UNESCO’s legacy and Ha Long Bay

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Our final night in Vietnam we spent on a private, poshly-fitted boat in the vast Ha Long Bay, one of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites we have visited on this trip. Here, amidst more than 2000 rocky, granite outcroppings, …

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Slowing down in the Vietnam countryside

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We have often found that decelerating on a trip proves the best way to know a country, and not just its sites. When we planned our SE Asia trip, we built in slowdown time…river trips, beach time and so on. …

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A birthday celebration, Vietnamese style

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You first havc to know that Vietnamese don’t traditionally celebrate birthdays. According to their Buddhist tradition, being born means you have not yet achieved nirvana and escaped worldly pain and suffering. By contrast, a death is a celebratory moment and …

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Chúc Mung Giáng Sinh!

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In other words, Merry Christmas from Vietnam! And from the North and South Poles combined… We’ll be off the grid for a few days, including Christmas Eve in a tribal village and Christmas Day in a national park. We’ll post …

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Hanoi: on to the future, while honoring the past

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In Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon), you see and hear a lot about the new capitalism and the future. In Hanoi, the seat of the communist government, you see and hear a lot about Ho Chi Minh, kingdoms and the past. In …

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Vietnamese dreams

When you spend days and days with a person, even if they are your hired guide, you eventually start to get very personal. When we talk about our own lives and ambitions, our companions often open up about the real …

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The death of kings, the end of empires, in Hue

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There are no more kings of Vietnam, but the old royal city of Hue sits midway between Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon in the south and Hanoi in the north. More aptly it was located far enough from the original royal …

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Ties that bind: the traders of Hoi An

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You expect to step back in time when you visit the ancient port city of Hoi An in central Vietnam, and with the right perspective that’s what happens to you. Here, for thousands of years, traders from the inland of …

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New Do, Part 2: Saigon stylin’

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After six weeks of travel, it was time to get a hair trim and color refresher. We had passed many hair shops within a ten minute walk of our hotel and they all looked pretty much alike. Each was tiny …

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Nine Dragons: on the Mekong river (the last stage, part 4)

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Like all great rivers of the world, the Mekong disappears into the sea in a large region SW of Saigon. The Vietnamese call it the Nine Dragons, because it actually breaks up into nine major waterways as well as myriad …

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