History Lesson

Everywhere you go, there are new bits of history to learn. Most of it is completely new to me, as Mr. Burnett's World History class somewhat glossed over the overthrow of Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia in 1970 by semi-US-supported (US-semi-supported?) troops, for example. But here in Vietnam, history is a little more real. Place names ring a bell (Danang, Dien Bien Phu, etc.) and when the tour guide talks of history, I can place what he says in context.

Yesterday, I visited the Cu Chi tunnel system that doubled as a kind of museum of how Viet cong(?) guerillas lived and fought. (There was a geocache there too!) It was, from a technical standpoint, really interesting how they engineered the tunnels, how to cover smoke from their cooking fires, etc. On the other hand, all the evidence of the bombing, agent orange, etc. made me pretty ashamed to be an American. Then, to top it off, I stopped at the war remnants museum on the way back. Sufficive to say, it didn't make me feel any better.

I will hold off on making any comments on my feelings on America's actions then (and how they possibly correlate to U.S. actions of today) because 1)I imagine the information presented can't help but have a bias (just as the textbooks I learned from had their own [opposite] bias and 2)I don't want the comments for this post to explode. But being surrounded by the history that I have only learned about in books and the Discovery Channel has been quite an experience.

(Oh, and I took some pictures, but forgot my transfer cable at the hotel, so you'll have to use your imagination. Or wait until the slideshow when I return. Or imagine me hunched over in a 3 feet tall tunnel holding my camera out in front of me so as to take a misdirected, out of focus shot.)
Tuesday December 19 2006File under: travel, Vietnam

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UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Throughout my trip, I've had the opportunity to visit some great places. Being able to be there and wonder in amazement at them has been an opportunity I know I won't forget. Part of the reason that they are still around for me and everyone else to wonder at is because of the efforts of UNESCO. Initially, I didn't really make the connection between all the wonderful places I've been and theWolrd Heritage List. On checking it out, I found almost all the cool places I've been listed on it.

The last Heritage Site was the Complex of Hue Monuments in Hue, Vietnam. It was a rainy rainy day so I pretty much had the place to myself. Very chinese in all the decorations. I also got to catch a "traditional" dance/music affair. Here are some pictures I took. (Sorry, I don't feel like writing up a fancy javascript bit for image swapping.)
Sunday December 17 2006File under: travel, Vietnam

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A long search is over

For almost as long as I can remember, gramicci shorts have been my uniform. They are comfortable, durable, and even stylish enough for the likes of a slob like me. But in the past couple years, I've had a hard time finding the right size, color, style combination (not to mention recent inconsistencies in fit).

Enter Hoi An, Vietnam. This place, which was one a major trading hub with the Portugese(?), has clothes shops on every corner with quite persistant sales women. Wearing my ragged gramiccis through the market yesterday, I got talked into having a replacement pair made for me. I was skeptical of the whole endeavor. But lo and behold, I return today and was knocked off my feet. My new pair is so like the old ones, it is uncanny (minus the tears and holes, of course). I commissioned another pair on the spot.

On top of the satisfaction of getting such a great pair of shorts, the transaction felt good because I knew wearing my clothes were coming from. Over at his blog, Saxtor mentions his concerns on globalization, esp. as it affects the clothing industry. While I don't share his point of view entirely, bypassing all the middlemen and corporations that are usually involved did give me a sense of everyone involved getting a fair deal.

Time will tell on the quality and durability of the purchase, but in the mean time, I've made a friend in the seamstress and I've got a great story to tell.
Wednesday December 13 2006File under: travel, Vietnam

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Sledding

Some years ago, Jule and I were in New Zealand and had the opportunity to try out a little thing called sand sledding. Being the stingy young 'un that I was (yes, folks, I say was. You got a problem with that?), I opted to watch instead of joining the masses hucking themselves down the hill looking like they were really enjoying themselves. Ever since, I have kind of regretted not joining the fun.

Well, Vietnam has given me a do-over. The white sand dunes outside of Mui Ne aren't quite the same as those at 90 mile beach in NZ, but they were nonetheless spectacular. And while I ended up with pockets full of sand and completely out of breath from trudging up the dune, the sledding was totally worth it.
Tuesday December 12 2006File under: travel, Vietnam

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Good Morning Vietnam

For you food lovers out there, I've got a doozy. But first, a quick note.

I'd like to apologize about the negative tone of my previous couple posts. They aren't necessarily a reflection on a change of attitude towards traveling, as some have suggested. It is more just that travelling isn't always sunny. I have tried to do my best to keep this blog that way, but I must have let a couple slide. (Actually, just that one, because the Christmas lights one was actually a happy one that was just poorly phrased.)

After a long day of travel yesterday, I woke up this morning on the beach in Mui Ne, Vietnam. (Okay, not technically on the beach, because the sand fleas would have gotten me, but close enough.) To celebrate a new country, currency, and culture, I went out for a big breakfast. I ordered a tomato omelette, fresh orange juice (no ice), and a pineapple pancake. (I was hungry). The omlette turned out to be huge and come with prolly 3 sliced tomatoes and 2 baguettes. Then came the "pancake", which was actually breaded, deep-friend pineapple slices, served with sweetened condensed frosting of some sort. So good, yet so unexpected. Tea was thrown in as a freebie, with the total bill coming to 37,000 dongs (quit that snickering), which is about $2.50. After nearly 3 months of traveling, this is the first real cultural breakfast I've experienced, and I loved it.
Saturday December 9 2006File under: travel, Vietnam

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