Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bangladesh: A Very Long Day (Part 2)

I saw a lot of rice paddies alongside the train tracks, and I'm reminded of the similar scenes from my home country of the Philippines. Instantly I remember an old Filipino folk song about planting rice. I'd like to share the lyrics with you.

Planting rice is never fun
Bent from morn till the set of sun,
Cannot stand and cannot sit,
Cannot rest for a little bit.

Oh, come friends and let us homeward take our way,
Now we rest until the dawn is gray,
Sleep, welcome sleep, we need to keep us strong
Morn brings another workday long.

Oh, my back is like to break,
Oh, my bones with the damp still ache,
And my legs are numb and set
For their long soaking on the wet.

It is hard to be so poor
And such sorrow and pain endure,
You must move your arms about,
Or you'll find you must go without.

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These kids are trying to catch fish by removing the water from one part to another.

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Another man trying to catch fish.

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People were planting long after the sun has set.

I ask my husband what other crops they plant when the rice is harvested. He said, they don't rotate crops, they plant and harvest rice all year long. My minimal knowledge of agriculture has told me to speak out against soil erosion or something to that effect. Bangladesh is starting to realize the value of crop rotation for soil health and to prevent soil erosion, he said, although they are taking baby steps towards this undertaking.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Bangladesh: A Very Long Day

August 8 was a very looong day. It was the day when we traveled from Dhaka, the capital city, to Chittagong, the port city, and on to Cox's Bazar where we stay for a few days to give ourselves a little break from the summer heat in the city.

Flooded street in Dhaka
Our day started early 6 AM wake-up call to catch the 8 AM train. The famous moonsoon rains that come during these months only showed up the night before. It wasn't too hard or too long, so I was surprised to see the streets flooded, which delayed us a bit, because the baby taxi (tuktuk) or what they call CNG in Dhaka couldn't cross the high level of water on the street.

The train trip to Chittagong took all of 6 long hours, which I welcomed because 1)this would be my first train trip 2) want to take the chance to see the rural landscape 3)take lots of photos drive by.

It was raining when we left the main station, which thankfully happened to be only 15 minutes from my in-law's place. The 15 minutes ride from the house to the station was enough time to get us soaked from a sudden downpour. I was dripping wet when I got to the station and let the cabin's airconditioning dry me. Thank heavens I didn't get sick.

Interesting is the passing scenery I witnessed as the train journeyed through small towns and green fields, from children fishing to men planting rice. Again, may I reiterate that it was 6 hours long, imagine the number of photos I took. That is why this post is going to be in installments.

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Man fishing.

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Water was the main theme of the passing landscape. A lot of it. Then I was told that most of Bangladesh lies mostly near the sea level, per wiki the number is less than 12 m above sea level, which is why we often hear year after year there is flooding in Bangladesh. Yearly moonsoon and low-lying area would cause that.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bay Area Backroads

My husband and I started a little tradition while we were dating. We take a drive to the backroads of the wine country every winter. We do this because the drive winds into varied landscape and peacefulness envelops us when we do this.

The route we take is California State route 128.

Route 128 begins at Route 1 near the mouth of the Navarro River at the Pacific Ocean. The highway travels upriver through the coast redwood forests of Navarro River Redwoods State Park and through the vineyards and apple orchards of the Anderson Valley to Boonville. Route 253 terminates into Route 128 at the south end of Boonville. Leaving Boonville, Route 128 climbs out of the Navarro River watershed and crosses the Yorkville Highlands before descending into the Russian River watershed, arriving at Cloverdale in the Alexander Valley, where the highway joins U.S. Route 101 heading south. A few miles later, at Geyserville, Route 128 separates from U.S. 101 and crosses Knights Valley on the way to Napa Valley, where it joins Route 29 at Calistoga. After passing through the town of St. Helena, Route 128 splits from Route 29 at Rutherford and climbs east over dry ridges above Lake Berryessa to the Sacramento Valley. In Winters, the route's constructed portion ends at Interstate 505. By its legal definition, the route continues 14 mi (23 km) east to Route 113 at Davis and Interstate 80, but this segment is currently not constructed.

The section of Route 128 through Navarro River Redwoods State Park is often closed in winter storms due to flooding.[2] Two slower alternate routes are available: the Philo-Greenwood road connects Route 1 near Elk to Route 128 near Hendy Woods State Park, a few miles north of Philo;[3] another alternate route is the Comptche-Ukiah Road, which intersects Route 1 just south of the town of Mendocino and runs inland to Comptche, and departs Comptche on Flynn Creek Road, intersecting Route 128 just up river from the seasonal flood gate closing the highway.

We approach this at its eastern end in Winters. Another tradition is stopping in Winters for coffee and pastries at Steady Eddy's.

(shot from previous year's drive)

We passed by fruit orchards.

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I know this part of California is where they grow almonds and walnuts.

We normally don't stop outside of getting coffee, but we saw this small park like structure and thought we could give our legs a little stretch, but we only went so far as a few yards from the parking lot before we changed our mind and made a U turn for the car.

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The road passes by water.

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But the main reason why we fell in love with this route is that it passes through oak trees covered with Spanish moss. When we first saw them, it was drizzling, the place was empty except for the two of us, and there was mist around the trees and the moss. It was just magical.

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No rain this year, all sunshine and blue sky.

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Somewhere we took a turn and left SR 128 and headed to the wine country.

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Beautiful day.

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Saw miniature horses grazing.

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I love balconies.

We passed by more water.
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We stopped by Mumm, but neither was in the mood to taste, so I just took some pictures.

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As we left Napa, the sun started to set so I kept on drive by shooting.

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By the time we reached Discovery Kingdom (Six Flags) in Vallejo, the sun has almost fully set.

Drive date was 1/28/13.

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bangladesh: Market Scenes

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Umra is a local fruit (tho I was told Cambodia also has this) whose taste is a combination of guava and green mango. It's eaten with sprinkling of chili salt.

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Vegetables are a big mainstay in the Bangla diet.

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Chichinga - a type of gourd.

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Some type of gourd, more like winter squash.

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Dried fish called sutki.

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Young boy tending to his stall.

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Man with a goatee.

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Lady with a water vessel.

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Greens from the gourds.

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They were a bit amused when they spotted me shooting at them.

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Every corner has a makeshift market it seems.

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Busy times for shopping as it was Ramadan.