Rex Redux

Either the normally deadly traffic is enjoying a mellow holiday respite or it’s beginning to get a little more tolerable with time. Yes, a moped warrior executed (not a bad word for it) a deft left turn inches in front of the taxi from the far right lane steering with one hand and talking on his phone with the other, but nowadays there are even occasional men in little green outfits to help foot traffic across streets. And I could hardly hear the horns from bed at dawn.

The air hangs languid and damp, just the tonic for 22 hours of dry airplane air, but it’s hardly as hot as it might be, scarcely 30, and up around Sa Pa on the Chinese border, snow has fallen. It smells like Vietnam, straight from the arrivals hall. I put it down to cheap coal burned for power.

Walked over to the Rex Hotel. It’s at a far remove from the days of the Five O’clock Follies. It’s state owned nowadays and the rooftop bar is still here, see for yourself, but today shopping arcades of Ermenegildo Zegna, Hugo Boss, Burberry and Givenchy outnumber hard bitten journalists in safari vests. See those three framed photos hung on poles around the bar? They’re framed enlargements of John Kerry’s visit one week ago today.


The Vietnamese Dong continues out of hand, 265,650 for two Saigon brand local beers. On the other hand, where else do you leave 14,000 for a tip?

First Report from Last Week’s Dublin Visit

… about as you’d imagine.

Click it to make it big. More to come.


Now with Fresh Aborigines!

Here's a page from a menu in the Miraflores district of Lima, Peru, seen in December. Consider the Lasana Vegeteriana. There's a closer view below:



Yum. Maybe they meant aubergines?


Rainy Day Reading

We've been a little scarce here at CS&W as we try to finish up some longer-form writing and get set for a trip to Rapa Nui that's about a month away. More on that as we get closer.

For now, here are ideas of interest from all over, if you're so inclined:

– Not long ago, my pal Rick Lewis moved to Cotacachi, Ecuador. He blogs about it at brokedownpalette.

– Alfred Molon, a Dane, has some 23,000 photos here, from much of the world.

– Albanian Tourism Project Puts Beds in Bunkers, from Der Spiegel.

– Kebabistan, a Eurasianet food blog, is worth a look.

– Update on the state of things in Ukraine, from Salon.

– The Enclaves and Counter-enclaves of Baarle, on the Dutch/Belgian border, from Big Think's Strange Maps.

– And you might have seen that the British have invaded nine out of ten countries, from an upcoming book.

Fruits of Labor – Wednesday HDRs

Both Labor Day in the U.S. (the first Monday in September) and the International Worker's Day (or May Day, May 1st) seem to have sprung up almost simultaneously in the 1880s. The U.S. Department of Labor says that the first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday,
September 5, 1882.

The movement in Canada may have been a little out in front of the U.S.:

"Labor unions existed in Canada in the early 1800s but legislation was adopted to make it illegal for workers to form unions…. At the beginning of May, thousands of workers and their families would
march peacefully through the city streets into the parks where they
would enjoy picnics, and listen to speakers talking about working
together to force employers to reduce working hours…. In 1872, the Canadian government changed the law so it was no longer illegal to be a member of a trade union."

Martyred Communist Rosa Luxemburg wrote that the Americans were also behind May Day:

"The happy idea of using a proletarian holiday celebration as a means to attain the eight-hour day was first born in Australia" in 1856, she wrote, and "The first to follow the example of the Australian workers were the
Americans. In 1886 they decided that May 1 should be the day of
universal work stoppage." 

Ms. Luxemburg never got round to how Labor Day moved from May to September, and it's a good question, since today some 80 countries celebrate Worker's Day on May 1st. Here is Britannica's answer:

"In 1889 an international federation of socialist groups and trade unions declared the date of May 1 as Workers’ Day to commemorate the  Haymarket Riot in Chicago (1886). Five years later, U.S. Pres. Grover Cleveland,
uneasy with the socialist origins of Workers’ Day, signed legislation
to make Labor Day—already held in some states on the first Monday of
September—the official U.S. holiday in commemoration of workers. Canada
followed suit not long afterward."

So, both Americans and Canadians celebrated a holiday with a day off last weekend. Montrealers were out in unusually warm weather for a street festival in Old Montreal. Here are a few HDRs. Click them to make them bigger:




All processed in Photomatix and Photoshop. Click 'em to make them bigger. More HDRs here.

No Pad Thai in the Sixties

This says the first Thai restaurant in the entire United States opened in 1971.

“Evidently, denture adhesive is improving”

Oktoberfest ended yesterday in Munich with the loss of

"a Viking helmet, two crutches, an electric wheelchair, a rucksack containing two foldable camping chairs, a case full of musical notes, 1,300 items of clothing, 520 wallets, over 1,000 identity cards, 390 mobile phones, 370 pairs of eyeglasses, 90 cameras, 80 items of jewellery and watches and 425 keys…"

and only one set of dentures, down from previous years.

"The year I started," a worker in lost and found said, "I remember we had five or six sets of false teeth in, and a pensioner walked in and tried them all on. Unfortunately, his weren't among them."

Read all about it here in Der Spiegel.


The Englischer Biergarten, Munich.

Hoi An, Vietnam Morning Market – Wednesday HDR


Colorful, and one of the top 100 most popular on, this is from the morning market at Hoi An, Vietnam. Click it for the full treatment.

Words You Can Use

How to say cheers in fifty languages.

“I bet it will be vaguely disappointing.”


Featuring “soft tortillas overstaffed with supper tangy chicken.”