Mike and Rita on the Road


Good Morning Vietnam.

We escaped Cambodia with an border adventure and trouble with our “travel agent” who didn’t have things in order-that could be a long story. But we had our visas and got into Vietnam and after a mini van , old unairconditioned and slow, then  an official over the road A/C comfort bus we made it to Siagon/Ho Chi Minh City.

We are now in Da Lat a gem of a city at 5000 ft or so in the central highland. The climate here is perfect for vegatables and flowers and the markets are the best we have seen, and we always tour the markets where ever we are.

Having some troubles with connections and such so no photos but that will be up dated soon.



The Crabs and such as we get ready to move

Rita Settles into Kim Ly guest house without much trouble.

Rita on the porch

Well we were staying up on the mountain at  The Vanna Bungalows . Really a lovely place. Affordable and with the amenities to make things comfortable. But they are building and yesterday the hammer drill and skill saw (with a dull blade) started and we moved .  Here are a few pictures of the Kim Ly Guest house. We have eaten crabs every day for a week and Rita shows no sign of slowing. Me, well thats another story.

Plate of crabs
Crabs in keeper pot

Crabs in keeper pot

Our crab restaurants are , I think I mentioned this, right next to the water and at high tide one nightI was splashed by incoming waves. That is the fortunes of crab eating.
Our lunch crabs are kept in these keeper pots/cages and the ladies go  out and get them as needed. They are not all blue as you can see

Close up of lunch

Our lunch close up. Grandson alexi loves crabs so this close up is for  him. I think its neat too. Hey Alexi,Luca, Sam, Max and of course OLI from Cambodia. This is actually Kep, Cambodia that is famous for its crab market and of course Grand Rita just had to come so we could get our fill of crabs and we did. Last night she didn’t even eat dinner as we had a big lunch. Off to Vietnam this morning, March 1.

Laid back in Kep, Cambodia

Crab Keeper Cages.
Rita goes to Crab Market Kep

Rita on the Way to the Crab Market

Our  guesthouse is near the “Crab Market” and so we walk though there are tuk tuks available to haul you around for not much money a dollar or two. Our guesthouse is on a hill and when we arrived , with all our luggage , a helper rode along and when the tuk tuk , these are powered by 125 cc motorcycles at most or about 10 times smaller that a Harley, started up the hill the helper jumped out and started to push.  So that’s why the helper!!

Crabs are kept in these “keeper” cages until needed shortly before being cooked. These cages are next to the tables of the Crab Market Restaurants. Dinner will run 10-20 US$ or 40,000-80,000 reils and both work.
Crab Keeper Cages Next to Restaurants


Crab keeper  and crab fleet.

Waterfront at Kep

This is the scene at the crab market when we arrive for our lunch. There is a lot of activity around the market including cooking and selling live and cooked crabs. Some of the  women carry small scales that hook onto the handles of the bags the hold the crabs to check the weight. We would love to have the family here to enjoy the crabs with us. Well its off to dinner as the sun is beginning to get lower in the sky.

Making doors

Making doors on site

Our guest house is expanding like crazy, adding rooms to get to 21 from current 17. There are 15 people working on a couple op projects that we see from our porch. This picture is of the carpenter actually millwright shop that is on the property. The Carpenters make all the doors and window frames/windows for all I know but don’t see any  in the works . I see beds being finished near the new rooms and think those are also made on site. The wood is beautiful an probably in the mahogany family though much harder than most varieties. They get by with the minimum/crudest of tools and do nice work considering.

Cambodia and Phenom Phen

Well we have been on the road , going and doing. Neglecting this blog. You have to write the post and get er done. We flew into Phenom Phen as Rita was a bit concerned with the small skirmish on the border of Thailand and Cambodia . Artillery shells were exchanged as well as small arms and believe that rocket propelled grenades (RPG’s ) were also involved. At any rate we beat a retreat from Bangkok to explore a new capital city and country , at least for us.

First night after checking in to our hotel. Just across the street from the Tonie Sap River that makes the St. Croix look very small indeed.There is the Bassac River just down the street and we can see where these two rivers meet the mighty Mekong River. We are talking Mississippi River size flow of water. Massive. So Rita and I went out to grab a bite.

First we had a draft beer $.80 US(dollars are the norm and you will get change in both US and Cambodian realles -4000/1US makes for interesting counting) then walked down the street and soon found a small restarant serving grilled seafood and beef. We ordered shrimp and squid. Well we were seated at a long table that would seat 8 and as is the custom more dinners were seated with us . A local , as it turned out, family. Mom, Dad and two daughters we guested at 8 and 14. Wrong. Rita asked the older daughter her age , to see if we could communicate with our new companions. She was 19 and a freshman at University. Younger daughter also spoke a bit of English but was shy. However Maria and Rita hit it off and Maria translated for her Mom and Dad as they did not speak word one of English. A hansom family. Dad wore a perfectly ironed ivy league style long sleeve shirt. Turns out he’s a civil engineer.We got along famously despite the language barrier and we were invited to join them on a Sunday outing (tomorrow). We of course accepted. We paid our bill $10 and they also had a $10 bill for the four of them. We were offered a ride to our hotel and we said no no its only a short distance.

The Dad said how about a short drive around part of the city. Ok we said. They were driving a new Lexus SUV and we all piled in. He has been working on Diamond island development for five years and there was perhaps ten more years to go. Casino’s, condo’s , shops, apartments – the whole deal . Condo’s to a million USD and about 5000 square feet for the top of the line units. Apartments will be starting at 30,000USD, tiny of course about 1000 square feet. Despite the poverty, Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the region, there is a lot of money being spent and being made here.

Can’t wait for family outing tomorrow.

Pictures to follow

Well we have been in Siam Reap for a few days and been busy doing not much.

First back to Phnom Phen and our new family. The youngsters told us that out of respect they could not use our first name so they made us honorary Grand Parents. Here are our new “grandchildren” they are great kids.


And of course there is mom and dad which would make them our unofficial children. We think they took us in to make sure we’d be taken care of  while in Phmon Phen/Cambodia. Here they are at the park .

The parents in our new family

Maria's mom and dad

Our new family




Happy New Year!!! Chinese Style.

We are off to the carving village today as we are sending back a cubic meter of carved faces and other handicrafts from a carving villagr. We miss the carved monk faces that we have sold so we are bringing back a few of the big ones and some other thing depending on what we have room for. We’ll see.

There are repeats in this slide show as I am working out the kinks in my Picassa 3 program. My kinks actually. So just watch half for now.

I took what is turning out to be my late afternoon bike ride to see the progress of the elephant float for Saturday’s parade. There doesn’t seem to be much progress since yesterday. But from what  I can understand from the workers they are not worried . I showed the supervisor , I think he was the supervisor as he was not working , my calendar on my cell phone and pointed to Saturday and he indicated that it would be ready. I don’t know how but I don’t  know how the plants/flowers will be applied. Maybe they are on some kind of lattice fabric  that will be draped over the frame work. Again, I just don’t know but am dieing to find out. Stay tuned

Another Day in Chiang Mai.

Well this holiday /vacation routine is getting to be a regular king of thing. Up and make coffee. Walk to breakfast. Taking picture and of course blogging.

Rita got her crown today and she is now done with the dentist.

Snake fish for lunch at a nice restaurant near one of the hospitals here in Chiang Mai.

I tried to climb Doi Sutep mountain today but failed. Need more conditioning. May try again in the morning but just as a conditioning run. Though I didn’t get all the way up I still had a good run down!

Chiang Mai 1-27-2011

We have been in Chiang Mai for a 10 days or so and we will going on up to Chaing Rai with a short jaunt with Lacky and Pat Thompson , Aussy friends of Rita’s from when she lived in Bangkok. Due to the internet connection and speed of the computer (netbook) I have taken to making a slide show movie of some representative pictures for a few days. Some are taken while on my daily bike ride(literally on the bike while riding). One of the reasons we are in Chiang Mai is for the flower festival that coincides with Chinese New Year.

There is a parade for the  and I have wondered where and how the many floats are made. On one of my rides I found a float being assembled, or at this time the parts being put together about 15 km from the parade route. As luck will have it this float will have an elephant theme . The float body is split bamboo on a lumber frame. This allows for fair curves. Today the beginning of a thin cardboard skin is being applied though I show up while the  carpenters are working on some other aspect of the float.  These pictures are mixed into the movie. See if you can find them.