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Asian Sourcing 2018

Greetings from your intrepid decor sourcers, Katheryn and David, coming to you from a ravine in Bali. We are now half-way through this buying trip, and most of our orders are in. Making the order, and paying for it, is the easy part: the hitch is in contract fulfillment. “Yes”, if you are a merchant, Read More…

Full Circus

The first time we were in here, 15 years ago, Battambang was just a sleepy backwater in western Cambodia.  The Khmer Rouge had only pulled out of the town five years before, infrastructure was basic, and the road to the Thai border was infernal.  Still recovering from the atrocities of that period, Battambang looked a Read More…

The Spirit of Survival

Kathmandu, Nepal, March 9 2016 Almost a year ago, on April 25, a massive earthquake hit Nepal.  For a more in-depth account of our experience there, see my recent blog: Nepal with relief (http://kebeandfast.com/blog/?p=1233). In Kathmandu we stayed in an apartment in an interesting area of town called Kishibu.  It was with very mixed emotions Read More…

Stop and Get Stamped

This is the border between India and Nepal at the town of Sunauli, and like all the other crossings it is not a very attractive place.  Nationals of the two countries don’t need to check in with customs or immigration, and wander back and forth at will across the dirty, noisy, chaotic frontier.  To make Read More…

Rice-ography

The rice terraces at Jatiluwih in central Bali cover 19,500 ha., flank the slopes of a volcano, Gunung Batkaru, and are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Even so they are not particularly easy to find, especially if you are trying to get there on your own.  For one thing, the volcano, a useful Read More…

Too Tightly Wound for Surin

Crossing into Thailand from the little-used border town of O-Smach in north Cambodia lands you in the middle of nowhere.  Once we made it to Surin, we hired this driver to take us to a hotel.  I chose the caption as a play on the line about Martin Sheen’s character in Apocalypse Now, and given Read More…

The Architecture of Places

This is the roof of the grand old Kuala Lumpur railway station, taken from an over pass on the south side.  The station was once recognized as one of the masterpieces of British colonial architecture in Malaysia. The style it is built in, popular in the late Victorian era called “Indo-Saracenic”, epitomizes the romantic British Read More…

Human Sin

We are now in Bangkok, at the end of this year’s season in Asia.  Endings are a time of reflection.  Looking back on our photographic record of the last four months is to see a time and a place bisected by our experience of it, our movement through it.  The collection of pictures also develop, Read More…

Nepal With Relief

On April 25, 2015, a massive earthquake hit central Nepal, and the destruction, particularly in the Kathmandu valley and the mountains to the north and east, was widespread and devastating.  Having left Nepal only one month before the earthquake, and with many people we knew living or travelling there, Katheryn and I watched the news Read More…

Nepal Fundraiser

Dear Friends, If you are able to make it to the Community Farm Store in Duncan this weekend, please come by to help the people of Nepal. We hope to see you there. Katheryn Kebe and David Fast    

Old Friends

Most of the time we go through the day in the bubble of routine, planning, doing, feeling.  We play the scales of our emotional range blindfolded: pissed at being cut-off; happy at the pat on the back, the cute cat video.  Then every once in a while something huge occurs, vast beyond our understanding, and Read More…

Chiang Mai Jan 2015

  We are back in a corrupt dictatorship where information is censored and political dissidents languish in prison, having left a country that has peaceful general elections and is enjoying a functioning and pluralistic democracy.  That used to be the way it was going from Thailand to Indonesia.  Now the roles are reversed.  Not much Read More…

BALI DEC 2014

Perhaps culture is the human response to environment.  It would explain a lot about Bali.  For example it doesn’t just rain here; an aubergine-coloured cloud mass invades your horizon, signalling its intent with cracks and rumbles, not really moving towards you as much as occupying more and more sky, until you hear the across the Read More…

Wrapping it up 2014

  The time is coming when our Asian season ends and our sales season is about to begin, the time when everyone is wondering: when will Kebe and Fast be here, and what will we buy from them?  The first part is easy.  This is our 2014 sales schedule: May 15-18 Willow Point Lions’ Hall, Read More…

Flores: Asia’s Best House Reef?

  A house reef, in diver parlance, is a coral reef that you can swim out to.  It is also implied that there is accommodation close by on the shore, hence it is the reef of the “house”.  Here at Kebe and Fast, we are dedicated to the quest for Asia’s best house reef. Not Read More…

Shut Down Bangkok

If the S. E. Asian nations were teenagers at a junior high school dance, what would they be like?  Laos would be the shy girl in the corner, unaware of how cute she is because she thinks she’s too short.  Burma is the insecure bully who will survive heroin addiction and discover Jesus.  Cambodia is Read More…

A Week on the Plains of Assam

  It’s easy when you are sitting in a comfortable chair in Shillong, with a guide book and a cup of coffee, to make an ambitious plan to for an extensive tour of N.E. India.  We could go from here to Silchar, and then Mizoram and then up through Manipur to Nagaland, stopping in at Read More…

Root Bridges of Meghalaya

In all of these years of travelling in India, I would have to say that the Khasi Hills of Meghalaya have become one of our all-time favourite places.  The capital of the state of Meghalaya, Shillong, at about 1500 m (5000’) is on the highest plateau of the region, high enough to see the distant Read More…

Guwahati to Shillong

Greetings, and welcome to Kebe and Fast’s travel blog for 2013-14. Our 2013 sales season was our most successful ever, although it ended on a bit of a sad note. On the last day that I was using our big red truck, taking the last load of empty boxes to the Cowichan Valley Recycling center Read More…

Sulawesi: 10

I remember in my youth buying my first Beatles record, a double anthology of their music from 1966-1970, putting it on the turntable and “discovering” extraordinary song after extraordinary song for the first time – Sulawesi this last month has been something like that. It’s been on my radar for a long time.  In fact Read More…

Bali Five-O

We rent a motorbike when we are in Bali – the ubiquitous 110cc Honda automatics cost about $3/day.  We really couldn’t do without it.  Renting a bike is the first thing we do after we get our hotel room in Legian, and it’s the last thing we return when we come back down from Ubud Read More…

Taipei 101

The architects and designers of Taipei 101, once the world’s tallest building (from 2004 – 2010, when the Dubai Burj was finished) took not only the physics of construction seriously, but also the metaphysics.  They made sure that the 508 m (1667′) tower wouldn’t be brought down by a typhoon wind, or a 2,500 year Read More…

The Bali Shipment

The last time we blogged, we were in the S.E. corner of Sabah, Borneo, waiting for an Indonesian visa and a boat to take us to Tarakan in Kalimantan.  The purpose of this was to make a more direct – although less-travelled – route between the Philippines and Jogjakarta in Java. If “Tarakan, an island Read More…

BORNEO: I Heard the Pygmy Elephant Sing

From Manilla we are heading to Java via Borneo. A cheap Air Asia flight gets us from Clarks airfield (the old American military base outside Manilla, now being reincarnated as a terminal for low cost airlines), to Kota Kinabalu the capital of the East Malaysian state of Sabah. To say KK is different from Manilla Read More…

EL NIDO: Sky Blue Sea

El Nido: the name means “The Nest” in Spanish, and comes from the previously-dominant economy of this little town – the collecting of swallow’s nests.  It is actually the swallow saliva that is so highly prized for the main ingredient in that species-destroying delicacy, bird’s nest soup, but “bird spit soup” sounds like a harder Read More…

MANILA: PALAWAN: BLUE COVE

Travelling by air is a disorienting, magical phenomenon, like the experience of a baby: earthbound and drooling along the floor one second, she is suddenly heaved up into wieghtless flight in an unfocused world of rapidly approaching and retreating parental googly eyes the next.  One minute we are in Keith’s Volvo, at night, crossing the Read More…

The Asia Affair

We really, frankly, went a little overboard with the inventory this last trip.  Normally we send an air shipment from Nepal, a large surface shipment from India, and then fill up our baggage allowance (70 kg) with goods we find in Thailand, Bali, and points beyond.  This year, apart from these regular purchases, which have Read More…

Bali: Cremation Slide Show

This is a visual blog.  We have just been in Ubud, in Bali, and while we were there saw the cremation of three members of the royal family.  Below is a brief description of the event, but please, after you have read it, go to the link to our flickr site, open the “Bali Cremation” Read More…

Wonders of India: The Warehouse of Mr. Negi

We come to India to work.  No, seriously, we do.  It’s just that one happy part of our business is going to great places and buying beautiful things.  One of our favorite places is the warehouse of Mr. Negi. Mr.Negi, a native of Siliguri (the jumping-off point in East India for Sikkim- see the last Read More…

Yuksom and Gorkhaland

Sikkim has terrain as difficult to traverse as almost anywhere in the populated world: snowy passes and wild jungle-covered slopes plunging down to fast -flowing rivers.  Imagine it in the 17th C.  Then imagine the scene played out in a remote valley when one influential Buddhist Lama and his small retinue completely by coincidence run Read More…

SIKKIM: Under Kangchendzonga

The border crossing into India is another of those little outposts which you feel represents banishment for the official working there.  Mr. L.A. Wadhia fusses irritably with the “wrong”  answers on our forms (Port of Disembarkation?; flight number?):  he has the inner numbness of someone who has spent far too long taking what he knows Read More…

NEPAL: FOR THE LOVE OF PAVEMENT

The unstoppable force of India collides with the immovable mass of China and Nepal is the balloon squeezed between the two.  The pushing continues:  the Himalaya are still fracturing upward and the government is still simply fractured by the impact of it’s giant neighbours.  The China-supported Maoists won an election in 2008, but intractable issues Read More…

BANGKOK: PLEASE KEEP CLEANING

The sprawling city of Kathmandu outside my window, a crazy quilt of flat-roofed five-story buildings lapping up against the green hills surrounding the valley. But it doesn’t seem any more real than any number of places we have been in the last few weeks. If I stop to think about them, I can re-create every Read More…

BANGKOK: Saturday 10.04.10

On Saturday night an extraordinary and heartbreaking scene unfolded on the doorstep of our Bangkok neighbourhood, resulting in a clash between the army and “Red Shirt” protesters that left 21 people dead and over 800 injured.  We left the area about an hour before the violence occurred, and I strongly encourage you, if you can, Read More…

BANGKOK: The Heat is On

For a video view, check our: Red Shirt Rally Some of you may remember a little over a year ago when huge protests closed Bangkok’s airport for over a week.  Those were the “Yellow Shirts”, and they were unhappy with what they saw as a flawed election.  The result was that the Prime Minister was Read More…

BALI: The Night of the Ogoh-Ogoh

Nyepi is Balinese New Year.  This year their calendar will be changing from 1931 to 1932.  Nyepi is better known, however, as “Do Nothing Day”, an enforced day of rest when all movement outside is banned (the airport is closed), no human sounds should be heard, and no lights shown.  It is taken seriously: in Read More…

BALI: Umbul alert

Before you place your advance orders for Balinese umbul-umbul (temple banners) we will take you far from this equatorial island back to a chilly morning in Kathmandu. It is pre-dawn, and we are flying through town in a taxi, apparently to the Eden petrol pump.  This is the first step in a long sequence of Read More…

FIRST DIBS FROM KATHMANDU: And save 30%

Greetings to all our family and friends!  Thank you for your emails and updates.  It sounds like we missed a pretty good time in Vancouver; we weren’t sure whether the tremor we felt here was the shock wave from Chile or Canada jumping up and down after the men’s gold medal on Sunday. We are Read More…

CENTRAL INDIA: Caves, ruins, and a very big tree

From Aurangabad and the cave temples of Ellora we start to arc north on our big loop through central India.  The next destination is another great cave temple site, Ajanta, older and if possible even more impressive than Ellora.  After that we continue on to an extremely old Buddhist pilgrimage site, Sanchi, via the infamous Read More…

THE JAIPUR COMMUTE

We have fallen into the routine of a daily commute. (Have a look at our Jaipur commute video here: Jaipur Commute )  As far as the frustration of commutes goes, it has its own peculiarities. We are staying in a part of Jaipur called Bani Park (pronounced “Bunny Park”, a name I enjoy saying to taxi Read More…

VARANASI: A DIP IN THE RIVER

The big story in India this January is the ‘Cold Wave’. Everybody knows the daily low temperature, how much it is below average, and the grim statistical death-count it has caused (643 and counting) . The cold moist air that comes down from the Himalayas creates a huge fog bank across the northern plains every Read More…

Video Night in Calcutta

In one week we  have: plugged in a car in Winnipeg, so at  -30 the oil will be able to circulate through the engine block: shared a bottle of award winning Red Rooster gewertz with friends at a small dinner party in the West End; visited with our friend Keith on the upper deck of Read More…

A Zari on the Wall

Our summer season is rolling along.  So far we have had sales in Qualicum, Cobble Hill, Roberts Creek, Powell River and Campbell River.  As we expected, with the economy as it is, things are a little up and a little down.  What has been marvelous is the reception these communities have given us.  Everywhere we Read More…

THAILAND: THE WAY OF KOH TAO

We are on Hin Wong Bay, on the island of Koh Tao, in southern Thailand, and we have decided that this is a good location for the Kebe and Fast Company winter headquarters.  There is no internet, no phone, no mail, barely a road – so, perfect!  If you want to contact us, please come Read More…

HOW GREEN IS MY BALI

After our first night in Bali, it seems cruel we’ve only booked 8 days here. Part of the reason for the short amount of time is past history. Katheryn fled Indonesia during the implosion of 1997, when the odious Suharto regime was in its death-throws, and taking the country down with it. People were rioting Read More…

ENTER THE EARTH OX

                                                    Another arrival in Bangkok, and another new Prime Minister in Thailand.  It’’s getting repetitive. This time the new leader is Abhisit, and the difference is that he is from the side of the yellow shirts with the hand-clappers. These are the people who blockaded the airports in Nov., and his selection should mean Read More…

JAIPUR: THE BAGRU PRINTS

Back in Jaipur we are relieved that the cold wave which is killing people across North India hasn’t settled in here too harshly. The days are clear and sunny, around 20C, and at night it goes down to a bearable 8 or 9. Contrasting this to your reports from Canada – minus 50 with the Read More…

PALITANA:49,000 STEPS TO FREEDOM

The time has come to check out of our comfortable sanctuary in the City of God Hotel, and leave Dui. Early morning at the bus station just outside the city walls is the usual scene: a smoldering garbage fire; a skinny dirty puppy scratches his fleas; a sweeper raises a cloud of dust; the urine Read More…

EIGHT DAYS TO DIU

With our business orders placed in Jaipur, Delhi and Varanasi, we are now in the “Let’s go somewhere until they are completed” part of the trip. Last year we skipped this phase, trusting they would do what they said (and some did), and went straight into the “Let’s go to the best beach in the Read More…

INDIA: SOMETHING ALWAYS HAPPENS

  Heaven, Heaven is a place A place where nothing, Nothing ever happens David Byrne Events never stand still for long in this part of the world.  Entering India from anywhere, even if it’s just walking over the border from Sonauli, Nepal, like we have done, is like getting caught up in a maelstrom.  And Read More…

Nepal: A Little up and a Little Down

  No more Royal Nepal Airlines. They were a joke anyway, with the king often commandeering one of the fleet’s two 737’s for a skiing weekend in Switzerland, or some diplomatic junket, and leaving the scheduled passengers high and dry. Now a republic has been declared, and the king is cooking his dhal in his Read More…

I came to a Kingdom and all I got was this crown

Another trip to Thailand and another government deposed by massive protests.  When we left last spring, P.M. Samak had won the election to end a military care-taker government.  He was deposed over the summer on the pretext of having benefited financially from his popular day-time T.V. cooking show, putting himself in a real jam while Read More…

FROM VANCOUVER ISLAND TO BONAVISTA

We are used to travelling great distances by air in the other direction: across the Pacific to Asia. Now we get on a plane and fly and fly, wait in an airport and fly some more – and we are still in Canada! The occasion is a birthday party in Newfoundland. My father is turning Read More…

Soaked on the road in Laos

The final leg of this year’s epic journey is destined to be Northern Thailand and Laos. We haven’t been to Laos in 2 years and we decide to go in easy stages to our ultimate destination, the 700 year old town of 20,000 people, Luang Prabang. We have an easy, comfortable train ride from Bangkok Read More…

Where the giant Dum Dum trees grow

  This was to be one of the highlights, if not THE highlight of the trip. We told many friends, often ardent travelers themselves, who responded with blank stares when we said “Andaman’s”. Seems this place isn’t really on most people’s map. Perhaps David and I were aware of it because of our interest in Read More…

A Turn in the South

Unlike Delhi, Bombay turns on the charm from the moment we arrive. Well, several moments after we arrive, let’s say, and give us time to get past the taxi-wallahs circling like vultures for easy pickings. But when we find one who will actually use his meter, with the window down and the warm coastal air Read More…

An apology, an update

We apologize to our concerned and faithful readers for not keeping up to date with the blog. There are at least two reasons for this. One is that an unfortunate incident occurred on the train from Delhi to Varanasi back on Jan. 2. We had just boarded and were settling ourselves into our compartment, and Read More…

This week in Delhi

This week in the Delhi: the political arm of the Hindu fundamentalists, the BJP, has just won its third consecutive majority in Gujarat state, and the cadres are feeling frisky. They stage a large rally in the capital, and make sure it will be well attended by busing in loads of villagers from the countryside. Read More…

A Short Walk on the Varanasi Ghats

On the left bank of the Ganges River, the temples, palaces and stone steps (ghats) of Varanasi stretch for some 6 km. We live at Scindia ghat, which is to the east of center. In front of our window is the leaning tower of a temple too heavy for its foundation, now picturesquely subsiding into Read More…

Into India

  This isn’t the Pokhara of the tourist brochures. The central bus stand is a rutted dirt field where old heaps of buses belch and roar. Corrugated shanties surround it so completely that when I came to buy a ticket yesterday, even though I was was standing directly across the street, I could only infer Read More…

Tongba, Raw Yak and a ’97 Langdeoc

I am 27,000 ft above the plains of northern India. They couldn’t be flatter. Big rivers meander across them like fat pythons, leaving tracks of sandbars and abandonned ox-bow curves. I can see villages stretched along the banks, and everywhere the geometry of fields. The only places where there aren’t any signs of human impact Read More…

Your Quick Thai Political Update

The Synopsis: A year and a half ago the government of Taksin Shinawarta was overthrown by a bloodless military coop while he was out of the country.  The military last year appointed a civilian Prime Minister, and promised elections, which didn’t materialize. The Situation:  Up against increasing public disenchantment, elections are now due on December Read More…

Touchdown in Bangladesh

We left the shady streets by Rambutri Wat,Banglaphu, on the mini bus for the airport at 2 pm. We have a flight to Kathmandu thru Dhaka on GMG airlines, which will require an over night stay in Bangladesh. After last year we decided we preferred this over flying to Calcutta and going overland thru Bihar Read More…

Bangkok Revisited

The commemorative procession of royal barges was to start at 3:30 on the Chao Phraya River.  Tickets for the grandstands were being sold for 800B, but we could  view at a nearby park for free. I got a front-row spot by the rail by 3:00, and held it while David sat out of the sun Read More…

Hong Kong 2007

  Hong Kong 10 years on.   After a super hectic but successful  sales season, followed by a month wrapping up all the details like our  taxes and booking next year’s schedule, David and I jetted off to Hong Kong at 3 am Oct.31. Normally we fly east via Seoul, but since Cathay was the best Read More…