Should I draw the strange dark object?

In Singapore, my sometimes lunchtime places are in the Korean enclave. There is a little mischievous kid who darts in and out of a cafe I am at. I try to speak little Korean with her. Though amused (she must wonder what is this large dark object making familiar sounds), she hardly has patience to listen to a full sentence before she darts out to slay another monster. The kid came by and left me this drawing. Now, I am wondering what to draw for her.


The Drunkard's alley in Tokyo

I like cities that have secrets. Not too far from the world famous Shibuya crossing in Tokyo is a hidden away place that not many go to - the drunkard's alley. This alley has dozens of small bars - a bit like Golden Gai. It's like you are back in the 1960s.

Have an affair with my city

I encourage you to have an affair with Saigon. I promise I won't be jealous. You walk into a narrow alley at 14 Ton That Dam, climb up a decrepit staircase, with the rain water dripping, and an odd cat playing hide n seek with you. Explore the little shops and cafes, say hello to the holdout residents. 

My home in Saigon, the Japantown

Your are born of flour and octopus bits. Born as a shapeless dollop, the woman keep prodding you, turning you and shaping you. You are so happy to have such a lovely mom. But just when your heart swells and you turn brown, the mom packs you in a box and off you go.

The takoyaki maker is one of the many Japanese businesses in my neighborhood. My neighborhood is probably one of the last remaining Japantown anywhere. I love such places where two or more worlds collide and function in a zen like balance. This is where I eat more Japanese food, speak more Japanese,and make more Japanese friends compared to Tokyo. 

The Japantown is easy to find, the entrance is at 15B Le Thanh Ton. I will not recommend any places, rather I will encourage you to explore the alleys. 


Teru Teru Bozu for sunny days

Meet the Teru Teru Bozu or Shine Shine Monk. He is a home made amulet that you hang outside wishing for a rain free day - a custom popular with farmers in old days Japan. These days kids hang this to have a rain free picnic days. When I was a kid, I wished that it rains and floods on picnic days - that way we would have an even bigger adventure.

Jakarta's Chinatown

I love to wander Jakarta's Chinatown. Always colorful rusting buildings, nice treats, and odd lion dancers who still think it is the new year time. 

不要问我从那里来
我的故乡在远方
为什么流浪
流浪远方流浪.

Tra Chanh and Umeshu

I think it was Vikram Seth who wrote in what is probably one of the finest travelogues about China, words that flow something to the effect of "I think I travel just to collect material for future nostalgia". In my case, I travel probably to find things that make me miss other lands. Like I found this preserved lemon drink along Le Thanh Ton street in Saigon. Here in VN this is called Tra Chanh (lemon tea). This is a month old preserve of lemon in salty base, a small quantity is poured onto the cup with generous scoops of sugar , one preserved lemon or two - if you are nice and smile a lot, and then diluted with tea or water and topped with ice. Now I am missing Umeshu - the preserved plum wine that we at home in Japan (the last photo).