We created a new Flickr set with our best pictures from Vietnam.
See a slideshow by reading the full post. To enlarge the photos, click on the fullscreen button on the lower right. To see them in Flickr, click the photo itself.
What they had in common was youth, a simple look about them, an an apparent will to help without asking for anything in return. They were good-hearted Vietnamese, in our opinion, above any suspicion.
Or would you doubt the intentions of a monk inside a Buddhist temple?
1. The floor beneath your table is a perfectly good rubbish bin.
2. Pigeons are very, very tasty.
3. Beer with ice is tolerable if consumed quickly.
And more lessons from the land of phở and conical hats.
When we first arrived in Asia – through Indonesia in July – our bewilderment was complete. We thoughtlessly gave and received items with our left hand and wondered why locals looked at us funny.
Today we’re as comfortable here as we are at home. Here’s why it’s time to move on.
Hoi An is a mandatory stop in Vietnam’s tourist trail. Secondly, because it’s a historic city, a UNESCO heritage site with lantern-lit cobblestone streets and centenarian homes that survived multiple wars.
But firstly because of fashion. There are an estimated 500 tailor and cobbler shops that make any – I mean ANY – custom-fit clothes. All this is a town of barely 120,000.
Learn from our mistakes and see a photo gallery in this post.
When I crossed from Cambodia to Vietnam, the culture shock was far greater than when I crossed the other way.
There are two ways to explain this. Like many things, the answer is blend of both.
If the lottery is a tax on stupidity, paying twice for a Vietnam visa are the punitive damages.
You’re given the choice of a cheaper single-entry visa or a pricier one that lets you enter and leave the country as much as you want in a time frame. Budget-conscious – and logic-deficient – travelers like myself by reflex opt for the cheaper visa. After all, I only planned to visit Vietnam once.
It was while sitting on a riverside restaurant on the Mekong Delta in the Vietnamese town of Chau Doc, which borders Cambodia. The resto floats on metal drums and bobs gently with the wash from passing boats.
You can see slender ladies with conical hats rowing their canoes across the river to visit a friend in a floating home, who might be washing her hair while crouching on her front porch.
That’s when it happened. “Holy crap,” I thought, “I’m really in Asia! Holy crap, I’m really traveling!”
For one month now I have not used a travel guidebook once. I didn’t used one in Papua New Guinea nor in Java. I have no intention of using one from now on.
Doing away with guidebooks is like leaving the backpacker ghetto of a city and plunging yourself into its alien reality. It’s cutting off any safety lines to comfort and convenience.
It is, I daresay, real travel.