Saturday, November 28, 2009

Book - Little England.

I have a habit of reading several books at the same time. No idea why. I just do. Now is the time for the English. Enough of China already. So,

Our friends view.

Our writers
Blowing our own trumpet.
Our deviousness.

Our Pugnaciousness.

Well, quite a mix, but do they tell us who we English is? Not for an Englishman to say I guess.... but a non brit wouldn't get through the first book!! Guess,that says it all really.

Book - Xanadu

Xanadu. Man's latest. Guardian review. I think he really sets out to debunk the idea that Marco Polo didn't visit China...... which he does convincingly I think. Marco was only 17 years young when he left Venice for China with his father and uncle for whom this was a return visit. They came back to Venice 24 years later when Marco would have been about 41 years old. 5 or 6 years after that he was taken prisoner in the Venice/Genoa war and whilst a captive, an opportunist 'hack' writer ghosted Marco's 'stories', in few months. Well, what can I tell you? No surprise the book had a few blurring of facts with fictions then!!! A good read, of course. Still tracking down Attila the Hun.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Eagle feeding.

Really annoying not to get decent pics, but the chick is being fed red meat. I think they are Grey Headed Fish Eagles. If they are, they are quite rare. Found a sound clip of their call at

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Building Singapore.

Wonder if he has told the engineers he has moved their creation?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Halong Bay Caves

Some of those shear sided islands in the bay are hollow.

Wildly lit by coloured lamps,

which do highlight the extraordinary forms.

By way of contrast,  an uncoloured lump of limstone.

The island we visited had two seriously big caverns.  The story is that the Vietnamese fleet hide the stakes used to impaled the Chinese war junks in this cave.  I believe it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Halong Bay Islands

The bay area is big.  Tourist boats ply a fixed route(s) so you cannot avoid them.  There are so many sightseers.  This is a hawker's boat.  Pulls up to your boat and tries to sell you  fruit.

Very dreamy.  A series of steep sided islands with mists that blurr and do give you a sense of depth.   The Vietnamese fleet beat the Mongolian invading fleet in the bay by driving wooden stakes into the river bed for the chinese junks to impale themselves on as the tide went out.  Dem Mongolians turn up all over the place!!!

I must have a thing about eagles. 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Halong Bay Boats

We had boat identical to this ourselves. Just 5 of use.

A sun deck with potted plants.

Dinning room. There more crew than passenges. The food was scrumptous but I will have wait for Richard's food photo's to display here.

Richard's pic arrived.

Bigger boats have live on accompadtion for over night trips round the bay.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Nesting Eagles

These are not the original pair we saw visiting the nest a couple of months ago.  Still to identify the type of raptor they are. 

But these guys have produced a chick!!!  Not very old in this picture.  How cool is that.  I have the camera on permanent station at the window,  binoculars at the ready!!

This shot is with 75 mm.  The close shots are at 300 mm. Zoom.  The Cannon is 8.5 MPix.  So a bit of a challenge to get a decent photo. I have the camera on a stable platform, using 100 ISO. Keep waiting for a clear atmosphere.  Not often in Singapore!!   Any other ideas?

Lotus Fund Raising

Our stall at the Red Dot Museum MAAD Art Fair.  The fair is held at the beginning of each month to help promote individuals artistic endeavours.

'Four Singaporeans and an Englishman'  are raising funds for the Lotus Children's Centre in Ulaanbaatar through the sale of paintings, photographs, magnet coasters and other stuff.  Over the two days we managed to take 1,400 SGD.  So, a big thanks to all the familly members and friends who turned up to support Lotus.  A great result.  We will be at the Red Dot again on the weekend 5/6th December.  If you cannot make it to MAAD and wish to help Lotus, please visit our blog at

Friday, November 13, 2009


Sa Pa district is about serious terracing.

The whole area, every possible postage stamp sized bit of land seems to terraced.

Our time there was just after a new planting. So not so green as on the tourist adverts.

but stunning never the less.

Amazing how much smoke comes from a small fire. No breeze, see. Very very still.

And not only rice grows for the table!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sa Pa

Over night sleeper train to Sa Pa.  Well, to Lao Cai an hours drive from Sa Pa.  Great view from hotel balcony.  Central heating in Vietnam?  Surely not....but yes.  Gets COLD.

An old French restort town.  Very interesting history.

Has a formal European Garden.

And some spooky vistas,

and wild life.  This chap was scarely huge.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hanoi Misc.

Hanoi is a modernising city.  Modernising very fast.  All Cities are beginning to look and feel the same to me.  But, hey, no McD or KFC......yet!!!   But here are a few identifiers.  The first is an opposite, an empty road.  You could actually see the tarmac and only one pedal cycalist!!!!

And these, so called rocket house  Very distinctive.  Some only 10/12 feet wide but 4 storey.  And usually stand alone.  There are also tube houses,  not dissimilar to Singapore the Shop houses....thin and deep.

They are also found in the countryside where the same type of land titles apply, inspite of the availablity of  land.  Hope this contiues so that the productive fields are not concreted over.  Food post later.

This is Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum.  Does it look like a Lotus flower to you?  Completely ignoring the poor man's request not to do......they did.  This for a man who lived in a wooden house in the Pesidential Palace grounds!   Go figure.

Love this house.  Fancy living there.  Yes, please.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Hanoi Hilton and Somerset.

The Hanoi Hilton in a 1970 aerial surveillance photo, during the American/Vietnam war.  Click here for more details of the prison's history, none of it nice.

Built by the French, used by the Japanese during thier occupations of the country,  some horrible things went on here.  Not nice.  So, I didn't feel comfortable taking pictures here, so I didn't.  Then I went outside and realised that the place  where we were staying was built on the grounds shown in the first picture above, -  the Somerest Grand Serviced Appartments.

This is the accomodation today.  What to think, what to say?

Friday, November 06, 2009

Hanoi bikes.

It is impossible to not be struck by the motor bikes in Hanoi. Thankfully 'struck' in the sence of shocked!!!

This series of snaps was taken on the drive to the airport.

The competition between us was to take the photo with the most riders. Here we have two heads protected and one mouth

No cheating with cut and paste allowed.

Then, I got it, four a seat a scooter!!!