History the Hard Way

Much like China, Vietnam is a country of contradiction: a communist state embracing a free market economy, a former enemy eager to be a friend, a land of people who will eagerly and genuinely embrace you but charge you more than twice what they would their neighbor for everything from chewing gum to silk pajamas.…

The City of Purple

We stopped and got some ice cream for the little kids who had basically reached a point of near heat exhaustion due to the fact that they wouldn’t drink the water…. They were chained up and despite pondering for a few minutes, we couldn’t figure out why there were three full grown elephants chained up in the middle of a burned down purple city…. Our dad took various shots of us. But after what seemed like an hour and was probably more like five minutes of sitting around in a dress in the burning heat I was ready to get out…. There had to be at least ten thousand fish fighting for the two pellets the little kids threw in. They continued having fun in this manner until they had run out of feed.

Asher and Her Asian Friends

Asher and KIeran were so destined to have fun that they met a little girl whose mom worked there and started hopping around on the ” ton tons,” bouncy things seen in the picture in my mom’s post…. Asher, Kieran, and their little friend ran from the dinner table to the pool table and playing on top of the pool table…. I had to go up to stop them from doing multiple things including “easy pool,” which is when you are up on top of the pool table and you drop the balls through the hole, take them out, and do it again and again…. So Asher learned how to use her hands to make the girl follow them and do other stuff.Even on the train from Hanoi to Hue Asher made a friend.

Getting Fat in Hanoi

The paths you walk to get through the market are one person wide with shops on either side, the zoning laws appear to be somewhat random with a fish shop next to a grain shop next to a fruit shop…. I explained to them both that if they remember how to put this whole meal together they will score some great points with the ladies when they get older. That was beyond their level of comprehension, but I predict we will look back 5 years from now and one or both of them will use some or all of the skills we picked up to whoo members of the opposite sex…. I had tried to convince them is was a different kind of soy sauce but now they understand that it is made from small fish and not small beans the tenor of our meals has changed.

Give Me a Motorbike Drivin’ Man

In 1978 my family moved from suburban Maryland to New Orleans. Compared to our previously homogeneous environs, the Big Easy was a veritable melting pot, a simmering gumbo of exotic races and ethnicities. One of the largest minority groups I encountered at school was the Vietnamese. As a 10-year-old, I didn’t necessarily understand the significance…

Far Away from Thanksgiving

They are trained enough to make it through KFC or a mellow cafe, but the certainty of a spill, the occasional projectile piece of food, and an inability to sit for more than 20 minutes keep fancy restaurants off our agenda…. Both Koto and Cafe Smile take homeless youth off the street, give them a place to live, and train them in the hospitality industry enabling them to one day get jobs in hotels and restaurants around the city…. We can’t vouch for the efficacy of any money you might choose to donate, but we can assure you we have first hand knowledge of the work they do and attest to the difference they are making in people’s lives. If you have a moment, check them out by clicking on the “Nonprofits” tab above.We hope your Thanksgiving was filled with gratitude and look forward to enjoying our traditional tryptophan-induced stupor next year.

Finding My Inner Patriot

10 years younger than we are (as most of our fellow RTW’ers seem to be), Jon and Lisa sold their house and left jobs and befuddled friends behind. I must admit there are still days when my competitive, type-A side sweats the financial and career sacrifices we are making in order to do this, but Jon summed up the justification for our adventure succinctly: “Unlike many of the people here (in Vietnam), anything I had before, I can have again.” It might take a while and his new home might be smaller than his last, but he feels the experience he’s gaining now is more valuable than an extra bedroom or a year of career advancement.Since Jon and Lisa have been on the road for four months, they’ve met a lot of other travelers along the way…. Tom joked about doing this to say safe in a post before we left the States, but it was more a commentary on our nation’s unpopular foreign policy than an actual survival strategy.