Baboons fascinating and. . . stubborn as some mules

Morocco- BBC- Credit- Zakaria Aït Wakrim)

Morocco: (Source: BBC/Zakaria Aït Wakrim)

In Part 1, I chronicled my “adventures” in Mexico and Nova Scotia.  Here, a three-star restaurant dining experience in France is beyond disappointing, a baboon is more than fascinating, and a revolution is less than terrifying.

Part 2

My next mishap took place in France.  We had eaten well in Rabat, Fez, Marrakesh and Agadir in Morocco, sampling a stew of camel meat and other food of unknown provenance.  So far, so good, literally good.

My wife at the time and I then took a short flight to Lyon, where I had long before made a reservation to have dinner at a three-star restaurant that same evening.

We ordered a bit recklessly, and an extravagant feast was laid before us with ceremony unaccustomed to us.  At the moment the first course appeared, Continue reading

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An Optimist’s History of Disappointment and Denial

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See all those scuba divers returning to our five-day live aboard after seeing glorious sights under water.  I’m not among them.

When it comes to vacations, there is an essential truth in hoping for the best and expecting the worst.  Yet I never imagined that the worst would occur so persistently over the decades in my travels around the world—from Suriname to Singapore and Kenya to Kazakhstan—for work and pleasure.

Part 1

Despite a string of mishaps, I see nothing like travel as a source of stimulation, respite and new perspectives.

What inspired this fit and healthy older guy to assess the odds is the debacle of my trip to Indonesia in October 2015.  But let me begin at the beginning. . .

Equipped with Continue reading

When dining al fresco, Cambodians may sit like children

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Your first encounter with streetside dining in Cambodia may well produce a smile and a puzzled expression. It did mine.

You’ll see grown men and women Continue reading

It is hard to keep old folks from making me feel guilty

kissingerThe older I get, the more religiously do I check out obituaries.  I doubt that I am not unlike many other of my contemporaries and folks who are much older than me.  Of particular interest to me is the causes of death.

But there is one aspect of obits of the elderly that gnaws at me.  It concerns particular phrases or sentences that I note all too frequently for my taste, especially regarding octogenarians and nonagenerians.  The phrasing tends to run something like this: Continue reading

Two schools represent distinction with a big difference

IMG_5604The complex in the photo above was called S-21 by the Khmer Rouge.  Today it is known variously as the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields Museum of Cambodia.

The facility had been converted from a public high school to an incomprehensibly brutal prison in 1975-79, when up to 2 million Cambodians died.  Of the 14,000 ordinary citizens believed to have been incarcerated there, only seven survived the starvation, inhuman living conditions, torture and outright execution.

Toul Sleng is a 10-15-minute walk from my home, and I have occasion to pass by regularly.  It is wholly visible from the roof of my 15-story building.  Seeing it Continue reading

Bhutan is a destination worth adding to your bucket list

275Bhutan is everything wonderful you may have heard about the landlocked country that celebrates its “Gross National Happiness.”  It also is a bit less.  

What’s I mean by “less” relates to
Continue reading

Grandmas, adolescents on motos common in Cambodia

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Older women driving a motorcycle or scooter — generically a “moto” — is a familiar sight in Cambodia.  This presumed family is in the thick of homeward-bound traffic, but “mom” and child wear no helmet as required by a much-ignored law.  Crossing the intersection behind them is a vendor with his wares.

In much of Southeast Asia, the streets are clotted with motos — motorcycles or scooters. Since they cost less than cars, the vehicles are the least expensive way to upgrade from traveling by foot or bicycle. They also are a major contributor to air pollution.

Because the two-wheelers are everywhere, foreigners quickly take their presence for granted and many expats adopt them for transportation.

You see drivers of every kind fearlessly navigating congested streets and, for the most part, skillfully dodging each other, bicyclists, pushcarts and SUVs. They speed (in relative terms) around obstacles, occasionally bump into each other and generally shrug at minor collisions. During the work day, traffic usually goes no faster than 20 miles per hour (33 km), but there are plenty of close calls.

Still,  Continue reading