Finding Beauty in Fruit

Living under shelter in place rules means that the highlight of my day is a walk to the local market. I try to find and share beauty every day. I often find it in the fruits of Vietnam.

Many of these fruits were unusual to me. I’ve tried to buy and try most of them. Of course there are lots of pineapple, mango and watermelon, but I thought I’d share some of the more unusual ones here.

Jackfruit

Jackfruit has a funky smell but is really sweet and delicious. It can be used as substitute for meat in tacos and curries.

Sapodilla

This is a sapodilla or sapote. It’s really delicious, having sweet cinnamony taste.

Custard Apple

I never had a custard apple until coming to Vietnam. While it’s not very pretty it is really delicious-sweet and creamy, lots of seeds though.

Star Fruit

Star fruit are really lovely as a garnish on a fruit plate. I’ve yet to have one that is anything but bland and sour.

Rambutan
Longan

I fell in love with rambutan and longan in Thailand. They are well worth the effort it takes to get them out of their skins and into your mouth. Their taste reminds me of a green grape.

Mangosteen

Mangosteen has all sorts of health benefits and it’s really good too.

Bananas

The bananas in Southeast Asia taste different than the ones in North America. I like the small ones the best. They are sweet and firm.

Dragon Fruit

Dragon Fruit gets my vote for the prettiest fruit! It has a very bland but not unpleasant flavor.

I’d love to hear from you about which of these fruits have you tried. I’m sure I’ve left some out. Please let me know.

BOLT in the Time of Rona

These are trying times for us all. Kathy and I are safely in Vietnam and doing well. We are practicing social distancing which is not so easy for these 2 Black old lesbians! This blog is about some of the things Kathy and I are doing to stay physically well, mentally strong and emotionally positive during the pandemic.

I assume we’ve all read all the information about hand washing, avoiding crowds, corona statistics, etc. In fact, I feel like I’m reading the news more than I should. We feel a lot of concern for our family and friends all over the world. There’s a lot of uncertainty, fear and anxiety. Here are some of the things we can all do instead of spending time in worry or the 24 hour news cycle.

Spend Time in Prayer, Meditation and Quiet

I think this is probably the most important thing that we each do daily. We give each other time and space, every morning and evening, to attend to our individual spiritual practices.

Get Plenty of Fresh Air and Exercise

Even in “shelter in place” situations going outside for a walk or exercise is allowed, and even encouraged. But people are asked to keep their distance from others. I’m participating in the Girl Trek 30 Day Walking Challenge. I’m also extremely grateful that we have a pool and I swim daily. Kathy goes out for a daily walk. She says that if she didn’t walk daily her days would feel very empty.

Keep Mentally Active with Reading, Hobbies and Creative Activities

I’m writing this blog and fool around with Pinterest pages. Kathy has created a YouTube channel. We both read and play brain challenging computer games. These are all great ways to pass the time when faced with stay at home situations.

Keep Your Immune System Strong

There are lots of beautiful fruits and vegetables here in Vietnam and we have found plenty of healthy choices for food. We drink lots of water. Devise at home self care rituals. A silver lining of the pandemic is that we have plenty of time for rest.

Reach Out, Be of Service, Stay in Touch

Even with social distancing or quarantine I think we can find ways to connect with and help one another. If you are member of a 12 Step fellowship there are phone and online meetings. You can brighten someone’s day with a phone call. You can arrange a treat to be delivered to a neighbor or friend or offer to shop for an elder. We’d love to hear from you. Please share your ideas for thriving during these difficult times.

BOLT Reviews: Nui Than Water Park

I felt like a celebrity yesterday! You know, the one who rents out the entire amusement park in order to avoid lines, crowds, etc?

Our small group of 15 had the Nui Than Water Park almost completely to ourselves!

This place is amazing! Acres of traditional water park spaces with slides, lazy rivers and splash zones.

The hot springs are really hot! We enjoyed a wonderful, long soak in beautiful, natural surroundings.

The park is amazingly designed with a lot of attention to detail. They have a tram service to take you around to all the sites.

There are lovely plantings and lots of very cool dinosaurs, dragons and other beautiful statues and displays.

Kind of unusual at a water park was the virtual reality theater. We thoroughly enjoyed an amazing 9D roller coaster ride!

There is a restaurant and options for mud baths, beauty treatments, and massages.

Of course, for us the best part of the day was spending time with friends and family!

We hope you enjoyed these pictures (visit https://amzn.to/2wGqMHC for the camera phone we use) and this account of our day. We love questions and comments!

BOLT❤️Da Nang!

Kathy and I are really enjoying our time here in Da Nang. This coastal city in central Vietnam has so much to offer. I love all the photo ops and keep my camera phone handy at all times.

We love talking long walks along the clean beach and breathing the fresh clean air. There is usually a nice breeze blowing too.

In Da Nang you are literally surrounded and by water as the lovely and peaceful Han River runs through town.

The river has played a significant role in the development of Da Nang. There are 10 bridges crossing the river. The city is on both sides of the river.

One thing we really love about Da Nang is the towering Kwan Yin statue that watches over the city. I really feel the energy of her loving compassion.

There’s an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables in Da Nang. I especially like visiting our local market, Bac My An.

Being right on the ocean, Da Nang seems to be a seafood lover’s paradise.

I’ve been super pleased with the vegetarian options I’ve found.

One of the best things about Da Nang is our ex pat people of color community. We meet frequently for brunches, game nights and outing.

We are looking forward to at least another month here in Da Nang and have found a great apartment with a rooftop pool, 2 blocks from the beach!

We have found the people of Vietnam to be friendly, helpful and kind.

We are very happy here and feel quite safe. I know people have concerns about the Corona virus but Vietnam is currently considered one of the safer countries to be in Southeast Asia. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions, comments or concerns.

BOLT Reviews: Ba Na Hills

Take a deep breath, face any fears of heights you may have and ride the world’s longest non-stop cable car to the beautiful Golden Bridge.

I had been looking forward to seeing this bridge since I knew we were coming to DaNang, Vietnam.

Little did I know, Ba Na Hills, home to the Golden Bridge, offers much, much more.

Bà Nà Hill Station (or Bà Nà Hills) is a hill station and resort located in the Trường Sơn Mountains west of the city of Da Nang, in central Vietnam. The station, advertised as “the Da Lat of Danang province” by local tourism authorities, was founded in 1919 by French colonists. The colonists had built a resort to be used as a leisure destination for French tourists. Being located above 1500 metres above sea level, it has a view of the East Sea and the surrounding mountains.

Today it is home to a world class theme park and a must visit when in DaNang. There are several levels of the park with cable cars and walking paths connecting each level. The Golden Bridge is the first stop and of course, everyone spends lots of time marveling at the bridge and taking pictures.

There are meticulously maintained gardens and lovely statues to enjoy. We certainly got a lot of walking done on each level.

There is a whole amusement park level full of rides, exhibits and arcade games!

I was especially impressed as all the games and rides were included in our admission price of 750,000 Vietnamese Dong ($32 USD). Its really a great place to take children of all ages. You could really spend the whole day just on the amusement park level.

We enjoyed a modestly priced Asian buffet ($14 USD) and there are lots of snack options throughout the park.

We went with a great group of people which of course made the whole outing more enjoyable. I highly recommend BaNa Hills to anyone visiting this part of Vietnam. If you have any questions or comments please leave them here. We’d love to hear from you.

A Hidden Gem in Chiang Mai!

Horizon Village and Resort is a wonderful place to spend a relaxing day in Chiang Mai. It’s not on the usual list of tourist spots and even many long time residents don’t know of it.

Thanks to my friend, Keidra, who is a tour guide here in Chiang Mai, I discovered this hidden gem.

For an inexpensive fee of 85 baht (less than$3) you can enter the resort and spend the whole day exploring. There are waterfalls, a botanical garden, petting zoo, labyrinth, and more.

You can rent a bike for 75 baht for all day, which was a great way to explore the massive grounds. You can also rent a golf card or take a tram ride.

There are several restaurants and a coffee shop. We enjoyed a delicious, moderately priced lunch.

After a day of bike riding a visit to the resort pool (100 baht admission) was a perfect way to end the day!

There are all sorts of hidden gems and special ways to spend a day or longer in Chiang Mai. Contact Keidra for some great ideas or to book a tour.

Furaha Kwanzaa!

Kwanzaa is an African-Americans celebration of life from 26 December to 1 January. Dr. Maulana Karenga introduced the festival in 1966 to the United States as a ritual to welcome the first harvests to the home.

I have celebrated Kwanzaa for over 30 years and Kathy and I have celebrated together for the past 14 years.

Kwanzaa is a holiday rich in symbolism and culture. I love it’s rituals, principles and lack of materialism.

This year we celebrated Kwanzaa in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We hope this will be an annual event.

Kwanzaa has seven core symbols:

1. Mazao: Crops – Mazao symbolizes the fruits of collective planning and work, and the resulting joy, sharing, unity and thanksgiving part of African harvest festivals. To demonstrate mazao, people place nuts, fruits, and vegetables, representing work, on the mkeka.

2. Mkeka: Place Mat – Just as the crops stand on the mkeka, the present day stands on the past. The mkeka symbolizes the historical and traditional foundation for people to stand on and build their lives.

3. Muhindi: Ear of Corn – The stalk of corn represents fertility and the idea that through children, the future hopes of the family are brought to life. One vibunzi is placed on the mat for every child in the family.

4. Mishumaa Saba: The Seven Candles – Candles are ceremonial objects that serve to symbolically re-create the sun’s power, as well as to provide light. There are three red candles, three green candles, and one black candle that are placed on the kinara.

5. Kinara: The Candleholder – The kinara represents our ancestry, and the original stalk from which we came.

6. Kikombe Cha Umoja: The Unity Cup – On the sixth day of Kwanzaa, the libation ritual is performed to honor the ancestors. Every family member and guest will take a drink together as a sign of unity and remembrance.

7. Zawadi: Gifts – On the seventh day of Kwanzaa, gifts are given to encourage growth, achievement, and success. Handmade gifts are encouraged to promote self-determination, purpose, and creativity.

Kwanzaa celebrates what Doctor Karenga calls the Nguzo Saba  (the seven principlesl. These seven principles comprise Kawaida, Swahili word meaning “common”. Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of the following principles.

  • Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define and name ourselves, as well as to create and speak for ourselves.
  • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together.
  • Ujamaa (Cooperative economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
  • Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
  • Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
  • Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Our Kwanzaa celebrations always include an opportunity for our guests to come up and speak on one of the Nguzo Saba and what it means to them.

Our Kwanzaa celebrations are always joyous events filled with lots of love and laughter.

Children are always a key part of our celebration. I hope we are creating memories and instilling pride in our rich culture.

Wherever you are you can celebrate Kwanzaa and most importantly, we can all practice these principles every day!