Oct 052009
$10 Touristic Day Package Joy

I am fundamentally a lazy bum. Therefore, I usually kick and scream when friends try to get me to mobilize for touristic productivity. But you know what? I always thank them for it in the end. Check out what $10 and seven hours buys you in fantastic Mui Ne, Vietnam…

1. Meet your jeep driver at any of the one hundred tourist kiosks where you booked your trip. [...Read More!]

Oct 052009
The $30 a Day Budget Secret

A major goal of this blog is to show folks who think they don’t have the luxury to travel that it’s actually easier and cheaper than you think. The key is to get yourself to a “Developing Country”, aka, a country less rich than yours. Basically, if you save up for the $300 flight to Latin America, or reeaaaally save up for the $700+ ticket to Southeast Asia, you [...Read More!]

Oct 042009
A New Appreciation of Japan

I’ll admit it: when I was in Japan for those ten days in August, I didn’t get it. Everything was so quiet… so mercilessly efficient and effective… so… helpful! The fact that the trains were on time to the MILLISECOND made my free-spirited soul panic.

And yet, I am now starting to get it.

Sitting in Saigon’s hottest new cafe, the Japanese-run “Ministry of Food” (“MOF”), I gazed at my green tea [...Read More!]

Oct 042009
How do you Choose Where to Stay?

Five hours out of Ho Chi Minh City, our bus trundled into Mui Ne: a beautiful coastal town in South-Central Vietnam. What followed nicely illustrates my current hotel selection process whilst solo, budget backpacking in new and far-off places. Perhaps this strategy may work for you in the future!

1. Pre-research the location through a guidebook, but acknowledge the guidebook’s out-of-date-ness.

Ahh Lonely Planet Guidebook– it’s been good for basic background [...Read More!]

Oct 032009
The Vietnam War Remnants Museum

The Vietnam war slashed its knife through America. My parents marched in anti-war protests, sprinting from billy-club smashing police, and aching with frustration at the movement’s powerlessness to stop the conflict. My father became a teacher to avoid being thrown into the bloody battle overseas; others were tragically drafted and deployed. Even today, new Vietnam War films, books, and stories emerge each month. The Vietnam war is [...Read More!]

Oct 032009
Banh Xeo: The Heavenly Chicken Pancake

This next post is dedicated to the witty, wise, and w-ridiculous Ray Newton (pictured, right, in the classy purple shirt). Ray was a student in my English class for four straight years (the lucky duck!) from ninth grade to twelfth. I watched Ray grow from a sunglasses-wearing pup who stared in awe at the Aquarium fishtanks during our field trip until we forcibly pulled him out, to a sunglasses-wearing [...Read More!]

Oct 022009
The "Pho 24" Quest of Ho Chi Minh City

My friend Kolajo’s mission directive was clear:

Locate and ingest the Pho at the famous Vietnamese chain, Pho 24, thus confirming or refuting that it deserves its title as Best Place to Eat Pho in the World (according to the recently published Guardian article).

I set out at noon, zinging with the thrill of Ho Chi Minh’s energy, refusing cyclo ride hawkers every three steps, and being absolutely, positively terrified of the traffic [...Read More!]

Oct 022009
Trust and Traveling: Enter Vietnam

“One dollar only to Pham ngo Lao,” the taxi driver said, holding open the taxi door. The blazing lights of Ho Chi Minh City ricocheted off the insane 9pm traffic next to the bus station, and I felt dizzy. “Perfect,” I moaned, staggering into the seat and pulling my backpack behind me.

“I am so glad to be off that bus!” I cried, leaning against the taxi’s soft interior. [...Read More!]

Sep 302009
Thoughts on Leaving Cambodia

I leave Cambodia feeling sad. I don’t feel sad to leave, but rather I am infused with a profound sadness from what I saw over the past ten days. I have much the same feeling as I did after living in Guatemala: the scars of recent history’s horrors are still bleeding through this country. And how could they not be?

Here are eight elements that will likely strike a [...Read More!]

Sep 302009
The Toxic Lake of Phnom Penh

There is a toxic lake at the heart of Phnom Penh. If you swim in it, your flesh may sizzle, or perhaps the effects will cancerously explode in a few years. Regardless, though naked children slide through the brownest rivers of the Cambodian side roads, there is not a soul amid the silvery waves of Boeung Kak Lake.

Naturally, this is where I spent my first night in Phnom Penh.

[...Read More!]