tremble clef

Thursday, May 17, 2007

CocoRosie, "Animals" (2007)

It only seems fair to also tell you about some of the animals I met during my recent travels to Vietnam and Cambodia, oh my.

1. Elephants!

I rode an elephant, for the first time in my life. I'm sort of surprised by this; somehow I thought I would have done so before. After all, I don't have a driver's license, and you would think that an elephant ride would have presented itself as a legitimate way of getting around before this trip. Hmmm.

Anyway, I actually rode two elephants. The first one was at a hot springs/water theme park outside of Huế that was, delightfully, on just the right side of kitschily tacky. This elephant, accordingly, was purple and plastic.

The second was a real life pachyderm, and we named her Gertrude. I'm not sure why. We were on a nature reserve island, full of lovely pine trees, on Tuyen Lam lake in Dalat, and it seemed like a good idea to ride Gertrude to see it.

She was a bit grumpy about taking three people on her back, and for a moment all I could think about were stories of tourists getting trampled to death by overburdened elephants. In fact, about five minutes into the ride, the handler decided it was better for me to get off the carriage and sit directly on Gertrude's shoulders, the better to distribute the weight or something. (As seen on the left. Look, I'm bringing sexy back!)

I was very doubtful about this.

Throughout the ride, Gertrude kept flapping her ears and whacking my legs with them. Which I could have gotten used to, if the non-English speaking handler didn't also indicate that I needed to not touch her ears, since that's how he was steering her. "But I'm not touching her," I said, plaintively. "She's touching me." It was like suddenly I was a eight year old fighting with his pachyderm sister during a long family car ride.

2. Cat!

I didn't see that many cats in all, but there was an adorable one living at the floating village near Siem Reap. We were in our boat, and went past a pile of floating logs, and this cat was just lounging around on it. Typically for a cat, he was wearing his "contemptuously nonchalant" expression, like it was the most natural thing in the world to be living in a watery Cambodian village. Hee.

Despite the lack of felines during the trip, I came back with a renewed desire for a cat. Mostly because I'm thinking I could then call my new pet "Khmer." Khmer! C'mere! Ha ha ha HA HA OH DEAR.

3. Ducks!

On our way to that very same Cambodian floating village, our van was held up because there was a paddling of ducks that just had to cross the road at that point. Watching the brace was hilarious. The raft of them made crossing a road seem like the Most Dramatic Thing ever, which I guess is true if you are part of a huge flush of ducks. It was just such a darling team.

And now you know all the collective nouns for ducks. You're welcome.

4. Goats!

Well, we didn't actually meet these. Our guide wanted us to...although the goats were going to be in curried form. (Understanding that took a minute, though. "Curried what? Coats? Curried gourds? Oh.") Tee just could not. He was already traumatized by being at the seafood restaurant with the tanks of fish and shrimp and lobsters up front, which would have been fine if they didn't also have a cage full of bunnies.

5. Pig!

On a scenic but long drive, Tee caught a glimpse of what he thought was the cutest thing he had ever seen: a pig, in a pen, except that he had propped himself up on the front of the enclosure to watch the world go by, with his trotters halfway over the barrier.

I didn't actually see this one. Apparently the sight went by too fast for Tee to have time to point it out to me. "Are you sure," I asked dubiously, "that you weren't asleep and just dreamt of Wilbur?"

6. Dogs!

There were, of course, lots of cute ones. There was the pack, for instance, that lived on the fishing village near Nha Trang, who got all excited when we stepped aboard. One was in a hurry to greet the visitors, so bravely tried to get across to us by walking on a fishing net. It was fun watching his expression go from "Hey! New people!!!" to "Careful careful careful..." to "OH SHIT."

But there was no dog as adorably stupid as the canine we spotted at a stall in an incense-making village:

He was all smoopy and seemed like he wanted to come up to me to get patted. But he couldn't, because he was chained up...

Wait, he's not actually chained up. He had a chain on, yes. But the end of that chain wasn't actually attached to anything. But, hey, no one told him that.


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