High up in the Mountains in Northern Thailand lives a moth, it is close to the mountain village of Pai, so this is the Moth Of Pai. Moths and Butterflies are similar creatures, so the above might be a butterfly, maybe in the Pappilonidia family, but Moth of Pai also sounds better than the Butterfly of Pai… or maybe not…
In Thailand, in the big city of Bangkok, Sukhumvit area, on top of a high-rise next to small single family homes lives a Bumblebee. Sometimes the Bumblebee takes flight and sometimes in what could be nectar drunken flight, it seems to almost stall while correcting the direction of travel and trying to level out.
Doves of Chiang Mai
In the North of Thailand lies the city of Chiang Mai. The city was founded sometime between 1294- 1296 as the capital of the Lanna Kingdom and remained so until 1556 when it was occupied by a tribe called the “Taungoo”. You can read more about the history of Chiang Mai here.
Cong Ca Phe (Vn – Cộng Câ Phê), was started in Ha Noi in 2007 with the first store located at 17 Trieu Viet Vuong Street in what is called the French Quarter of Ha Noi (the French Quarter lies just South of the Old Quarter). Trieu Viet Vuong Street is the traditional café street in Ha Noi. The decorations in the “Cong Ca Phe” cafés can be described as hip rustic with a lot of metal and concrete mixed with reclaimed wood and a cool interior design. Of course at the center are the different, innovative and oh so delicious coffee and other drinks, and bites too for that matter.
The name is derived by using the first word, “Cộng” of the full name of the country, “The Socialist Republic of Vietnam” Vn – “CỘNG HOÀ XÃ HỘI CHỦ NGHĨA VIỆT NAM” and THEN adding the Vietnamese word for café “Câ Phê” – that makes – Cộng Câ Phê. Read more on their website here.
Cộng Câ Phê is expanding throughout S/E Asia and now has cafés not only in Vietnam but also in S Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia. Here are the locations.
Not too many years ago wild Tigers roamed the Kulen mountain and the surrounding Savannas. Today however, Tigers are considered extinct in Cambodia, but there is a reintroduction effort underway that started in 2017. With the help of WWF the Tiger will be reintroduced in the country.
Phnom Kulen, the Kulen mountain range is located about 50km (about 30 miles) N/E of the city of Siem Reap. Some 1200 years ago in the 900’s, Phnom Kulen was named Mahendraparvata and it was the first capital of the Khmer Empire (also called the Angkor Empire). Today it is a place revered by and considered to be sacred to Hindus, Buddists and Cambodians in general. This is where Jayavarman II founded the Khmer Empire.
So the story goes – according to locals: First came the farmers and poachers up the mountain and the Tigers largely moved away or were decimated. Then came the tourists who were visiting nearby Angkor Wat and the farmers were shooed off the mountain by the authorities who looked at tourism as a larger catalyst for change than farming.
Tourism can be a driver of positive change, but it has to be managed very carefully to be a good force and can not be left to self regulation, as this is likely to cause more harm than good.
Here is a video of the Kulen Falls:
Expand to full screen when playing by clicking arrows in the upper right corner.
Saigon’s Independence Palace was built on the site of the older Norodom Palace. The Norodom Palace was built by the Governor of the French colony Cochinchina and the Palace was finished in 1873. After the French surrendered to the Viet Minh in 1954 and agreed to withdraw its troops from Vietnam, the country was divided along the 17:th parallel into the Communist North Vietnam and anti-Communist South Vietnam. In 1955, a vote based on the principles of universal suffrage was held in both North and South Vietnam to establish a unified Vietnamese government. This vote saw the side supported by the Prime Minister of South Vietnam Ngô Đình Diệm as the winning side. Ngô Đình Diệm then established the new unified country of the Republic of Vietnam and proclaimed himself Prime Minister. The Norodom Palace was renamed “Independence Palace” to mark this event.
In 1962, two renegade pilots that were supposed to go on a mission against the Viet Cong, rebelled and flew against the Norodom Palace dropping bombs on it. During the bombing so much of the Palace was destroyed that repairing the old Palace was not an option. Instead the Palace was rebuilt with a design by famed Vietnamese architect Ngô Viết Thụ.
President Ngô Đình Diệm and his family escaped this assassination attempt, and moved into the Gia Long Palace (this building is now the Ho Chi MMinh City Museum) while a new Palace was built on the site of the old Norodom Palace.
President Ngô Đình Diệm never had the opportunity to see the new Palace finished since a later attempt at his life during a coup d’etat in 1963 was successful and the President was assassinated. The new Palace stood ready in 1966 and the General that led the the coup, General Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, who was now in a leadership position of the military juntas “National Leadership Committee” inaugurated the Palace on October 31 1966.
On April 8 1975 Nguyễn Thanh Trung, a South Vietnamese Air Force Pilot and defector supporting the North Vietnamese Communist regime, stole an F5-E fighter jet and bombed the Palace. This attempt was not successful and caused little damage and no casualties
General Nguyễn Văn Thiệu was the last person to live in the palace. He lived and worked there until the fall of Saigon on April 30 1975. The dramatic ending to the war came later in the spring of ’75 when a North Vietnamese tank crashed through the gate of the Palace thus, marking the end of the Vietnam war.
April 30 1975 The President of South Vietnam fled the Palace and Saigon on a Huey that was always sitting at the ready on the rooftop of the Palace. Similar scenarios played out at the US Embassy where Helicopters were flying US supporting South Vietnamese personnel out of Vietnam, and as a first step on the way to the US, onto a US Carrier in The South China Sea.
After the fall of Saigon in 1975 the Palace was renamed Independence Palace and it is now a popular museum and a Saigon landmark.
Outside the President’s office in the Palace is a room that was intended for meetings with the cabinet in situations that needed a quick response. A more secure room is also located in the “Bunker” in the basement of the Palace.
The Palace has numerous official rooms for the President to host visiting dignitaries and to represent the country in.
Architecturally the design of the Palace and it’s furniture makes me wonder if the architect may have been influenced by the Finnish master Alvar Aalto who was very active and well known internationally at this time. The openness and above all the light playing such a big part of the design certainly invoke those thoughts.
On the opposite end of the Palace from the President’s office is the office of the Vice President.
The Dragon Rug is located in a hallway between the official part of the Palace and the Residential wing where the President and his family lived. The old Norodom Palace was, according to fengshui, built on the Dragon’s head and the old Palace was sometimes referred to as “The Dragon’s Head Palace”.
The private area of the Palace holds bedrooms, dining, entertainment rooms and guest rooms.
The first floor of the Palace has some bigger ballroom style rooms for larger functions, and the all important kitchen is also located here.
The basement holds a couple of cars that has been put on display for the tourists that come to visit the Palace nowadays.
Bunkers and war rooms are located underneath the Palace.