A misty morning on the pedestrianised bridge over the Lake of the Restored Sword in Hanoi, Vietnam.
They assured me I could walk in safety here but I chickened out when I saw the railway line running down the middle of the street. Unfortunately, it also started me humming The Railroad Runs Through the Middle of the House, which my grandfather used to sing, and it stayed with me for days.
Life is hard if you have a disability in most of S.E. Asia, probably a bit worse in Cambodia which is still a poor country, but this group of blind musicians are making the best of things by performing close harmony songs by the roadside and collecting money from passers-by.
Blind Musicians by the Roadside in Cambodia
HALONG BAY, VIETNAM:
One of the lovliest places in Vietnam, a short drive from the capital Hanoi. It is peaceful and harmonious, massive karsts thrusting up out of the sea and junks and smaller boats moving slowly on the calm green waters in and out between them. Inside some of these karsts are caves full of stalactites and stalagmites, well worth a visit, but do take a guide because they can also be dangerous.
On the calm waters of Halong Bay, the junks and the Karsts make for a very harmonious image. Despite the storm clouds there is a sense of harmony here and as night falls the boat people cook their meals on deck and the smell of spices and fish roll across the waters.
There are two rice growing seasons in most of S.E. Asia but the romantic pictures we have of coolie-hatted rice farmers in the fields hides the back-breaking labour involved in this work. Men and women share the work equally – well, mostly – and usually work from dawn to dusk. In areas where the ground is fertile and the water abundant, fish are also farmed in the waters, adding some additional protein to the rice diet, or being sold at market to buy other essentials.