More of my photos from Vietnam


Vietnam Archives

June 15, 2006

my new love

(author's note: due to the sheer amount of writing i did in myanmar, i'm still in the process of blogifying and reducing the size of the entries i wrote down on paper from my time there. they'll be backfilled into goneliving.com as i get them all typed in! but in the meantime, i'll also be keeping the recent entries for my blog up-to-date as well.)

i flew in today to vietnam with a cold and feeling a little burned out after 3.5 months on the road, and wasn't sure at all what to expect. after arriving at an amazing (and cheap!) guesthouse, i was feeling a little better. then i went for a walk, and i had a vietnamese coffee and felt good. after browsing the street food stalls and having a bowl of pho tai, and then stumbling across (could it be?) a delicious pieces of what tasted like breaded, fried pork schnitzel on a stick. so very very tasty, and now i'm feeling satisfied and utterly content.

thailand, i'll always love so many things about you (and your cuisine of course), so don't be jealous. but even though i've only known her for less than a day, i'm now deeply in love with vietnam as well.

June 17, 2006

a not-so-light touch

standing on a streetcorner in hanoi, talking with another backpacker from my hostel that i'm touring around the city with, i back up and feel a slight brush against my hip.

when i turn around, i see nothing behind me that i could have brushed against, and a few feet away a 12-year-old kid (whom i'd noticed hanging purposelessly around us for the last few minutes) striding purposefully into a nearby internet cafe.

it took a minute for me to realize that i'd almost been pickpocketed, and by then the kid was nowhere to be seen. i suppose finding a pocket full of tissues for my allergies instead of a nice fat wallet full of cash was enough to send him packing... either that, or he needed a little more practice.

hanoi living

i arrived in vietnam with the same lack of planning that now prefixes my arrival in most countries. i show up with a rudimentary understanding of a few key words, knowledge of where to find the first place i should change money, and how to arrive at my chosen hostel.

the rest of my planning? it's done on the fly, talking with other travellers and piecing together an itinerary based on recommendations, combined with the info in my guidebook that i've finally gotten around to reading.

as a result, i've been drifting around hanoi seeing the interesting and unusual. besides getting a great haircut for 2-3 USD from a masked barber, i started to slowly get a handle on vietnamese history as well.

on a whim after talking with some other travellers, i bought a ticket for a 3-day tour around Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island, which should ensure ample supplies of both stunning limestone cliffs and crowds of monkeys. time to get up early tomorrow morning for the bus to halong bay and dust off my kayaking skills!

June 19, 2006

a sail in ha long bay

i'm sitting on the beach writing for a bit before our bbq seafood lunch, served on a little table on the beach with elaborate tablecloths and an umbrella to shield us from the sun. there are only 2 other tourists on this beach somewhere in the islands of ha long bay. considering that this entire 3-day mini-tour is costing me US$70 for transportation, all meals, accommodation in some great places, and everything else, it's one amazing deal.

we've been out kayaking with in coves filled with the most disturbing-looking jellyfish that i've ever seen, climbed through caverns, fended off amazingly aggressive vendors of oreos and ritz crackers, watched our boat wedge its way into impossible docking spots, seen classic sailing junks, sailed through floating villages guarded by floating huskies, and generally been exploring.

and the sunsets? fantastic.

June 21, 2006


after enjoying all the food on my 3-day tour of ha long bay, it seems that i caught a touch of food poisoning from one of the meals. i'll note that this occured in a restaurant, and not in any of the wonderful street food stalls that i've been eating at in hanoi.

so i've been down for 24 hours recuperating and bothering my friends and family with the magic of internet telephony. ("oh, is THAT what time it is over there?")

i'm now mostly recuperated, so i'm making up for lost time with a budget 1-way flight to da nang tomorrow afternoon, and from there i'll be exploring hoi an and nha trang beach.

June 22, 2006

morning at a vietnamese cafe

I'm sitting at Moca Ca Phe in hanoi. humid air (somewhat dispersed by the antique fans overhead) is coming through the large open street-facing windows, along with the roaring of the morning motorbikes. sitting on the marble cafe table in front of me is a vietnamese "white coffee" which means a cup of strong coffee poured over a dollop of condensed milk which sits beneath the coffee until you stir the two together. along with this is a plate with delicious banana pancakes.

sitting in the corner is a rack of cheap english-language books of dubious provenance, an ancient coffee grinder which looks like it can also be used for basic automobile maintenance, and a message board with postings in 3 different languages. one english language post lists a land cruiser for sale: contact the embassy of denmark to arrange to see it. a french posting appears to be for a independent film about hanoi in 1906, and directs people to see it (as far as i can tell) at the famous metropole.

i scuff my feet on the tiled floor, which apears to (and probably does) date from the colonial era, as i watch a man wheel what appears to be a large talking scale through the street.

i am suffused with contentment and a quiet joy at being here in the moment -- i feel at home for a few minutes.

June 28, 2006

millionaire eel cave diver

it's been 6 days since i last updated this weblog, but already a slew of experiences happened that i need to post before they fade away.

i've taken an 11-hour overnight bus ride on a "air conditioned" bus where the driver switched off the A/C shortly after departure and never turned it on again. (note to self: never take another bus operated by "TM Brothers".) i've met up with a group of great travellers from Canada, Holland, and Israel, and have spent the last few days hanging out with them. we went on Hahn's Green Hat Boat Tour (a holdover from the old "Mama Hahn" days), and can report that it is now so family-friendly that the entire boat (besides us) were families from Southeast Asia, leaving us the odd people out. (if you want a more rowdy time, i recommend "Mama Linh", whose boat appeared to be having a great time.) but they do have some excellent karaoke (my song? "Hotel California") and a floating bar featuring the finest wine from Dalat.

i've been harassed by two vietnamese ladyboy prostitutes on a motorcycle who were simulatenously offering a motorcycle ride, trying to recruit me for "massage", and trying to pick my pockets. (yet again, no victory for the pickpockets, and they buzzed away to find some other tourist to hassle...) i've been scuba diving twice and seen giant moray eels, dived inside a cave full of fish and watched my air bubbles form quicksilver puddles on the cave ceiling, and seen a somewhat reluctant octopus along with several types of fish i hadn't seen before.

and of course, every bar that i've been at has been showing the world cup, which i am completely failing to follow along with.

in other news, today is ATM day, since i ran out of cash after paying for two dives this morning with the good people at rainbow divers. after a quick ATM withdrawal, i am now a millionaire. the contents of my wallet (until i buy my plane ticket to hong kong tomorrow) are worth 2,000,000 vietnamese dong millionaire to be exact, or about $125 USD.

tonight it's a farewell dinner and drinks with my new friends, and then tomorrow morning i'm taking an early bus to saigon (operated by Sinh Cafe this time, whose driver will hopefully leave the air conditioner on for the whole trip), and then meeting up with my good friend tim's father, who has promised that we will "put the chaw bag on" in saigon tomorrow night. good stuff.

About Vietnam

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to gone living in the Vietnam category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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