In 1936, the French first launched the “Transindochinois” railway service linking Hanoi with Saigon. The present-day service, dubbed the “Reunification Express”, may not be quite so glamorous, but with six departures a day and five different classes, (including sleeperettes–Team Ceritalah’s choice) it provides a more romantic and leisurely alternative to the sixty or so flights that shuttle between the two key Vietnamese hubs every day.
Nearly four years ago, the south Indian city of Chennai (capital of Tamil Nadu) was under water. The worst floods in living history – the result of cyclones from the Bay of Bengal – had reduced this manufacturing and services powerhouse of eleven million to a standstill as brackish water lapped at the wheels of the planes parked at the Anna International Airport. The human tragedy was substantial, with over 500 deaths and some 1.8 million people displaced.
A vast, 120-hectare moonscape of toxic, foul-smelling and suppurating waste; this huge dump (the largest uncovered landfill in Southeast Asia) serves the 32 million-strong Jakarta conurbation. Estimated to contain over 39 million tons of garbage, (7000 tons are being added daily) it should reach its full capacity of 49 million tons by 2021—if not sooner.
Historians deal with the past. As the architects of our collective memory; they record, document and preserve. History can never be objective because like any form of storytelling, there’s always a writer or narrator who selects, edits and crafts the source material. Biases are therefore to be expected. The best we can do is to be aware of their existence.