Molepolole: Dark Beauty Below the Roofing Sheets

From earliest times, water sources and wells have been the scene of rare encounter, of betrothal and alliance, of secrets, struggles and dreams, yes, and of slaking thirst for mortal and beast, nowhere more earnestly than in the arid interiors of the planet’s landmasses.  When desert winds drive storms of dust and sand, when the … More Molepolole: Dark Beauty Below the Roofing Sheets

Christmas Carol From A Kingston ‘Long-Drop’

Beyond the Jamaica cruise stops of Negril, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, there is an island world of richest stories, stories of suffering and dark struggle but told with lyric heart.  Who hasn’t danced to the reggae music of Bob Marley and the Wailers or been schooled by their torchy ballads of yearning for freedom … More Christmas Carol From A Kingston ‘Long-Drop’

Side Street in Phnom Penh (II): Of Nightmares and ‘Speakeasy’

Faithful rule-of-thumb in travels: the richest stories lie in the side streets, the smoky recesses of courtyards and tea stalls.  My Sunday meander down an alley in Phnom Penh ran true to form. Having heard the account of a young Khmer musician’s love of a grandfather (see previous post), I waited in a church anteroom … More Side Street in Phnom Penh (II): Of Nightmares and ‘Speakeasy’

What Terror From the Deep Can Leave Behind (II) Night Bus to Mandalay – and to a Tsunami Story

There is hardly any place name, with the possible exception of ‘Shangri-La’, that is quite so evocative as ‘Mandalay’. Nearly all of its associations for the West are Kipling-esque ‘images of oriental kingdoms and tropical splendor’*. Dozens of book titles, songs and hotel names have ridden the crest of those images to fame and riches. … More What Terror From the Deep Can Leave Behind (II) Night Bus to Mandalay – and to a Tsunami Story

Tsunami: What Terror From the Deep Can Leave Behind. (I)

In these last hours, video has captured a tsunami rolling ashore in the town of Palu, Sulawesi, Indonesia. Ten-foot waves can be seen in the background sweeping structures, palm trees and debris before them. The death toll, sure to rise, stands at 830. The images recalled what the world observed in horror on December 26, … More Tsunami: What Terror From the Deep Can Leave Behind. (I)

Temples to Tea, Shrines for the Traveler

Camelia sinensis: the wind beneath the traveler’s wings.  ‘Cha’, ‘sah’, ‘chay’. Known to the West as ‘tea’.  Across Asia and now the planet, this infusion of legend and mystery is on offer, be it in the exquisite tea houses of Kyoto and Dushanbe or in the humblest roadside shelters.  Whatever its shrine, tea commands a … More Temples to Tea, Shrines for the Traveler