Southeast Asia: A New Journey

Yesterday, I flew off to Vietnam for the start of a 3 week Southeast Asia trip. I’m traveling with my friend Hollie, who is escaping the deep snows back home in Maine. I love doing trips with folks from home, as it keeps the roots alive and gives us all stuff to talk about when I’m back in the states. My buddy Mark has come to Congo, Latvia and Hong Kong. My other best buddy Kevin has been to Hong Kong and Cambodia, and will join me in Sweden this summer. So now Hollie can go back with stories of Vietnam and Cambodia and entice some more folks to come traveling. You guys listening?

Flying into Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) always feels a little weird, with the psyche of the War hanging in my military-brat consciousness. But being in SEA always helps me better understand my Dad’s wartime experiences, as places like Saigon, Bangkok, Cambodia were all just names of far away places that he was sent to when I was a kid. But now, they are totally demystified and are my playgrounds.

imageHCMC is still very undeveloped, with low French-colonial buildings and rice paddys right up to the edge of town. I only had a few hours before my connecting flight to Phu Quoc, so I didn’t get to to explore town at all, but I was there long enough to get 4 million Dong from the ATM and see that a mortal sci-fi enemy has been totally subjugated.

Phu Quoc is a small island island off the border with Cambodia, and is rapidly being developed for mass tourism. We rented a beach bungalow at a new resort, only to discover that we are the only guests! That means the entire staff of about 20 workers have no one else to stare at, and all the waiters and housekeepers are constantly hovering to leap to our service. Sort of creepy.

And although the food is affordable, their menu is quite narrow. Seems like they think their guests will want mediocre American food rather than excellent Vietnamese food. It took forever to convince them that I wanted Pho and Ca Phe Sura rather than Fried eggs and Sanka for breakfast.

Today, we rented scooters and did a drive around the island. Saw some cool stuff, I ran out of gas twice, and we got quite windburned. Tomorrow…an early ferry to the mainland and away from this resort madness!

Photos attached….click on them to enlarge and be sure to read the captions.

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