Posts Tagged With: ants

My Rested Body Awakes

Last I left you I was going to bed with full intention to write…

But when I get under the covers, slightly tired as I am, the only thing that I could possibly accomplish is sleep.  4:30 pm and I am gone into a land of slumber.  So deeply am I asleep that I barely hear the loud knock on the door three hours later.   Tonight I will sleep well.  Besides, there is no better lullaby than the sound of crashing waves. And I did.  I wake Sunday morning, September 16, at 9:00 am completely refreshed and ready to go out and explore.  The day is miraculously mild and sunny.  What a treat it is to set off on foot toward the beach, camera in hand.  People are already out.  I forgot it’s Sunday.  No wonder the little park in front of the apartment has been so packed.

I walk down the steps onto to the beach and after opening the gate to the beach I am already snapping away.   

    This is a surfer’s paradise.

 Love how they made a little salt water kiddie pool next to the beach.  Don’t know if it is so in the rest of Sydney but the people here seem to be quite body conscious.  Women and men are thin and athletic.  On the beach there’s a lot of sunbathing and surfing going on. I walk along the beach and realize there is an “official” coastal walk/road filled with locals running, walking, chilling.  Populated as well by tourists.  I can hear so many languages spoken but –curiously so- no Spanish.  All sorts and types of people pass by but somehow hardly any look like me.  I am starting to feel like an actual minority.  Funny how in a land that speaks my language I am feeling a bit out-of-place.  Yet, as soon as I write this I realize I am so at ease in this beach town. I think it could turn out that I have been a beach bum at heart all along!

 

 

The views are really gorgeous. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The water is the most beautiful blue.   All shades of it.

The walk offers a lot of other type of views too…  some are quirky like these ants painted on a house container wall.     Some are imposing as these rocks along the way.   Some infuse you with total tranquility as this lonely bench and kite… Some sculptures as well, framed by the crashing waves. Ahhhh… what visual overload this walk has been.     I follow it up to Tamarama Beach and go a little further before turning around.       I stop on the way back and have a salad.  The place is not a fancy one; my grilled chicken salad is $18 AUD, nonetheless.  The exchange rate is $1 AUD =$1.01 USD, however I have done an exchange in a Foreign Exchange place and got only $81 AUD for my $100 USD.  Later I would learn that going into a bank they give you a better rate and charge only a nominal fee for it.

As I leave, before I cross the street, I hear it:  Spanish, albeit from Spain. I head out to the supermarket, which is a relatively small one, and buy enough for snacks for the week (fruit and yogurt) and dinner tonight.

I pass a Chocolatería San Churro. That caught my attention. It is manned by Asians and on the wall they state that while eating a churro “you indulge in an experience in one of the oldest chocolate cultures in Europe.”  I’ve been in Los Angeles so long that I have associated churros solely with Mexico, forgetting the late nights or early mornings (depending on how you see it) -while in Madrid, Spain- of dipping a churro in a chocolate so thick you could make it stand in it.  I resist and do not stop and have one, even when the sign above the door says bienvenida, making it a welcoming sign catering exclusively to the female gender.

I get home and one of the neighbors is outside and, after I smile and say hello he immediately starts talking to me.  Australians will not go out of their way to start a conversation but are innately friendly if you do.  He started talking about the area and how a small one-bedroom with a kitchenette, like the one I’m staying at would go for $700,000 and his, a two-bedroom for about a million plus.  So real estate prices are almost as high as in New York!  He, his girlfriend, and baby boy are English and moving to the Canary Islands in a few weeks to be closer to the grandparents.  He said that in the Canary Islands they could buy a house while here everything is pretty much out of their price range.  Fortunately they have an Internet business which they can run from anywhere in the world.

I cook a bit with the door wide open listening to the sounds of people packing up and leaving.  It is getting breezy and cold but the day has been truly perfect.

As I cut up some vegetables and find my bearings I marvel at the fact that I have been two days without an Internet connection.  I could have and should have stopped at the café close to home and sat there a while but was on the lazy side and didn’t.  I have one of those connection sticks I installed this morning but it didn’t work.  I miss Facebook and being able to use Skype, however, I am doing things that I probably would not be doing if I were online.  By tomorrow I’ll have it and am hoping that I won’t be whittling time in front of a computer when there is the whole of Sydney to discover.

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Categories: Coastal Walk, Sydney, Tamarama Beach | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Kob Chai Lai Lai

I am a bit disoriented.  Where am I?  Oh yes, Vientiane, Laos.  It is the capital and its largest city.  Sabaidee@Laos hotel (I promise to have a Review Page on all soon.) I had left the curtains open before I went to sleep and am rewarded with a pretty cool sunrise.  It is still dark.  I grab my camera from my bedside table and snap away as it gets lighter.   

I get up and notice that I have not unpacked yet.  I wonder why and go about doing so.  As I hum a song to myself and go into the shower I realize that I am feeling absolutely, completely well.  Was I really sick yesterday?  Was it a nightmare?  Did I imagine it all?  Definitely not!  My imagination is pretty developed but for good.  Never would have I imagined being so sick.  The main thing is that I am well and ready to go.  Later on I would consult with a doctor friend and he said it was most certainly a case of mild food poisoning, otherwise I would not have recovered in 24 hours.  I wouldn’t call it mild but it is now forgotten. Down to kow sao (breakfast  in Lao). I go with a smile on and a “goooooood morniiiiiing” to all.  It is so nice to find some of the group in the restaurant, remarking that it was good to see the old me come back.

We are taking a tour of the city.   Laos gained its independence from France in 1949.  Vientiane certainly has a “Frenchness” to it.   We pass by the Presidential Palace , which is not open to the public and only used for formal ceremonies, on our way to Ho Phra Keo “Hall of the Emerald Buddha”.  It was there that the Emerald Buddha, taken from Chiang Mai, had its home until King Rama I, repossessed it and took it back to Thailand.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t figure out whether to point my camera at the flowers…

Or at the Buddhas around the museum.   One in my favorite pose of “stop the war, make peace”   

Another in a pose –and attitude- I should adopt:  walking meditation  

In any position (or mudras as they are called) these Buddhas are beautiful.  This one is in the Bhumisparsha mudra symbolizing the enlightenment of the Buddha under the Bodhi tree. 

Or at the Nagas  (mythical serpents, protectors and guardians of treasures) flanking the steps going in. 

 We continue to Wat Sri Saket, home of 6,840 Buddhas.  Some in little niches.  Fascinating to see so many in one place.  

Really sad to see the storage room of the ones damaged in the war.  

But the surroundings are also worth exploring.  This is where I find a Smiling/Happy Buddha.  The story –according to our guide- goes that Buddha was so handsome that many where those he attracted while meditating.  To avoid interruptions he transformed himself into a plumper and less attractive version and therefore happily gained solitude for his meditation.  Looking it up it seems it may have other versions but the constant is that the parasol is for protection. 

Our trip leader finds a nest in a tree, of what is a delicacy in Thailand and Laos:  ants.  He points and pokes at it.      And the ants get angry.  

Then they are really, really mad.     So we leave them alone!

Next is That Luang stupa, said to contain remains of Lord Buddha.  It is impressive.  

The day is brutally hot, there is no shade at all and I can barely stand it, so head back to the bus.  Snapping photos on my way back.

It’s hot even for the monks! 

This building is a Monk’s Center.  The streetlights look very French to me. 

Off we go to Patuxai or Victory Gate.  It was built to commemorate those who fought in the independence from France.  At first sight it is a copy of L’Arc du Triomphe in France and when I ask our guide if he doesn’t find that fact ironic he doesn’t seem to believe so.  It is, however, decorated with mythological Buddhist half female, half bird figurines (kinnari) which makes it quite Laotian on inspection.     

Other details also make uniquely Laotian.    And as I climb steps up to the top on each level there is a mini shopping mall of Lao crafts and souvenirs as well as architectural details that continue reinforcing the Laotian side of this monument.       

The view from above.   

From there, the rest of the afternoon and night is on our own.  I decide to have a mani/pedi since it’s on our way to our hotel.  Will be my first in Southeast Asia.  Unfortunately, though the ambiance was unique the service was not the best.    My feet are happy campers anyway for the little TLC I have provided them.  Little do they know that in the afternoon I will join our guide and some of the group for a walk on Vientiane’s boardwalk and will make them work all over again.

The boardwalk is a surprise.  I am finding that in laid back Vientiane there is much more to see and do than I expected.  Again I wish that I knew how to ride a bike.  Though even as it gets darker the heat is quite oppressive.    
King Anouvong overlooks all this activity.      Giving his back to the “new” aerobics craze and the free class that is held in open air behind him.  
Which I decide to join… for less than a minute. 

I have a feeling he wouldn’t approve of this girl’s attire, an American flag printed on her shirt.  

Alongside freestanding exercise equipment stands this banyan tree, completely ignored by most.  I just stand in front of it awed by its intricacy (and dutifully avoiding –due to highly allergic reaction to exercise- even looking at the exercise machines in front of it 🙂 

At night I join part of the group to eat a pizza, of all things, at a French restaurant in Laos.  Kinda weird, huh?

We leave Vientane, and Laos, tomorrow morning.  I, once again, will be leaving part of my heart.  The Lao people have an acceptance of all things ingrained in them by their religion.  Acceptance… something I should add to my vocabulary and to my life.    Kob chai lai lai (thank you much) Laos for giving me a life lesson.

What will Vietnam (our next destination) teach me?

 

 

Categories: BLT+ (Burma) Myanmar, Laos, Uncategorized, Vientiane | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

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