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Six years of adventure with pics to prove it.

Urfa

Filed under: Turkey — she_travels at 6:53 pm on Tuesday, April 27, 2010

K then, Mom asked me in an email where all the ladies were. There were times when it was tough to know but the place I was staying in Urfa had a set of stairs with a wall. That first morning I sat on the wall watching people and snapping pics for a short time.

Th person in gold is a lady, the person in violet is male. I asked someone the following day if there was some significance to the violet, he said “New Fashion.” I had to work hard not to laugh.

I truly loved the food in this part of the world cause it was all fresh, right off this guy’s cart.

Not only did this lady not have her head covered, she got off the motor bike.

There ya have it the diversity of this part of  the world, a lady showing only her eyes walking in front of two ladies without their heads covered.

This would be one of the reasons people visit Urfa….Park! About center pic you can see a flag…remember it. The park is banked by seven mosques, the songs at prayer time are just this of side give me a headache.

The famous fish pond.

I decided to exit the park space to the right and go up the hill, I was looking for a way to the flag. The park in this pic is to the right.

I kept going up looking for a way to the flag but was having a hard time finding a way through the buildings (homes) to the left.

I finally decided to just walk up and to the left…I mean how lost could a person get with the cliff of the park on one side and the road I was on..on the other. I had not peaked the hill when I found a cemetery.

Woohooo! the flag I had been chasing.

I had existed the park sorta by the tents to the far right just above the fence. See directly to the left…there is a walkway…that was what I was looking for and did not find.

From above the mosque in the 1st pic of  the park.

The fence in the foreground is the edge of the wall from below. It’s a hell of a view. I sat for a spell, was offered tea and a cushion from a guard? in a shack.

That is only half of the park….ok it’s not like Central in NY but dang it’s only the second one I have seen in this part of the world.

I was half heartedly looking for a way down..or around, I started to wonder if this was once upon a time a moat. Cool shot though   huh?

Sure looks like a moat.

Alright, seems there is a set of stairs  I missed while playing in the moat.

I found the way I wanted to come in.

The hill I walked up looking for the flag. The buses are from Iran, tourists, all the ladies are in black.

Yep, right in the middle of town, gotta get your goods to where they can be sold.

-+I wandered down to a market,  bought an orange and was thinking I was headed back to where I started but as I often do I got side tracked by a bazaar. Ya gotta love the bazaars, masses of people buying and selling everything you can imagine…so I start wandering through. It’s a rat maze of a place, even when you think you have a pretty good idea of where you are…you are so wrong. When parts are covered and ya can’t see the sun….your really going to be lost. My plan at these points, and it usually works, is to keep walking until I see something I recognize.

So, I am still walking when I come upon lots of children playing then realize they are being let out of school. Upon seeing the silly American they start saying “Hello”, but that is as far as the conversation goes. I was still thinking I had an idea of where I was when I turned to a little girl and said “Centrum?” Pointing down the street…she shrugged her shoulders but behind me I hear someone shout. When I turned there was a boy pointing to a guy across the street who was looking at me. With more purpose than most people can muster he walked right up to me,  took my hand walked back across the street. What was I going to do? dig in my heels? I went with him.

If I had thought the centrum was north,  he was taking me east…guess that is not so bad.

He stopped on the other side of  the road with a small road/path going up a hill. He looked me right in the eyes to get my attention then waving his arm, without words he told me to go up this hill, lean left and go up the other hill. Cool then, up it is. I shook his hand, said thank you and waved to the children giggling in the street.

I didn’t get four steps when an older guy was at my should waving for m e to follow him…..imagine my surprise when I realized where  I was…in the cemetery at the top of the hill where the flag is. The old man went to the stairs I had missed the first time.

This was at the bottom of the stairs in the park, the mosque is just to my right.

From my 2nd time through the bazaar.

Lots of Gold!

Men every where sitting, chatting and drinking tea.

Hmm something wacky with this pic…. I will look into it.

Looks like that is the last of Urfa. Next Harran!

Day Three ~ Feb 3rd

Filed under: Turkey — she_travels at 2:49 pm on Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dang silly system kicked me out, though I only had a page or so typed tis still very annoying. One can not repeat such prose a second time. Phooey!

I was up before daylight, didn’t get much sleep last night do to the hostel being an echo conductor until 3am. I finally gave up trying at 4am, watched an episode of Castle then popped upstairs and out into the snow for a walk as morning call to prayer started. One does not need an alarm, just wait til five and singing voices can be heard.

It was cold, snowing and blowing, I was very comfy in my new coats, gloves, fleece hat and duck shoes. Yes, I brought two pair of shoes, it was a hard won choice leaving two turtle necks and taking two shoes. No worries both my coats have zippers to my chin.

Pics of my morning walk…

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Blue Mosque

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Hagia Sophia, across the street.

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Sweeping the streets.

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Is that a snow covered Palm Tree?

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Old wood building with the Blue Mosque behind. I was not taking any chances I was keeping  the Blue Mosque in site, the streets here are mostly one lane sorta cobble stones, that do twist and turn. Some of  the side walks are marble, ya gotta watch ya don’t fall on your arse in the snow and slush.

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See what looks like a blue roof?

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Bits of a castle wall are all over the city here, I was told, by my friend, the other day the people are required to keep it in good repair, the wall must stay.

Ok, very slow connection and it’s getting late,  people want to turn off the light in the dorm room. I will get back to this tomorrow.

Quickly..A new friend found me today, I was wandering the streets near the Grand Bazaar…he suggest I go with him..long story short his family is in the carpet business, they offer me and two other ladies, food, drink conversation and many lessons in carpets. It was an afternoon well spent.

At one point I mentioned I do not get this kind of attention from men in my country and was there anyway to fend them off without insulting anyone.  The gentlemen from the street jumped up,  disappeared out the door and was back moments later with three silver rings. He told me to choose one and put in on my wedding finger, I did as I was told then asked how much  money he wanted. The guy looked truly offended I offered to buy it. Indeed, very nice people and a delightful afternoon. By the by ~ this new friend designs and sells jewelery world wide and to people such as Hillery Clinton and several other famous Americans I do not remember.

The light is not off yet, just one more thing. We were having lunch when a friend of my new friends niece came in, I did not see him right away but he said “I know her.” When I looked up he was looking at me…I tried to think if anyplace I may have met him, then with a dropped jaw I said “You are the guy from the Metro who told me it was the last stop.”   Remember the cutie….shezz in this huge place the same dude, small world indeed.

Ok more pics and stories later.

Day One ~ Feb 1st

Filed under: Photos — she_travels at 11:28 pm on Monday, February 1, 2010

Purchasing a visa is the 1st thing on the agenda once one is off the plane. The guy was a bit grumpy with other people, noticing this I had my $20us in my passport next to my photo.  He was all kinds of fast, I don’t think he even looked at me.

Passport control was far more time consuming, the place was chock a block full of people from all over the world. The Turks were in a different section, I was in the “all other nationalities” line. It was a dozy, with people cutting in line, pushing, not at all civilized.

Once one is through passport control, they retrieve their checked  bags and head for customs. Strange that, I saw one official looking guy who didn’t so much as glance at me, much less ask any questions or look through my bags , so I headed for the exit sign.

Next up…local currency. I had copied directions from the web and had the bit of paper with me. It told me where the ATM’s were and how to get to the Metro (train) then how to switch from the Metro to the Tram (lightrail). I also had walking directions from the tram stop to the hostel I had booked.

The first boggle came when the ATM machine said, “Your card is expired” Can you believe that? Hell, I had come half way around the world with an expired ATM card. I thought about using my credit card to get cash but when the machine asked for a “pin number” I could not produce…. I took a few deep breaths and realized I had US money I could change into local notes. A very helpful gentlemen pointed me in the right direction, then was kind enough to show me the stairs down to the Metro.

The machine ya have to get your train tokens from, is all in Turkish, being I had just landed I didn’t understand the money yet…so I put a 5tl coin in the machine,  I understood they are 2tl, and one needs two cause of the transfer. When the machine didn’t do what I thought it should I attempted to get my 5tl back… I could not locate the correct button. A group of two men and a lady came up behind me…. I backed off the machine, pointed at it and motioned with a swiping movement from the machine to me…the lady caught on, all three were laughing, she hit a green button and poof, my 5tl coin. By this time an official looking guy had showed up. I said while holding up 2 fingers, “ I need two tokens” The new guy looked at my hand holding the 5 coin and shook his head. This I took to mean, *more money lady*. I took out two small paper notes, he took the 5tl, hit a green button twice stepped back and pointed at the bottom of the machine. Sure enough my change and two red tokens. By this time we had drawn a crowd of 5 or so people all laughing at and with the silly gal who knows nothing. Fun was had by all.

Ok tokens in hand, I watched someone go through the turnstile making sure when I got there I put my newly won red token in the correct slot. Around the corner I found two signs for the place I wanted to go, I hesitated at the top of the stairs when one of the guys with the lady from before passed me giggling waving at me to follow him.

Thank goodness the airport was at the end of the Metro line,  I could not mess up and go the wrong direction.  Once in the train it occurred to me
I had two different sets of directions (one from the hostel and one from a very helpful site called Turkey Travel Planner) on where to transfer to the light rail, while looking at the map on the Metro wall I decide to go to the end of the line past the bus station so in the future I would have an idea of what the buses were about.

When we got to the end of the line, the guy sitting next me said “This is the last stop, you must get off here.” I said “Thank you so much” He was cute!

Alright, so my directions said “As you leave the Metro Station, go through the underground passage and straight onto the pedestrian walkway then walk over the bridge to the tram stop”

Yeah, on paper it looks good but when your standing there looking at a set of stairs going up…ahh what the hell, I don’t see any underground tunnel, I will go up with all the other people who know where they are going. At the top of the stairs I looked about and sure enough another set of stairs down not far off to my left, could this be the mentioned tunnel?  There were all manner of merchants with their wares, I was surprised no one said anything to me.

Up another flight of stairs all I saw was buses and people. I took a few steps closer to the buses looking for a bridge….by jove, people going up another set of stairs, when I looked a bit harder it was over the street, this was making sense. On  the other side I was attempting to locate the “Pedestrian walk” ….thank goodness I sign in English “Tram” with a arrow. Pay Dirt!

More buildings. More shops and more of me wondering if I was going the right direction or was I going to have to flag a cop, wait what do the cops look like here, to get me where I am going.

It was not nearly as far as all that when I saw the tram line, another set of stairs up….I got to the top of the bridge over the tram line and realize I have no idea what direction to take the tram. Deep breath….look at the street signs, your looking for Sultanahmet…indeed I did find a sign so I skipped down the steps to the tram landing but one had to use their last hard won red token so before I did that I flagged a guy in a orange vest.
“This way to Sultanahmet? “ He didn’t understand. “This way to the Blue Mosque”  Mind you everyone around was looking at me like I was American. He nodded his head, “Yes, Blue Mosque this way.” I knew from research the Tram says “Blue Mosque” at the correct stop, so I figured everyone has heard it.

The tram stopped, the people on the platform crushed in. I saw a bitty space just inside the door which could handle me and my bags,  just. The next stop three people got off and many go on, at one point my back was against a wall and I swear that old guy’s elbow was in my breast. Ahh, well what are ya gonna do… oh yeah and there was a screaming kid…whew! Three more stops, I can do this…just three more stops.

The gods were listening cause at the next stop most of the people got off, oh but not  the screaming kid.

Most of the Metro ride from the airport was offering me views of construction, apt buildings or more road. Several of the tram line stops were in a shopping area with very nice shops, the kind of shops you would not catch me in, but pretty to look at. When the tram landed at Sultanahmet I was floored. The first thing you see is a park area offering free wifi. Three Mosques and a bit of shop behind you. When the tram noise died there was a peaceful, calming feeling to the air. Nice place!

I collected my thoughts, sorted my bags and found the walking directions.  I was doing pretty well til the directions said “beyond the traffic light…” I did not see a traffic light, anywhere. While I was trying to decide to go farther down the road or to turn here I was approached by a man who said “You look lost, where do you want to go.”  I said “I am looking for the traffic light but do not see one.” He repeated, “Where do you want to go?”  I handed him the directions and went looking for my conformation paper. Long story short, he knew of the place, asked me if I wanted tea (this culture is all about the tea and conversation, one does not turn people down, and what else did I have to do.)  We had tea, apple tea, yummy, on the balcony of his uncle’s shop with a truly beautiful view of the Blue Mosque and the sea in the distance.  Sadly, I have forgotten his name but he divides his time between here and New Jersey and decided to take it upon himself to solve my bank card problem.

After tea and abit of conversation, he took me to the hostel, waited and then went to the park to call my bank. I will not get into all those headaches but 4 calls, one of which cost me 7 bucks, later I understand Visa 911 is sending me a new temp card, should be here tomorrow and the hostel is going to sign for it.

The three hours we had to wait between phone call one and phone call two, my new friend managed to play local tour guide. Nothing fancy but it was a delightful bit if strolling after being cooped up in plane and airports for 24 hours.

The second phone call led to the third but I had to be in the hostel for the third one, so I thanked my new friend and was off.

Once the third phone call with the Vias 911 people was handled and during which I found out I have to call the bank back about the PIN number, I was given 2 toll free numbers, none worked and the hostel manager guy said “How about if you go to _____ , buy an international phone card and use a public phone.” He pointed me in the direction of the phones and cards.

Did I mention is was a beautiful day, t-shirt weather…when I went out to use the phone is was dark, wet and blowing…YUK. The good news, my brand spankin new REI coat does as advertised, water proof! and I have a 7$ fleece under if from the second hand.

Last call to the bank, nice walk in the dark and rain… shezz what a day I have had. My brain was not working well enough to get my universal plug to function, I was so afraid I was going to have to pack around another useless computer. Whew, a three hour nap and a shower…my neurons are firing again, got the plug to work.

I managed to get two pics today, I know not many but I didn’t want to act a complete tourist when out strolling with my local friend. More pics tomorrow, I promise.

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Tram landing going to Sultanahmet.

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Blue Mosque, last night in the wet and blowing. I thought they called it the Blue Mosque cause the roof is blue but maybe its not cause my new friend says it is blue inside.

I wanted to get some sunrise pics this morning but it is GRAY, gray out there. We will see if  the sun shows later.

By  the by ~ my roommate and I spend most of the night listening to cats fight, they were throwing each other against the window off and on all night. Man! fighting cats can be loud!

Olympic Peninsula…who?

Filed under: Road Trip — she_travels at 10:31 pm on Monday, January 25, 2010

Part of the reason I travel is cause I learn new, it  may be most of the reason,  though I do have an almost pathological need to see what is around the next corner.

I had see many a mountain on this trip. I needed me some sun and sea to play in, the map  suggested the best way to get to the sea was to go by way of highway 20 taking a ferry from the east side to Port Townsend on the west, hmm wonder what they call the bit of water.

Being I don’t plan much of anything I didn’t know,  if you truly wanted a spot on the ferry you were to call the day before, though they do have several spots for drive ups one could be waiting awhile, I was in no hurry and it was still day light.

June09.45

Look familiar?  I waited in line, was not allowed on the 1st ferry to show was assured I would be on the next one. I got out of the car, wandered around a bit then when back to the car to play with my computer.

I was parked in a line with one other car who didn’t get on the 1st ferry. The two lines of space next to me started to full in, these were people who had reserved space the day before. At some point I saw an older lady with two dogs  walking between the cars. I shut my door so they could pass then saw the dogs, one was a classic Pomeranian, the other one was the size of a Pom but his coat looked more like a baby husky, full of fluff.

As I often do while out and about in the world, I asked the lady what on earth the fluffy dog was. She said with no hesitation, “He is a Pom too.”  She also mentioned she gets alot of attention with him cause he loves everyone has much as everyone loves him.

We chatted for a spell when she suggested I lock up my car and go for a walk with she and the dogs, there was still plenty of time before the ferry came aback and we would be able to see it.

By the time we go back to the cars she had decided she wanted me to meet her family.  “You don’t have any plans, why not come home (Port Angeles, on the Olympic Penn) with me?”

“Yeah, sure why not.”

I followed Ms. Pat home from the ferry and stayed two days with she and her family. We sliced three flats of strawberries, had long chats about nothing, made bread and cinnamon rolls and painted all of my fingernails electric blue. It was truly a delightful few days and a nice rest from the nonstop road.

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Cute huh?

I gotta tell ya if ya plan every minute, there is no room for the unexpected.

A few pics from the ferry ride…

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June09.47

Musta found some fishes.

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They looked like whirlpools to me, but I know nothing of such things.

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Birds, birds and more birds, cool pic though!

Spring Break 2009

Filed under: Colorado,Educational — she_travels at 2:15 pm on Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Alrighty, being I am the person who works when everyone else plays, it will come at no shock to you I am working my tail off over here. Spring Break in sunny Colorado. Ok, maybe not my tail being I am online with an update but still…
10 horses
10 dogs
11 cats
1 goat
2 bunnies
4 chickens
and last but not least a Gecko. Who.. yes, folks has to be hand fed.

All these critters are scattered on five properties with the longest distance of about 14 miles, would be 10 but they closed a road so I gotta go up and around. Shezz!

My days are entertaining!

Who wants to work in a boring old job where things are always the same. Hand feeding a Gecko, ya just don’t get this kind of entertainment in your everyday life, do ya?

Just so as ya get the true picture of hand feeding a gecko. With tweezers in hand ya open the plastic bag, with a bit of egg carton for food, the crickets are kept in, insert your hand, with tweezers, to grab a cricket by is middle. It’s a huge challenge because those dudes are fast!

I failed last night several times. At one point I was sure the cricket I missed was about to crawl out of the bag up my arm I gave high pitched girly squeak that scared the snot of the dogs.

Once one has all their ducks in a row with a cricket firmly in the grasp of tweezers ya gotta dip said cricket in a power stuff I am sure is some vitamin, mineral, or maybe just a gecko antacid.

Now then Mr. Gecko has never been all that fast on the uptake. When I first met him two years ago the owner was feeding him crickets but only on the rare occasion did the lizard actually hold up his end of the dining dilemma. In the end the owner had to remove two of the cricket’s legs so the silly, perhaps blind, lizard would have a fighting chance. Later they found meal worms worked better but then the gecko got sick, yeah, I don’t know the details suffice to say geckos can’t eat meal worms for long stretches of time.

Dipped cricket firmly in hand ya stick him right in front of the gecko’s face if in fact he wants a bit of food he goes for it pretty quick, ya gotta turn loose when he does. Whew! One cricket down, now I get to repeat the process.

I was not nearly as lucky with the second cricket last night, dude was tough and got out of my firm grasp twice. Ya shoulda seen me chasing a cricket with a pair of tweezers about the gecko’s glass house. It was some pretty funny stuff.

There ya have it two lizard stories half a world apart.

Client just called, she is out of the house I am moving into today. I better pack up my toys and go.

Lizard?

Filed under: Roatan — she_travels at 7:07 pm on Friday, February 27, 2009

This place, my current most favorite island, has lizards of many kinds. Many shapes and sizes of lizard, some are big, some are small, some fast,   some  slow, though not many. Some scream about on two legs when frightened, some change colors. The critter I wish to tell you about makes a sound like a bark or chirp.

I have heard various voices from the lizards here abouts but for the most part I have a pretty good idea of what I am hearing, often times I get a glimpse of the beastie as well.

Many of  the homes on the island are constructed in such a way the lizards come and go as they please. In Bob Marley’s home you can see them zipping up and down the walls, they don’t bother any one so why hassle them.

This home (Miss Gato’s) is not a home a lizard can investigate, never mind they must get past the ever gecko patrolling kitty.

The neighbor told me a story last week of Miss Gato jumping from this deck to his in pursuit if a green arrow of a lizard. From what I understood in some way the lizard found the top of the deck railing.  Kitty jumped,  caught the unfortunate gecko her mouth mid air over the railing and kept going landing on the beach sand a good ten feet below. I told the guy he was nuts but he says it’s truth. Gecko killing cat this is.

I tell you  this cause I was astonished when last week I heard a lizard chirping in the house. I have been living with them off and on for years, they don’t bug me much so I didn’t bother with him. I would hear him off and on,  though out the day from various part of the house, some times louder or with a slightly different voice.

Three days of listening to him, it occurred to me to go looking. I had zero luck finding him though I did narrow down his location to either the lower bath or the laundry room.

Five days of listening to him  I was sure I needed to find him.  I started by looking the the closet next to the bathroom, no lock. While I was looking in the bath I heard him but not in the bathroom. Ok, so I went around the other side if the closet to the laundry room. I heard him again, he was not in the laundry room.

I went back out to the kitchen to listen, that was when I saw the phone the owners had given me. You can bet I was feeling pretty silly when I flipped it open to see several unread text messages.

It took five days and looking for a non exsitant gecko to realize the noise I was hearing was the text message alert for the phone.

Saigon, Vietnam

Filed under: Vietnam — she_travels at 1:57 pm on Monday, February 23, 2009

I do not remember how long the VIP bus ride form Mui Ne to Saigon was, I do remember when the driver stopped for gas he did so at a place looking much like an Asian version of a Texaco complete with convenience store. I stepped off the bus with my mouth hanging open wondering where on earth I was.  Thank goodness I was alert enough to see a couple of ladies ducking behind the building.

Around the corner of  the building I saw an open door way, assuming it was the bathroom I walked up the the edge of the stair and was stopped by an attendant who motioned me to remove my shoes and put on the slippers at the door.

I was so taken aback by the process I snapped a picture before leaving.

Mind you, I had been in some very interesting restroom situations in Laos.

The traffic in Bangkok is bad but nothing compared to Saigon. Land of the O Mighty MotorBike.

The morning after I arrived I went out for a walk. I managed to get lost so what may have been a short stroll turned in to four hours of wandering. In some areas I felt as though the locals were confused by my being off the normal tourist path.

Do ya believe the power lines? This was to early in the morning for the masses of people to be about.

Crossing the street in Saigon is a bit of an art form. The motorbikes and cars will yield, but  there are so many of them it’s hard to keep track of them all. Your best bet, pick your time wisely, once you step into the street do not stop, be confident and alert.

I was standing on the sidewalk of a fairly busy intersection accessing the crossing possibilities when I heard a voice to my left,  “Crossing is difficult some times.”  When I looked in the direction of the sound I found an Asia looking guy of about 30 smiling at me. I was surprised cause his English was very good.

I agreed with him. I do not remember most of the conversation on the street  before he said, “Let’s sit and talk, I will buy you a beverage.” I followed him around the corner of the shop we were standing in front of. In the mass of people on the side walk he found a set of child’s chairs and table, there were several sets with people sitting, drinking and talking.

He offered me a chair and asked what I wanted to drink, I said water. A lady at his elbow went to the other end of the tables and came back with two waters. The gentleman paid her.

I took a sip, he started talking. He told  me his name,  “Wayne like John Wayne” He is a chicken farmer from Indonesia here in Saigon visiting his brother’s family. He often does cause he enjoys Saigon.

I told him my name, that I was traveling about South East Asia soaking up the culture.

We chatted about many things and nothing. At one point he said “If you would like to experience a true Vietnamese family you can come home with me. My brother and his wife would be happy to meet you.”  Wayne was very nice, polite and easy to talk with, I said sure.

Wayne  trotted through traffic, hailed a cab and held the door while I slid in to the seat thinking,*”Wonder what this is about.* It did not have the feeling of anything sinister.

When the cab stopped it was in an ally between homes.  The homes were all connected, the foot prints were about  the size of a two car garage and they looked to be four levels. Wayne told me they are built this way because land is so expensive. There is no garden just more buildings lined up behind this one with an ally between.

Wayne opened the door to the house next to the cab. We stepped into an outer area, it was tiled with two motor bikes at one end. Wayne removed his sandals before stepping up a single step into what looked like a living area.

When I slipped out of my crocs I was ashamed at the state of my feet, walking in the dirty city was screaming at me. I mentioned my problem to Wayne, he point to a hose and bucket to my left. Prepared they are.

I was offered a seat on the couch by a woman, Wayne excused himself before going up the stairs. The woman, whose name I do not remember,  sat with me for some time talking of this and that. She offered me a beverage and hopped up to get it when I said “Yes,  water please.”

While she was off I sat quietly having a look about the room. As it felt from the outside, the room was about the size of a two car garage, the tile was white as were the walls. The staircase was in the back right corner. The couch I was sitting on was one of four pieces of furniture in the room. The others were a sideboard looking thing against the wall opposite the two couches which faced each other and a coffee table between. I do not remember a single thing on any of the walls. I do remember alot of empty space.

The woman was back with a plate of bananas, a coke, a bottle of water and a man. The bananas she placed in the middle of the table. She handed me the water and the coke saying “All Americans drink coke”. I smiled and thanked her. Finally, she introduced the man, I no longer remember is name either,  he sat opposite me while she sat next to me.

The gentleman told me of his job, he works for a company which does some thing for casinos. We chatted of the many in a dirty little boarder town of PoiPet, Cambodia. He said he had been there many times with his work. He said only the very rich stay to gamble in those places, that none of them are Cambodian cause it is against Cambodian Law to gamble. He then mentioned he spends an amount of time on docked cruise ships cause they all have casino. When I told him I was headed to an island called Phu Quoc, he said he wold be more than happy to offer me a tour of a ship,  it would be on docked there. I was fairly excited about this having never been on a cruise ship.

There must have been a point where he decided I was relaxed enough to proceed. He told me he and his friends often play blackjack and asked if I had ever played.  I said I understood the premise of the game but had never played. I was far to careful with my money to waste it on gambling. He offered to teach me, but it had to be done in his bedroom.

There still is no sinister feel about the people. The woman was still siting next to me..no one is at all worried.

The gentleman must have seen some thing cross my face cause he said “My religion prohibits me from being in my bedroom with a single woman, she will come with us.”  I did not care to learn to play blackjack but I also was not about to insult these nice people for their hospitality.

Upstairs the three of us went, the gentleman closed the door once she and I had entered. He arranged two chairs on one side of a table at the end of a bed. He sat on the bed and asked us to sit in the chairs.

Once he thought I understood the principals of the game he started talking about how one can cheat. With the help of he and his friends/coworkers you can beat the system.  They have a series of signals between them, the eye the in sky is in on the scam and will not stop you and the dealer aids with a bit of slight of hand..all I had to do was learn the system.

I admit I was a bit curious about how they pull this off, come to find out the dealer actually shows the next card just before he flips it.

The gentleman  went on to say they pick targets, the very wealthy who can stand to loose some cash. He teaches people he believes will not get in to the habit of asking him to help them win. He concluded with saying “If you would like to try, I know someone we can call. She is very wealthy, enjoys the game and  does not get upset when she looses. I will give you a small amount of money , $500, to play with then we will split the winnings.

My brains started screaming!* Holy Crap! $500 dollars? Is this guy nuts? NO, no NO! I will not.* I took a breath, slowing,quietly I said, “I understand yet I am not comfortable. ”

He helped me “Your heart is not happy.”

I agreed, “My mind could do it but my heart says no. Thank you for teaching me, but I just can not.”

He was very nice, he got up. This was my que to do the same as did the woman.

At the door she stopped, he said, “Thank you for coming, I enjoyed talking with you.”

I said “Thank you for having me, I enjoyed our time as well.”

The woman told me she was meeting friends and would call a cab to get us back to town. by the by ~ I never did see Wayne again after he introduced the woman.

The every minute I said no they were done with me. Wacky  huh?

The whole whole experience was so odd I didn’t have any kind of time to sit and think about it til much later. While doing so I decided, Wayne was sent out to find someone they could teach this system to. How he decides is beyond me..but I bet you money it was never about meeting me it was all about how much money they could make if I joined in the scam.

Travel is such fun, ya never know what kind of wacky arse adventure your going to have.

Next up, The Mekong Delta.

Da Lat, Vietnam

Filed under: Vietnam — she_travels at 2:19 am on Saturday, February 21, 2009

This trip was when I started to realize Vietnam is all kinds of diverse in the landscape department.

Not clear cause I was in a bus but the idea here is falt-ish and dry. I had no idea.

Graves.

Then back to the mountains.

I saw the pipe line before I realized  we were going that way.

From some of the way up the mountain.

See the snake of a road we came up?

The next several are from the top of  the hill, the bus stopped at a vista view.

Then there is a bit of town….Just short of 5000 feet elevation.

As I do when I arrive at the chosen guest house I dropped by bag and ventured out into town. I usually choose a direction, make turns in the same direction and end up back where I started. When going out on another day I widen the circle, this way I do not get lost.

Da Lat is constructed on hills with streets which made little or no sense from the ground. I thought I was making a sorta loop when I stopped dead on the side walk wondering not only where I was but,  how the heck do I get back to where I started.  As I stood there  bewildered by the street system I realized I was in worse shape than only being lost, I had no idea my guest house address, heck I didn’t even know the name of the place.

Frozen  on the side walk watching the traffic, coming and going, I wondered what the hell I was going to do. A woman burst out of the shop I was standing in front of  saying, “Are you hungry? You must come eat.”  Sure, ok, I will come eat.

She seated me, handed me a menu, and processed to tell me what I wanted for dinner. “Sure, ok, I will have that.”  I do not remember what it was, I do remember it was yummy, chicken something no doubt.

I was almost finished with my meal when two 20 something gals walked in. They seated themselves at a table next to mine. As they perused the menus someone had left on the table the lady who grabbed me off the street came over to tell them what they wanted for dinner. I overheard it was the same thing I had, once the lady was gone I whispered to the gals the food she was offering was yummy.

They both smiled when one of them, in an Irish accent,  said, “We have been here three nights running, the owner tells us what to eat, we do and it’s very good.” Seems the lady was the owner.

We chatted a bit about travels and upcoming plans.  I mentioned I was a bit lost then attempted to describe the guest house I was staying in. One of them got a silly look on her face while saying, “I think that is where we are staying, if ya want to wait we can take you back.”  I was happy to wait as long as needed.

Out the door and up the street to the right, over a hill down and around poof..my guest house. The Irish gals were staying in the same place.

Whew!! Saved again!

Next up.. a bit more about Da Lat.

Nha Trang

Filed under: Vietnam — she_travels at 11:26 pm on Friday, February 20, 2009

I was all about the guest house room with a sea view.

The beach past the Palms felt huge when I was standing on it. It was empty during the day but the minute the sun started going down it was chock a block full of people. The locals do not like the sun.

While waiting to be picked up for the three island tour I noticed this guy drive up to the guest house across the way. Many of the guest houses here are rooms on the upper levels with the   lowest level being the living space for family/manager or who ever runs the guest house.

The guy drove up on the white motor-bike, the woven bag with orange handles was between his legs holding three of the plastic jugs like the one you see at his feet. He gave the jugs to a lady who took them down the stairs behind him. When she returned she gave him some money and three empty jugs. I decided this guy was just like the milk man but he was delivering gas for the motor bikes, I could smell it.

The three island tour started with a mass of people and chaos in the harbor. I was all about keeping my mouth shut and my eyes on the guy who picked me up at the guest house. While waiting for him to make a choice on what was next I noticed a Carnival Cruise ship was docked. Heck,  I had no idea there was a cruise to this part of the world.

This gondola thing was stretched across the bay to a fun park (still under construction) of some sort on the other side. In the distance you can see the line of buildings before the mountains.

I first saw this from a distance wondering what the heck it was. As we motored closer…

A pirate ship with full sail, man made, cheesy they turned in to an aquarium. Compete with…

Cheesy sea creatures.

Next stop snorkeling off the shore of an island farther out.

Asians snorkeling… funny huh? The three people you see without life jackets are from Australia.  I was on the other side of the boat having a grand time with the corals of all colors, the fishes of every shape imaginable.

Back in the boat we motored to another island, tossed the anchor to have lunch.

The guy on the table is the tour guide, we had finished lunch, once the table was cleared the tour guide guy was all about the Karaoke. You can just see the drums set up behind him with the kitchen crew about to start playing. Karaoke is big arse business in Asia. Most of the people on this boat were from the south of Vietnam, four from China, four from Israel, two from the UK and me (an American).

The singing got a bit loud for me, when the Israelis jumped off the roof of the boat to water, I was in after them, then the Brits jumped over board as well.  The water was far deeper, rougher and the current was a challenge. The Brits and I grabbed the anchor rope for stability, then got to chatting. They were on their honeymoon/Asia tour before moving to Australia to work full time. Very nice people.

When the music stopped I thought they were moving the boat again so I climbed back up the ladder to put my t-shirt and shorts back on. Once settled I realized I was wrong but was not sure what was going on..I didn’t see anyone in the water, I sat back down to wait.

Before the Karaoke had started another boat had anchored next to us. It was part of  the same tour group, they had come to share our band.

I was not sure where the Brits or the tour guy had gone, I stepped to the edge of  the bow of the boat looking. From around the bow of the other boat I heard a voice saying some thing about “The American”. It all registered in a blink, there was something in the brochure about a floating wine bar, I didn’t  pay attention being I don’t drink. The tour guy was in the water with an inner tube around him,  had a bottle in one hand and a rope in the other, there was a second rope attached to his inner tube. I could hear him plain as day now cause he was looking directly at me yelling “Get the Fu**ing American off the boat. Fu**king American off the boat.” He repeated it several times, I think just to hear himself say fu**king American. Half way through the second verse I was stripped down to my suit and dove in to the water.

When I could see around the other side of the second boat  there were people every where in the water with Dixie cups in their hands. All of them had inner tubes around them and the rope from the guide’s tube was attached to all of them. The other rope was attached to a bit of foam then the second boat. The foam had a small well filled with Dixie cups.

There was a shout from the second boat and an inner tube landed in front of me. The guide suggested I put a hand on any one of his ropes, safety issues he said. I was all for it,  the current on this side was stronger than it had been on the other side.

Th guide offered me wine and his name, though I no longer remember it. I had a sip of  the wine, squishing up my face I said “It’s not very good, but the company is.”  The guide started a new chant “Very bad wine, very good company.” He continued to chant this line  intermittently for the remainder of the trip.

The third island on the three island tour was several levels of covered, or not, space along another island. It was a delightful stop for a nap.

All in all it was a great way to spend a day.

Next up, Da Lat,. They say it’s cold , I could not past up the chance to find out.

Good Kitties

Filed under: Roatan — she_travels at 4:24 pm on Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I said Goodbye to Bob Marley sometime last week. I do enjoy their company and the house. Might have a visit back with them in Oct this year.

I have had over a week off since last I was hanging about with gems and jewels.  Have been madly running through Georgette Hayer novels while lazing in a hammock occasionally watching the sea. One must always pay attention to the sea when one is it’s vicinity. The cats I am living with are on gecko patrol.

When not making sure the sea has not been stolen I have been out with friends in dive boats to snorkel, popped by another friend’s house to watch the local dolphin show or yesterday went for a snorkel in West Bay…we saw all manner of fish and coral along with squid. Yes, three of them…they are funny little dudes. While snorkeling in Half Moon Bay, we saw an eel on the sea floor who looks much like a spotted snake , a herd, (yes! Herd of lobster) and fishes of many colors.

Indeed, many a beast there are here abouts. Just the other morning while removing myself from the shower I noticed an iguana lounging at the crown of the mirror. Wrapping a towel firmly around me,  I inched a bit closer. His two foot body  was draped across the mirror in such a way I could only see two feet, his head between,  with the visible part of his tail a in small curl across the mirror.  While peering at him, I did not see so much as a shift of  an eye or a twitch of  the tail. Is he  alive or part of the decor I had missed in previous visits to the bathroom? I stepped back and left the room thinking if he was in the same spot when I returned from the store, perhaps he had always been there. Though, I do not think myself quite so dense as to have missed his-self on the mirror.

I was given a request for “snicker-doodles”. In need of real butter and a bit more sugar to pull off the cookies from my childhood, I was off to Warrens in Coxen Hole,  not giving thought to the beastie on the mirror. By the by, he had not moved an iota between the time I noticed him and my being dressed for a butter run.

I thankfully have become quite proficient at driving here. One never knows what one is going to come upon, children, dogs, horses, cows, bikes, drunks, cats, lizards, snakes, cars, buses or minivans smack in the middle of the road, moving or not. Blind corners, dips and curves be damned….one does not at any cost drive fast nor does one take their eye from the road for even a moment.

A bit of a Sunday drive later I find myself “in town”. Thinking about all manner of the listed above added with congestion and one way streets is a bit dangerous. Thank goodness town is only two streets. The madness of third world countries is a bit overwhelming at times.

I arrived back at the house dropping my groceries in the kitchen on my way to the bathroom.  Mr. Iguana had not moved but it seemed to me his tail had shifted slightly more out of sight. Could the breeze from the window have moved his tail?

The next morning he was gone. Guess he was alive. I still wonder how he managed to get in the house.

Yesterday while starting another novel I heard a bit of a commotion in the back bedroom. I know the cats had found something but was unsure if it was the rat I had seen two days ago or something else.  I listen to padded feet running this way and that mixed with the tick tick tick of clawed feet.

When I  heard something hit the wall and decided to have a peek, the cats had Mr. Iguana cornered under the bed. Those of you who know me, know I am not about to take a toy away from a cat.

I found Mr. Iguana dead in  the bathroom yesterday afternoon. I found the rat the next morning, also dead.

GOOD KITTIES!

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