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.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Photos...Blogs Later

Back in Saigon!  It will take some time before I can post a blog about my trip in Yunnan, China.  However, check out my Flickr where I've posted tons of new pictures from my trip.  I should have a few more up later this week, too. 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Got My Visa

-First visit to the Chinese Consulate, closed.  Guard points at the hours of operation: 8:30-11:30, 2:00-5:00.  Noted.

-Second visit, 4:00, closed!  A closer look at the sign shows that only the general offices are open at that time, the visa office is only open 8:30-11:00.  Sigh.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sergey Kahn, Tea Infusionist

The idea to do something with tea in Saigon has been festering in my head for the past two years.  Of course I have dreams of opening my own tea house, but needless to say, at 25 years old, I've yet to have that kind of financial flexibility.  I decided to start small and last Friday I led my first Tea Workshop at Soham Yoga Studio and Boutique.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Food and Film

Long time no post!
My apologies. I have been very busy the past couple months.  Between my internship and teaching, I only have one day off a week.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Rock The Cat Ba

Deciding to take advantage of the long holiday weekend (Reunification/Labor Days) Daphne headed for a village in Northern Thailand to do a Thai Yoga Massage training.  Since it wasn't really the kind of holiday I could join, I made my first solo trip in nearly two years to the same place where I did my last solo trip.  Rock climbing in Ha Long Bay.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Top 7 Most Annoying Drivers in Saigon

When I first came to Saigon and was faced with the traffic, I couldn't see any sense in the chaos on the roads (and often times on the sidewalk).  But as many of my friends here can attest, there is a logic to driving in the city and the sooner you get a bike and get into it, the easier and less scary it will be.  Having said that, there are however certain drivers whose habits can be quite irksome if not also dangerous.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Designer Life

Last week I began a new journey without leaving the city.  I started an internship at an architectural firm.  Pentago, a Malaysian based company, specializes in hotels, villas, and other luxury tourism designs throughout Asia.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Fowl, Dust and Quiet

I was woken up by a text coming in on my phone.
LEE: "Running a bit late.  Be there in five."
A quick check at the time and I realized that I was the one who would be late.  Today, a small group of us were driving away from the flat urban expanses of Saigon to the nearest outdoor rock climbing location.  Buu Long.

I rushed to get ready, packing my climbing shoes, camera, bandages, and tissues.  All of which would come in handy. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

On Police Chases

"What if you don't pull over and just drive away?"

The question came up while we were discussing traffic laws and handling cops in Saigon.  We were in Ellen's apartment after a session of acro-yoga on her rooftop by the pool.  Ellen, a teacher from Wisconsin, was doing much better for herself working at an international school in Saigon than her contemporaries were back in her home state where they have to fight just to keep the meager salary that they were making.  The pay and benefits for "real" teachers(not ESL teachers, like myself) are cushy.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

From Blogger to Writer?

This month I've deceived two separate editors into thinking that I can write[I'm working on a third].  My blog entry, Fighting Motion Sickness on the Pai Trail, is in this month's issue of S.E.A. Backpacker Magazine.  You can find it if you're in South East Asia, although so far I've only seen it Thailand.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Once Bitten, Twice Bitten...

Ride Cafe's house cat indicated with its forehead against my knuckles that it was petting time. I was wary of this crooked-tailed puss for it was a reputed biter. But wanting something to pet I cautiously gave in and moved my hand from head to neck once, twice then neck to tail a few times before moving to some kitty pressure points, which I massaged in circular motions. A tried and true recipe for a purr.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Pai in the Sky

It was Tet holiday again[Chinese New Year] and Daphne and I were joined on our trip this time by our Welsh friend, Rob, who we've known since the beginning of our stay in Saigon when we took our CELTA together. This time, we had plane tickets bought and ready and flew over to Thailand, Destination: Pai.

Fighting Motion Sickness on the Pai Trail

According to T-shirts sold on Pai's two block long Walking Street, there are 762 curves between Chiang Mai and Pai and only a few options on how to get there. Airplane was out of the question. Fifty dollars for a thirty minute flight? I think not. The funnest option would have been to rent a motorbike and drive the three hour route but I was traveling in a company of three and not all of us were two wheel competent. So that leaves us with bus or minivan. Minivan is the less nausea inducing option of the two and at only 150 Bhat[5USD] very reasonable.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Short Acting Career

A lot of posts from me this month, a good way to start the year I think.

Daphne and I went to a themed potluck on Saturday called Latitudinal Cuisine. It originated in the UK and has spread to our humble Siagon. The basis is that you choose a Latitude or Longitude and everyone brings a dish from one of the countries that lies on the line. This week we did Longitude 15E. Presentations are made, stories are told and then very delicious food is eaten.

Monday, January 17, 2011


So maybe twenty-four is a little late to get my first photograph published for money, but Murakami was 29 when he wrote his first book, Kurt Vonnegut, 30, so perhaps I'm actually ahead of the game.

You can see this picture:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Not Another Coffee Hole

You don’t need to read a magazine or guidebook to know that Vietnam has a ripe coffee culture. However, if you did you’d probably be reading about its French colonial influence and how it is now the number 2 coffee producing country in the world, second only to Brazil. In the early morning, old men in checkered boxers and white tanks sit cross-legged reading the daily paper at their favourite hole-in-the-wall. As the day goes on, the holes fill up with their usuals who’ve come to get their coffee fix like bees to a flower, or gift card wielding teenagers to a mall.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Do’s and Don’ts of Renting in Saigon

When renting a house or an apartment laws and expectations vary greatly between countries and, often enough, between cities. Knowing your rights and what to expect can keep you from embarrassment or regret. Nobody wants to sign a one-year lease and find out a month later that they’ve settled for less than they should. That’s why we’re going to cover some basics of the hunt that you’ll need to make your new home in Saigon a happy one from day one.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011