things.  The constellations on the theatre ceiling no longer shine at night.  So much for modern technology.  As for the translations, they continue to make me smile.  Today's howler:- 'Fromerlly this temple served as Emperor Tu Duc's residence '. Gosh that took some typing.  The iPod kept trying to change the word 'fromerlly' to 'formerly'. I should loan it to the tourism department.

Travelling to Hoi An, we took the scenic mountain route rather than the lower tunnelled route.  This involved stopping at the Pass of the Ocean Clouds.  The locals here like to talk to tourists we had been told.  We had not been informed that they swarm round you like pesky wasps, buzzing the same words 'Where you from?  I like your country.  You nice lady.  You visit my stall NOW'

I managed to avoid their subtle selling techniques.  One member of HF was not so lucky.  She was convinced by the 'my husband beats me' tale and returned to the coach with a few bracelets for her family.  Asked to translate the good wishes marked on the bracelet, Wistful Wind gave a wry smile.  But it is all part of the experience.  

Stopping for lunch, we chose to abandon HF.  Hubby had seen and smelled enough seafood for a while,  We walked along the seafront and made a random choice.  Well, you would have thought we were royalty.  Or perhaps they thought I was Dame Judi.  They chattered away and one by one we were snapped with all the staff.  We had to show our time was limited, so I pointed to my watch and mimed travelling on a bus.  They understood and dashed off to prepare a very tasty sweet and sour pork meal.

Waving bye bye to another Happy Family we went back to the coach.  They were still eating, so we had time to wander on the beach.  We had a good look at the coracle type shrimp boats and to watch a fishing line being hauled in.  The honeymooners, Pete and Splash (Karen) were taking advantage of some free time too.  

Our next stop was at a marble factory. Well, a village full of marble shops and factories!  Happy Buddhas? Elephants, tables, chairs.  All carved and hand polished here.  Not one piece was small enough for our luggage and the postage was exorbitant.  Next visit perhaps.  

Having an option, we chose to zoom up Marble Mountain in a Willy Wonka Glass Elevator.  Holding our gold tickets we emerged at the top to wander round looking for Oompah  Lumpas (Please correct my spelling). None there but the dark cave with the Buddha was spectacular.  Pity the picture just looked dark.  Well, it was dark.  Rose and I helped each other on the steps, laughing that it was a case of the blind leading the blind.

Usually everyone has timed their return to the bus well.  It was a bit concerning that Pete and Karen were nowhere to be seen.  Wind dashed off in pursuit.  While he was gone, they returned looking very hot and flustered.  Somehow they had chosen a wrong trail.  They walked for quite some time but never saw HF again.  Maybe they got to 'the other side of the mountain'. Sing along if you know it.  We were just relieved to see them back again.  We felt the same when Worried Wind returned soon after and clapped him on board.  No worries.  Be happy.

So, on to another spa where we really do stay for three nights.  First things first though.  We sorted our washing to take across the road to the laundry.  One dollar per kilo seemed a small price to pay to refresh our very smelly outfits. 

Wandering Wind then took us into the town, recommending various shops and eateries.  We followed his advice and stopped at a family restaurant with Rose and Loretta.  Good food and even better company.  Just wished I could master the local currency.  Too many noughts for my liking.  

The walk back to the hotel was delightful with the colourful lights, bobbing boats and Hubby's favourites - high flying colourful toys.  He wants to start a business - help!!  I will leave you all now while a try to dissuade him!!!!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Rocking Away on the Track to Hue

We wouldn't have minded who we shared with on the train journey to Hue.  After all, it would only be one night.  Surely anyone could put up with us for that long!!  Clever Wind must have noticed how well we bobbed along in the boat with Rose (who I still keep calling Ruth!) because he teamed us up again.  

We had all been warned not to lose our tickets as they would be needed later and we could incur a hefty fee.  Hubby ensconced himself in the compartment.  I asked him for his ticket, to snuggle with mine in a secret pocket.  No ticket.  He searched every pocket, looked in his bag then said, 'I gave it to you.'  Oh no he hadn't.  He was insistent.  He is always right, so then I checked all my pockets and bag.  In my head I also checked my sanity because I still knew he hadn't.  Perhaps he had dropped it on the platform or the ticket collector had kept it as a joke.  Away he went, fighting his way through the oncoming flood of human traffic and suitcases.  Still no joy.  Deciding to face the consequences, he flung his back on the top bunk.  And what was there?  Yes, his ticket.  The one he had definitely given to me.  You have to know him to love him x

So, cases were sorted and bunks arranged.  I protested (meekly) when Rose and Lotetta insisted we had the lower bunks.  I am surely looking feeble at this stage of the holiday.  We said we would give them a leg up if necessary,  

The journey began.  The train began to rock and roll, making groaning and banging noises at different intervals.  We chatted about our homelands and shared photos.  Kind Rose brought out some sucky sweets.  Just the right sort for a long journey.  Wandering Wind brought breakfast packs, prepared by himself and family.  Very kind.

Our fellow travellers decided to ascend to  the Heavens.   There was only one small step along the way.  This proved no problem for this intrepid pair.  Rose gave a droll commentary as she clambered up which set me off.  From that point on, I kept having one of my uncontrollable laughing fits.  I am prone to them at times.  They must have wondered what sort of lunatic was under them.

And so began a very long night of the rockiest, noisiest sorts.  It had some highlights.  For example, it was necessary to visit the rest room.  I opened the door and there sat a tiny Asian gentleman, looking for all the world like the wise one in 'Karate Kid'.  I resisted the urge to say 'Wipe on, wipe off'. I just held my hands together, bowed and left hastily.  I never saw him again.  

The HF group started waking around 6am.  Some braved the sinks.  We resorted to our wipes.  Feeling less smelly, we wandered along the corridor, chatting and trying to give off a 'we are not really shattered air'.

Lotetta and Rose emerged from their bunks.  We set about eating our breakfasts.  We had a few laughs.  It was very difficult to distinguish salt from sugar when you can't read Vietnamese.  But it was a nice gesture and filled a hole or two.

Rose popped back upstairs for a rest. While Dave and Loretta watched the world go by in the corridor, I was delighted when Splash popped in for a chat.  Such an interesting lady who works as a Ranger in Australia.  And what a wedding story - planned, sorted and completed in three days.  When she told me the age of her children, you could have knocked me down with a feather.  Whatever she eats, I'd like some.

Warning Wind walked along the corridor, reminding everyone that our station approached.  We had to be quick as it only stopped for five minutes.  We seemed to be at the back of the queue.  Large bags were taking time to lift down the steep steps.  Panic attack in the making.  The warning whistles sounded.  We were still on board, Hurry along my inner voice shouted.  They must have heard.  With a hop, skip and a jump we were off and crossing the tracks to the other side.  A little care needed here to avoid getting feet or case wheels caught in the rails.  Squashed PJ would not be a good look.

Woeful Wind was not sure if our rooms would be ready.  He suggested we looked tired as he pleaded our case.  Walking through the lobby, he gently reprimanded me for doing my best weary King Richard III impersonation.  He thought I was overacting.  I thought I was being normal.  The HF's exhausted looks worked.  Our rooms were allocated.  From the grimy train, we were now upgraded to a clean, luxury spa hotel.  It had a swimming pool, relaxing chairs, pretty bamboo pictures and, most of all, a bed to die for.

To stretch out on the mattress and wallow under the air-con was all I wanted.  Wicked Wind had other ideas. His first was most impressive.   A traditional Vietnamese meal. When served, it looked so good, you didn't want to taste it.  

Once you had, you were glad you did.  Except for the bean paste flowers.  They definitely looked better than they tasted.  But, each to their own.

No time to rest.  We were whisked away to the Imperial Palace.  Still needing quite a lot renovating as the war caused loads of damage and bullet holes, it was quite impressive.  Maybe we would have appreciated its splendour more if we had not been so hot and tired.  Wonderful Wind seemed to get the message and golf buggies were summoned which took us back to the coach.

Hotel please?!  No way.  Off to the Red Pagoda where legend has it that a Lady in Red ( sing along now) told a future king to build this structure.  If he and his family prayed there every day, his dreams would come true.  And they did. My little legs had a few more steps to master before I could view a car which I remembered from childhood.  A Buddhist  Monk had driven it before setting fire to himself in protest to the restrictions on his religion.  That was a sobering thought.

A planned boat trip back to the hotel was both cooling and entertaining.  Sitting near Kathy and Win ( i must check out to see if that is his name) we discovered fellow QI fans.  Hurrah for Stephen Fry and his story of the Vietnamese Army.  Wind passed around a grapefruit type fruit.  I disgraced myself by tucking in, skin and all, until a HF member showed me how to tackle it the correct way.  They are good to me.

The thought of a swim grew and grew.  Hubby could not be persuaded, so, plucking up courage I set off alone in search of the pool.  I almost ended up in the Bullfrog Pond.  I was diverted by the quick actions of the bell boys and the croaking of said beasties.  It was like a warm bath.  A few more of the HF joined me.  When the word 'mosquito' was mentioned, I was off like a shot.  They seem to have taken a shine to my tasty skin several times already this trip.  Even then, I did not manage to find my way back without a slight misadventure.  There were two lifts to the third floor.  One goes direct to the dining room.  I imagine the diners got quite a surprise when the very wet lady emerged from the lift, wearing little else than a smile and a swimsuit.  I gave a Bridget Jones' sheepish grin and turned around, wishing I had her bunny tail and ears too!!  Off to find the right lift and my enormous bed.  Night all x

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Good Morning Vietnam !! (Hanoi)

I gave my finger a rest from blogging yesterday.  The other parts were treated to some much needed relaxation too.  Apart from watching the lizards and trying to finish a Saga puzzle, I was almost in reverse gear.  Leaving Laos behind was very sad. We wished we could have stayed longer.  On the drive to the airport, we were quiet and thoughtful.  Even our guide was not his usual ebullient self.  Still, all good things must come to an end.

But we had a final laugh before leaving.  During the security check, a lovely lady asked where we came from.  'Scotland', we replied.  'Ah.  I know this.  UK.  England, Wales, Scotland and Iceland.'  We explained the slight error and we had a chuckle together.  That is, of course, unless some massive country changes have happened whilst we have been travelling.

Our tiny propeller plane bobbed its way to Vietnam.  I tried to look nonchalant when the seatbelt light came on and the captain warned of turbulence ahead.  Why does that always happen just after they serve your drink??  I have enough problems getting hand to mouth on a normal day, let alone when the plane started jerking around.  At this point, I looked out, just to make sure wings and propellers were still attached.  They were.

The smooth landing was much appreciated.  We followed the 'back to front' immigration procedure in Hanoi.  We exited past the visa payment window.  We had to fill in an application form and hand this over, along with one passport photo, our passports and invitation letter.  We were waved back along the corridor then to the visa payment window.  We waited.  The lady behind the desk waved a passport on the air.  'That's yours,' shouted Hubby triumphantly.  I squinted and squinted again.  Unless I had had a face transplant or he had changed his wife, that was not MY little red book.  Five minutes later, our   faces were looking at us from behind the glass.  Ninety dollars paid and we could join the next queue, to show our newly stamped passports.

We hotfooted round to baggage reclaim. Two forlorn cases looked balefully at us.  Thanking them for being patient , we headed through the green channel.  A shaven-headed man, looking for all the world like a Buddhist monk, clutched our name cards.  He held out his hand.  I pumped it up and down enthusiastically, until I realised he had been reaching out for my case handle.  In silence, we followed him.  He gestured for us to wait.  Was he on a vow of silence??  No, he just did not speak English.

Manoeuvring between the hoards of motorbikes and scooters skilfully, we eventually arrived at our hotel.  Two minutes earlier, the driver spoke one word 'Hilton' but our hopes were dashed as we drove past.  But we did stop at the Sunway.  Bellboys in full uniform dashed down to collect our cases.  A form was put under Hubby's nose by the driver.  Without his reading glasses, he is still not sure what he signed for!!

At reception, there was the usual mispronunciation of our surname.  It rhymes with rough, not bough or cow.  A minor heart-stopping moment as our key was not in those prepared.  A quick conversation, a search for a new one and we were soon heading skywards in a padded lift to Room 804 ( with a view Madam).

And so, after quite a good sleep.  (I say quite a good sleep because Hubby decided to play with the bedside controls in the middle of the night.  Lights were flashing on and off plus the air-con went into overdrive.  It was like being at the funfair in Blackpool.) I woke, put on my headphones and said, in my best Robin William's voice 'Good Morning Vietnam!!'

Thursday, 19 September 2013

The Alms Race

Not many occurrences would drag me out of bed at 5am.  This did.  The procession of monks through the streets at daybreak.  Villagers lined the street to pop gifts into the monks' bowls.  As we watched, the monks would reject some gifts and give them away to small children or impoverished peasants.  The slap, slap noise of the barefooted, shaven-headed monks was later replaced by the rhythmic sound of the drum, calling the people to the temple.  Here gifts of a more practical nature were  left such as washing powder.  I didn't spot shampoo, but they wouldn't need it, would they?!

If I were a child in Luang Prabang, I would definitely be up with the lark.  One little chap walked away with two carrier bags full of goodies!  I noticed quite a few candy bars in there too.  

Procession over, we strolled through the local market.  Not so many stallholders as it was a Lunar Day so a cause for celebration and drinking of rice wine.  There were some delicious smells of cooking wafting around.  My appetite was well and truly whetted by the time we arrived at the hotel for breakfast.

Our day continued with a river trip.  Like royalty, we had a long boat completely for our own usage.  We set off at great speed.  A piece of grit decided to jump into my eye.  Gritting my teeth (oh dear), I only saw half the downstream journey.  Hubby had a quick glance to see what he could see around my eyeball.  Then he resumed his filming.  I expect he thought I could watch what I missed later.

Forty-five minutes later, the boat pulled over.  Negotiating a gangplank and steep, narrow steps with one eye was a little problematic.  Hubby proceeded to pour half of his water bottle into my eye at great speed.  Enough.  It's fine.  It wasn't really.  It was good enough to read the instructions on how to make the rice wine which was bubbling away in an oil drum still, heated by a smoky wood fire.  Hubby's mouth was also on fire when he tested said wine!!

This village had a very picturesque temple.  I thought I would ask a wish from Buddha.  I should have done this earlier when I gave my alms, but I couldn't think of anything then.  I bet you can't guess what I wished for.  

Still blinking, my good eye focused on a row of bell jars with small taps.  The most bizarre things had been used to create alcoholic drinks.  Bears' paws. cobra and python skins, scorpion and, finally, elephant's penis.  We hurried past these, just in case we were asked to sample them.  

A small toddler swung in a circular bamboo cradle, fast asleep, while her mother worked on a loom.  The men and children were noticeable by their absence.  It seemed they were dragon boat racing.  Ah ha.  The season had not quite finished and we were given the chance to watch after lunch.

Before lunch though, we visited a cave where people have come to worship for hundreds of years.  The most expensive statues have been taken to the temples but still thousands remain.  I said a quiet 'Thank you' here as my wish had been granted and full vision restored,

After a chicken and sticky rice lunch, we floated along to the racing area.  The riversides were crowded,  Shelters with seats and tables protected some from the heat.  Others wandered around or plunged in the river to cool off.  Many were sampling the rice wine.  I wandered off to view a large, silver cup.  This was on the organising committee's table.  In the blink of a now good eye, I had joined the committee.  The gap-toothed chairman took a shine to me. He already had three wives (this being allowed post-war as so many men died in the bombings), so I didn't hold out for a proposal.  He did share his food and drink.  The Bao beer was not too bad but   
the dried squid was somewhat chewy and took some swallowing.  As each race started, we leaped to our feet and cheered.  My new best buddy used sign language and smiles to show I was now the official photographer.  In a knock-out competition, teams of forty men paddled hard to try and win.  It was fabulous to watch.

  We couldn't stay for the final races.  The villagers waved and cheered as we left, pretending to paddle our way upstream.  And my best buddy - he blew me a kiss!!  Time for my shut eye now.  It has been a long day x 
Oh just a final note.  Hubby thinks the blog may be off air for a while.  We fly to Vietnam tomorrow.  I will keep writing.  Just keep checking x

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Plantsman's Paradise

Thinking I had developed cataracts overnight, I rubbed my eyes.  Still there.  Of course, it was the misty film from the mosquito net!! They might be great for keeping the pests at bay, but not so good when you need the bathroom in the  middle of the night.  If you're on the hole side it's much easier.  I wasn't.  Much grumbling from the covered heap next to me.

He was over it by breakfast time and took a stroll round the gardens.  He would really love to take some of the plants and seeds back to Scotland.  He was most impressed with the Stag's Horn which attached itself to the tree trunk.  Apparently the wild orchids do that here too.  I have given him strict instructions that no plant smuggling is allowed this trip.  We do not want to be fined and deported from New Zealand before we have arrived.

Oh my word, a little lizard just shot past me on the wall as I was typing.  I nearly died.  They're quite cute IF they don't sneak up on you like that!!  Now, where was I??

Garden tour over, we were collected and taken to Luang Prabang proper.  We visited royal palaces and temples.  We saw the biggest gilded Buddha in the country.  We viewed the golden throne and regalia belonging to the last king, who never made it to his coronation.  When Laos changed to communism, the royal family moved north.  No one knows where, or if they do know, they are not saying,  Only an in-law remains, the owner of our hotel.

Red, gold and lots of bling.  Real bling though.  Gold and silver.  I can't share photos of the palace.  We had to store our cameras and hats in lockers.  Still wondering why I had to leave my hat behind.  Did they think it was a danger??

The Royal portraits were spooky.  Painted by a famous Russian artist, whose name escapes me, the subjects' eyes followed you around the room and their feet seemed to point at you all the time too.  Weird.

Then the temples.  Did you know, it takes  five things to make a temple - a 'church', monks, a banyan tree and AND! I've forgotten the other two.  Must ask Yen, the guide tomorrow.  That reminds me.  After completing the blog yesterday, Hubby said I had made a mistake.  He said there were 2827 bends on the road here.  I checked.  We were both wrong.  There were 3827.  Apologies folks.  I was tired yesterday. 

I am tired today too but I must tell you about three more highlights.  We were a bit templed out, so we were delighted when Yen invited us to see the house he is building.  Having saved all his working life, since leaving the monastery, he has almost completed his new family home.  His love of nature and wood abounds in his choice of mahogany and teak floors, doors and furnishings.  It is a testament to his hard work.

Our mutual love of wood led to an invitation to a local factory.  Here a sixteen year old lad carved intricate designs for furniture.  Three women sanded and prepared the heavy chairs and tables dispatch.  At six thousand dollars, we were tempted.  They were wonderful pieces but the postage would have been horrendous.

Our final destination into the rainforest, brought us face to face with black bears. They were in compounds and well cared for, being protected these days.  Deeper in the forest we walked.  The sound of cicadas was deafening but not as loud as the waterfall.  Another hit on the bucket list.  Bathers on and off I went.  Hubby was a little slower, owing to the delicate nature of his tootsies.  The water was cool and exhilarating.  At times I fought against the current to avoid being swept over the next fall.  A day I shall never forget.

But just before I close my eyes, it was so lovely to catch up with my big sis today.  We usually chat every day, so our calls now are even more precious.  Night K.  Night all.   Come on everyone - Night Jim Bob x