Nov 072009
Culinary Heaven in Luang Prabang, Laos

The fish was so fluffy and delicious that the four of us were completely silent for the fifteen minutes it took to rip the tender flakes from the bones and devour them.

Ooh, the crispy garlic hugging the fried skin! Ooh, the fact that the little swimmer had been caught that very day on the Mekong river flowing three feet below our fairy-lit table! Oooh, the taste!!

Vijay snapped off the [...Read More!]

Nov 072009
The Most Beautiful City in Southeast Asia

Through the eight hours of mountainous twists and turns between Vang Vieng, Laos, and Luang Prabang, we asked ourselves: “Would ‘The Most Beautiful City in Southeast Asia’ live up to the hype?”

And there has been a LOT of hype about Luang Prabang. The most poignant, perhaps, was a friend on one of those whirlwind All-of-Southeast-Asia-in-30-days package trips who had a mere twenty-four hours to see the city. “I just [...Read More!]

Nov 022009
Happy Eyes, Sad Tummy, Reflective Heart

Throwing up twenty-one times in twenty-four hours stinks. Being able to drag oneself two flights up to the hotel roof, however, and look out at the sawtooth mountains and glistening river of Vang Vieng, Laos… well, that eases the pain somewhat.

I think it was the squid soup that did me in, but who knows. A traveler is bound to get sick in some way at some point, and we [...Read More!]

Oct 312009
Eating Like a Beast Through Vientiane, Laos

(Disclaimer: To demonstrate the heavenly Vientiane food scene in this article, I am forced to reveal my gluttonous, anti-social, cheapskate side. I promise, I do at times actually interact with the non-edible facets of life, but yesterday was not such a day.)

“Where else but Vientiane could you enjoy steak au poivre for less than US$5?” asks my Lonely Planet guide, barely holding back its drool.

Laos is an epicure’s dream. [...Read More!]

Oct 312009
Another Reason Travel in Southeast Asia is Easy!

A major goal of this blog is to demonstrate how international travel is far easier and cheaper that most folks think.

It is all too easy to get worked into a froth, worrying about all the scary snags possible in future travel dreams. These worries can make you put off your voyage for months, even years.

Here’s the secret: When you finally set off on your journey and are in the thick [...Read More!]

Oct 302009
30 Hours on a Bus With No Bathroom

Riddle me this: Let’s say you are a budget traveler. Which is the best option to get from Hanoi, Vietnam, to Vientiane, Laos… while still maintaining your sanity?

a) $150 for a one hour flightb) $40 for a 24 hour sleeper busc) $14 for a “20 hour” sitting bus ride which is widely reported to actually take 36 hours.

Ponder… weigh those options…

..And then shake your head in dismay when you hear [...Read More!]

Oct 302009
YUM: Eat Vietnamese Bun Bo Nam Bo!

In Thailand, you can wake up in your hotel room at one pm (two hours after checkout), stagger to the reception clerk and say, “I think I’ll stay another night, cool?” The clerk will usually smile and nod, graciously murmuring something like, “I guessed you would.”

Being a George Bush style genius, I decided to try this tactic in Hanoi, Vietnam. The result? As I swaggered out the hotel [...Read More!]

Oct 262009
John McCain’s Hanoi Prison, Today!

Across from the glass case holding the uniform John McCain was wearing when he was shot down (pictured, right), Hoa Lo Prison in Hanoi has a sign that reads as follows:

“United States government carried out a sabotage warfare by air force and naval force against the North of Vietnam from 05 August 1964 to 15 January 1973. Thousands of planes were shot down, and hundreds of U.S. pilots were [...Read More!]

Oct 262009
Travelers: Visas are Important!

The accompanying (rather unrelated) photos for this article are street scenes from Hanoi, Vietnam (particularly motorcycle sights, which never cease to amaze me) and views of Hanoi’s Temple of Literature.

Shaun’s head was hung low over his coconut juice when I met up with him at the restaurant. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “Did your lady friend fly in yet?”

Shaun shook his head in woe. “She woke up this morning [...Read More!]

Oct 252009
Loving Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem Lake

Here’s a deeply foolish idea: Check yourself into a hip, uber-popular Backpacker’s hostel when you are exhausted beyond belief and really just need to sleep.

Screw being social with nubile young Australians, and screw paying just $7 a night, because you will not sleep a wink in a dorm room with twelve Germans who don’t shut up and two Brits with a nasty cough.

Splurge those extra few bucks and get your [...Read More!]