Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Lotus blossom flowers

This has to be one of my favorite photos that I took on my spring break. This was taken at a temple that was found on the grounds of the Cambodian President.

In case you don't know.. the lotus blossom is important to Buddist cultures.. because, legend (or the story?) goes that BUDDA was born on a lotus blossom. That is why you'll see it on carvings, paintings, etc.. in countries that participate in the Buddist religion. *iwouldratherbeknitting knows this because she has lived in various ASIAN countries for 14 years. It just doesn't seem like that much time has passed.

*To really appreciate the photos- you need to click on them...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Apparently, I like BLUE, GREEN, and PURPLE..

Here is the progress of my knitted log cabin squares. I have 21 of them completed and will need to knit 3 more (one is about half way finished) and then knit solid blue borders and join all the squares together to make my first afghan. However, due to the 'you need to start going through your household goods' like A MONTH AGO situation..because of my upcoming move to Germany there is no time to knit now. Here are my squares stacked and mocking me.. ok, maybe they aren't really mocking me and are instead just waiting?

As part of my preparing to move.. I, of course, started to sort my knitting yarns. I also pulled all of the yarn that was stored in bags, my wooden wardrobe, shelves, and plastic storage containers. Let's just say this, it is amazing how much yarn a person has.. when it is all hauled out to one area.

I went through my 'cotton' or summer yarns.. and I noticed something.. I had 4 yarns that were almost exactly the same color of soft blue. Maybe, if you took them out in the bright sunlight and looked at the with a magnifying glass- you 'might' be able to tell a difference. This same thing also happened with a couple of purple and green yarns.

So, I decided to make a 'yarn swatch' and cut off little pieces of my yarn and taped it down w/ fiber content so, I could take my little 'yarn swatch' with me and not duplicate the same colors again.

Here is another project that I need to be working on.. but, can't at this time. Knitted lace..

Friday, April 25, 2008

you don't always get what you ask for.. sort of..

One hot, hot, hot, day of 98*F, while on vacation, in the temples of Cambodia.. which seemed like a hot, steamy day of 128*F to a person who had just left 'cooler than usual' spring temps of 58*F.. a few of our group 'opted' out of looking at anymore temples or.. what I called: STACKED ROCKS...

and decided to sit in the hot sun.. but, under a canopy, at the small food snack place, so, it was a little less hot. One thing that hot, tropical, steamy locations do have is.. wonderful tropical fruits. So, I noticed on the menu of selected drinks and fresh fruits to purchase.. fresh coconut

I haven't had fresh coconut out of the shell in years... so, a friend and I decided to share the order- I was the only one of us with some $$, in my pocket, as my friend's money and the rest of my money was locked in the tour guide's van.

The long awaited coconut arrived after a flurry of chopping and preparation and I immediately knew it wasn't what I remembered eating when I lived in the Philippines.. oh no.. this coconut was so fresh it was still green. which was also found in the Philippines-- but, the type of coconut that I avoided when I lived there.

I had had 'green coconut' in the past.. once.. and it was enough to let me know that I didn't like it at all- it's slimy, barely tastes like coconut.. sigh.. I had spent all the money that I had in my pocket and it was useless to think of the fresh mango, or papaya that we could be eating instead.

Oh, I might add that they also gave us the fresh green 'coconut milk' in a glass that was on the inside(which you can see the full glasses behind the coconut in the photo)... which does not taste anything like the coconut milk from a 'mature' coconut or even less like what 'coconut milk' sold in a can in the grocery store tastes like.

So, there we were.. waiting for another 2 hours, for the others in our group to return,... with the green coconut staring at us like it was a rejected orphan or something. And there we were with no more money to buy an alternate drink or fruit snack.

It did give us something to laugh about...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Apparently, I am easily amused..

Because when I saw these in the little grocery store (shopping for water) on my last day in Siem Reap, Cambodia.. I snickered out loud.. dug out my camera and 'YES, I took a photo with others (locals, I might add) around me.. just doing my part to keep the 'American tourist impression' going.. :D

I didn't buy them.. but, so wanted to.. to see what they tasted like. I was running out of money (had to save money for lunch and the departure fee of $25.00) and I was also running out of room in my over packed 20 kilo (about 40 pound) one suitcase that we were allowed to have on the plane.. and little did I know that it would be about 5 hours before the next chance for a bathroom break.. so, in retrospect, it was a good thing that I didn't buy both of them to sample. I mean after all- how could you DECIDE which one to buy?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

They say a photo is worth a thousand words..

Well, I got this in an email from a friend today.. and decided to pass it on here.

Since, I work on a USA Military base overseas.. this photo really touched me.. and I wanted to share to those who read my blog.

PS.. In case you don't know, that is an Enlisted Marine Dress uniform.

And, click on the photo for a larger image.
This Picture is Worth 1000 Million Words...

We truly take a lot for granted. Forget the football "heroes" and movie "stars". Pass this on so that all may know the price of freedom
Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you,
Jesus Christ and the American Soldier
One died for your soul; the other for your freedom.
How can you NOT PASS this along, we all send dozens of joke

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Where there is a will .. there is a way...

We saw so many unusual things being hauled on the bicycles and motorcycles in both Vietnam and Cambodia. Often, we'd be in the van with our tour guide.. and didn't have enough time to dig the camera out, turn it on, and focus in time...

I think that some of the most unusual items hauled were:

About 5-6 huge hogs with legs tied together.. stacked behind and in front of the motorcycle driver like stacks of big whitish pink wood.

And, speaking of wood.. I did see a huge wood pile being hauled too.

Here are some of the ones that I did manage to take a photo.. of.. Enjoy..

*To appreciate the images better.. Click on photos for a larger view..

A Ladder???

Monday, April 21, 2008

Wanna see more photos of Vietnam??

I bought some post-cards from this guy. I liked his 'resourceful' mode of transportation. I'm sure that he lost his limbs from a mine or the previous occupation of Vietnam and Cambodia.
*Click on the photos for a larger image..

Click on the photo and check out the name of the store.. pink and white sign.. I loved the 'pronounce it out' spelling.

Fancy dress version of the 'traditional dress'.. of Vietnam

I found Vietnam such an interesting place.. The next two photos are in front of the temple that was on the island that the red bridge led to in the previous posting.

Aren't these doors beautiful? I wish that I could have bought something like this and turned them into screens for my living room. Of course, even if I could find them-- they wouldn't fit in my one 40 pound suitcase that we were allowed to have..

A postal drop box. I tend to take photos of local phone booths or postal drops. I didn't see too many phone booths- and wasn't on the street so that I could take a photo of them when I did see them.

Hanoi was such a bustling, busy city, full of life. You could see the poverty, the sadness, but at the same time the reliance of the people too.

Interesting tidbit: Prices were quoted in American dollars... even on menus. No coins were given as change. They had small 'local' paper money that was given for change if the amount was less than one USA dollar.

Friday, April 18, 2008

My favorite bridge

This is in Hanoi, Vietnam. It is on a lake that is a spiritual and special place to the Vietnamese people. There are two small islands in the lake. The red bridge leads to one and there is a old white temple on another one. One of the photos shown (it looks all grey and misty) does have this temple.

The water was this amazing Kelly green.. so cool looking with the vivid red bridge. They have a legend that a giant sea turtle lives in this lake.. and guess what was just in the news yesterday? THIS IS THE SAME LAKE!! Neat, huh?

They had a sign explaining the legend of the lake with an acutal (but, dead and stuffed) giant turtle on display.

Cleveland zoo researchers find rare giant turtle in Vietnam
Wed Apr 16, 11:01 PM ET

CLEVELAND - Researchers from the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo have discovered a rare giant turtle in northern Vietnam — a find that carries great scientific and cultural significance. Swinhoe's soft-shell turtle was previously thought to be extinct in the wild. Three other turtles of the species are in captivity, said experts from the Zoo's Asian turtle program.

The discovery represents hope for the species, said Doug Hendrie, the Vietnam-based coordinator of the zoo program.

Turtle expert Peter Pritchard, president of the Chelonian Research Institute, confirmed the find based on a photo Hendrie showed him.

"It looked like pretty solid evidence. The animal has a pretty distinctive head," Pritchard said.

There have been rumors for years of a mythical creature living deep in the waters of a northern Vietnam lake. Some in a village west of Hanoi claimed to be blessed by catching a glimpse of it's concave shell as it crested above the surface of their lake.

A national legend tells of a giant golden turtle that bestowed upon the Vietnamese people a magic sword and victory over Chinese invaders in the 16th century. Whether that sacred turtle has materialized in the 21st century will be a matter of cultural debate among the Vietnamese.

"This is one of those mythical species that people always talked about but no one ever saw," said Geoff Hall, zoo general curator.

Of the other three Swinhoe's soft-shell turtles in captivity, two are in Chinese zoos and the other is cared for in the Hoan Kiem ("Returned Sword") Lake in downtown Hanoi — the lake in which the legendary turtle appeared to reclaim the sword from the emperor.

Pritchard said an amateur photographed a Swinhoe's soft-shell turtle in southern China about six months ago that he believes was legitimate.

"It's on the very brink of extinction, so every one counts," Pritchard said.

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo began its effort to preserve and protect Asian turtles in 2003 amid reports of increased killings for food or to make traditional medicine from their bones. Development and pollution also led to loss of nesting habitats along rivers, zoo officials said.

The zoo has put more than $275,000 into Asian turtle conservation efforts since 2000 and has supported Hendrie since 2003, officials said.

His team and scientists from Education for Nature-Vietnam had searched lakes and wetlands along the Red River for three years before hearing about the creature living outside Hanoi.

The turtle remains in the lake and researchers have notified the Vietnamese government of its existence, Hendrie said.

*Click on the photo for a larger view...

This is the view on the bridge of the little temple on it's own little island. (click on the photo so you can see it better.)

The water was so amazing.. and strange at the same time. I think that this looks like a piece of marble or a painting. However, if you click on the photo-- you can see either a bug or a spider on the water.

This is the same island, but from the opposite side of the lake.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Some of the local foods from Vietnam...

This is a local fruit by the name of: Dragon Fruit *I'm sure that it gets it's name from the large scale like sections? The inside was a soft white w/ black specks like someone had dumped some poppyseeds in it. It was only slightly sweet and I just ate the other fruits that I liked much more instead.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

May, I interrupt the vacation photos to share a celebrity spotting?

A friend and fellow teacher had sent me an email yesterday asking if I wanted to go to a movie tonight (on base). And since, I was still tired from my trip and in 'pack up for a move from one foreign country to another foreign country' denial.. I said, "SURE!"

So, I met her tonight to see a movie, on our military base,... that I knew nothing about.. the name:

Strange Wilderness

When we got there, there was a large crowd waiting in line to see another movie. That does happen 'once in a while' when we get an opening night show of a big name movie.. so, we thought nothing of it and I don't even remember checking to see what the name of the movie was.. but, then again.. I live overseas and we don't have advertisements for movies on TV/etc.

My completely unbiased impression of the movie Strange Wilderness?

The target audience? 12 year old boys.

When we got out of the movie about 7:30.. there were a lot of people milling about in the lobby area near one of the other theaters. Again, this isn't really that unusual.. as large groups are around often at the beginning or end of a movie.

However, I did notice that a lot of people had cameras and I even saw a few 'flashes' from cameras being used.. (teachers are trained to notice little things out of the ordinary- you know.. the 'eyes in the back of the head' theory)

There was a young military soldier standing right beside me as I was walking out of my theater. I asked him why.. everyone was there and had so many cameras out.. he said that:

Our base was getting a 3 week early release of a movie called: Iron Man and the first showing was tonight.

IRON MAN :: OFFICIAL SITE :: IN THEATERS MAY 2ND, 2008Iron Man: Coming to theaters in 2008 from Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment, based on Marvel's best-selling Iron Man comic book character.

AND not only that.. but, the director of the movie was at our movie theater and... AND...

Robert Downey Jr. was also there.. and that is the reason for all the cameras..

Yes, the guy that I'm sure that he if had ever had a chance to meet me.. that I was always sure that he would have been a much more 'well grounded' person and drugs wouldn't have had a hold on his life like they have had in the past.. (I'm just sure of it!) He just didn't know what he was missing, right? :D

He was there and I saw him! Ok, the truth is.. I was so close to him for several minutes that I could have reached out and touched him. Heck, I could have grabbed him and kissed him.. but, I just didn't want to have the MP's come rushing from somewhere and arrest me.

DID I have my camera with me? NO! I had taken it out to download photos for my blog and forgot to put it back in my bag last night. Sigh..

He had a black jacket on, a t-shirt w/ some sort of design on it (maybe the name of the movie?) and nylon sweat pants w/ 3 white stripes along the side and tennis shoes. One of the military officer's standing by me.. made me giggle when he said, "Looks like he's worn his best t-shirt for our visit!" *He was just teasing- but, it was funny.

He was looking good.. despite his casual wear.. and I thought it was nice that they came to see our base and let us see the movie prior to the stateside release.

I'm sure that they enjoyed their visit too- the military and civilian crowd on a military base tend to be very laid back about things like this.... and don't get all ga ga.. star crazy.. and I'm sure that they don't have to worry about a 'crazed fan' from our population?

So, there you go.. you just never know what your day holds.

Now, your turn to share.. have you had any close encounters with famous people?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The ladies of Vietnam..

When I was a little girl, I remember seeing photos in Life Magazine and National Geographic featuring the women of Vietnam.. dressed in flowing white clothing, wearing a pointed straw hat and most impressive of all.. balancing heavy baskets across their shoulders..

And, 30 plus years have passed, and I had an opportunity to visit Vietnam. We arrrived about midnight, and the next morning when I stepped outside onto the street in front of the hotel-it was like time had stood still.

The only difference from 30 years ago and last week? White flowing tops over loose cotton pants were no longer being worn. Otherwise, the images that I saw walking across and along the streets and in the villages could have stepped from the past.

The baskets certainly appeared to be very heavy- you could see the dropping weight of the laden baskets as they were being carried. Most packed baskets had various items for sale. Some of the baskets were used for transportation.

Most of the top bar was made out of bamboo- but, some were flat strips of wood.. all balanced on unpadded shoulders. I even saw a few ladies all dressed up in western wear.. sporting the straw hats. I couldn't get my camera unpacked and turned on in time to take a photo.

I learned that the woman's hat is the pointed lampshade type.. and a man's traditional straw hat had a rounded top surface.

*Click on photos for a larger image.