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Ventana - An Enchanting Resort in BIg Sur

Summary: I love Ventana. I highly recommend visiting  and exploring the landscape at Lime Kiln and Andrew Molera State Park which I've blogged about here. Please note this is #notsponsored . Yes, that means we paid our own bill! Lots of details in the following review. including a Post Ranch vs Ventana comparison.  Can you tell there's something exciting beyond this beautiful gate? There's something special about Big Sur, a magic in the light, the presence of the Pacific, the cliffs, beaches, redwood forests and the murmur of the surf. It's one of my favorite places in California. I couldn't think of anywhere else I wanted to be to celebrate turning fifty, because it's a place where there's a sense of nature, space and light and a wide horizon. We've been to Big Sur many times and for a celebration there are two fantastic hotels vying for your attention. The exclusive, modern and very private, cliff top Post Ranch Inn and on the other side of the road the …

Sittwe - A Way Station on the Way to Mrauk U

For more of my Burma posts click here.
Sittwe is a way station, a town you pass through on the way to Mrauk U. Our hotel the Shwe Thazin  was basic and the "attractions" of the town  fairly limited. I hoped to see the local museum which is meant to have some good ethnographic collections but it was shut up tight when we drove by.
It's a dusty town and ominously we saw a burnt out mosque as we drove in from the airport. The heavy police and army presence indicated the continuing tensions in the area where the Muslim minority, the  Rohinga, have been marginalized, persecuted, victimized and even denied citizenship rights. We stayed over night and stopped to look at several temples and to take a walk along the waterfront. The next day we got up early to visit the famous fish market before taking our river journey to Mrauk U.
 The market was bustling with innumerable foodstuffs I didn't recognize, fruit, fish, herbs, peppers, flowers, and an entire market of different kinds of bananas!

The colors in the market  are bright and vibrant even though the day is grey and foggy. However as we walk through the market and down to the waterfront the fish market is completely different,  covered, dull and dark. This is a classic "wet" market with the fish laid out in rows.
The atmosphere is extraordinary, there are a lot of people and at eye level the first thing we see are large dried fish on our right. They are cut into ribbons and still look quite fearsome with their open mouths and gleaming heads. As we walk further in I'm glad I'm wearing close toed shoes as the floor is wet and slimy.
There are so many different kinds of fish, in the back men are skinning an enormous skate, or is it a stingray? Even though I'd eat it I feel sorry for it. It looks like it was a majestic creature and this seems a squalid end. This isn't a place to visit if you are squeamish, or don't fancy eels!.
Out by the dock a man auctions a pile of fish in a loud voice to surrounding market women. They buy the fish and divide them up to sell to local customers.
 Here you can see how grey it was out on the dock. It was also interesting to see the gender division with women selling in the market and men on the dock, facilitating the wholesale sales or coming in from fishing.