It’s 2015. It’s mid January. And spring is here in Saigon.
In what has become my annual celebration of just how pleasant a time of year it is over here, when so many other parts of the world are either sweltering in their own juices, or snow ploughing their way to the office, I can’t resist once more in proclaiming the bleeding obvious: life is so much easier when you have the weather on your side.
Biking into work these days you are struck by the golden light, the intensely perfumed scents of the orchids and bogainvilleas, and the breeze. The fact that there is a breeze is enough to be thankful for, given Saigon’s notorious humidity track record. The New Year marks the lowest temperatures Saigon will experience until next January – somewhere in the mid 20’s – perfection in my mind, although many locals are already donning their puffer jackets and scarves in protest at the chilly starts to their days.
2015 – no resolutions for me, a year instead to appreciate all that comes my way and to embrace the here and now. I am grounded in Saigon until a UK visit next month, hosting as I am a regional workshop here at the end of the month, and enjoying the novelty of “routine” after a fabulous Christmas break, involving some long weekends away, and plenty of indulgent moments of sheer fun with Florence and Martha.
Perhaps a suitable 2015 resolution after two months absence from this blog (I’ve been peppering the sister site – http://www.definitelymaybe.me – with musings on development issues over the past few months instead) would be to post a bit more regularly.
Let me see…
Meantime, a lazy capture of the last quarter of 2014, which saw me travel extensively, can be found below in the form of pictures. I took to instagram last year, so check out @saigonsays on that if you are similarly hooked.
Wishing you all a very prosperous New Year to come.
Dark green forests and plantations, rolling hillsides dotted with the metallic roof tops of local sugar cane farms and homesteads. Uneven tarmac, and battered shop awnings displaying adverts from bygone eras for hot chocolate, soap powders and cigarette brands. School children, immaculately dressed, walking hand in hand along the roadside, taxis, bicycles and spluttering trucks whirling inches past them.
I could be back in Uganda 15 years ago, but in fact am in the Philippines city of Davao.
It is the largest city in the world in terms of sheer geography, but where I am, more towards the outskirts, you do not feel much of the effects of urban sprawl, and the comparables here with the sights and sounds recalled from time spent in Africa are striking.
The tropical latitude shared by the Philippines and the part of East Africa that I know best, mean that from the moment you step off the plane in Davao (located in the south of the country, an hour and a half flight from its capital, Manila, in the north) you experience the uplifting smell of equatorial life, its warmth, moisture and its connections with nature. A permanent background noise of birdsong and grasshopper symphony follow you about, day and night. Continue reading →