Thursday, October 4, 2012

Near Miss

I came home to an inconvenient surprise last night.  About five fire trucks were crammed into our tiny alley and I was barred access to my building.  Apparently, it was on fire.  It seems no one was hurt, and fortunately for myself the fire was in block C (where I used to live) and not in block A(where I live now).  I gave up on waiting and went to have a beer with a friend.  By the time I returned, the power was back on but the internet and cable weren't.  Residents in Block C were less fortunate as they were not allowed to return to the building until everything was sorted.  In the morning, the entrance was still blocked by firefighters although tonight they seem to be gone. However, the power is still out so even if residents are allowed back inside they have to choose between a candlelit evening or another night of hotels and friendly couches. 

Here's a link to an article with pictures.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Day Before a Holiday, Cat Ba Island

Crossing the bridge, plastic chairs lined up with "fresh" beer and pandan leaf wrapped snacks.  Wooden boats docked five thick float on trash that floats on water.  Families in the darkness of their cabins eat on the floor while watching Vietnamese dramas on TV.  Two iron grey navy boats are moored together.  The troops are in their boxers sharing their bath time with each other and the world on the ship's bow.  In one junk, I see a group of sweaty shirtless fishermen sharing dinner and rice wine.  One of them spots me and summons the attention of the others.  They beckon me inside.  If I entered and never came out, no would ever know where to start looking.

The sun sets behind the limestone peaks, the mosquitoes come out for their nightly binge drinking.  The streets are quiet before the holiday.  Quiet except for a lone club, glass doors wide open, flashing lights and loud disco.  A bartender with no one to serve.

Only the deaf and dying will go to sleep early tonight.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Five Months

Five months.  That's how long it's been since I've posted here.  A shameful hiatus, I know.  It would be impossible to write in full depth everything that I have done in that time and every trip I've taken.  Instead, I will give a mere brief on the last five months and in so doing, hopefully I'll be able to return to this blog and write more meaningful, in-depth entries.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Surviving Tiger Falls

Dalat, a home away from home for many French during Vietnam's colonial era.  High elevation, a large lake, mountains, pine forests and cool weather.  The French would holiday here when the tropical weather of the rest of the country became to much to bare.  It was also a popular destination for hunting.  Deer, boar, rhinos, elephants and tigers could all be found in nearby forests.  However, the hunters were all to successful and now there is hardly a squirrel to be seen in the forests and mountains surrounding Dalat.  Still, Daphne and I decided to go there to enjoy the nature and remember what it feels like to not sweat every waking moment.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Commence Operation: TEA

It has been over a month since I've last posted, my apologies for the infrequency of posts.  I still intend to finish up my  rough guide to Yunnan, but perhaps an update about where I am and what I'm doing right now is in order.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Kunming: A Rough Guide

Long overdue for an update, I've decided to present my recent travels in Yunnan in the form of a rough guide that other travelers can emulate or at the very least use for insight in addition to the other guidebooks. 

Kunming is Yunnan's capital and largest city.  If you are a fan of Spring then you may want to move here, as the weather is pretty mild year round.  It is very much the modern city and those travelers missing their McDonald's and Starbucks will be happy to find these corporate giants here along with Walmart.  Many backpackers we spoke to hated Kunming and were in a rush to escape.  Daphne and I, however, found ourselves loving the place.  It was clean, quiet, people drove electric bikes, and food was was very good and cheap. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Yunnan vs. Vietnam: A Comparison

When traveling in a new country for the first time one can't help drawing comparisons between their host country and the one they're coming from.  Crossing the border from my current home in Vietnam into China's southwestern-most province, Yunnan, here are just some of the ways the two differ.