The Citadel, built by the Vietnamese emperors in the early 19th Century, was severely damaged in Vietnam’s two wars of the 20th Century. In 1947 against the French, and again in 1968 against the Americans, the center of Hue was the site of ferocious battles. The citadel area once held over 140 buildings. Only about 20 remain after extensive restoration since the 1990s. Most buildings were completely destroyed in the fighting and cannot be restored.
I don’t know why I picked eight things to tell you about Bangkok. It’s an arbitrary number, I know. But, I’ve heard that eight is generally regarded as a lucky number in Asia. I was in Bangkok for eight days. That might have something to do with it, but I don’t like to read too much into these things.
For those who have never had a Thai massage, you’re in for something different. In contrast to the soothing, along-the-line-of-the-muscle Swedish style prevalent in the US, the Thais believe that they should rub hard across the grain of the muscle. This has the effect of stretching your connective tissues, such as tendons and ligaments, in directions they’ve probably never been in before. Honestly, it hurts. But, after it’s over, you’ll ask yourself why the hell haven’t I been doing this all my life?
It may be a bit of an oversimplification, but you could probably say that Istanbul exists because of the Bosphorus. It was the first thing I wanted to see when we got there. We dropped our bags at the Empress Zoe hotel, and headed right out. We were only a few blocks away, and so our first impressions of Istanbul were those of the strong current flowing from the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara, the ships lined up waiting for their pilots to take them through the strait, and the lines of fishermen with their lines in dark water.
Cappadocia, In a word: fantastic. In the literal sense. It’s a fantasy land, both in terms of history and landscape. The region is a network of small towns that have one thing in common: the weird geology of the region lent itself over the ages to people digging caves to live in. And so they did.
And, if you look at a map, and know a little of the history of the Christian church, you’ll see that this area also lent itself to becoming a true cradle for the infant church–a cradle which sheltered Christians in these caves for up to fifteen centuries.
We’re about five hours into a seven-hour Turkish bus ride from Canakkale (near Gallipoli) to Selcuk (near Ephesus) so I’m being dry roasted by the bus’s heating system and a bit distracted by the ignored prohibition against cell phone use. Only three people are talking loudly now, so it’s actually a bit better than before. And, it’s a bit bumpy as we wend our way around the road construction. So, I don’t know if this is going to work, but it’s too dark to read, and the bus interior reading lights don’t work, so I thought I’d try. The light of the computer screen, you know.