Rajasthani Rooster

smokes

Smoke o’clock, Jodhpur

Indeed, the title of this post makes no sense really, without the additional footnote that, back in January during Chinese New Year (Rooster year) Issy and I took a trip to Rajasthan.

In fact, I’d set up these photos and curated that catchy title whilst we were on our flight home and yet had just not quite managed to write up some lines to glue the images and the memories all together – until now.

If my most recent work trip to West Bank and Gaza, earlier this month, already feels like a hazy memory, then the brain is really scratching around looking for the according nodules of recollection which house the sights, sounds and sensations that we experienced in India, four months back.

What does immediately come to mind is what a relatively seamless expedition we managed – 1,500 kms in 6 days from Jaipur to Jaisalmer, and back again – before closing out by dropping in at the Taj Mahal for a final day’s soak up of one of the world’s most iconic sites.

Getting around Rajasthan is fairly simple and affordable. The trains are a great experience, and we also lucked out with a wonderful driver and hire car for most of our trip “out west”.      Continue reading

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The Year of the Dragon

Around about this time in January the UK press tend put out articles naming the year’s official most depressing day.

Their logic cites a combination of things such as the dreary winter weather, or the inevitable financial whiplash of Christmas spending.  More often than not the offending day in question is January 23rd (which is unfortunate in our household as this is, and has always been, Lou’s birthday.)

This year in Vietnam will be a quite different affair though, as 23rd January is Chinese New Year and subsequently, due to Vietnam being one of the many countries embracing the lunar calendar, local life in Saigon over the past weeks has been 100% focused on celebrating the beginning of Tễt (the official name for the New Year here) and the 4 days of public holidays which accompany this.

As previously described in this blog, December here was wall-to-wall Christmas eye candy.  On every street you’d find precariously hung fairy lights, young Vietnamese men dressed as Santa and smoking cigarettes, shops and restaurants blaring out festive carols on a 24/7 loop. Continue reading