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Middle Kingdom Podcasts (2005-2017)

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The Language Company
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Joyful holidays


May everyone enjoy seasonal festivities with family, friends, loved ones and dancing light. Every day is a gift day. Tra-la-la!



Sitting down in Siem Reap, Cambodia


The final Saigon image galleries is, are, was, were live. Finale Saigon

I've been on the ground here in Siem Reap for 24 little clicks of life's wheel. It feels wonderful after the busy rush of Saigon. Vietnam's population is 85 million. Cambodia is 15 million.

It felt great to put on the solid walking boots at 0515 as the narrow alleys rustled alive, this slow stirring call to life. How the gentle support, pressure was a delight to the skeleton structure.

It's a walking meditation.

Tan San Nut airport was deserted at 0600, the sky a soft orange skied sunrise. How many cold airports have you seen in this marvelous little adventure? Chengdu and Casablanca, among others.

Outside the terminal (we are all terminal cases) I met a Vietnamese woman, around 60, widowed now for a year returning home to Perth after visiting her son and grandchildren. She shared pictures of her standing by the ocean, with friends when she was 38, her son, at a party. She talked about how she and her husband were farmers for 10 years in Australia. How she misses him. How she remembers her son. She looked a little wistful yet resigned to her fate. I saw her growing old gracefully, working, being with friends in Perth and her remembering. 

I flew in yesterday on a prop jet seating 100 well jaded travelers for the one hour flight. Delightful, low and slow. Whir...A woman behind said to husband, a bit causticly, "Where are we flying today? Siem Reap? Oh."

We skimmed west over the mighty Mekong, brown snake rivers, open rice fields then into the strong lush green land and water and islands with southern mountains looming through low grey cloud based formations...the pastels, beautiful shades blending into the natural world. 

In Saigon I asked a girl from Poland now studying in Singapore what her fondest memory of Cambodia was. "The pastel colors," she said. "One day I took a bike and pedaled out of Siem Reap. I saw a lovely green meadow and sat down for hours. It was lovely."

Our baby plane soared , floated, turning north, then over the Tonle Sap lake. It is the largest lake in Asia. It is fed by water flowing from Tibet through China and Laos. 

My first impression of the Kingdom of Cambodia was a clean cool freshness. Purple, white flowers and green. It reminded me of the Mataram airport and fresh environment in Lombok where I spent last Christmas on Gili Air Is-land. Swimming with turtles.

Immigration was a formality. Twelve uniformed officers sat behind a long curving desk. I offered my passport and forms to the first man requesting a 30-day business visa for $25. The standard tourist visa runs $20. One senior man acted as a conductor, shuffling passports to various individuals along the chain of approval, stamps and recognition. They chatted and joked in Khmer.

The airport is spacious with Angkor Wat posters and art, designed to handle thousands of visitors to one of the most magnificent Hindu-Buddhist architectural wonders of the world. 

I will sit down here now. The writing, photography work continues and I will be looking into various community volunteer programs where I may be of service.

May your holidays be filled with family, friends, light and love.



Dancing away


After a wild wonderful educational week with an intense secret friend gathering new material for poems, stories, novels and wild imaginings I leave Saigon and Vietnam tomorrow. My work here is finished. Six months is long enough, or as someone said, 'We haven't been here very long but we've been here long enough.' True.

As some of you know, I was here in the U.S. Army in 1969 for one solid character defining year. I was based near Hue. While teaching English in Indonesia I decided to return and pay my respects. As I told my 4th graders, 'Congrats! You've graduated to Grade 5 and I've graduated to Vietnam.' Pure and simple motivation.

Return is a strange word. Like making a U-turn or a spinning whirling Dervish dance celebrating Rumi the Sufi poet, seer and mystic. Rumi knew life, transitions, celebrations and expressing the spirit with love and devotion. Joy.

I begin a new chapter in Cambodia. As a ghostwriter said, 'To travel is better than to arrive.'




Dream street


I am dancing down the final farewell sing Saigon long gone song. See if you can scribble down 20 words. Write one true sentence. 

Twenty little words. Twenty quick painless mini-stories about the 60-year old man last evening in the BLINKING LIGHT. An American or European, retired, a widower. Smoking, drinking a beer. He wears a drab flower print shirt. Alone. He calls someone.

Ten minutes later a woman arrives on her cycle. Mid 30's, long dark hair, red shirt, attractive. He greets her, grasping both her hands expressing a deep gratitude, welcoming her. Back into his life. She is his lifeline in Saigon, his hope, passion, unrequited love - his salvation from loneliness, sorrow, suffering and the pain of living.

He hands her the wine list.

'Anything you want. It's yours.' He is eternally grateful to know her. Receive her. 

'I want your heart,' she says. She is happy with him. He is her savior. Her love. Her salvation.

After a romantic quiet candlelight dinner they return to his hotel. They will smell and taste and laugh and sing and dance with each other for dessert. She will trace his spine with her fingers. He will rest his head on her breast, listening to her heartbeat. Hearing the thump-thump-thump of the muscle pumping blood through miles of veins and capillaries and arteries. They will hold each other until dawn sweeps dream street.

For one night they know peace inside their healthy loving mutually beneficial addiction.





Split the difference


Do you want the short version or the long version? This a perfectly appropriate question in life's chess game of experiences and conversations, especially while traversing the road less traveled on Earth, a spinning rock.

If you flesh out the short version with some immediate specific personal details it becomes longer, growing as threads of character development and destiny as character is destiny inter-twine a kind a rope made of hemp fibers or tightly woven reeds from a river in Mesopotamia which you can employ to hang yourself or pull yourself to safety or easily used by someone in the story before, during or after you finish what erupted as a simple sentence with a line long enough to hang laundry on taking on a life of it's own because you are a conduit, a towering magical volcanic mountain releasing hot molten lava from a highly charged pressurized center. 

A burning ring of fire.

Give someone a match and they'll be warm for a minute. Set them on fire and they'll be warm for the rest of their life.

This molten conglomeration of dust, mud, water, soil, sediment, sandstone, gas, graphite, gypsum, rocks, boulders, pebbles, 24-carat carbon diamonds, fossilized fragments of vegetarian dinosaurs, compressed plankton and every imaginable geological logical particle known to man, woman and child and even others blasts it's way out of the deep red hot core of existence into the atmosphere where it cools, then gravity, the scourge of civilization and it's malcontents, contributes it's force as the dense weight of mass falls, slithers, slides, rumbles, cascades, rolls, strolls, runs, flowing down, down, down engulfing everything in it's path melting the landscape, carving new strata grand canyons gouging out a path for the quickly cooling massive debris reaching it's crescendo before slowing to a mere glowing vein.



2-million year old bones in Spain.

Carmen, a famous chef in Eugene, Oregon.