Oct 252009
Vietnam’s Spunk!

Yes, that IS a giant octopus piled on top of a moving motorcycle in the photo to the left.

“Remember,” said Ahmar, speaking from his ten months living in Hanoi, “Vietnam has spent most of its history fighting invaders– from the Chinese, to the French, to us Americans. It’s not surprising that the people have… spunk.”

I nodded enthusiastically, so happy that this friend of a friend of a friend [...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!]

Oct 252009
Salvaging My Motorcycle-Maimed Computer!

The famous author from whom I bought my dear little Asus eee PC threw me a sharp Facebook message in response to one of my status updates. “What happened to the computer?” he typed. “I leave for Kabul in 30 hours. Give me the lowdown.”

So I did. “At exactly the same moment I was being groped on a moving motorcycle atop a mountain in rural Vietnam,” I replied, “a [...Read More!]

Oct 242009
Halong Bay's Monkeys Attack Beach!

Do you like wildlife? Do you like the sea? Do you like primates hurtling at you as you try to swim in the tranquil ocean? Then head to “Monkey Beach” in Halong Bay, otherwise known as “Monkey Attack Beach”!

The last stop in our day-long boat tour of magical Halong Bay, Vietnam, was this famous beach, cradled on one of the thousand limestone islands.

I threw off my wrap and dove into the [...Read More!]

Oct 242009
Kayaking and Dancing in Caves of Halong Bay

Halong Bay’s two thousand tower islands are twisted with deep and drippy caves!

Some of these caves have watery bottoms that you must paddle through. Others burrow deep into the centers of the ocean-hugged limestone towers, meaning you can twirl right through on foot.

In the morning, our tourboat puttered up to a walk-through cave, and we all clambered out and took goofy photos with the goopy looking rock.. and were promptly [...Read More!]

Oct 242009
The Waterworld People of Halong Bay

“LOOK!” cried our new German buddy, Sebastian, pointing to the horizon, “It’s a boat supermarket!” Sure enough, a few yards away from our small Halong Bay tourboat rowed a woman waist-deep in bottled water, fruit, candy, and soap! Her face was completely wrapped except for the eyes, as so many women in Asian countries do to combat the sun’s darkening effects. She waved furiously at us, rowing closer and [...Read More!]

Oct 242009
Halong Bay is Nuts

Insane, magical, breathtaking, nuts, bonkers, gorgeous– Halong Bay, Vietnam is all these things and then some.

This stunning spot is about three hours from Hanoi, and is one of the top tourist attractions in all of Vietnam. Take a one, two, or three-day boat trip through the sapphire waters between the two thousand limestone tower-islands and feel that magic “OHHH!” as the caws and shrieks of monkeys and birds echo from [...Read More!]

Oct 212009
Vietnam Price Scams, Analyzed

“I can’t believe it!” gasped David. “That little old street corner soup woman just scammed me!” The little old lady cackled and pocketed the 80,000 Dong she had charged for our two bowls of normally 20,000 Dong ($1) noodles and beef. “Now I’ve learned my lesson to ask the price before I eat the food!” David exclaimed. “You can blame my tourist face,” I said sympathetically, having gotten [...Read More!]

Oct 212009
A Rickshaw Through Old Hue!

This photo, left, of three grizzled rickshaw drivers posing jauntily for the camera in Hue, Vietnam, may be my favorite pic of the month!

My friend, David, had heard that Hue is particularly stunning at night by rickshaw, so we piled upon the rickety shaw and were arduously peddled by a wheezing old man for miles upon miles through the old Emperor’s stomping grounds.

This is particularly hilarious given that both David and [...Read More!]

Oct 212009
Ain't No Convenience Store Chains in Vietnam!

Here is a stark difference between Thailand and Vietnam: The Convenience Store Scene. In Thailand, every two hops you take you will smash against a 7-Eleven. Multinational colonization is pulsing strong in Thailand!

On the positive side of this situation, globalization allows any tourist to satisfy her Big Gulp craving from the top to the bottom of Thailand.

Unfortunately, however, this multinational dominance also meant that most of my Thai temple [...Read More!]