Thursday, December 16, 2004

good morning from vietnam

hello all -

i'm in the town of hue, about halfway down the coast of vietnam. got in here this morning after a long overnite train from hanoi. got woken up this morning at around 6 to blaring vietnamese musak. it was played on some sort of xylophone instrument, and one of the songs was a version of 'black magic woman' by santana. bad song as it is, worse as the vietnamese version. although the next song was even worse... a high pitched vietnamese lady shrieking untranslatable words that sounded like a hyena making love to a goose. anyway, hue is a neat little town along the perfume river that has been bombed pretty hard by the french in the 40's and the uncle sam back in the 60's. amazing palaces and gardens that are only half the size of what they used to be.

started out this trip last week with a 13hr flight from sfo to seoul korea.

one hour layover, and then a 5.5hr flight to singapore.

9hour layover, and then a 3.5hr flight to hanoi.

by the time i got there i was jello.

stepping out into hanoi streets is like stepping into a video game. crossing the street is like 'frogger'. everyone is on these 100cc motorcycles, and there's nonstop beeping from every direction. apparently the way to cross the street is to just walk into traffic at a steady pace, and trust that they will avoid you. it's actually quite a religious experience. when walking, make sure to look both ways, because apparently driving up a one way street is ok too. took a ride on one of the cyclos, and that experience is like the video game 'asteroids'. everything's coming at you at all directions. bicycles, motos, taxis, pedestrians, old ladies carrying food stuff. it's scary, after a couple of days, it all makes sense. it actually seemed like a lot of fun, and i might rent one in a more rural area.

so far i've taken a few day trips to perfume pagoda and tam coc (both tourist traps, but pretty nonetheless). also spent a couple of days in halong bay aboard a restored chinese junk ship - visited a couple of caves, and then they let us jump off the top deck into the bay to go swimming. incredibly calm waters, with over 3000 sheer rock islands all around. really neat.

anyway, i'm getting hungry. the food is really good here, and really cheap, although, after 7 days of nothing but vietnamese food, i'm starting to crave anything else.

till the next installment ---- rj


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