The best thing about Hoi An

December 23, 2013

Bicycles!

Cycling the countryside of Kim Bong

Cycling the countryside of Kim Bong

We borrowed bikes from our fabulous hotel, Villa Hoa Su and took the ferry to the village of Kim Bong.

"One dolla" for the tourists.  10 cents for the locals.  I negotiated a half price return which was great fun.

“One dolla” for the tourists. 10 cents for the locals. I negotiated a half price return which was great fun.

Kim Bong has wood carvers that make furniture and carve buddhas and other objects for tourists. But mostly they make and repair boats. These boat yards were on a smaller scale than our local Port Townsend yard.

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And my favorite part was peddling through the rice fields and vegetable gardens. The roads are built for scooters, motorcycles and bicycles. No cars could maneuver the streets and byways.

If the Wizard of Oz had been written by Vietnamese, the Scarecrow would have dressed like this.

If the Wizard of Oz had been written by Vietnamese, the Scarecrow would have dressed like this.

The cows were tied along the river and looked much fatter than Mexican cows.

The cows were tied along the river and looked much fatter than Mexican cows.

These women were riding with over 100 pounds of marigolds on their bikes.  One tipped over and Chris was there to assist.

These women were riding with over 100 pounds of marigolds on their bikes. One tipped over and Chris was there to assist.

The village was a grid of streets for two-wheeled traffic only.

The village was a grid of streets for two-wheeled traffic only.

And after a fine day of exploring the Vietnamese countryside, chatting with residents that actually were not used to seeing tourists and were eager to practice their English, we enjoyed a delicious meal at, of course, The Morning Glory Restaurant

Sea bass with spinach and "red risotto."  Scrumptious.

Sea bass with spinach and “red risotto.” Scrumptious.

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Elephants

December 1, 2013

My first up close and personal with an elephant was 20 years ago in a parking lot behind a conference center in San Jose, CA. I had taken my nephew, Joseph, to see the Ringling Brothers for his birthday.
Because I didn’t know where I was going, we got there very early, as the finale of the first show was ending and the elephants were leaving the arena to go to their pens. My experience, as they passed, was awe. These giant animals were silent in their movement, making only a soft shushing sound as their flat gray feet, tractionless, made a little slide on the pavement.

Having an elephant experience in Thailand was a dream that I fought with: was I being a destructive tourist, hurting the species more than helping with my desire? I researched elephant friendly conservation companies and the choices that seemed the best for a day with the elephant were fully booked well past our stay in Chiang Mai. I said “Ka Poon Ka” thank you to the booking agent at our hotel and with some sadness let it all go. Not meant to be.

The knock on my room door, the booking agent, found that Eddy Elephant Care had an opening for me and Gwen. Eddy has a small piece of land with an arena area for meeting the elephants and a short ride through the forest. He contracts rides with local elephant owners and he has one elephant of his own that is considerably older than he. He serenaded us with guitar as we waited for elephants and rested after a tasty homemade lunch of omelet, curry and stir fry. Eddy, I believe, is a sincere young man, spending his days with foreigners and elephants and hoping to buy more land and rescue elephants that need rescuing. I was happy to hand over my bhat to him and his co-workers.

We stopped at a market on our way out of town and bought big bags of bananas to use to introduce us to the elephants

We stopped at a market on our way out of town and bought big bags of bananas to use to introduce us to the elephants

Jenny is 6 years old and though I was taught commands in Thai, she only listened to her young mahout, no matter how many bananas I gave her.

Jenny is 6 years old and though I was taught commands in Thai, she only listened to her young mahout, no matter how many bananas I gave her.

By the end of the day, we all grew comfortable with the working tusk.

By the end of the day, we all grew comfortable with the working tus

And this precious girl was 29 days old and sleeping through it all.  When we returned, she was up and at 'em.

And this precious girl was 29 days old and sleeping through it all. When we returned, she was up and at ’em.

Elephants are at risk in Thailand. As with so many of the large mammals with which we share this planet, we encroach on their habitat. I did read this article about the forest monks protecting the forest from illegal logging which was encouraging. Blessings to Jenny and her young owner, whose name I could not pronounce, and all those working to protect the elephants.

September 15, 2010

Inspired by a writing prompt from Writing Alone and With Others

What matters?  Honesty matters.  Not that I would flat out lie to you.  Self deception is the puzzle to be solved.  Is the voice saying “Go For It” the voice of my Higher Self or the voice of self destruction.  Self destruction should be an oxymoron.  For some, it probably is.

Family matters.  Which family?  Family of homo sapiens. Family of sentient beings.  Family of Origin.  Expanding the family that matters matters.

Water matters.  My body is over 50% water.  The infant I hold, over 75%.  I have the privilege to sit beside an alpine stream running through granite mountains.  In silence I watch the brown trout, swimming in place waiting for a meal to appear.  Every human has the right to clean water.  Water rights matter.

Scribbling words on a page matters.  Thoughts translated to words, transcribed to the page.

Love matters.  Honestly.  Love of family, of the earth, of the creative process and going for it.  Love of exploration matters and failure matters.  Starting over matters more than giving up.

I am not giving myself an F in blogging because here I am, trying again.  It has been ages since the last post because I have been grandparenting, friending, sistering, daughtering and hiking in the breathtaking High Sierra Camps of Yosemite National Park.  Since I do not own a smart phone and left my computer in the trunk of the car for most of this trip, I did not post to WordPress.

What can I say?  I’m old fashioned.  Being with my family and friends trumped being in cyberspace. One of my friends still has, better sit down for this one, dial-up.

I hope all that may ever read this blog will have spent the better part of August 2010 with their computers turned off, surrounded by those they love, breathing the fresh air of their favorite camping spot.

Back to work.

a living thing in the forest

In 2002, Martin Feldstein wrote an article for the National Bureau of Economic Reseach describing a plan to decrease US consumption of gasoline.  Very shortly after 9/11, the connection between oil and national security was easily made.  I love the idea of Oil Consumption Vouchers as described in Feldstein’s article.

Last winter I read The Lacuna, a novel by Barbara Kingsolver and she described how, in the 30’s We the People pulled together, embraced rationing, for the common good of our nation and the world.  Americans had a common goal.  We were united.  I was not born yet, but I know women who painted lines up the back of their legs to simulate nylon stocking seams to give the illusion that they were not out in the world bare-legged.

Oil Consumption Vouchers could be our modern Community Voyage.  Conservatives and Progressives may not agree on why we, as a country, need to decrease our dependence on fossil fuel.  National security, global warming, save the earth, save our strategic political/economic dominance, decrease the deficit.  It really does not matter why you might choose to participate.  We can each hold our opposing ideologies and achieve the same goal:  use our own oil reserves as much as possible.

OCV’s will not solve the problem, but it is a step and more importantly, it is a step we can take together.

Our government needs our help.  Our democratic system is struggling right now.  Politicians are squeezed between the need to make vast sums of money to get reelected with the lobbyists holding all the power and the fringe of their constituencies.  Tea party, Coffee party, Blue Dogs.  And the majority of us now call ourselves “independent” and wait for the radicals to elect their candidates in the primaries so that we can choose from lesser evils in the general election.  We the People need to step up for energy policy, national security, deficit reduction, planet health and take action on our own behalf.

Unfortunately, I cannot find another reference to this plan.  I have written to Dr. Feldstein asking for more current information.  His assistant says that he is traveling.  I will await his reply.  Oh, and send him this blog entry.

Are you in?

There are people in my world that believe in an endless supply of crude oil in Alaska and any talk of limited oil is a lie made by the left. They believe that electric cars are “just an Obama-thing” and will go away after Obama is voted out of office. And yes we are destroying the earth and in that destruction, fulfilling biblical prophecy as we await the second coming of Christ and heaven on earth.

We agree that neighbors helping neighbors is important. We agree that family is important. We agree that Dungeness crab is tasty and we have our licenses. But politics? No common ground anywhere, except to perhaps agree to disagree. I don’t see common ground, causing paralysis, even in writing on this blog.

I have been reading about the Tea Party in an effort to, as Sun-tzu, Chinese general & military strategist (~400 BC) suggested, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” The words on the website seem reasonable enough, but the writers and comments by members indicate that they really do not want consensus, they want their way. There is no room for conversation. The progressives calling for a non-violent revolution are not any more wiling to work with their conservative counterparts. What happened to all those nice middle of the road people like me? Feeling paralyzed?

So, in my quest for understanding, I turn to my spiritual path. If the world has gone crazy, go inside. Be. When do-ing is futile, be.

A life without beliefs. Steve Williamson has an idea about this that I am attracted to. Lets see how it works for awhile.