Hong Kong 2007

More photos on worldisround.com; From the travelogue we kept on Travelpod.com

2007 Trip: Getting ready, Hong Kong, Burma, Thailand, Phnom Penh (1) & Phnom Penh (2), Luang Prabang

Others of my sites: Journals 2007.22007, 2006, Personal Page, Asia Trips 2005, 2006, Asia Photos; Budget Guides to Southeast Asia & Hong Kong; A Cottage Garden; Refugees; Israel & the Middle East; Haiphong Red Flamboyant; East Dallas Restaurants; Home #1

As in our other Asia trips, we started and ended in Hong Kong. This page includes the beginning and the end, and has been edited very little from original Travelpod.com entries. We both like HK very much and over the years have found it a good way to ease into and out of Asia. 

This post is now complete. First, from Leslie. Will probably add more later today, but I posted last night and lost it (what I posted), so will make incomplete post now and add to it later.

Hi friends, We are in Hong Kong on top of Victoria Peak after sleeping 10 hours in utter exhaustion. the flight over turned out to be about 24-28 hours (we're finding it hard to calculate exactly) after the flight was delayed 3+ hours in Los Angeles and then we had to make a detour to Taipei for additional fuel as the headwinds were strong enough to deplete it earlier than anticipated. Then we arrived in HKG about 8:00 am and went to leave our bags at our "hotel" and then directly to the Burmese Embassy where, by some miracle, Charles managed to secure a visa with only another 3 hour wait. By the time we managed to find something for dinner, we were literally staggering back to the hotel. Each trip, like to the Embassy, requires bus/ferry/train/etc in multiple combinations and is quite fun usually but not after 36-48 hours of no sleep! Photo: landing in Hong Kong

Today though we took a bus from our hotel to the Star Ferry (always a favorite) and then a great bus ride up to the Peak. The view is incredible- what must it be like to be among the few who can afford to live up here overlooking one of the most beautiful and famous harbors in the world? When we finish up here, we'll take a bus back down tho the Central are and try to find a particular wonton noodle soup shop that Charles learned about for a new on line friend.

Sara and Shirin, we are so grateful to you both for taking care of Judo and the house. We would never have been able to do this trip without the 2 of you. I hope all is well at home, not just our home but yours and your families' as well. Write when you can. We leave here day after tomorrow for Burma and will be, I expect, completely out of touch for 10+ days. So I'll write again before we leave here. Love to all, Leslie

Jumping all over the place: Notes from Dallas - Sara moved in and Chris took us to the airport - Thank you Chris! We got there 3.5 hours before the flight - no problem. Leslie got shook down by security - what a relief that they are concerned about 60 year old Presbyterian women. Easy flight DFW to LAX, enjoying our "tripnic" as Leslie calls it (chicken salad, pesto, etc. from Central Market).

Sitting in LAX remembering how the first few times we traveled how we marveled at all the people who looked and sounded different than we - now marveling at how quiet it is here in departure for flight to HK- we can hear Chinese Tagalog, Viernamese - I don't know what all - children and adults sleeping all over the place and we're fading fast. It's 1:45am - way past our bedtime and finally we get on and to our GREAT SEATS - on a 747 there are endless rows of 3 bulkhead seats, 4 center seats and 3 bulkhead seats. There are 3 rows of 2 bulkhead sats with almost a full seat's space between seat and bulkhead and that is where we are. Three cheers for seatguru.com. Photo: you're either on the plane or off the plane

Leslie watching Charlotte's Web on video on seat in front of us. I look over and there's a pig on the screen and I remark on how funny pigs look (I mean, they are funny looking), but Leslie has tears in her eyes. "It's sad," she says. "Charlotte is dying." "Why?" "Because that's the life cycle." I was about to listen to the Ipod, but thought better of it and watched her screen for 5-10 minutes to the end of the movie and wouldn't you know, I started feeling melancholy, because, yeah, it is the life cycle and we're both 62 ...

It's a long flight DFW - LAX - Taipei (had unscheduled stop to refuel because of strong headwind) - HKG ... counting time in airports, I think about 34-36 hours. Legs hurting, eyes puffy, very tired (although we both slept about 4 hours) - very tired and very happy.

At last, we're in HK. Dropped bags at Dragon Hostel. Dashed across harbor to Burma Embassy, paid for visa, left passport and went to lunch at a noodle soup place across the way. Had fish ball soup (none of your anemic fish balls like in the US) with chicken wings. Back to Embassy and picked up passport with visa. Ahhh. What a relief. Photo: breakfast at Ho Fun

Back to Dragon. Noisy neighbors (this is a common problem since HK opened up to Chinese tourists - loud cell phone talkers and louder in-person talkers). Went to sleep about 7pm - more accurately, passed out about 7pm - were we tired or what! Slept until 5am (about 5pm Dallas time - oh man, I'm all confused). Got our gear squared away and were at Ho Fun restaurant at 7. Ho Fun is in same block as Sincere House (the building where our GH is). The restaurant is owned by Mimi and her brother, whom we met last time through. They're both nice to be around and Ho Fun has a pretty good breakfast (which the Australians call brekkie) with two eggs, sausage (not  your American-style sausage!), toast (hey look, it's Texas toast!) and coffee for $19HKD (about $2.30USD). The waiter is something else. He slams it down for everyone. And everyone gets the old finger in the tea. The first time we were in HK together (1978) we went in a restaurant and the waiter brought the little glasses of tea (finger in) and slammed 'em down - we thought he was jacking with us and got up and left. Now we know that's just the way it is in inexpensive Chinese restaurants.

Hong Kong dollar exchange rate in $7.7 for $1 USD.

After breakfast we caught the bus to the Star Ferry - oh, happy happy day to be on the Star Ferry again - like in The World of Suzie Wong. Ferry across the harbor, 4 minute walk to bus stop and bus 15  for a fabulous bus ride up the Peak for $9.20. The usual way up is the Peak Tram, which is also good, but less scenic, more expensive, and faster (no virtue in fast).

Back down from the Peak, we went to place (Tsim Chai Kee) recommended by astroboy for wonton noodle soup. Alright! Menu had soup with shrimp wonton or fish balls or "fresh beef" ($14 for 1 of the above, $19 for 2, $22 for 3), vegetable with oyster sauce (like no other oyster sauce I've had), and soft drinks. A true happening place.

I just realized that I have some photos a little out of place. Oh well. I'm always challenged by computers and to upload the photos I had to go a place in the Chungking Mansions and so on and so forth ... More on Chungking Mansions next post.

Quote from Leslie: "I wore part of the polish off my toes we walked so far. I'm not kidding."

Saturday: breakfast at Mimi's, ferry to Lamma Island where we walked around for awhile. Talked with a little girl holding on to a very big dog (Lamma has lots of dogs). She told us that the dog :"made the children because he pooped on the playground and that is not allowed." Hmmm. 

Had some very good and fairly cheap dim sum - I have to tell you that the shrimp here have a stronger/better flavor than even the wild caught shrimp we get in the US. On the ferry back to HK Island it was sooo sleepy - rock me on the water. Back on the Island we went back to the wonton place and then back across the harbor to Kowloon and a stop-off in the Chung King Mansions. Photo: on the Peak

Quick geography: Hong Kong Island is, well, it's an island and between the island and the mainland is a deepwater harbor with ships and boats of every size as far as you can see. The mainland closest to the island is Kowloon (Chinese for nine dragons or something like that). Kowloon is a peninsula and there is a road running from close to where the Star Ferry docks (the Star Ferry is how you get back and forth from island to mainland) up the peninsula. That road is Nathan Road and it passes through areas called Tsim Sha Tsui, Yau Ma Tei, Mongkok, and then into the New Territories. Mong Kok is where the Dragon Hostel is and here I am in the little hostel office on their computer...

It's raining in Hong Kong. It rained yesterday, too. Happy day to be in Asia when the rains begin.

The Chungking Mansions is a huge building in Tsim Sha Tsui. Lonely Planet says Chungking is "a place like no other place in the world ... you may be put off by the undercurrent of sleaze...lifts like steel coffins..." CKM has the most astonishing collection of people ... Chinese, Pakistani, Afghan, Nigerian, Somali, Egyptian, English, Italian, Indian, Nepali, who knows where all. There are restaurants, clothing stores, phone stores - everything imaginable for sale. We go there for Indian food, to change money, and for an internet cafe run by Anna, a Filipina. As with the rest of the CKM, there is a variety of people in the internet cafe (oh, it is a very small place), including Filipina/o ladyboys of great beauty. What a place. We used the internet, talked with Anna, had a good time.

Back to where we are staying - raining - raining - raining. Went past our bus stop. Leslie goes into a bank to change paper money into coins for bus, etc. (exact change only policy). The man who is helping her looked amused. When she asks for further breakdown into smaller coins a woman comes over and is looking very amused. As it turns out we're in a betting parlor, but they give Leslie what she want - after all, she is the executive director.

Every day we find out something new about the block where we are staying - steamed bun place, Vietnamese restaurant, BBK place, "Japan store," - there's even a two-three story wet and dry market (wet = fish, meat, vegetables, etc. and dry = dry noodles, can good, etc.). We could spend days just on this block. Once we get to Bangkok (10 days from now will upload photos).

Hong Kong guest houses - at least the ones we've stayed in the pasr few years - have a hallway with bottled water and a refrigerator. Also a way to heat water, so you can eat very cheap if you like. Leslie makes "ice cubes" in plastic cups so that at the end of the day she can have iced tea. Oh, we're traveling in style alright. Photos: on the right, room at Dragon - cost ~$30 USD; left is reception area Dragon - and there is Stanley

Right now we're in the Hong Kong airport (free internet service). We fly from here to Bangkok. Layover for a few hours and then to Rangoon. Let me see if I can paste something on Burma into a next post ...

End of Trip

Flew Luang Prabang (happy we to have gone to this great town) to Bangkok on Wednesday. My camera running out of power and can't find charger.

Re BKK airport: Here's a good thing about the crappiest airport I've ever been in (shoddy construction; poor security; institutionalized thievery; incredible waits at security; hot, crappy departure area - and if you're early, an even worse waiting area; incomprehensible signage, and a design based on making you walk past endless shops selling luxury garbage, lower-class "luxury items than, say Hong Kong airport - Bangkok is what you get with hog-wild corruption). But here's the good part: a floor below departure area there are some restaurants and at the end of the row, there is a mini-food court called the Miracle Court. They have okay (as good as anything else in the airport) rice with pork and chillis and a cold fried egg on top (you have to be an Asia traveler to appreciate the cold fried egg part) and all the prik nam pla, etc. you can eat for 30 baht. AND, you can get decent sticky rice with mango for 50 baht. There is other stuff, too, like passable espresso and Americano for 30 baht - so I had sticky rice and mango for breakfast - happy me. Photo above: HK airport - Cathay Pacific and Oasis

Cathay Pacific flight BK to HK was typical Cathay Pacific: comfortable, decent food, nice staff.

Took bus to Mongkok MTR station, walked the 3 blocks to Sincere House where the Dragon Hostel is. They were holding the usual tiny HK GH room for us - $260 HKD/night ($29USD). It's hot here - 95F. We hung a t-shirt over the part of the window where sun was coming through, stuffed a towel between the top of the aircon to hold a sheet of paper to direct air downward, and hung a sarong over the tiny entrance area at the door to keep the aircon part of the room even smaller. Camera completely out of power. Photo: Mong Kok - Dragon a few doors away 

Leslie just said, "Oh my, Charlie, we're really old to be doing this this way. We haven't changed much (in how we travel) since we were young. We just aren't taking the buses in Bangkok anymore." 

We have some bad TV channels in this room. I'm surfing through and see advt for Bondi-Enema. Heavy-set middle aged man walks out of the bathroom rubbing his belly and saying, "Ahhhh" - Bondi, that's my enema. 

The first clue I had about refugees was when I was 13 or 14 years old and stumbled across a book, From the Land of Silent People by Robert St. John. It amazes me that I never had a clue that great things were possible, like creating and writing that book. I never caught a dream, it never was sent my way, I never made it up on my own until so much later, until a war later, until a war’s aftermath later, until Leslie.

On the way to pick up dinner to have in our room I went by the open-air corner vendor to buy two large washcloths I’ve wanted to get since last December and the place is gone – covered with metal shutters. What? Dinner was rice and duck and rice and pork from a different corner. Duck was good, pork not great. 

So after dinner I went to the Ladies Market on Tung Choi Street a block from our guesthouse. I found what I was looking for and something I wasn’t looking for. In 2005 I got lost somewhere just south or barely into the New Territories and after wandering for awhile, stopped into a BBQ pork and duck place and had an excellent rice, pork, and duck plate – and took a couple of fun photos (I’m easily amused). It was a helpful stop in a long wander. Photo: Mong Kok

Tonight I was walking north along behind the vendors and saw an alley running off to the right and at the end of the alley, lights, and so I headed up the alley and when I got to the end (a street over), there was a nice vegetable market and then I saw that same BBQ place – a few doors off corner Soy & Sai Yee Streets. Alright! When I got back to our room I was telling Leslie about my excellent adventure (what an exciting life!) I realized that Cherikoff's Bakery (which I re-discovered in that 2005 ramble) may be somewhere near …

Cherikoff’s is one of the Russian businesses (started by people fleeing Russia after the communists took over in 1917) found here and there across Hong Kong. Cherikoff’s used to be on Nathan Road about a block from the old Anglican church in the area where beautiful old trees (improbably) line the road. Leslie and I used to go there a lot for coffee, sandwiches, and pastries in the 1970s and 80s. Then it was gone, replaced by a McDonalds. We’ll see tomorrow if we can find Cherikoff’s – after the usual, much-loved time on the Peak on HK Island. 

This morning Leslie ran into one of the (wonderfully quiet) Chinese women in the room next to ours at the Dragon. Hello, how are you, etc. and when Leslie asked her where she was from the woman said, “Sveden.”  Photo: Peak road

We decided to have dim sum on our last full day in HK, so skipped our usual breakfast of eggs, toast, sausage, copy ham, and coffee at Mimi’s Fun Ho café. We had some peanut butter and coffee in our room and took bus down Nathan Road to Star Ferry (stepping out of the bus you instantly catch the salt water smell of the harbor mixed with exhaust), magic ferry ride to Central, #15 bus up the Peak, bus back down, walk to Maxim’s Palace City Hall for dim sum. Maxim’s is the first place listed in Lonely Planet’s “Top Five Dim Sum Restaurants” in HK – “the most raucous (and genuine) place for dim sum in Central.” We had shrimp dumplings, fried taro/pork balls, shrimp rolls, sui mai and tea – and guess what? 

In comparison to Arc en Ciel in Garland (Dallas suburb), at Maxim’s the shrimp in the shrimp rolls were better (but not as good as what we’ve gotten on Lamma Island), the fried shrimp dumplings were equal in taste, the sui mai with crab roe was better, and the taro/pork balls were about the same, except smaller. So, really, one place about as good as the other. Of course the view of the HK harbor (you have to get to Maxim's early for a harbor view table) is a 1000x better than what you see outside Arc en Ciel (a sea of Toyota Camrys). Arc en Ciel is also cheaper.

And to continue the heresy, I have yet to find better roast or BBQ duck or pork anywhere in Asia than what is at 1st Chinese BBQ in Richardson (another suburb) - Toyotas, burbs, education ...

We had a nice time at the dim sum place, walked to the bus stop by the “house of a 1000 orifices” (Jardine House) and caught the #15 to the top of the Peak. Everyone should ride the Peak Tram, no doubt. It’s interesting and a good ride with good history, but the bus is much more scenic, cheaper, and gets you to the same place. On the Peak, we went to our favorite place, Pacific Coffee and enjoyed an unparalleled view, decent coffee, and internet with the coffee. Bus back down and found our way back to Tsim Chai Kee Noodle for king prawn wonton noodle soup, “green vegetable with oyster sauce,” cream soda, and a glass of hot water (no idea what’s the story on the hot water). Two soups and the rest was $39 HKD – about $5USD. Now that is better than anything you can get in Dallas at any price. Thanks, astroboy! Photo: around the corner from Tsim Chai Kee Noodle

Nice walk through a humongous mall – there are many of these in HK – Star Ferry back across the harbor, bus to Mongkok (nice talk with young woman on the bus). Leslie went to shower and I went in search of Cherikoff’s Bakery.

Alas, I never did find this bakery. Stopped in at another place (Taipan Bakery) and picked up some snacks and by 7-11 for milk from the Trappist Dairy – aahhh, cold, fresh milk. 

Like many other guesthouses and hostels in HK, the Dragon Hostel has a number of disconnected sections, each comprised of a hallway with a small area for a fridge, water dispenser, etc., then a series of rooms off the hallway. Our current hallway has a large heart-shaped glass clock with a giant green speckled life-like (well, sort of life-like) plastic lobster on each side of the small clock face. A lobster clock – why didn’t I think of that?

Last entry

What an incredible response I got to my last post:
Cherikoff's bakery?
Jul 17, 2007 04:28 EST by cherikoff ( New!

”My grandfather started the first Cherikoff bakery on Nathan Road as you say and I read about you wanting to get to one of the many Cherikoff bakeries now in China. Are they a quality bakery? Or is it because they still offer European specialties rather than the semi-sweet or unpalatable (for Caucasians) baked products in Chinese bakeries?”

Small world! Leslie says, “Isn’t the internet a truly wonderful thing!”

Saturday: Finished packing and caught the bus at 7:50 to the Star Ferry, across the harbor, through a mall, and here we are again at Tsim Chai Kee Noodle for king prawn wonton noodle soup, etc. all over again for breakfast. On the ferry on the way back, I drank a can of Nescafe coffee facing backward, watching Hong Kong Island recede … back at GH at 10:50 for last shower, check-out, use internet, walk to the A21 bus stop 4-5 blocks from GH. Photo: at the big, indoor Mong Kok Market

Another great bus ride and here we are at HK airport 9 hours before our flight leaves so we won’t have to pay an extra day for left luggage. Really, it’s no problem to be early because GH check-out time is 12 and HK is too hot for wandering for us without a shower at the end of the wander. And there is no urgency to wander because this is the 6th time we’ve been here since 2005 and actually, we’ve wandered this place many times since 1978. And, there are not many better places to be than in this airport. Photo: at the big, indoor Mong Kok Market

Through the afternoon we had coffee at Pacific Coffee, steamed bun with BBQ pork at Lost China Snacks, child’s chicken strip dinner at Popeye’s, and roast duck on rice at Café de Coral. Wandered duty-free shops, Leslie sampling Rose Essentials from Bvlgari and trying to get me to put on something from Armani. Okashi Land shop has Collon Crackers – hopefully not a typo. They also sell 1000 gm bags of duck tongues (a lot of tongues, I’m thinking) – two for me please. Great gifts for someone. Maybe I’ll bring a bag home for you. 

The HK airport is on Lantau Island in the South China Sea and is reached via an elegant suspension bridge. In the early evening I walked to a different side of the terminal and looked out the window to see a 747 illuminated by the sun setting in clouds over the shining water and green hills beyond.

To lay me down
To lay me down
Let the world go by, like clouds a-streaming
To lay me down
To lay me down
To lay me down
One last time
Settled in at Gate 63 around 9pm, waiting for 11pm boarding.
To lay me down
One last time

I’m flying tonight
Little girl wearing a black dress with sparkling glitter trim moon-walking backwards on the moving sidewalk running through the center of departure
I’m flying, we’re flying
Over the dark Pacific and under the wide, black and starry sky.

I have a good and simple book (The Hidden Life of Dogs), but the excitement of the departure terminal is too much. 

Leslie: We're in the HK airport, again drinking coffee at Pacific Coffee, hmmmm. We had to come about 8 hours early or get tagged with another $30 US charge for our Left Luggage, so here we are. Photo: departure board - a place to dream

David, remember when Thai wouldn't let you check your luggage even in 1st class several hours before your flight so you had to lug it around or pay to put it in Left Luggage? Cathay Pacific took ours cheerfully at 1:30 for our flight that departs at 11:30 tonight and said that we could have brought it as early as 6:00 am. I wonder if that's Thai's lousy service or the ever looking for another Baht BK airport? Anyway, if you have a choice, give Cathay Pacific a try. 

So we'll go thru customs and immigration shortly and hang out in the Departure Lounge. We do love an airport and this one is great!! I'm going to polish my nails for the first time in a month once we get settled- I have this awesome tiny bottle of straight Japanese acetone that I bought in a little shop in Chiang Mai mall not often frequented by westerners. The girl I bought it from had to figure out from my charades what I wanted and there was no way to explain that it had to be seriously "non-green" to take off this OPI polish but she was certain her stuff was good and it's industrial strength after all. I love helpful people when traveling - it really makes things easier. Photo: departure area HK International Airport

So off we go again. See all of you soon. Love, Mom/Leslie

Long flight. The “living earthquake” guy sitting in front of Leslie spilled his orange juice and that gave us a little drama. Food was good – this is Cathay Pacific. We assembled a “tripnic” (Leslie’s word) from the snacks from this flight for the next and last flight, which is on American Airlines (the airline that sells crummy boxes of high sodium, high saturated fats, high sugar snacks). 

LAX not bad this time around. Flying out of LA we start out over the Pacific – midnight black with a few sparkles from ships and LA an endless carpet of lights sparkling in the night. Coming into DFW 3:30am California time and 5:30 Texas time we can see the dawn lighting barely the sky with traces of red. The last time I saw the dawn was in Luang Prabang. 

"Whole generations of westerners who went out there as soldiers, doctors, planters, journalists ... lost their hearts to these lands of the Mekong ... they are places that take over a man's soul" (from River of Time by Jon Swain, one of the last westerners out of Cambodia in 1975).

Like the cashier at Tsim Chai Kee Noodle said when we said goodbye our last time there for breakfast on Saturday as we left – “See you next year, maybe.” And she said, “Thank you. By-by.”

The garden is lush, overgrown, some roses blooming – roses, jasmine, and 4 o’clocks perfuming the night air. We’re home. Photo: Bunny on the Peak (wearing Jimmy's Groceries hat)

Good trip. Thank you. By-by.

Finally, a little poetry for the last entry for this trip.
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin' lazy at the sea …   
There's a Burma girl a-settin', and I know she thinks o' me; 
For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say; 
"Come you back, you British Soldier; come you back to Mandalay!" 
Come you back to Mandalay, 
Where the old Flotilla lay; 
Can't you 'ear their paddles clunkin' from Rangoon to Mandalay? 
On the road to Mandalay, 
Where the flyin'-fishes play, 
An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!  

'Er petticoat was yaller an' 'er little cap was green, 
An' 'er name was Supi-Yaw-Lat jes' the same as Theebaw's Queen, 
An' I seed her first a-smokin' of a whackin' white cheroot, 
An' wastin' Christian kisses on an 'eathen idol's foot: 
Bloomin' idol made o' mud-- 
Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd-- 
Plucky lot she cared for idols when I kissed 'er where she stud! 
On the road to Mandalay ... 

When the mist was on the rice-fields an' the sun was droppin' slow, 
She'd git 'er little banjo an' she'd sing "Kulla-la-lo!" 
With 'er arm upon my shoulder an' 'er cheek again my cheek 
We useter watch the steamers an' the hathis pilin' teak. 
Elephants a-piling teak 
In the sludgy, squdgy creek, 
Where the silence 'ung that 'eavy you was 'arf afraid to speak! 
On the road to Mandalay ...  

But that's all shove be'ind me -- long ago and fur away, 
An' there ain't no 'buses runnin' from the Bank to Mandalay; 
An' I'm learnin' 'ere in London what the ten-year soldier tells: 
"If you've 'eard the East a-callin', you won't never 'eed naught else." 
No! you won't 'eed nothin' else 
But them spicy garlic smells, 
An' the sunshine an' the palm-trees an' the tinkly temple-bells; 
On the road to Mandalay ... 

I am sick 'o wastin' leather on these gritty pavin'-stones, 
An' the blasted English drizzle wakes the fever in my bones; 
Tho' I walks with fifty 'ousemaids outer Chelsea to the Strand, 
An' they talks a lot o' lovin', but wot do they understand? 
Beefy face an' grubby 'and-- 
Law! wot do they understand? 
I've a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land! 
On the road to Mandalay . . .  

Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst, 
Where there ain't no Ten Commandments an' a man can raise a thirst; 
For the temple-bells are callin', and it's there that I would be-- 
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, looking lazy at the sea; 
On the road to Mandalay, 
Where the old Flotilla lay, 
With our sick beneath the awnings when we went to Mandalay! 
O the road to Mandalay, 
Where the flyin'-fishes play, 
An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!   

"Whole generations of westerners who went out there as soldiers, doctors, planters, journalists ... lost their hearts to these lands of the Mekong ... they are places that take over a man's soul" (from River of Time by Jon Swain, one of the last westerners out of Cambodia in 1975).