Photography


This past week saw me doing a lot of walking all over Bangkok as part of a new freelance job. I’ve been taking pictures of various sights and points of interest in the city, spending whole days on my feet. I forgot how sprawling this city is.

My legs and feet are tired, I think I lost a ton of weight and I saw some parts of the city I did not exactly care to see. On the upside I saw some parts of the city I have not been to before and stumbled onto a really pretty temple.

Wat Ratchabophit lies somewhat east of the palace grounds and is therefore not nearly as visited and popular as the wats around the palace. I arrived here late in the afternoon and the grounds were virtually deserted except for a small group of devotees congregated in the main viharn. The temple was built in a circular style with vibrant tiles adorning its walls.

I know I’ve been terrible with blogging and reading blogs and keeping things up. Blame it on all the walking. We’re heading south today though and hopefully I’ll get a little more time to update again. And remember to send me you entries for HHDD#23.

The Ho Chi Minh alleys proved just as fascinating and colorful a place to wander around in than the ones I so love in Hsinchu.

And being slightly wider, they provide the ideal spot for setting up an informal cafe, or passageway-market.

We spent about a week in characterful Hoi An, a former port city dating back to the 17th Century, visited by merchants from Japan, China and Europe. Some traders settled here and the architecture of the town is a unique blend of building styles. The old town is basically a living museum. Many families still live in the same homes as their ancestors and many of of the ancient buildings are now home to tailors, lantern stores and cafes.

In order to preserve the buildings there are strict traffic regulations in the old town. Only motorcycles and bicycles are allowed in the area, and during most part of the day motorcycles have to be pushed around the streets with the engines turned off.

The most famous site in Hoi An, and the town’s symbol, is the Japanese Bridge, a lovely old bridge still in use by pedestrians to move from one side of the town to the other.

We’re back in Vietnam, enjoying the syrupy local drip coffee with sweet milk daily. It’s something I’ve become so addicted to on our trip to Hanoi that we bought some drips and took them home to Bangkok to make our own. It was good fun making it at home, but it’s much more satisfying when you sit on a low stool at a street side cafe, enjoying a warm cup, watching fruit hawkers cycling by.

We spent our first two nights in Danang. It was not on the top of our list of places to visit, but as we’re partially on a working trip, Alexander being busy doing some travel research, we had to pass through. We mainly spent our time along the banks of the Han River, which is peaceful and attractive enough, so much so that at times you were not even aware of the fact that this is the country’s fourth largest city. On our last afternoon we crossed the river with the help of a local fisherman who offered to paddle us across for a small fee.

One of the highlights for me of Danang were the coloured awnings outside many of the shop fronts, shading the them from the tropical midday sun.

I will update you soon about our next destination, Hoi An, where we wandered among quaint antique shopping streets and had some clothes tailored.

Mailboxes often add a little more character to the pretty red doors around town.

Some seem as battered and worn as the doors they hang from, like this funky green one.

While others still seem to be functioning like these ones on the door of a small apartment building downtown.

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I was going to do a recipe blog of this fabulous and decadent South African treat, but between a cat lost and found oceans away from here, a bag that needed finishing and preparing for a visit and two days on Ko Samet I did not get to any of that. So for the recipe I followed, go visit Jeanne’s site, Cooksister. She did a fine job of blogging about it and to her goes all the credit for how great mine came out (my boyfriend’s words- not mine!).

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I made two tarts, but there was not enough dulce de leche for the second tart, so I whipped up some more cream and mixed in some peppermint essence and peppermint crisp for a truly sinful topping.

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Now we are off for two days on Ko Samet. All this holidaying recently have kept us busy and we need a break! I finally finished my sister’s bag that I’ve been promising her for about 7 months and will take it with for a shoot. Expect some pictures next week.

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Although this was my third trip to Cambodia, I have never been to the coast before. So when we started planning our trip we were very certain that we wanted to see some of the country’s coast this time round. We were researching Sihanoukville, when we discovered that somewhat to the east of this famous beach city lies Kep.

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Kep, allegedly, used to be the place to be from the thirties to the late sixties. The glamorous and wealthy of yesteryear all owned attractive modernist villas and enjoyed weekends of luxury in this see-and-be-seen coastal town. But then came the Khmer Rouge with their penchant for destruction and years of civil war and Kep was abandoned. It’s inhabitants fled or were killed and their villas used as target practice by distruction-crazed soldiers.

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Recently, however, Kep has been having some sort of a revival. Its close proximity to Phnom Penh, loads of giant crab found in the bay and a need for less crowded coastal property seems to have caused a teeny tourism boom. A couple of very attractive guest houses have sprung up in the hills behind the town. Some new and some in renovated former villas.

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We decided to stay spend our two nights on the coast at Veranda Natural Resort, a beautiful sprawling resort set in the hills behind the town’s crab market with views of the ocean and some Vietnamese islands in the distance. Our bungalow had two ‘rooms’. One was in the bungalow and the other was part of our veranda. There was also a hammock and we enjoyed lovely ocean views and were visited by a giant gecko on our second night.

The grounds at Veranda was something amazing. The province of Kampot where Kep is, is known for its rich soil and fresh produce and it was very obvious from all the fruits growing in abundance in our garden.

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Bananas, mangoes, papayas, pineapples, chillies and guavas seemed to be growing wild.

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There were numerous coconut trees as well as loads of jackfruit trees. Their enormous fruits dangling precariously from the branches.

And of course Kampot’s most famed export was also to be found in our garden.

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Kampot pepper. Most definitely the best fresh pepper I have ever tasted. Spicy, but not overwhelming, and a floral hint that leaves you wanting more. We made sure that we ordered at least one dish with fresh Kampot pepper whenever we dined.

Whereas Kampot province is famous for pepper, Kep is nowadays famous for crab. Hence the statue in the first image. The crab is caught pretty much right in front of your eyes at the crab market. From the side the market looks like homes dropping into the deep ocean, but the water is actually quite shallow. While sitting inside any of the numerous restaurants in the market you can watch the ladies of the markets wading out into the ocean and dragging back the crab cages.

On weekends, day trippers from the capital flock to the market to dine on mountains of crab and buy some fresh crab to take with back to the city.

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We came for lunch both days we were in Kep. The food was incredible. Both times we ordered the crab curry with fresh pepper. It was a divine dish. I literally sat with one crab leg for about 10 minutes, savoring the sauce, the meat and the pepper. I think I could happily eat this everyday. It was incredible. We also enjoyed some fresh squid and fish but nothing came close to the crab.

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Sadly we had to leave for Phnom Penh again after only two nights for visa business. But I know that I will have to go back to Kep to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, the abundance of fruit, and of course, the crab and the pepper again.

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