30 April 2011

International Worker's Day

International Worker’s Day is celebrated on May 1st throughout much of the world. In the US, it is called Labor Day and is commemorated on the first Monday in September. The interesting thing here is that the May 1st date is in homage to the American workers who were killed and injured during the Haymarket Riot of 1886, where they were striking for an eight-hour work day.

I find it amusing that socialist, communist, past and present anti-US governments should choose an American incident as the date on which to honor their countries workers.
I believe we in the US did, at one point, celebrate the day on 1 May. I had heard somewhere that the US decided to change it to Septemeber so as not to be associated with all those commie countries who had absconded with the date. As intriguing as that sounds, it can’t be right. According to the US Department of Labor’s website, the first Labor Day was celebrated on September 5, 1882.
Here in Vietnam, it is a four day weekend and the beaches are packed. My hotel had been booked out months ago so I had to leave my pool-side living quarters and move to another small room for two days.
What I want to know is how did I acquire all this extra stuff? I came with an overweight suitcase and small backpack. When the gals at the hotel helped to move my belongings it seemed I had an extra five bags of junk. Yes, I have way too many seashells, but I have not bought anything here. Maybe I just didn’t cram my items into the suitcase as well as I did on the way here.
Yesterday afternoon, when the holiday spirit was in full swing, I had to go “in to town”. The quotes are there because it really isn’t going into town, but rather traveling a few kilometers down the road to where my acupuncture doctor is and then another few klicks south to eat at a restaurant that is ok.
This is always a bad idea at 1:00 in the afternoon. It is always hot at that time and has gotten noticeably more sweltering in the past few weeks. Yet I insist on taking the city bus which rolls by every twenty minutes, most of the time. Sometimes I only wait a few minutes and there are times when I have waited twenty-five minutes. Even in the shade this can get to be a bit much. Still, it is preferential to any other means of transportation here.
Most people rent a motorbike, (motor scooter), or go by motorbike taxi. I do not. There are millions of taxis available and, on occasion, I have coughed up the few bucks it costs to go down the road, but they are also a bit terrifying. You see Mui Ne is still located along a narrow, two-lane road that is not wide enough for two tourist buses to safely pass each other while heading in the opposite direction. Now add to this the concept that you must always pass the driver in front of you. And don’t forget the people on bicycles and various forms of farm animals and pedestrians along the route. For some reason, I feel the safest on the bus even when the drivers go hell bent for leather along the way, hand glued to horn, swerving across the other side of the road in order to pass anything in their way.
Now to all that, remember that it is a four-day weekend and traffic has increased 1000-fold. I normally would never describe myself as having frazzled nerves, but yesterday I did, along with being overheated and generally just getting sick of it all. I have reached the point where I need to move on.

The beach is lovely and living out of a suitcase is fine with me. Not having a kitchen is not. In normal everyday life, I do not dream about food or look forward to the next meal. But this has been simply too many months of not eating properly or eating horrible restaurant meals. I have started watching cooking shows and competitions and drooling.
I have less than two weeks left at the beach and am thinking I should be leaving today. But there are a few fun things coming up next week and I still have the final five pages of my novel to knock off. And although the hotel and beach are packed with way too many people, my little temporary room is sunny, quiet, and breezy, and everything will go back to the way it was by Tuesday.

Happy Worker’s Day!
[photos taken in Phan Thiet]

11 April 2011

Kate's Mystery Novel now available on Kindle

"Murder, Jaz, & Tel Aviv" is now available as a Kindle edition.
Much cheaper than the print edition. Just as funny.

06 April 2011

Coconuts - Things I Didn't Know

I love coconut. I’m not talking about that shredded, sweetened crap one buys in US supermarkets. I’m referring to fresh coconuts that are picked off the tree, machete-ed opened, and drunk. And when you’re finished, you have the guy crack that baby open so that you can scoop out the gelatinous inners and have dessert.

OK, so you live in the US or Europe or some other place where palm trees don’t grow coconuts. That’s a good reason for never having tried them. I, on the other hand, have spent a good many years in parts of the world where coconuts grow in most people’s back yards. So how is it that now, after all these years in extreme proximity to the product, am I just learning of its medicinal properties?

My leg was cramping about a month ago and I knew I was getting dehydrated. I drink tons of water and had rehydration salts, but nothing was really helping. I’d searched for Gatorade but couldn’t find it. And then I was told to go out and get a coconut. A coconut? For dehydration? It seems that coconut water is all I needed to replace the electrolytes that I had been losing.

Further research turned up the fact that during WWII, coconut water was used in place of plasma when supplies ran short. It is still used to this day as an IV saline solution; so much is it like the body’s own fluids. But possibly the most amazing fact I learned is that it is packed with potassium. The equivalent of 15 bananas!

About two years I read something about needing all these milligrams of potassium per/day and had not been able to work out how to do that. There was nowhere near the amount I was supposed to be ingesting in any of the food combinations I could come up with. Granted, if I am not in the tropics, I can’t eat a coconut a day, so I am making sure I get my daily dosage while in Vietnam.
I am also sort of mad at myself for not knowing this sooner. I wasted years not taking advantage of the local coconuts. Even though I have always thought that their water and meat was sublime, I simply never ate that many.

I'm busy making up for lost time.