SIN > NRT > ATL

My trip to visit my parents in Atlanta looked like this, more or less. It took me over 24 hours to get there.

I watched two movies on the way from Singapore to Tokyo and another two and a half on the way from Tokyo to Atlanta.

I made the map using http://myflightbook.com.

Changi Airport is very pretty, and always trying (sometimes successfully) to beat Incheon for the title of Best Airport Anywhere.
This terminal at Narita has undergone renovation, and the origami store I remember from a previous visit is gone. The bookstore, however, remains.
I hope this Narita shop never closes! The stuff it sells is more varied than the stuff at a typical airport souvenir shop.

Vietnamese books

In Hanoi in stores and stalls selling Vietnamese books, there were a lot of familiar titles…

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Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar in Vietnamese
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children’s books including The Little Prince, If you Give a Mouse a Cookie, something by Dr. Seuss and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
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P.D. Eastman’s Are You My Mother?
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The cover illustration of the Disney/Andersen mashup on the left is clearly just a bad redrawing of the cover illustration on the right.

They don’t just translate kids’ books, though.

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Beauty and the Beast, Heidi, The Little Match Girl and Other Stories, The Jungle Book, and The Arabian Nights. Below: Sherlock Holmes, Anna Karenina, and Dracula.
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George Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire books in Vietnamese

I was impressed with the selection, which was better than what I’ve seen in other places in Southeast Asia.

Vietnamese banknotes

Whenever I visit a foreign country, I try to collect one each of all the bills and coins in use; my husband also likes to have a set of his own, so I assembled one for him this time too. Nine different bills! Six polymer and three paper.

Since the coins aren’t worth much, I didn’t run across any in use. I did see some at a stall selling postcards, stamps, and other items of interest to tourists, but they were glued on to a dirty old cardboard “collector’s album” with some undoubtedly fake/replica ancient coins and some random, beat-up coins from other countries (including an American penny next to a label that said it was a nickel). No thanks.

Since the Wikipedia article on Vietnamese banknotes doesn’t let you see the images of the banknotes (you have to click a bunch of links to another site), I’ve scanned mine and posted them below.

The 200k note shows Ha Long Bay, and the 100k note shows a gate at the Temple of Literature in Hanoi, two locations I’ve now seen in person.

Continue reading Vietnamese banknotes

Embroidered flag patches

This is the current state of my collection of embroidered flag patches. (They’re all about the same size and quality now, yay!)

The ones in plastic bags are all ones I just bought in Vietnam.

These are all flags from countries I’ve visited (except that I haven’t been to Malaysia, the Philippines, or Mexico overnight, and one is the Buddhist flag).

China Hong Kong Taiwan Macau Japan Korea
India Sri Lanka Mexico Buddhism  
Laos Vietnam Singapore Philippines Thailand
Cambodia Myanmar Myanmar (old) Malaysia Indonesia
UK Spain Portugal France Hungary Germany

I also have flag patches for cities and states I’ve lived in, plus the US, plus a variety of other embroidered patches for sites, places, brands, and institutions.

I would like to have flag patches for:

  • Italy (+ Vatican City)
  • Honduras
  • UAE (no overnight visit)
  • England
  • …any other countries I visit in the future!

Six Little Princes

I’m fascinated by books that transmit knowledge and culture across language barriers, which is why I have whole shelves of familiar books in unfamiliar languages. (I’m not crazy; I’m erudite! At least that’s what I keep telling myself.)

One of the books I own in multiple languages is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

Above are copies in Lao(atian), Khmer (the language of Cambodia), Vietnamese, Portuguese, the original French, and Italian.

I bought the Lao and Khmer copies at Monument Books in Vientiane in 2015; I just recently bought the Vietnamese one at one of the three Artbook locations in Hanoi; I bought the Portuguese one in Porto, Portugal, in 2004. I unknowingly kicked off the habit of buying Le Petit Prince in other languages when I bought the Italian one in Italy in 2002. I probably bought the English version between 1999 and 2004.

The French copy is the one I used when I was a senior in high school. The book, designed for students, includes a glossary at the back, but I added footnotes.

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My handwriting, age 18. Meh.

Do I have an English translation of Le Petit Prince? Yes, but it’s not in the photo because it’s in a box with a bunch of other books we don’t have shelves for. There is more than one such box.

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That’s my English-language copy of The Little Prince.

Bottom left, you see 1984? I have that in Portuguese, too.

Phnom Penh (September 2016)

My husband Aquinas and I went to Phnom Penh, Cambodia during his break week.

While there, I drank a Kingdom Pilsener. The label says:

Cambodia’s lush, mysterious jungles hide more than the splendours of Angkorian majesty. Deep in these green bastions rare beasts roam wild. The elusive clouded leopard, the strange plated pangolin, the stalwart kouprey—if not mythical, at least immensely difficult to find. Kingdom Pilsener, Cambodia’s first truly premium beer, celebrates this enigmatic empire. Singular in flavor and a little hard to track down, Kingdom’s rare quality is well worth the adventure.

On this trip to Cambodia, we forwent the Angkorian splendours. We did not see any clouded leopards, plated pangolins, or koupreys, stalwart or otherwise. I don’t even know what a kouprey is! (Google says it’s a forest-dwelling bovine—you’re welcome.)

We visited the royal palace, the national museum, a Buddhist temple, and the Art Deco market; we patronized a spa and a couple of handicraft shops; we relaxed in the hotel cafe and ate at two of the best restaurants in the country (one French and one Cambodian). That’s it!

Below are 25 photos, mostly from the palace grounds.

Continue reading Phnom Penh (September 2016)

Singapore Changi Airport T1 Cactus Garden

When you think of Singapore, you don’t think of cacti, and an airport is pretty much the opposite of a garden, right? Yet Changi Airport boasts a cactus garden.

How do cacti even survive outdoors in Singapore? My guess is they’ve worked out the right kind of soil to drain water away from the plants, but what do I know. My thumbs are about as green as a fire engine.

Below are 10 photos I took of the cactus garden at Changi Terminal 1 while waiting for the gate to open for our flight to Phnom Penh.

Don’t make fun of the “wildlife” tag on this post. Obviously, this garden is the opposite of wild. I guess I’m just using the tag as shorthand for “plants and animals (and mushrooms, which aren’t even plants)”.

Continue reading Singapore Changi Airport T1 Cactus Garden

Maine (July 2016)

My husband Aquinas and I flew to the US together for his brother’s wedding in Maine. We stopped overnight in Beijing on the way there and the way back to avoid the utter misery of traveling for more than twenty-four hours in a row. The weather for the wedding was amazing, and I enjoyed meeting and talking with the new in-laws of my in-laws. While in the US, Aquinas and I also visited some friends in New York, had a couple of nice dinners in Portland, and walked part of the Freedom Trail in Boston.

See below for a selection of 100 photos from the trip, including snapshots of NYC skyscrapers, empty Maine landscapes, and a spectacular sunset.

Continue reading Maine (July 2016)