I’ve always wanted to go to French Indo China, and now, this week I’ll be there

Posted in SharonSpeak, Travel on August 8th, 2010 by Sharon Feinstein

I’ve always wanted to go to French Indo China, and now, this week I’ll be there. Loved reading Somerset Maugham’s descriptions of the Mekong River with the mists swathing the surrounding hills so that they looked like little green islets in a grey sea. The exotic markets, sampans and that inscrutable Eastern way. Now I’m going. Tomorrow. On Tuesday I will be in Bangkok and then on to Laos which is the most cluster bombed country in the world. Caught between the Americans and the Viet Cong, Laos was undefended and a victim, as US forces dropped more than two million tons of ordnance on the land over 9 years. Only just free of the French, Laos was destroyed by the Americans, and now hopefully peace reigns as its simple Buddhist people struggle to climb above the poverty level. I’m looking forward to going down the Mekong, visiting villages and exploring what looks like a small charming town of Luang Prebang.You can think of me in the swirling mists on a sampan, floating down the Mekong River in a white suit and Panama hat, though defintiely not smoking a green cheroot.
And then on to Thailand for a few weeks of snorkelling, boat trips, swimming and reading. A week in Bangkok savouring the hot, sweaty, spicy pulse of that steamy city, its temples, massage parlours, tailors, copy watches and handbags and oh such flavoursome food. For those of you who have a rising jealousy, I’ll keep in touch so you can have the experience vicariously and look forward to your comments and thoughts about South East Asia.

The real Turkey isn’t just the land of beach holidays and sunlit coves. There is something far more sinister going on.

Posted in SharonSpeak on August 1st, 2010 by Sharon Feinstein

The real Turkey isn’t just the land of beach holidays and sunlit coves. There is something far more sinister going on. On the streets of Ankara it’s men in turbans and prayer caps, woman in veils and chadors, and next up could even be burkhas. Prime Minister Erdogan has welcomed Sudan’s vile president Omar Hassan al-Bashir even though he was indicted on charges of war crimes against humanity. And who else came for a grand occasion but the equally sinister Iranian President Ahmadinejad, Holocaust denier, repressor of democratic protests, and champion of the growing nuclear bomb. David Cameron has joined the voices urging Turkey to sign up to the E U, allowing millions of Turks to live and work in Britain. And yes Turkey is a member of Nato with a large US airbase on its soil. But the winds of change are blowing here, with terrifying dawn raids to arrest enemies of the state, crackdowns on the media, and all manner of Government conspiracy theories. Is this why there is such a battle from the West to pull Turkey over to its side and secure some further allegiance, before it is too late and a new Islamist Turkey disappears into the arms of Iran, Syria and the rest.