Posts Tagged With: orchids

Seeing Red and so much more…

Starting today with last night won’t confuse you, right?  It seems perfectly normal to me since last night we were surprised with an offer from a friend of Dean’s of two tickets to see a play I knew nothing about:  Red by John Logan, an American playwright.   A play I should have been well aware of since it won six Tony awards in 2010.  It’s about an episode of a Russian/American painter’s life in the late 50’s: Mark Rothko.  Only two actors in it. Quite intense and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  We went into a pizza place Pizzeria Rio afterwards.  The owner is Greek and the pizza was wonderful.

I was not about to let the remainder of my 24-hour double-decker fun go to waste and since I realized Bondi Rd. (a street very close to home) was on the bus’ route, I headed over there.   Unfortunately, Citysightseeing Tours stops are not clearly marked –in fact, not marked at all- and I couldn’t find one, so I walked over to Bondi Beach where I knew there was one.  Though still on the breezy side it was a lovely day and off I went.

Yesterday I learned that “Bondi” or “Boondi” is an Aboriginal word meaning water or noise of water breaking over rocks.  The Australian Museum records show that Bondi means a place where a flight of nullas (nulla being an aboriginal hunting stick) took place.   Bondi Surf Bathers’ Life Saving Club is the world’s first surf lifesaving club.  Bondi Beach, Lifeguard, Sydney, Australia   After asking around I finally found the Tour Bus Stop but have to wait about 20 minutes before their first pick up at 10:00 am.  So I sit on a mosaic bench and stare at the beach.  Breeziness turns the temperature to cold.  Beach, Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia  When the bus arrives it takes me up a street I had not been to before. We are headed away from the beach. Dover Heights, Sydney, Australia

It gives me a different perspective and view of the city.   Dover Heights, Sydney, Australia

We go through an area called Dover Heights which I really liked.  Of course it’s one of the most expensive areas in the city.  Property values are above $2 million. It’s hard to avoid views of water no matter where you go.  Sydney, Australia

We go back towards the CBD (City Business District) and we pass Woolworths, Woolworth food store, Sydney, Australia a store that reminds me of the now defunct Woolworth’s of my youth though this one is essentially a food store.

That’s another bus like the one I’m on and The Sydney Tower Eye I went up on yesterday.  It’s a Westfield mall on the first five floors. Sydney Tower Eye, Westfield mall, Sydney, Australia I love that the buildings here have names.  This was one of my favorites.  Sydney, Australia  Town Hall, built in 1875 maintains its dignity while being restored by the scaffolding being cloaked with a veil imprinted with its original façade.  Town Hall, built 1875, Sydney, Australia This Coca-Cola sign is heritage protected.  How lucky for Coke that their ad is a historic landmark!  Heritage protected, landmark, Coke billboard  Coke billboard, Sydney, Australia   After going through city, the bus loop takes me back to where I started.  I have to get off since my 24 hours officially end at around 1:00 pm.

It’s quite chilly so I’m craving something warm. I stop at Chocolatería San Churro which caught my attention when I arrived.    Touring is serious business and considering the weather, I succumb to a cup of hot chocolate before I walk back home.

Back on the road with my legs as transportation I see graffiti that makes me smile…  Graffiti, Park Bench, Bondi, Sydney, Australia   And graffiti takes baffles me, this one is inside an apartment.  Graffiti, Bondi, Sydney, Australia

Though Sydney people are not exactly friendly and outgoing I love how courteous they are.  Something that is reflected even on their mailboxes…

No Junk Mail

Respectfully Decline…

They even give reasons for rejecting things.  This photo is out of focus but it’s kind of appropriate it is so.

No Junk Mail

Your Junk Mail Will Go Unread!

My artist side was fascinated by a whole window display that started off with an explanation of what art is.

Art, Storytelling

Art is About Life

The rest of the window display explained that through the months, a piece of a story would be added and illustrated through found and borrowed objects.  I spent a while reading the story and saddened that it also had a good-bye note saying that the storyteller/artist was asked to vacate.

Storytelling, Art

A story unfolds…

I’m getting hungry and start searching for a reasonable place to eat and find a fish place, The One That Got Away, (half fish market, half fast food restaurant) that has a whole instruction manual on how to order.

Instructions to Order at The One That Got Away

I’m not reading all this just to be able to order!

The One Who Got Away menuAs I order a guy asks me where I’m from and starts talking to me.  I am surprised by the fact that he is a local, they don’t normally approach you and initiate a conversation.  But he was charming.  We exchanged some travel stories, he told me about the big Footy (Australian Rules football) that was on and that he was headed out to the stadium.

Today would be a day of conversation.  When he left, I approached a couple that were talking in Spanish.  He was from Uruguay and she from Argentina.  They shared my same thoughts.  They were shocked at how expensive Australia was even when they knew it wouldn’t be cheap.  They had planned to stay about a month and a half but were returning in a few days after being here a month.   The lady on the left was also speaking Spanish to her mom as she fed her.  It was obvious that her mom had Parkinson’s. My mom had Parkinson’s and their interaction brought back so many memories.  I still miss her so very much.

The One Who Got Away, Sydney, Australia

The One That Got Away

I still have a ways to go and decide to explore a supermarket and get some things to snack on at home.  Found a brand that reminded me of home.  🙂

Latina!!

The city reminds me once again that even with the chill, it is Spring.   I go by a flower store with orchids, trees in full bloom and flowers at ground level.             Orange Flowers

As I get close to the apartment (flat for Aussies and Brits) the bowling club (lawn bowling for us) is in white.

This is how I picture lawn bowling.  So civilized.

Young Bowling Fan

 

The church a block from the apartment is usually closed.  Today, as I pass, it bids me to come in.     

Australia is a very laid back country.  Even the signs take a rest at times…   My turn now.

Categories: Australia, Bondi Beach, Bronte, Dover Heights, Kings Cross, Queen Victoria Building, Town Hall | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

P.D.R.

I do not want to leave Luang Prabang and am seriously considering letting my inner child take over and let her stomp her feet, throw herself on the floor, little fists in a ball, face streaked with tears and yelling: “I don’t want to gooooo!”  But the adult in me knows that it won’t go well with the rest of the group and primarily, that it will do me no good.  So my bag is packed and out the door.  I delight myself in some local flora and pretend I’m here to stay.  

Laos P.D.R. is the full name of the country.   P.D.R. stands for People’s Democratic Republic though it is also an acronym for the country’s way of life:  “Please Don’t Rush”  I don’t want to rush in its discovery.

But then comes a tuk tuk ride to the bus.  A daylong bus ride to Vang Vieng is ahead of us.  We are warned that most of it will be on a windy, bumpy road.  We are going to stop for bathroom breaks and to visit hill tribes along the way.  Noon will find us at a “pretty for pictures” mountain-high restaurant.  I mistakenly wrote I was on the “death road” yesterday.  Well my mind got things mixed up and it was today.   It is going to take us –on a good day- between 6 to 8 hours to get to our destination.

At the beginning, the road offers the usual scenery.  Fields along the way, houses, sky, mountains in the distance.  Then I doze off and awake to this…     

Suddenly the words “bumpy”, “windy”, “hill”, and “mountain-high”, connect!  I add “death-road”, “vertigo”, “ouch”, “Can I get off now?”  Later I would read that the road was “not recommended for nervous persons”.  There are few to no barriers separating the bus from a vast ravine.  Someone asks if I had fallen asleep because I was too quiet.  No, I say.  I’m just too queasy to talk!

No wonder my head hurts.  It’s been bouncing against the window.  Sort of like the head of those dogs they use for good fortune (the ones that their head bobs on any movement.) Fortunately, my palpitations will be reduced by a walk in the hill tribe village we stop at. 

We are the local entertainment.   

A protective older sister wraps her arm around her sibling and as I press my shutter gives me a look of  “don’t you mess with my sister”. 

We are invited by a local to visit his home.  In all the villages and homes we have visited there is a television and satellite alongside abject poverty.  But these people do not live in misery for they are content with who and where they are.

Kitchen at entrance.    

Our host lives in this home with his wife and 11 children.  He answers all our questions and I see in his eyes wonderment and disbelief in some of the things we are curious about.

There is a strange flickering noise in back of me that is a bit unsettling (Is something alive there?) but I don’t want to be rude, turn and potentially run out screaming if I find a strange animal resides in that corner.   

Other kids join us or come in.   

And we leave.  We are still the entertainment.     

Can you tell who will be the gang leader from this photo?  

After a few hours –many more than I like- we arrive at the restaurant for lunch.  Mr. Peng laughs as he sees my expression of horror as he parks the bus head first, facing the precipice.  Lucky me is in the front row.  Okay, you are close enough, please stop the bus, stop please, STOP, NOW!!!  

We go to “happy place” (local speak for bathroom) first.    

Then a little walk uphill towards the restaurant.  To my left a view of the road. 

To my right, a scene that could be labeled many ways.  My whole being quiets and settles.  

A view of where we came from.  We are at approximately 5,000 ft.  

Reaching the restaurant, a little figure, advertising god-knows-what, seems so out of place that we all gawk at it and name it “little happy laughing girl Buddha”.     

We eat.  Wash our hands.  Explore the surroundings a little more.  and back to the bus for another couple of hours till we stop at a mountain food market.  You aren’t tired already, are you?

We are instructed not to point our cameras at any of the dead animals that are offered (head and all).  Seems that these vendors are fully aware of Facebook and that a photo may go up that will force authorities to come in and fine or confiscate.  They sell some animals that are not supposed to be sold.  Fortunately I see none with a face to it.

There are a lot of “normal” selections of fruit and vegetables. 

Bamboo shoots.  

Banana blossom. 

Taro.  I would later have taro soup and then taro ice cream. 

And something that is nowhere near common or normal in my book.  Our guide points out what looks like a stalk of something and says that it is a delicacy in his country.  I am leery.  Delicacy = very odd, strange, gross, inedible, retching-induced!

Our vendor starts the process.

She peels.  

Almost done.  

And out comes the yuckiest of worms.  It has been cooked in the stalk but that doesn’t make it any more appetizing.   Our guide repeats it’s a delicacy and proceeds to eat it.  Amazingly, so did one of our group who told everyone it tasted like chicken.

Ohhh, the Americans ate the worm!  

Back on a bus that, at this point, nobody wants to be in.   Another hour and another stop at another happy place where, believe it or not, they sell Kit Kats and Snickers. I buy them and eat them both in a nano second!  I don’t even like chocolate but somehow it was appropriate and satisfying to do so. It didn’t stop me from trying the local taro ice cream, either.

A million years more of a bus ride (or so it seemed) and my sore bottom and me arrive in Vang Vieng.  The bus is too big for the city streets so we shall walk to the hotel.  Vang Vieng has the reputation of being a backpacker’s paradise and it lives up to the fame with advertising for tubing, zip-lining, trekking, parties, etc.  I get a kick out of one that is none of those.

Are you over seacall?  Busticker anyone?  

Sign with all the familiar breakfast (at least for the Brits) 

We had seen an ad for a balloon ride in the plane and wanted to do it but once we saw the balloon and how incredibly close he got to that building we change our minds.   

The ever-present temple along the way.  

As I look towards a street vendor, I capture her expression right before she gives me the thumbs up signal.  

Graffiti in Laos? 

Then a road that becomes indicative of the type of resort we are staying at. 

Though it hardly matters where we sleep for this is the view before us.       

We eat well.

Pumpkin soup.  

Remnant of my tilapia.   

After which I dive, literally dive onto my not so soft bed.  Lots of excitement to be had tomorrow!

Categories: BLT+ (Burma) Myanmar, Laos, Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

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