Some History on the Chickee

Seminole Indians gathered under a chickee

Seminole Indians gathered under a chickee

“Chickee” is the word Seminoles use for “house.”  The first Seminoles to live in North Florida are known to have constructed log cabin-type homes, some two stories tall, with sleeping quarters upstairs.  The chickee style of architecture – palmetto thatch over a cypress log frame – was born during 3669333433_d791d04913the early 1800s when Seminole Indians, pursued by U.S. troops, needed fast, disposable shelter while on the run.  Though indigenous peoples in other parts of North and South America have developed similar dwellings, it is generally agreed that the Seminole Indian technique and product are far superior.  So popular, efficient and functional is the chickee that such Seminole architecture can be seen all over South Florida.  The chickee structure should last about ten years and needs to be re-thatched every five years.  Several Seminole Tribal members make a living building custom chickees for both commercial and private interests.

*Thank you to Beachhouse.com homeowner and property manager, Sarah Rapp, with Beach Vacation 4 Me, for contributing this article.

***

They’re not Chickee’s, but Beachhouse.com has some great beach vacation rental properties in Florida…click HERE to browse our inventory.


***

Photo Journey through SE Asia

Beachhouse.com Guest Bloggers, Stacy & Jeff, traveled across 6 countries in Southeast Asia and were nice enough to check in with us all along the way.  This is their journey by the numbers:

  • 21different airplanes they took
  • 6bus rides (varying from 7 hours to 27 hour trips)
  • 2train trips (overnight)
  • 11boat/ferry rides
  • 46different hotels (not including Cynthia and Fernando’s homes)
  • 12the # of languages they came across (at least!) throughout their trip
  • 0sicknesses
  • 0injuries
  • 1root canal
  • 0danger/trouble they encountered
  • 22# of books they read – each!
  • and we both want more!
  • This is their journey in photos (each photo links to the corresponding blog entry):

    We hope you enjoyed this as much as we did!

    Bluefields Bay, Jamaica

    Bluefields Bay, Jamaica is a breathtakingly gorgeous and highly secluded vacation spot in Jamaica. It is sixty minutes away from Montego Bay and forty minutes away from Negril. Because of its untouched beauty and exclusivity, it is an idealgetaway spot and it is perfect for hosting weddings, dinner parties, important family events or birthdays, or any special occasion. The spectacular venues that can accommodate up to forty-two people overlook the Caribbean Sea and hosting an event in one of the venues would be a private and memorable occasion.

    A must-see sight in the western part of Bluefields Bay is the Paradise Park which is a serene, 1000 acre private estate. Anyone that has been to Paradise Park will bear testimony that its name is an accurate reflection of its nature. The park is mainly a cattle and dairy farm located on a tropical savanna with flourishing, grassy fields and colorful flowering trees and shrubs. You can take a tour at the park which takes about an hour and a half and then explore the paths of the topical forest, swim in the blue waters of the bay, picnic in the park, or just seep in the serene, soothing atmosphere. The park is enjoyable at any time of the year; make sure that you are dressed casually and comfortably.

    Bluefields Bay offers a wealth of activities for tourists that include snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, sea kayaking, playing water sports, scuba diving, golfing, horseback riding, going to beaches, and hiking along the beautiful trails of the Bay. There is also a vibrant culture of drinking, dancing and dining that you can explore—over the weekends, you can visit one of the indigenous reggae bars or the lively clubs in Negril and have the opportunity to mingle with the locals of the town. There are also many traditional Jamaican restaurants in Bluefields Bay that are worth visiting. Incidentally, you can eat world-class food cooked by a renowned chef at your own villa! A tour of historical sites would be very interesting because Bluefields Bay has a rich past having been occupied by the English and Scottish colonists. It goes without saying that a trip to Bluefields Bay will be a very enjoyable, relaxing and memorable experience for you.

    Guest Blog – North Captiva’s Historical Ice House

    Fish house following hurricane Charlie - It has since been restored

    The Calusa Indians, who dominated South Florida for more than a millennium, were skilled sailors and fisherman. Their large canoes of hallowed out cypress logs were capable of reaching Cuba. They thrived through living in harmony with our Southwest Florida environment. Pineland on Pine Island contains some of the most extensive Calusa mound sites and canal works.

    The Calusa Indians fished with nets made from Cabbage Palm fibers. After the demise of the Calusas from European conquest and the introduction of diseases like smallpox, new settlers became adept at commercial fishing. Pine Island Sound was peppered with fishing camps and later, ice houses, which eliminated the need to preserve their catch through drying and salting.

    One such ice house was built in 1924 by the Punta Gorda Fish Company at the north shore entrance to Safety Harbor at North Captiva Island. One story rests on a wooden platform supported by wood pilings. The Ice House is one of few remaining buildings documenting the system of remote, water-based fish industry ice houses.

    The structure was built as an ice house to serve the fishermen and run boats in the loading, unloading and storage of freshly caught fish. The structure is a specialized form designed to function under potentially adverse weather conditions, relative isolation, and the possible requirement to relocate the building to follow the migration of the fish.

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (27 of 40)

    group dinner

    group dinner

    crazy cambodia….
    “and we love it.  we’ve started reading quite a collection of books of personal accounts of where we’ve been travelling through so we’ve enjoyed seeing it firsthand a lot more.  and cambodia fits in that category, though all the readings have to do with war, killing, sex, drugs, and guns.  so not the most plesant of subjects, but it’s amazing to see the country and meet the people who live here. cambodia by far has been our favorite people – well right up there with the balinese.

    fish foot massage - creepy and weird!

    fish foot massage - creepy and weird!

    phnom penh was the city of contradiction, fancy in town, surrounded by ‘killing fields’ outside, and by far the most poverty or rather ‘gap’ we’ve seen.  coming over to siem reap, your surrounded by beautiful ancient temples and the nicest people. we stayed for 5 or 6 days, enjoying all of it.  we did 3 days (well I did, jeff’s toe hurt so he was out one day, and cynthia and my mom skipped out on the third day) of angkor wat. lots to see there.  the sad part is there is no recorded history about this ancient palace and city so everyone is guessing with different theories and what nots.  still an amazing site, right up there with machu pichu.

    back to the people…beautiful. dark skin, big eyes and the biggest smiles around.  it’s no wonder angelina jolie adopted one. the kids are darling, its so hard to say no to all the ones in the park selling bracelets, flutes, you name it.  and our guesthouse was filled with hilarious guys working. passing jokes, telling stories, all of it so fun.

    now we’re in bangkok heading south to krabi. late for the plane so gotta run!

    xxoo”

    fish nibble massage

    fish nibble massage

    a hilarious and tickling experience

    a hilarious and tickling experience

    the gang

    the gang

    stacys cambodian boyfriend, wan

    stacy's cambodian boyfriend, wan

    entering angkor wat

    entering angkor wat

    hindu buddhas

    hindu buddhas

    mine survivor band

    mine survivor band

    river carvings

    river carvings

    underwater buddhas

    underwater buddhas

    kids waterfall slide

    kids waterfall slide

    sky and bike

    sky and bike

    temple for sunset

    temple for sunset

    ladies

    ladies

    guardian

    guardian

    temple guardians looking out

    temple guardians looking out

    old

    old

    reflecting pool

    reflecting pool

    elephant terrace

    elephant terrace

    beautiful temple

    beautiful temple

    bathroom instructions

    bathroom instructions

    tree

    tree

    old tree

    old tree

    tree

    tree

    blue sky and tree

    blue sky and tree

    bracelet girl

    bracelet girl

    old bridge

    old bridge

    buddhist university

    buddhist university

    jeff and stacy

    jeff and stacy

    our buddy driver - love him

    our buddy driver - love him

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (26 of 40)

    killing fields memorial

    killing fields memorial

    exploring cambodia…
    “phnom penh roads are filled with cars. and not the little skinny asian cars that we’ve seen thus far, but big sudans, trucks, landrovers, 4-runners, escalades, and…wait for it…. brand new hummers cruising around (we’ve seen 3 so far). crazy. there’s a lot of money in this town, but with it seems to be more curruption and the worst poverty we’ve seen yet.

    we went out to the killing fields with some friends, got depressed, came back and got some good lunch at happy phnom penh pizza with an early happy hour and got un-depressed. we skipped the genocide museum but probably will hit it up when my mom joins us later today.

    incense offering at the memorial

    incense offering at the memorial

    everything’s in dollars here, even the ATM so it’s a bit of an odd feeling at first, and everything things more expensive even though its really not. we hit up some street bars by night and got attacked by a giant rat. luckily it only hit jeff and dans feet. jeff had a river of rat spit/juice left over on the top of his foot after it scurried away….yummy. we’ve made a small routine of having some delish pizza at lunch and then doing nothing in the afternoon, it’s been quite relaxing…even got some pool time in. all the fancy hotels let you pay a small fee or just buy something and you get to treat yourself for the day poolside.

    looking forward to mom coming today! then we’re back to the touristy sites and onward to the beaches. it’s one of the biggest cambodian holidays this week, khmer new years, so it should be some fun excitement… involving lots of food, dancing, music, the throwing of water and talcum powder to top it off! we shall see…..

    chillin for now

    xo”

    killing fields

    killing fields

    prayer flags on grave

    prayer flags on grave

    96 degrees in the shade - real hot

    96 degrees in the shade - real hot

    america likes happy pizza

    america likes happy pizza

    monks preparing for cambodian new year

    monks preparing for cambodian new year

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asis (25 of 40)

    monk kid

    monk kid

    leaving the breast milk for bigger and better things…
    “sorry to say, but we were both glad to get out of vietnam.  a beautiful country but the ‘sales tactics’ were starting to wear on us a bit.  we would definitely recommend anyone of you guys to go there, you just have to be ready for the constant haggling and barganing.  that aside, a great country.

    it’s amazing how much war the country has been through; it seems their whole existence has been based around war, with the chinese, cham empire, french, americans, and the khmer.  i think they really live up to the saying, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  and now, 30 years after the states left the country, consumerism is swallowing it up.  it’s no wonder that everyone’s eger to make a buck, or two or three off you.  for that reason though, people can come off real rash and hard.  but still, we would meet a jem every once in awhile that reminded us not all are just after your wallet.  and actually, in our last town we stopped in, chau doc, we weren’t ripped off the whole time and were given the locals price, no questions asked! such a relief after you’ve spent the last month wheeling and dealing.  not too many tourists stayed in this town, so you can see the ‘tourism dollar’ hadn’t made its impact yet.

    commuter traffic

    commuter traffic

    after a grueling  boat ride and bus ride up to cambodia, we arrived in phnom penh, the city of contradiction. the boat ride was pretty, but loud and hot and air filled with deisel.  but we saw lots of little villages on the river side with kids and monks swimming and working the land.  after loading all 13 of us and our bags in our minivan, the 1hour ride began into the city.  in the first five minutes in the van, we bottomed out but kept on driving.  us in the back seat could tell right away something went bad with the tire.  sure enough, once we reached the center of the city, in the middle of a massive intersection, at a dead stop in traffic, the driver finally realized the rear tire was completely flat.  so we all loaded off the van, and onto the sidewalk, amidst zooming cars and motors, as well as roaring fire engines on their way somewhere.  fortunately there was a tire store right there so within 10 minutes we were back on our way.”

    96 degrees in the shade - real hot

    96 degrees in the shade - real hot

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (21 of 40)

    sleeping bus

    sleeping bus

    DMZ tour
    *** this entry is long and just deals with the DMZ tour and may drag on, so beware! and our history’s not so good, so bare with it***

    arriving to central vietnam, we entered the main hub of the ‘american war’ – as its called here – naturally, since it marked the border between north and south, hue, the city we stayed at, has a much older and richer history, mostly being part of a citadel constructed in 1806 by the emperor ly, later destroyed by the french, then rebuilt, only to be destroyed by the american, and then once again bandaged up.

    a very cool site: old brick walls with castle like towers every hundred feet, surrounded by a moat of course.  and the emperor himself gave this region the great food we get to eat today.  he was so picky and cocky, he wanted 50 different dishes prepared by 50 different chefs and served to him by 50 different servants….quite a guy! but, citadel aside, this is where the american war tours begin…..

    gettin comfortable

    gettin comfortable

    the DMZ tour takes you on a bus (12 hours in all, 6am to 6pm!) and drives an hour north of hue to the de-militarized zone which lies 5km south of the ben hai river and 5 km north of the river, from ocean to the laos border (about 65 km).

    a little buff up on the history, the ben hai river served as the border between north and south vietnam after the elections failed to happen in the early 60′s (failed because the southern catholic ruler refused to hold an election with US aid pretty much because it was feared the communist leader ho chi minh would win).  so, then during the ‘war’, the DMZ area was created to serve as a safe-hold for civilians who wanted to cross the border.  of course, as ‘peace keepings’ usually never really mean peace, this ended up being the scene of the largest battles throughout the US involvement.

    hue citadel

    hue citadel

    so, this tour takes you from the ocean almost to the laos border and back, stopping to look at old bases, stations, trails, tunnels, etc… that were significant in the war. unfortunately it was more of a driving tour than anything else, and the tour guide’s english was barely understandable.  but still, here’s a run down of what we saw and experienced:

    rock pile: a little more than a pile of rocks, this is a giant mountain, rather rocky, that served as the US helicopter pad as well as look out station. now, it looks like a beautiful green mountain in the midst of a valley, but during the war, it served as a vital tool for the US

    us artillery

    us artillery

    hien luong bridge/ho chi minh trail: this was a little more vague for us because there was nothing in our LP book and we couldn’t understand the tour guide… but, the ho chi minh trail served as a path of the VC (charlie) and its supplies and weapons.  now its pretty much all highway (the one which we were driving on) but we were shown pictures of the steep dirty trails that it served as in the past.  the bridge itself we’re not too sure about, other than it was part of the trail and now a big fancy one was built in honor of it.

    landscape: to us, the landscape was beautiful and green, but to the trained eye you would know that the land should be lush with jungles.  in reality, the hills were rolling with green grass and shrubs, still tropical.  but prior to the war, there were thick jungles with trees and canopies, which coincidentally served as good cover for ‘charlie’.  so, the US not only bombed the place but sprayed herbicides everywhere, killing every plant around. and still today, the trees and many other species/plants haven’t returned.

    crash remnants, khe san

    crash remnants, khe san

    khe sanh base: this was the mother-load. others may know it as ‘khe sanh hell’, the largest battle in all of the US occupation in vietnam.  short story goes something like this (bare with it , some of you probablyly know more than we do) – US intelligence gets wind of charlie moving around in these distant mountains, south of the ben ai river border, only 20km east of the laos border.   traditionally, these mountains are filled with local tribes who don’t know or care not much of what’s going on in the rest of their country, they live the simple life.  with this new intelligence, president johnson and his top officers decide the US needs to establish a presence there.  so, we go there, pretty much demolish the villages (not in a killing way, but just take over, ruining the traditional livelihoods…), create an airstrip and make our presence.  in 1967, more movement was detected around the hills and the US predicted a major attack. after filling the place with marines, we were ready, or so we thought.  as nothing seemed to be happening, supposedly, soldiers started wondering what the heck they were all doing in the middle of nowhere.

    helicopter

    helicopter

    there was no real land to be conquered and no visible threat to them.  but on january 21 1968, battle began as the US was then surrounded by charlie and local guerrillas.  after the largest sum of american deaths in one battle, the US fled khe sanh on april 7th (not to mention how many villagers and civilians died).  however and coincidently, on january 23rd (i think) the TET offensive went off, and the north vietnamese had attacked/taken over dozens of cities and towns (including saigon) in the south.  a major ‘loss’ to the US. it turns out, the charlie that was around the mountains was a diversion to get all the attention up there and let charlie slip by US intelligence to accomplish the TET offensive.  so, pretty much, the khe sanh battle was looked at as not necessary. soldiers then coined the phrase “in the middle of nowhere fighting for nothing.”  nothing good came from the troops being stationed up there and from what we’ve read and seen it seems like both the soldiers and the US people saw khe sanh as a major if not stupid mistake on the US government’s part. sorry we can’t explain it better, just google it.

    old bunker

    old bunker

    but what WE saw: now, a memorial museum on the site as well as old helicopters, bunkers, tanks, and bombs.  the museum was breathtaking. filled with old photos and testimonies of locals and soldiers. and everything is actually pretty matter of fact.  i think there’s a pretty general consensus that the US made some bad calls, but they’re not throwing it in your face here at all.  it’s just amazing to see all this in person with your own eyes and look around you and see the stories come to life per se right in front of you.  outside the museum were two american helicopters -huge!!! as well as an artillery gun, a tank, bombs…… the photos will show you…oh and even the remnants of the airstrip where nothing grows, though the rest of the landscape is all beautiful coffee plants.  needless to say we left there with a whole new feeling.

    US military tank

    US military tank

    vinh moc tunnels: now, north of the ben hai river border and on the coast, the local villagers took flee underground…for 6 years! 60 families took cover from all the bombing above and lived in a three tier tunnel maze reaching up to 23 m below the surface.  and in this time, 17 babies were born, all which survived the war.  there are also tunnels like this around ho chi minh city,much more complex but supposedly slightly smaller and more tourists :)  so we got to venture down these, still ducking quite a bit.  it was amazing to see the handy work amongst all this red clay. they used bamboo to support the tunnels and built wells, bathrooms, bomb shelters, a larger meeting room, and lots of stairs.  if we thought about it too hard, you could get very claustrophobic down there as you’re walking with a tour of 20 people in these tiny tunnels.  at least today they’ve wired them with electricity so that was at least comforting. overall the tour was eye-opening but our bumms were sore from sitting so much!

    used and unused bombs

    used and unused bombs

    some additions…

    khe sanh: this (worded by the vietnamese) was the biggest ruse of the war – the vietnamese gave every appearance of threatening khe sang, surrounding the place with thousands of troops and shelling the base relentlessly. no serious attempt to seize the marice base ever occurred.  the vietnamese purpose was to distract westmoreland’s attention fom their preparations for the real dein bein phu of the american war, the surprise nationwide offensive at tet, the lunar new year holiday, of january 1968, which broke the will of the johnson administration and the american public to continue to prosecute the conflict.  the ruse succeeded.

    a guerrilla monument

    a guerrilla monument

    a heartbreaking story overhead from a US vet: stationed in the beginning of the war, late 50′s i believe, they arrived to a village in central vietnam and was greeted by the local chief.  he asked why they were here and who they were.  he sensed trouble and told the soldiers that they walked and acted just like the vietnamese men that had just visited previously (charlie).  when told they had came up from saigon, the chief said they had no idea what saigon was (just to prove how remote this part of the country was).  they proceeded to tour around this village and others. they were ordered to recruit villagers. most did, but some didn’t. one in particular was a 16 year old boy.  he began running away and one of his fellow soldiers was ordered to shoot. he did and killed him on the spot. the mother ran over and held him crying profusely.  the general or colonal, whomever was in charge, was saying ‘why won’t she shut up damn it, gooks have no feelings, why is she crying like that’. a soldier replied, ‘we just shot and killed her son sir’. but the head honcho proceeded to swear and curse her tears…..

    flowers growing among old bomb shells

    flowers growing among old bomb shells

    old photo - soldier hugging his fallen friend

    old photo - soldier hugging his fallen friend

    DMZ crossing

    DMZ crossing

    tunnel

    tunnel

    tunnel construction - it took 20 months of digging day and night to build them

    tunnel construction - it took 20 months of digging day and night to build them

    in the tunnel

    in the tunnel

    old village photo

    old village photo

    rock pile today

    rock pile today

    old photo of ho chi minh trail

    old photo of ho chi minh trail

    new bridge

    new bridge


    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (18 of 40)

    ho chi minh statue

    ho chi minh statue

    uncle ho…
    today we saw uncle ho.  really we saw him in his own flesh…. embalmed of course.  at the ho chi minh mausoleum, you stand in this thick long line for about thirty minutes and you swiftly move along the outside until you reach the ‘lotus building‘ what looks like a square with pillars, and you silently enter in and weave around to where he rests…. a big, ornamental, glass coffin, resting with his hand layed upon his chest, ‘peacefully sleeping’.  you walk steady around and past him as well as the 6 manikin-like guards beside him, and then out you go.  through this there’s no pictures, bags, anything – you check all that in.  it’s a free sight, as many pilgrimages here often are.  pretty crazy, don’t know how often we’ll see something like that in our lives.  uncle ho wanted to be cremated, but after his death, his followers thought only fit to follow suit of lenin and stalin and embalm him…. crazy stuff.

    breakdancers

    breakdancers

    after this we had our first real pho experience.  this one was pho bo (beef noodle soup, at least we hope, as we did see more fido being offered just up the street, in a real restaurant in the open )…. the grandma, lookin pretty damn old, sat us down and with no words exchanged. we saw her grab a wad of raw minced beef, throw it in a woven basket spoon, hold it in the boiling water, then dump it atop rice noodles with fresh chives, pepper , salt, and poured over a broth, and then placed these plentiful bowls in front.  that was good enough for us, we thought…. then she grabbed a plate of chicken, a plate of spring rolls and meatball things, a bowl of fresh greens (mint, coriander, lettuce), a jar of garlic, and a spicy soy sauce concoction, and began serving away…. she took much of each and dipped it in one sauce and then threw it all on top of our bowls…it was actually outrageous.  so much food and flavors and really good – as long as you didn’t look too close as what was in the meatballs or the spring rolls…..i’m sure it was all okay to eat  ; )  chased down with two room temp canned heineken, and quite a meal.  we seriously felt like we were hansel and gretal at the candy house, she would NOT stop giving us chow… after we got across we couldn’t eat anymore pho, she had her sweet smiley granddaughter clear our plates… then the bananas came out and the hot tea… we just couldn’t get enough i guess.  by this time jeff and i are cracking up at how she just won’t let down… but we know, there’s gonna be a price to it all.  and of course, she then asks for $200,000 dong (15 bucks about….) and we’re like hell no.  we figured it probably should have been around 80,000 dong, so we left her 100,000 and walked away with her shouting at us.  we passed by her again later and waved and it was all smiles

    evening excercise

    evening excercise

    after pho time, we went to the temple of literature, the 1st school in vietnam, built in 1075 i believe.  very cool old buildings and beautiful property.

    vietnam doesn’t seem to have much if any copyright laws.  the book says it’s in the works but, for now, anything goes.  so what this means is if you have one successful restaurant, hotel, tour company, store of any kind, there will be at least 10 copy cats anywhere, even if it means all 10 are lined up right next door.  it’s hilariously frustrating when you’re looking for the right one, or just trying not to go in circles when, around every corner, you see the same names…. if we’re looking for something out of the book then we just make sure the addresses really match up.  and speaking of books, we bought two:  lonely planet vietnam and mr. nice (aussie book), and both are photocopies! the covers are photocopied on hard back so you would never know… its crazy out here!

    the pho shebang

    the 'pho' shebang

    tomorrow we head to halong bay for 3 days on a junk (boat) and to stay on an island…. should be cool!  the weather is warm to cool with a slight mist, so it’s almost perfect.  the first day we didn’t have any mist and it was perfect, but still, the mist is just that, there’s no wind, so calm seas should lie ahead….

    xxxoo jeff and stacy

    pho grandma and prodigy

    pho grandma and prodigy

    temple of literature enterance

    temple of literature enterance

    hello!

    hello!

    literature grounds

    literature grounds

    doctorines plaques

    'doctorines' plaques

    music video being filmed

    music video being filmed

    old

    old

    incense dragon

    incense dragon

    cool view

    cool view

    freaky giant turtle

    freaky giant turtle

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (17 of 40)

    view of old quarter over hanoi

    view of old quarter over hanoi

    it’s day three in hanoi and we’re still diggin it.  a city of 3 million, its got an amazing amount of character and charm, of course with the daily tourist scams, but we’d be surprised if there weren’t any.

    view of lake from cafe

    view of lake from cafe

    on our first day we walked around ‘old quarter‘ where we’re staying to get our barrings.  first things first – coffee.  the book raves about the coffee here so we gave it a try.  the first cafe we saw was more of a club, but with a fabulous view so we said what the heck.  on the 6th floor balcony we were overlooking the lake on one side and the old quarter on the other.  and the coffee had like 6 shots of espresso, thick espresso, topped off with warm sweet milk, if you like…rip the enamel right off those pearly whites.  this ‘cafe’ was something we could never afford to go to in the states as looked like the swankiest club in vegas…but for us, a mere $5.00 for two coffees and a pineapple/carrot shake…. sure not really on our backpackers budget, but what a view…

    strong coffees and shake... notice the carved carrot...

    strong coffees and shake... notice the carved carrot...

    the old quarter definitely has a french feel to the architecture, but the streets are everything you’d expect of a bustling asian city.  motor bikes, bicycles, and cars, zooming every which way.  horns going off everywhere!  but to tell you the truth, even a blind man could cross the road here, you just gotta keep moving (never stop!) and the traffic weaves around you like a river around a rock.

    each street specializes in one thing, be it aluminum materials, silk cloth, musical instruments, chinese lanterns, flowers, plush toys, plastic toys, you name it.  it’s like one giant store and each street serves as an aisle.

    the lake we’re at has been here for thousands of years, hanoi itself is something like 545 days until its 1000 year anniversary (there’s banners and billboards countin’ down).

    legend has it the dynastic leader at the time, ly, was sent a sword from the gods and defeated the chinese with it, and then a giant turtle

    mmm...coffee

    mmm...coffee

    from this lake came up and grabbed it from his hands, taking it below and returning to the gods

    where it came from…. still today there really are giant turtles in the lake, but you only see them maybe once every two years, so consider yourself damn lucky if you do! we did, but embalmed on a temple island on the lake, looks more like a giant seal or something stuffed in a shell….

    water puppetry is an ancient form of entertainment, originally started at the rice paddies… the puppets are made from fig trees with dye from foods.  they use a stick to move the puppets from afar, and back in the day, these experienced puppeteers would get water borne diseases. yuck.  puppeteers have at least a minimum of 3 years experience.  now, its done in theatres, clean water, and they wear waders.  we saw it, pretty cool.  check out the pics.

    roof tops

    roof tops

    eel or snake?  in food market, of course!

    eel or snake? in food market, of course!

    want some bananas?

    want some bananas?

    what a load

    what a load

    flowers!

    flowers!

    flower bike

    flower bike

    old quarter street corner

    old quarter street corner

    ancient bridge

    ancient bridge

    fruit bikes

    fruit bikes

    house

    house

    jeff in street

    jeff in street

    oranges

    oranges

    jeff lookin like a natural

    jeff lookin like a natural

    old wall

    old wall

    old quarter on the lake by night

    old quarter on the lake by night

    turtle temple island

    turtle temple island

    pagoda, the symbol of hanoi

    pagoda, the symbol of hanoi

    tower

    tower

    cool old trunk

    cool old trunk

    bridge

    bridge

    water puppet parade

    water puppet parade

    the puppet masters

    the puppet masters

    Manzanillo – Que Bonita!

    Manzanillo, Mexico is a wonderful destination located in the state of Colima. It is a coastal city on the Pacific side with the busiest port in Mexico. However, despite its commercial importance, it has retained its tranquil laid-back Mexican charm.

    The port of Manzanillo is made up of two separate bays, divided by the Peninsula of Santiago. On the left is the Bay of Santiago, followed by a smaller notched-out area, known as Playa Audiencia and on the right-hand side, is the Bay of Manzanillo. Both bays are more than five miles long and offer a variety of water sports activities.

    Manzanillo is replete with pristine, breathtaking beaches that are undeniably the most beautiful on the western coast of Mexico. Manzanillo is a perfect vacation spot for people that want to get-away-from-it-all and immerse themselves in the best of Mexican beauty and natural charms.  The best way to experience the local way of life is to rent a beach house!

    In the north side of Manzanillo, the tourist zone offers exclusive gift shops, cultural stores, travel agencies, tour operators, authentic restaurants and beautiful beaches including Playa de Oro, Playa L’Recif, and La Boquita. In addition, the renowned seafood in Manzanillo is scrumptious and fresh due to the vast fishing culture of the city. Start out your delicious seafood lunch with a shrimp cocktail or fresh oysters and clams caught that morning by the local fishermen. You can also choose from a varied menu of seafood for the main course, such as shrimp, filet of dorado, red snapper, or lobster. While enjoying the delicious food in the vibrant town of Manzanillo, you can have the strolling musicians play you a few Mariachi tunes.

    There is a vast variety of activities for vacationers that include playing water sports, fishing, golfing, and enjoying the nightlife. Surfing, scuba diving, swimming, banana boat rides, and snorkeling are very popular in this town and Manzanillo also has two of the top golf courses in Mexico. The city is known as the “sailfish capital of the world” with year-round excursions available for sport fishing.

    Tours are available of the city and of the historic state of Colima. It’s a great place to shop too—there are stores ranging from upscale to local vendors that you can bargain with for hammocks, toys and authentic jewelry.

    Manzanillo is a cultural, relaxing and enjoyable place to visit for vacationers. It is undeniably a must-see for vacationers planning a trip to Mexico.

    The Heavenly Island of Provo

    The breathtakingly gorgeous Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory located in the West Indies.  The islands are widely known for their gorgeous beaches, natural beauty, and pristine coral reefs. 

    Providenciales, or Provo, is the urban center of Turks and Caicos and it is also the most popular island.  Interestingly, only about forty years ago, Provo did not have a single wheeled vehicle and today it is one of the most popular vacation destinations among tourists.  The gorgeous beaches, beautiful landscape, and tranquilizing atmosphere of the city will make you fall in love.

    Provo is a paradisiacal island that is ideal for families and couples trying to get away from it all.  Provo has gorgeous, white sandy beaches with dazzling turquoise waters, and miles of coral reefs making it the ultimate diving destination.  Flamingo Divers offers diving with small groups of eight people of any experience level and it provides an exciting and memorable diving experience!  The most popular 12 mile stretch of the beach is located on Grace Bay and is surrounded by a barrier reef

    At the beach, you can indulge in a host of enjoyable activities including parasailing, scuba diving, surfing, sailing, kite-surfing, kayaking, snorkeling, and waterskiing. 

    Provo is a haven for golfers as it has one of the top ten golf courses of the Caribbean. 

    The island also has the world’s only Conch farm; the mollusks with their beautiful pink shells take five years to grow.  The Conch farm offers tours during the winter; it is most definitely a must-see, unique attraction of the island. 

    Another popular place of interest in Provo is The Hole located on the way to Long Bay Beach.  It is a breathtaking, bottomless pit that has ultimate natural beauty.  According to some, the pit is connected to the sea via underground tunnels.  The Hole is usually admired from the topside; you have to see this fascinating location on your visit!  

    Historic points of interest in Provo include Cheshire Hill and Sapodilla Bay.  Cheshire Hall is a 200 year old building that consists of ruins of a prosperous cotton plantation.  The building ruins have been conserved and they offer beautiful views of the island providing a captivating contrast of the old Provo and the modern Provo. 

    "The Hole" in ProvidencialesSapodilla Bay is a heavenly spot with white sand beaches and clear blue waters; there is a hill that overlooks Sapodilla Bay where you can observe historic stones engraved by shipwrecked sailors

    Provo offers a luxurious and diverse dining experience.  The island has a wide variety of restaurants with distinct ambiances and cuisines.  A lot of restaurants have mouthwatering specials every day of the week!

    During your stay at Provo, you must visit the island’s only live casino called Casablanca Casino.  The Casino is an exciting place with live gaming tables, a lounge, and a bar

    At Provo Island, you are bound to have a magical vacation. Provo is a heavenly island that will leave you with memories of a lifetime!

    St. Martin – the perfect blend of 2 countries!

    St. Martin is a magical island that is shared by the French and the Dutch; the two countries share an almost indiscernible and friendly border.  However, each side maintains its distinctiveness and represents its own culture

    The island has a very calm and secluded environment that makes it a perfect spot for vacationers.  The fact that the island has two distinct cultures makes it an exciting place to visit.  The beautiful island is warm and sunny throughout the year, the average temperature is about 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Marigot, the capital city of St. Martin, has a vibrant French culture – it has colonial houses, bistros, pastry shops, luxurious boutiques, and European fashions.  The best part is that the entire city is very accessible and vacationer-friendly because it only has four wide streets. 

    The figure of Fort St. Louis is a huge historical monument that is located on the side of the island and it overlooks the Marigot Bay.  While you’re looking at this monument, you can get a great panoramic view of the island.  At the South of Marigot, there is a museum that preserves the island’s history and culture as it has an abundance of pre-Colombian treasures and extensive displays that manifest the plantation and slavery period. 

    Paradise Peak is the highest point on the island, after climbing 1,400 feet to the top, you can get a magnificent view of the landscape and tropical forest.  On the east of the island, there is a small village called Orleans, or French Quarter, which still preserves some of the seventeenth-century structures.  Spending a day in this beautiful village is a great learning experience that you will thoroughly enjoy. 

    There are a ton of fun-filled activities that the great island offers.  St. Martin has thirty seven stunning and unique beaches.  The beach at Grand Case and the Anse Marcel beaches have vibrant local cultures and are great beaches to visit with families.  Orient Bay beach is unique because it has white sand and it offers a great variety of water-sports. 

    Dining in St. Martin is world famous- the cuisine there ranges from French delicacies to Asian and Indian cuisine.  There are plenty of renowned restaurants on this island; many of them play music for dancing as well. 

    Given the rich culture of St. Martin, the gorgeous beaches, the historical sites, the enjoyable activities, and the romantic and peaceful atmosphere, a trip to this beautiful island will be a magical one that you will cherish for the rest of your life!