The Solo Adventures Of A Forty-Something Teenage Detective!

Dong Hoi I set out from my ‘bijoux’ guest house in the small, provincial, untouristic town of Dong Hoi and headed for the incongruously psychedelic bridge which crossed the Nhat Li river. There was not a lot to see here, the town once being the main staging post for the Viet Cong during the war, it’s environs had been completely razed to the ground. The main sights being the bombed out church, preserved as yet another reminder of yet another U.S. war crime, and the bridge, an excellent example of […]

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Two Go To Devil’s Island!

Con Son, also known as Indochina’s Devil’s Island, is the main isle of the remote archipelago of Con Dao, lurking quietly,  far out in the turquoise South China Sea, just off the coast of southern Vietnam. Today, it is mainly visited by northern Vietnamese war veterans, who had once been incarcerated here during the infamous American campaign last century. They come to pay respects to their fallen colleagues and, I imagine, in an attempt to reconcile themselves with the brutality they were forced to endure here. It was The French […]

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I Miss Saigon.

Her crown may be glitzier, her gown may have more sparkle, yet her face is almost unrecognizable. Lifted, filled and bulldozed to make up an entirely different visage to the one I met here, almost twenty years ago. Lucky enough to be sailing and performing on The Q.E.2., we docked here, on the Saigon River,  on two magnificent occasions.  I recall such a colourful connurbation, full of oriental mystery, not to mention some mysterious orientals. My great friend, Becky and I, had a thrilling time, being pedalled around the ancient, incensed streets, by Ting, our trusty rickshaw pedlar. At once engulfed in narrow, smoky, lanes of boiling, mammoth pots containing unthinkable cuisine. Animals pulling carts of exotic produce, and children and chickens and dogs, and what seemed like a million other vibrant and virulent actors all adding to the richly foreign pantomime.  We fell in love, there and then, with Miss Saigon. It was the Saigon I had imagined a few years before, when I saw Andrew at his brilliant best, starring in the show of the same name, at Drury Lane. Exhilarating, unnerving, dissarming.  And like Mr Kennedy, utterly enchanting. And now, I have returned. I have searched in vain for this former enchantress.  The bygone Saigon.  But she just doesn’t want to show her hauntingly, nuanced face. Sometimes, all cosmetic surgery seems to do,  is mask the true beauty, however uncompromising, that was once plain for all to see. […]

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I Miss Saigon.

  Her crown maybe glitzier, her gown may have more sparkle. Yet her face is almost unrecognizable. Lifted, filled and bulldozed to make up an entirely different visage to the one I met here, almost twenty years ago. Lucky enough to be sailing and performing on The Q.E.2., we docked here, on the Saigon River,  on two magnificent occasions.  I recall such a colourful connurbation, full of oriental mystery, not to mention some mysterious orientals. My great friend, Becky and I, had a thrilling time, being pedalled around the ancient, incensed […]

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Putting The Bang Into Battambang.

We came on the six hour bus to Battambang – Cambodia’s second city. Our only sustenance provided by two crickets and a stag beetle, courtesy of our new New Yorker pals Maria and Logan, seated just ahead of us. Fried, of course.  The bugs that is, not the Americans.  Although some of the recent impoliteness we have witnessed, from our cousins across the pond, especially  when dealing with the Khmer natives, has left us wanting to dip them into boiling oil just like their beloved French Fries. Behaviour which can only be described as implausible.  Making any special relationship, impossible. We have, however, began to form a burgeoning friendship with the slightly scruffy Battambang.  It’s much more, how do you say? Cambodian.  Yes – that’s the word. Here, every other Tuk-Tuk driver isn’t desperately trying to entice you with the fierce whisper of, “Lady? Lady?  You want lady?” Or, “You want smoke?  Tina? Coke?” By which I’m sure they meant the real thing and not ‘The Real Thing”!   It’s, shall we say, more family orientated here, much like the famous beverage.  Mafia families I’ve no doubt, but let’s not harp on about that or I may have to refuse that offer after all!   The city actually feels more like a small town – one in which Gary Cooper would have felt at home  – but still, a friendly, ordinary town. Our hotel has the imaginative name, The First […]

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Putting The Bang Into Battambang.

We came on the six hour bus to Battambang – Cambodia’s second city. Our only sustenance provided by two crickets and a stag beetle, courtesy of our new New Yorker pals Maria and Logan, seated just ahead of us. Fried, of course.  The bugs that is, not the Americans.  Although some of the recent impoliteness we have witnessed, from our cousins across the pond, especially  when dealing with the Khmer natives, has left us wanting to dip them into boiling oil just like their beloved French Fries. Behaviour which can […]

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Mega Wattage!

As I gazed through the ornate sandstone balustrade onto the vast, luxurious pools, in which King Suryavarman the 2nd would purify himself before worshipping his Hindu gods, I drifted. For a brief moment I was there, in the 12th century, splashing in the cool waters. I, too, had ten thousand nubile dancers, like sexy suryavarman, only mine were dancing to a slightly different tune. My minions floated all around me – back-stroke, breast-stroke, mid-stroke. Marvellous. And then, snap,  my exotic reverie was halted in a flash. A Japanese tourist with […]

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