The Trail Back Out is Available for Preorder!

It’s finally done: my first book in 4 years!

From tales of Eddie, high on LSD and trapped by “What Died in the Fridge” or a compulsive gambler hiding during a Category Five storm in “Better Weather”, to the luminous title story of two strangers meeting by chance in the backwoods during a pandemic, I wanted to describe the pain and humor of being alive. Included in this collection are “Rules to Live By”, a funny and deeply thoughtful story about what we choose to teach our children. I wonder about our responsibility to others as a hunter is shot and left for dead in “The Green Under the Snow”. In “Do Dreams Float?” a wife considers a hit-man’s offer of revenge. And the eternal search for happiness is carried out by a gloomy little girl nicknamed ‘Princess Rain Clouds’.

I finished these tales during the coronavirus lockdown. These are descriptions of everyday life in strange times. Whether during the upheaval of the last century or the present COVID-19 crisis, The Trail Back Out will guide you through a labyrinth of questions about how to live and love.

The Trail Back Out will be published as paperback and eBook for Kindle on August 23, 2020. The version for Kindle is available now for preorder. Click on one of these links to order a copy:

The Trail Back Out: USA

The Trail Back Out: Germany

Information on all my books is available here:

Jadi’s Books Amazon Page: USA

Jadi’s Books Amazon Page: Germany

I wish you all a safe and healthy autumn.

Happy reading,

Jadi

How I Spent My Summer Lockdown

Being a writer almost always means feeling guilty about carving out time alone with a blank page of paper or a white computer screen. At the same time, being a writer means almost always feeling guilty for not creating time dedicated to empty paper/laptop.

And the corona virus crisis hit, and in March we went into lockdown….

I finally filled our balcony with planter boxes of flowers and herbs. We have more bees and pollinators than I’ve seen in years. Nature is loving this “Stop everything” business! And I got down to serious construction of Book #4, a collection of short stories.

This was lockdown, so it’s not like I could go anywhere else, right? Wasn’t the Universe handing me exactly the time and space I needed to write my next book? I took my pages or laptop out the balcony and went to work.

I don’t know about you other writers out there, but the Muse makes me toil for months on end before she grants me an audience. I write every day, drudge work, one word after the next for my daily quota. Trust me: this is not inspired writing. It’s showing up and doing the job. I spent a few months planting my ass in front of my computer or my pages to revise, thinking, “What the hell ever made me think this will be any good?”

I stayed committed to the writing, because past experience has taught me that it eventually (seldom right away, but, always, always, eventually) gets rewarded.

And one morning I was eager to get back to it. Half a day passed before I noticed how much time had gone by. I began to dream plot twists. The writing stopped being drudgery and even contained occasional flashes of inspiration.

Now, half a year later, I’m getting ready to publish. This is my corona virus book; I could even title it, How I Spent My Summer Lockdown.

I’m going to title it something else. I’ll keep you posted on when the new ten stories are ready to meet the world.

NOTES: Text and  Photos © Jadi Campbell 2020. To see Uwe’s  photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

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A Cast of Thousands: Day Two

I remain in serious escapist mode, and in today’s post I continue to take us as far away as I can. I’m describing the magnificent Indian wedding  I attended in Mumbai just a few months ago.

The following night, the newlyweds held an evening reception for 500 guests at the same venue. A magician circulated around the room. The saris were a cross between Cinderella and the Arabian Nights. I saw really, really serious bling. It was a dazzling evening full of gorgeous, kind, friendly people. In the interest of privacy I am posting mostly photos that show the backs of gowns. These were taken with my old cell phone, so the quality’s not great. But these give an idea of how spectacular this celebration was!

The women who had taken my breath away the day of the wedding now wore evening saris. There are no words adequate to describing how gorgeous everyone appeared.

Once the event began the full bar stayed busy. I was served the largest gin and tonic I’ve ever had to drink: it was as big as my head. The drink was also one of the strongest I’ve ever tasted. I drank it and afterwards I immediately switched to white wine. Another g&t and I would have landed under a table.

I chatted with a large chocolatier-pastry chef who had worked in Switzerland. The woman who designed the bride’s clothes and the man who designed her jewelry. A professional jazz singer who had given her voice lessons.

The waiters worked both days and must have been exhausted. They circulated the room with appetizers served on trays of stone. The appetizers were wonderful: smoked salmon-asparagus-horseradish rolls. Lamb bites in tiny crusts. Spicy paneer. Corn fritters with salsa. Tikka chicken bites.

A full diner buffet included both vegetarian and meat dishes.  The buffet included a station carving up one leg of lamb after another, chopped into small strips and served au jus. There were various rice dishes, and breads freshly made on-the-spot (both days). Dhals. Another food station served chat: layers of potato patty with chutneys, chickpeas, cilantro. Another station served a variety of Mexican dishes. Other stations included vats of sautéed veggies. I didn’t even glance at the station with teriyaki dishes; the Indian food was just too good. A separate table held lots of desserts. I tried the chocolate mousse cups and the waffles with Nutella and fresh fruit: kiwi, mango, strawberries.

A waterfall is behind the beaded curtain. The sashes on the chairs were an elegant gray for the evening reception

My sister and I drank Sula, a surprisingly yummy Indian white wine. We were both delirious with how magical the evening felt, all those  beautiful people. When we left shortly before midnight the room had been converted into a dance floor….

… each outfit was even more beautiful …
…really stunning gowns

I will forever be grateful I was invited to attend an Indian wedding. The hosts (busy with the other 499 guests) were incredibly generous and gracious. My thanks to my dear friends in Mumbai and their family for allowing two visiting girls to share their joy.

NOTES: Text © Jadi Campbell 2020. Photos © Jadi Campbell and Pam Campbell.

To see Uwe’s pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

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A Cast of Thousands: Day One

Preparing the dais for the wedding ceremony. The canopy is made from thousands of fresh flowers

I’m in serious escapist mode, and in today’s post I want to take us as far away as I can.

This weekend we’re meeting up with friends, a married couple with a little girl. They will be the first friends we’ve actually seen in person in over two months. I’ll finally climb out of the pair of tights I’ve been wearing since March except for when I go outdoors (and then the go-to fashion item is my surgical mask).

Our friends are from India, and that reminds me of the last really BIG social event I attended: a wedding in Mumbai back in January. I took my sister Pam to visit the bride’s mother’s uncle and his wife, and our visit coincided with the two-day celebration.

In secret I’d always wanted to be invited to an Indian wedding! The spectacle, the days of celebrating! A cast of thousands! I packed a couple dresses and a pair of heels. As you can see from the photographs, the clothes were beyond beautiful. Out of respect for privacy I’m not using any photographs that might identify people’s faces. But really these pictures are about the clothes, the venue, the amazing food, and the generosity of the hosts.

Women in saris with matching hair accessories

The bride is Farsi, the groom Hindu. The first day was the wedding ceremony. It was a small affair for immediate family and friends. All 250 of us….

The outdoor patio where the lunch buffet was served. Curtains of flowers hang over the entryway

Here are my impressions, recorded in my journal: “250 people came and went, waiters circulated with appetizers and drinks (vegetarian and non-alcoholic as it was a religious ceremony). A huge vegetarian lunch buffet was set up outside.

The chairs were all covered in white with purple and saffron yellow sashes tied on the backs. These matched the flower canopy over the dais. The canopy had been made of elaborate long drapes of thousands of fresh flowers.

The Hindu men’s turbans matched the bows on the chairs. Really a wild parade of colors. Gorgeous!

The wedding party sat on a dais and the rituals went on for two hours. Sadly, the professional photographers blocked the view most of that time. What I could glimpse was chanting, reading of sacred texts, the tossing of rice and flower petals, a fire lit towards the end of the religious ceremony. A yellow sash was tied to bind the bride and groom to one another. They then walked (circling) numerous times around the fire. Both sets of parents were seated on either side, the sisters too. All took part in the rituals.”

My next post will describe the second day and the evening portion of the wonderful wedding celebration.

NOTES: The clothes were incredible. Pam and I were seriously underdressed, luckily not shamefully underdressed. Everyone made us feel welcomed! Text © Jadi Campbell 2020. Photos © Jadi Campbell and Pamela Campbell.

To see Uwe’s pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

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Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

My Schizoid Loop

King Crimson is infamous for a song named 21st Century Schizoid Man.

Cat’s foot iron claw
Neurosurgeons scream for more
At paranoia’s poison door
Twenty first century schizoid man

Blood rack, barbed wire
Politicians’ funeral pyre
Innocents raped with napalm fire
Twenty first century schizoid man

Death seed blind man’s greed
Poets starving, children bleed
Nothing he’s got he really needs
Twenty first century schizoid man

Songwriters: Robert Fripp/Michael Rex Giles/Greg Lake/Ian Mcdonald/ Peter John Sinfield. 21st Century Schizoid Man (2004 original master edition) lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

That’s the opening soundtrack to days that are hard in lockdown. I’m fine most of the time. The sky is a blue I cannot remember ever seeing. Less pollution and few cars on the roads mean more and louder birds than before.

And I go for walks, and practice self-care. I love to cook, so that’s more than all right. I can take my time with elaborate recipes. Great way to channel my restlessness. Uwe and I live together in lockdown harmoniously most of the time.

Last night’s quiche

Some days, though,  I exist in a schizoid loop. I’m trapped in repeating cycles of WTF WTF WTF? Every couple of days I feel this: boom. I understand how we got to where we are right now. We’ve been pushing the envelope for decades. Why did we think we’d be exempt? Boom! But hard as I try, I cannot grasp how swiftly our world changed once that final roll of the cosmic dice was set in play.

We’ve been taken down by a virus, something you can’t even see without a microscope.

BOOM!

And fuck doing yoga, and meditating, and the crap version that’s all I can remember of the tai chi I learned from a Chinese man in my San Francisco neighborhood 40 years ago. What’s happening now overwhelms me. Forget trying to understand the point of view that claims we just need to get back to business as usual. That bullshit is literally killing us.

I gather myself back into a little ball and slowly unwind my cramped limbs and psyche. Writing helps more than anything. My first collection of short stories is taking shape as I try to deal with what’s happening.

I have friends with health issues who  live in  deadly serious lockdown. A few weeks into the self-quarantine the radio station I listen to played It’s All Too Much, a song from the Yellow Submarine album.  I’ve always loved this song! The Beatles were a big part of life’s soundtrack for my entire family, including my parents when they were alive.

My friend and her husband are Beatles fans too, and they turned me onto Radio Paradise in the first place. I was all smiles that morning, such fond associations and sweet memories all around. I thought, Hey, I’m gonna call her, and she answered her cell phone with a really cheery “Hi there!”

I lost it. I burst into tears and couldn’t stop crying. She hung on and waited for me to be able to speak, because that’s what friends do, and at some point my  crying jag stopped just as abruptly as it began. “That was not my plan when I dialed your number!” I said. “That’s the first time this has happened to me since this crisis began. I have a feeling it won’t be the last.”

And we had a really good laugh. I’m learning how to be less careful with my emotional balance, I figure if I need to weep then bring it on, because on some days crying is the single response that even approaches appropriate. I haven’t broken down since, but when I’m out for a walk and I see a family with little children in the distance, I feel those tears. Or when I hear from people I know in my present life, or from my past. Or anywhere else on the globe.

WTF WTF WTF?? I’m a hot mess, and that’s as it should be. If I find myself crying again, I’ll be in good company.

When I look into your eyes, your love is there for me
And the more I go inside, the more there is to see

It’s all too much for me to take
The love that’s shining all around you
Everywhere, it’s what you make
For us to take, it’s all too much

Songwriter: George Harrison. It’s All Too Much lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Stay safe everyone. Stay healthy.

NOTES: © Text Jadi Campbell 2020.  © Photos Uwe Hartmann 2020. To see Uwe’s photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de. Source: LyricFind

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Quetzal

Happy April Fool’s Day! What’s quetzal, anyway? A noun, a verb, a symptom brought on in quarantine for the corona virus?

Glad you asked. The quetzal is a legend, a myth, a member of the trogon family, and one really cool bird. It’s also very, very elusive.

And what the hell is a trogon? Let’s start at the top. Until just now, I didn’t know. The term comes from the Greek and means ‘nibbling’, because quetzals carve through rotting wood to make their nests in tree trunks. The trogon family of birds is an exclusive club: they are the only animal with a heterodactyl toe arrangement. [1] The resplendent quetzal lives only in a narrow range of cloud forests at high elevations in Central America. They don’t migrate, and like altitudes of 4,000–10,000 ft (1,200–3,000 m).

A lot of people think it’s the most beautiful bird in the world. The quetzal was sacred to the Aztecs and Mayans. The Aztecs associated the bird with the snake god, Quetzalcoatl. Kings and nobles wore quetzal feather headdresses for special ceremonies.

And oh my god, those feathers…. The head and back of the bird are a brilliant green, the belly feathers are bright red. The female has more gray on her chest, and black and white in her tail, while the male has incredibly long streaming tail feathers that trail up to three feet (!) behind him. These don’t grow until the bird is at least three years old.

The quetzal’s big, about 36-40 cm or 14-16 inches long. But its brilliant green feathers are iridescent and blend perfectly into the cloud forest foliage. For a large bird, the quetzal is surprisingly hard to spot.

So when we planned our trip to Costa Rica (I write this in March, after two weeks of the virus lockdown, and it feels like a different life time that we took that trip, not just a few weeks ago), we hoped we’d get lucky enough to spot a quetzal. We went to the Monteverde cloud forest region. One day we joined a tour to the smaller and less crowded Curi Cancha Reserve. Amazingly enough we saw a pair of quetzals! Quetzals are monogamous – and there they were, male and female! Thank god for the guides that day, because there’s no way we would have sighted the birds on our own. They’re just too perfectly camouflaged. I only have one photo for you, but hopefully it was worth reading this post to get to it.

We present to you in all its shy glory: THE QUETZAL! This is the female, a brilliant emerald that dazzles the eye. Believe it or not her partner is much, much gaudier

It was magic to see a quetzal pair. We got lucky that day.

NOTES: [1] Dictionary.com explains heterodactyl is “having the first and fourth toes directed backward, and the second and third forward, as in trogons”. Well, what do you know. This is my second new word for the week. Trogon was the first. PS: This post is not an April Fool’s joke! Resplendent quetzal © Jadi Campbell 2020. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

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Let it Rain!

What a difference a few weeks or even days makes… Today most of the world is on lockdown. A month ago I was in a cloud forest for the first time. I look at Uwe’s photos and am filled with wonder.

The first of many hummingbirds we saw in Costa Rica

February 2020

Monteverde in northern Costa Rica is one of the few cloud forests left on the planet. We arrived yesterday, using a bus service to travel from the hot, sunny Pacific coast. Now we’re at a higher (and definitely colder) elevation. Winds from the Caribbean smack into currents from the Pacific. The results are a steady light mist all day.

Green crowned brilliant

Or, like this morning, a heavy falling rain. Uwe and I both wear the super-duper, Chinese-made raincoats we bought last year in Borneo for a $1 apiece. We unfold them and discover that these are thin, glorified garbage bags with holes cut out for our arms and heads. I’m glad to have mine – it’s still pouring. Uwe’s bummed. It’s raining so hard that he has to leave his  camera equipment in its special backpack. It’s windy here, too! His camera’s way better protected against the weather than we are….

Magenta-throated woodstar

The park guide tells us about primeval forest, secondary growth, the Quaker settlers who came here and founded this nature preserve. We see almost zero wildlife, and that’s because everything is hunkered down against the shitty weather. He points out an orchid the size of my thumbnail as my sneakered feet and my blue jeans grow damper. It. is. cold.

Violet sabrewing

Uwe’s face is glum. His cellphone camera is a poor substitute for the Nikon. I try hard not to think about how little fun he’s having. Then the guide points to a pale slender green object on a leaf. I peer closer in the rain.

Purple throated mountaingem

It’s a walking stick! I haven’t seen one of these in the wild since I was a kid! I’m suddenly a kid again myself, I’m way beyond excited. “Any biosphere that’s got walking sticks is an intact one for sure!” I exclaim. Oh my god! I stand there and stare at it, wetter by the minute.

Thirty minutes later we’re back at the park entrance’s buildings. The downpour vanishes. Uwe gets out his telefoto lens to capture the 7 varieties of blue, emerald, crimson, orange, purple hummingbirds darting in and out to the feeders on the porch. A white nosed coatimundi scurries under the hummingbird feeders, licking up the sugar water that’s dripped down onto the floorboards.

“A walking stick!” I murmur.

Everybody’s happy.

Green crowned brilliant
Empress brilliant. The feathers overlapped in a way that made me think of snake scales

NOTES: I’m still mad at my spousal unit for not taking a photo of that walking stick with his cell phone! Monteverde orchids and hummingbirds © Jadi Campbell 2020. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

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It’s a Wrap

Whether you’re getting ready for the holidays or the end of 2019, another year is coming to an end. This post is my annual round-up of the year’s musings and in-jokes.

My blog thread about names for animal families that I began in honor of my dad Bobbo 3 years ago still isn’t finished: The Animal Kingdom 27, The Animal Kingdom 28, The Animal Kingdom 29, The Animal Kingdom 30, The Animal Kingdom 31 , The Animal Kingdom 32

Uwe and I explored some new places: Malaysia and Borneo Wild Orangutans, Frog Paradise Part One, Frog Paradise Part Two, Shaman Medicine. I wrote about spots we previously visited: Xi’an and Speyer

I bitched about a place: Brunei and moaned when I got sick in What? I Can’t Hear You

At some point during the year I always talk about food: The Foods of Fall and Love Tea and about traditions: Pour Wine and Oil in my Grave

I wrote a piece about memory, and that turned into a moving thread that got tons of comments: His Name was Bond, PS: Have a Nice DayBonds of Kindness

I got to boast when 2 of my One Page Plays were accepted for performance! My play Baby You Were Great tied for runner-up as Best Comedy! The One Page Play Festival

So, it’s a wrap…. as 2019 ends, I invite all of you who have read my books to please write reviews for them on Amazon. These are vital to authors. And – if you haven’t read them – please consider buying my books as gifts for yourselves or your loved ones. As always, thank you for following me and being such a great tribe.

See you in 2020!

—Jadi

NOTES: © Jadi Campbell 2019. Photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

Click here for my author page to purchase my books.

Love Tea

I’m sitting down to drink a cup of tea. If you don’t hear from me again, please notify my husband.

I’m going to try dittany or diktamos. The Cretans call it erontas or erondas, from the word eros. As you know, Eros is the Greek god of love and sexuality. The Greek is diktamos (δίκταμος) or erondas (έρωντας).

Diktamos is an herb that grows only on remote, rocky hilltops on the island of Crete. The name comes from the Dikti mountain range in the Lasithi region of East Crete.

https://i1.wp.com/phyto.gr/assets/Origanum_dictamnus_2.jpg?w=840

The use of dittany goes back into the mists of history. It may be the plant featured in the fresco of garlands at the Minoan palace of Knossos. Hippocrates prescribed it. Homer, Euripides, Aristotle and Theophrastus, Plutarch and Virgil all wrote about the herb.

When Aeneas is injured, his mother Aphrodite (Venus) uses dittany to cure him:

A branch of healing dittany she brought

Which in the Cretan fields with care she sought:

Rough is the stern, which woolly leafs surround;

The leafs with flow’rs, the flow’rs with purple crown’d,

Well known to wounded goats; a sure relief

To draw the pointed steel, and ease the grief. [1]

Even characters in Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal and JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows use dittany. The herb is considered an aphrodisiac (okay, maybe not in Harry Potter). Suitors collected the wild dittany flowers and gave bouquets to prove their love. The young men were known as “erondades (love seekers) and were considered very passionate men to go to such dangerous lengths to collect the herb.” [2] Traditionally, diktamos was given to newlyweds to inflame desire.

It can be used both internally and externally: a poultice, an essential oil, for application on wounds, an herbal tea (my chosen method – I bought a bag of dried herbs when we were on Crete this fall), to disinfect wounds, chewed, or as toothpaste for a sore throat and to clean the mouth and teeth. Dittany is distilled and used as a bitter in vermouth or martinis (for example), and in cosmetics. [3]

Finally, before I drink my brewed cup, I give you my favorite fact. Dittany/Diktamos is also known as the burning bush. I leave it to you to decide why I’m drinking it.

NOTES: [1] Book XII.411–415 of Virgil’s Aeneid. As the poem mentions, Cretan mountain goats nibble on diktamos to heal their wounds. [2] botano.gr. The flowers of the Dittany plant are hermaphroditic with both male and female organs. [3] This rare and protected little plant gets around! ©Jadi Campbell 2019. Photo courtesy of phyto.gr. To see Uwe’s photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

“Dittany contains an essential oil called Carvacrol, which is a natural antibiotic, 50 times stronger than penicillin. In the leaves, there is furthermore a substance called Dictamin, which is used for cardiovascular diseases. In all, there are 70 different curative substances in the plant that can be extracted and used for medication or cosmetics.” — ilovecrete.eu

“Compounds of Dittany are powerful antioxidants. The essential oils have also antiseptic and anti-fungal properties and are often used in ointments to treat burns and skin ailments. Tea made from dittany is used to relieve tension headaches and as a relaxant. Dittany is also used to relieve indigestion, colic, stomach cramps and bloating. It is also thought to be a diuretic and to combat fever.” —greece-is.com

To learn more:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origanum_dictamnus

https://www.we-love-crete.com/dittany-of-crete.html

http://www.elenaoncrete.com/oregano-origanum/

 

Get Me to the Church on Time: Malaysia

Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur

We spent a couple weeks in Malaysia this spring. Most of that time we stayed in the classic tourist destinations: Georgetown and Melaka for their rich layers of Dutch, Portuguese, British history.

Visitors at St. Paul’s Church, Melaka
Portuguese tombstones, St. Paul’s Church, Melaka

We tried to see some of the incredible nature, too. My personal highlight was Sarawak on Borneo. We went to the UNESCO global geopark on Langkawi Island and took a bus inland to the tea country of the Cameron Highlands.

Everywhere we went, I was struck by two things. The first is that in a predominantly Muslim country it can take a while to find alcohol. Evening mealtimes for Uwe and me are when we want to linger over a glass and talk about what we saw during the day. In Malaysia we’d peruse the menu at the front of a restaurant and turn the pages to the very back where the drinks were listed. If it didn’t serve beer or wine, often we’d smile and say thank you, and head further down the street feeling slightly like jerks.

Mosque and Muslim cemetary, Sarawak, Borneo

The second thing I noticed is that in every place we visited, streets in Malaysia contain the houses of worship of different religions. Muslim mosques, Christian churches, Hindu, Buddhist, Tin Hau and Chinese temples, one next to the other line a street. Everywhere.

Hindu temple, Georgetown
Hindu priest, Georgetown
The goddess Tin Hau, patroness and protector of sailors and immigrants, Georgetown

We explored many of them and I was delighted and calmed by the sweet atmosphere in these roads. The world feels more and more divided. But the Malaysians we talked with are proud of the religious tolerance and multicultural blend that makes up their country.

Chinese temple lanterns, Sarawak, Borneo
Dutch, British, German cemetary, Melaka

And that’s a concept I’ll gladly raise a glass of wine to….

NOTES:  © Jadi Campbell 2019. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s pics from Malaysia and our trips go to viewpics.de.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.