Showing posts from March, 2017

The Dog of Bruges

One of my favourite memories of Bruges was the Dog of Bruges. He has since passed away, but I will always remember him watching the tourists barges as they drifted past his window.

Like Venice, the canals of Bruges make it impossible to walk in a straight line; I found it simplest to follow a canal. The Groenerei (or Green Canal) is one of the old town’s major waterways, and was only two bridges away from my hotel. As I walked along I was surprised to see a golden retriever pawing at a window of the Côté Canal Hotel.

Unseen hands opened the window and spread out a quilt, and the dog made himself quite comfortable lying across the windowsill, soaking up the sun as he watched the world go by.

Watching the Dawn at Angkor Wat

The strangest part was walking in the dark, using the torches on our phone to light the way. All I could hear were our footsteps, and the noises of the jungle – plus the occasional swearing as someone tripped in the dark           I’d woken before dawn, and left my hotel in Siam Reap before the sun rose. Most tourists reach Angkor Wat via the front entrance, where a grand causeway stretches over a wide moat. Instead, my guide led me in from the east, where thick tree roots stretched across our path. Suddenly the jungle cleared and the temple rose before me: a black shadow against a dark blue sky, the grandeur of a world long gone.

          As Homer once wrote about another vanished world, Dawn comes early, with rosy fingers. As she does so Angkor Wat rose from the darkness. Hundreds of people stood around me, yet in the darkness I stood alone, watching the temple emerge along with the past. My guide had me to the edge of an ancient library pool, where the reflection of the…

Exploring the Mekong - My Own Heart of Darkness

The river washed away the humidity of the wet-season. A soft breeze drifted over the water, granting some relief from the heat. Our little wooden boat putted further and further upstream as a wall of green closed around us. Civilisation seemed far away. In Heart of Darkness, Conrad described the Congo as “a mighty big river, that you could see on the map, resembling an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country, and its tail lost in the depths of the land.” The same can be said of the Mekong. Rising in China, it flows through six countries before blossoming into the Mekong Delta, a web of waterways in southern Vietnam covering some 60,000 square kilometres.

    Our boat soon left the main waterway behind, and we entered that mesh of intersecting waterways. Yesterday I had been in Hoi An; now I had lost all sense of direction, and wondered how our driver would ever find where we were headed, let alone the way back. Each little ‘wat…