We’re traveling again, this time to one of my favourite cities in all of Asia – Luang Prabang, Laos. Another good test for my memory as I’ve been here many times before coma, not since. An old French colonial town with a great restaurant of that cusine by recollection. Lots of temples (wats) and Buddhist monks. A real timeout from the hustle and bustle, dare I say a spiritual place. Lao is a journey back in time. Flying through the capital village Vientiane, village is more appropriate then city as the airport is surrounded by greenery and not many buildings. I saw houses and didn’t see a building taller than 5 stories, only one of those. Extremely rare and different to Singapore or any other modern western city, heaven forbid New York. And then the airport at Luang Prabang was even further back in time, flying through rock formations and forests. Indeed being here must be like life a long long time ago, maybe 100 years. Walking the streets of Luang Prabang there are old primitive buildings. We found that French restaurant I remembered, L’Elephant. That animal seems to be an emblem for them here. We had an excellent dinner last night focussed on flavour and texture. Not very much I remember from before coma but one thing I recall, I loved ‘andoiette’, we’ll have to hunt for that sausage of pigs intestine tomorrow. But then again I’m told I also loved the Lao buffalo at the market. The worst thing about the place is the tourists, not so many as in parts of Thailand but Luang Prabang does have the interest of some including me, which must be distracting for the locals. The photo is the spot I take breakfast in the morning by the Mekong river
Last month I returned to my home of birth Melbourne, on Tuesday I went to my actual home, Singapore, not to leave it at that I now return to my spiritual home, Aonang in Thailand. The place I proposed to my wife, we’ve been here many times together. My home of origin – my parents and extended family are from there – is Germany. I’ve been there many times and lived and worked there for a year. I am global these days with the ease of travel despite the global warming effects of flying. As I’ve said many times on this blog Ao Nang is a truly amazing place, the people seem friendlier in Thailand than those in Australia who are always immersed in judgement, eg the boat people and immigration. Australia is a bad place for boat people, I’ve always loved boats all over the world. Globally I found that people of other countries can be less judgemental, there are so many untouchables in India always with a friendly smile on their face. And in Ao Nang the people here seem more aware of life often with an understanding look in their eyes. As is said ‘home is where the heart is’, I’m always home with my wife. Indeed our notions of home are a concept, perhaps a feeling rather than a location.
I always post when traveling for memory, so again I do, I’ve been in Melbourne for a bit now and staying a month to stimulate recollection, it is working a little I think. I can remember recent visits here walking along certain roads, but not really the distant past. I have a new life today, one I’m very pleased with. I actually like Singapore more than Melbourne, one just needs to know where to go to appreciate both cities. There’s more to see and do at home I think, it’s more multicultural in Singapore, and I always thought Melbourne took the cake for multiculturalism. Little Collins near Spring street remains good, the restaurant Barlingha a good place for dinner with friends. Also the Laneway for a drink in the pic very near. And I was told an old favourite had finished, Myers Place but it’s still open, soon to close but at least I got in one last visit.
We are traveling a little more, not very far, we came to Jonker Walk, Melaka, Malaysia. As I’ve said many times it’s a fantastic place, one of my favorite destinations to travel nearby home. Seriously, I only use that term for my wife’s benefit as it’s part of her regular vocabulary, whatever, don’t be like that, I’m very busy… Jonker is the old world with Peranakan charm, it feels great. I was at an old favorite haunt opposite the Geographer for a cider. These posts are very useful for memory, I often use this blog to recall, so now I won’t forget our travels as I’ve forgotten before coma. That’s often my excuse I know, but a valid one, it’s easy to forget for everyone I suspect. I’m understanding memory to be a trying thing for all people, not just coma victims…
To provide an update after getting home, I don’t think we’ll go there for a very long time. It took 8 hours to drive home because of traffic jams on the expressway, 6 to get there, and now costs around $150 a night for a decent room. Previously it took 3 hours to drive there including customs and cost $45 for an excellent room. Ah well, such a nice place which has now become overrun by tourists like all my favorite destinations…
Arriving home from Ho Chi Minh I have less than 2 weeks to wait for my next trip overseas. We again go to one of my favourite places in Asia, Jonker Walk, Melaka, Malaysia. Ho Chi Minh was good for 4 days but Jonker is better in my mind. To consider which is my favourite destination in Asia is hard but 3 of them immediately come to mind, Hoi An, Luang Prabang, and Jonker. Before coma my absolute favourite was definitely Luang Prabang but I haven’t been there since I came out. I know I always loved Hoi An and have been there about 3 times since, but Jonker being only a 3 hour drive from home and such a historic place steeped in Peranakan culture is probably the best destination I’ve been since coma. Can’t wait to go back, and i’ve caught it again, the travel bug. My wife loves the place too and also has the bug, one of the many reasons we’re together.
I feel I should post for important events in my life so that I remember, I am traveling again, in Ho Chi Minh city Vietnam right now. It’s been a while since we’ve been here, about a year, one of my many favorite destinations of Asia. My memory is so terrible that I had forgotten Australians need a visa to come here, Singaporeans don’t. My wife thought these things were in train but enquired about it the night before flying. I tried to arrange a visa online at 3 in the morning, just 8 hours before our flight. After repeatedly calling and emailing the visa provider we finally spoke to someone about an hour before our gate closed at the airport. I then received a required document via email about 15 mins before the gate closed, it was necessary to have this document of visa approval to board the plane. Amazingly we are here now in Ho Chi Minh about to go to an old favourite haunt, the Continental Hotel for a Vietnamese coffee. We are staying across the road at another good hotel, the Caravelle.
Since I have made a habit of posting when traveling, it’s good for my memory, my wife and I went to Melaka in Malaysia again this weekend. To one of my favourite places there, Jonker walk. Quite old world it is, the buildings, even the hotel in the middle of the dilapidated town, everything about the place. I often compare Jonker to one of my other favourite destinations, Hoi An in Vietnam. In both places it feels like you are in another time period, maybe 100 years ago, except for the cars. Apparently developed by the Chinese and Portuguese, Melaka is a city derived from the harbour many years ago, circa 15th century. I reckon everyone would love Jonker walk, not just romantics like me.
Parts of Kyoto are the old Japan, a must visit. Walking around the temples yesterday my mind tried to imagine the people of the past here, 500 years ago, among others Samurai and Geisha. I discovered today that there is a free shuttle bus every 15 minutes to JR Osaka station from our hotel. My Wife told me about it and so we caught a super express train from JR Osaka Station to Kyoto. It was good to see Japan out of a train window. In Kyoto, first stop was the Kiyomizudera temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site founded in 780AD. We had to walk through a very old village, traditional old Kyoto in the Higashiyama district, to get to the temple. We walked across the slope of a hilly area where the temple was atop. Then down to Gion and into the most well known Geisha street, the Hanamikoji for dinner.Today was the journey to Fukuoka, to stay near the airport for one night to catch a flight home tomorrow. A last ride on the fast train, the Shinkansen. Really Japan is very modern, the trains and the stops, everything. I suspect this is the future way to travel because of global warming, although there are still many cars here. Once solar energy is well established and there are magnetic trains we can be cleaner in respect to our carbon emissions. Train departed 13:42 arrived 16:11 travelling 611km with about 6 stops.
Like most tourists to Osaka I visited the castle today. My walking was terrible however, probably about 1km / hr. Nothing for it fellow coma victims, just time for the brain to rebuild. Japan is a most excellent country, the people appear quite friendly, if only I could understand them. First stop was Hiroshima, a nice place too especially when one considers the atomic bomb. My word you wouldn’t know now what happened there. Centrally the city has been rebuilt, there are places however that remember the past, the peace memorial for one. The first hotel in Osaka was appalling and I had to change. I’m now at the Imperial hotel which is great compared to the first. Sashimi dinner here last night was absolutely fantastic, amazing. I have always thought Japanese food the best in the world, along with French, both cuisines are so focussed on flavour and presentation, artistry. Travelers often say that the best way to experience a culture is through the food. I’ve always been interested in trying local delicacies when traveling and love the food here. Sashimi is one of my favourites dishes in the world. Last nights perhaps the best I’ve ever had, can’t wait for tonights dinner. Same again I suspect, but I also had a French inspired dish last night, foi gras, I love that dish too.
The following day I went to Dotonbori, another great place, a little like a Chinatown in many cities, alleyways with street level shops, my walking only slightly improved from the castle. It always goes up and down my walking, after 5 years I still can’t relate to my right leg although the downs seem to be becoming less severe, the ups more frequent.
Back at one of my favourite places in this world, the airport, next stop Bangkok. A great opportunity to test my memory again having been there about 20 times starting 30 years ago. It was one of my first international destinations after Germany when a child. I will definitely return to Khao San road having been there many times. Just a couple of days in Bangkok now for my wife’s work. I feel traveling and observing other cultures is one the most important things we can do.
A most excellent day yesterday when we went to old favourite places in Thailand, Railay and Phra Nang beaches. I first went to these places about 30 years ago, indeed they have been taken over by tourists now but still have a natural beauty, no wonder I liked them so much all those years ago but in former times they were more desolate, now more like Orchard rd in Singapore.