Monday, December 27, 2010

New Lease on Life

Tracy Morgan is getting a new kidney. As someone close to a person on two, soon to be three, transplant lists, I wish him well.

[PSA] More people need to understand the link between diabetes/high blood pressure/ other obesity-related maladies and their long-term add-on ailments, such as kidney impairment and failure. Makes you want to pass on that round of Buffalo wings, eh?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Higher Education?

In the words of my traveling partner MFF, "people have lost their minds."

Monday, December 20, 2010

How do you say "Meh" in Vietnamese?

Not impressed with Hue (besides our fantastic tour guide and another fun motorbike tour). The city itself, especially near where we are staying, does not have much charm. Plus our room has ants. We had to throw away most of our goodies.

The overnight train to Hanoi was much nicer than the last one, the conductor handed out free water and instant noodles. Our only visitor was a mouse or two. It still creeped us out, but it was head and shoulders better than bugs crawling up the walls.

Halong Bay is suitable as a day trip from Hanoi. M hated the seafood lunch, but despite that the rock formations were gorgeous. It was quite amusing to have fruit hawkers sail up to our tour vessel. The caves we visited were fascinating. I could have skipped the overnight stay in the mediocre overheated hotel, where we were told not to get massages, and the crappy indigestion-inducing food.

Almost home...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Shop Til You Drop

I take back what I said about overnight trains. Squashing roaches for half the night is not conducive to a good night's sleep. We've got one more long haul to go, which I hope is cleaner and less sketchy.

Hoi An is fantastic. A small town, much less hectic than HCMC, this is the bespoke tailoring capital of Vietnam. M and I have gone nuts, purchasing a winter coat, a knockoff Vivienne Westwood coat redone as a trench, ankle boots, and an ao yai (traditional Vietnamese dress). On our bike tour around the area, we are 10 minutes from rice paddies and fishing boats, peaceful and serene. The only mark against it is getting a corneal abscess from having debris blown in my eye during the saunter around town. But fear not, there is a fantastic opthalmologist in town who speaks French and English, the visit costing the same as my existing co-pay and generic drugs altogether. It's glasses for here on out tho.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Nha Trang

To get to Nha Trang, we took an overnight train from Ho Chi Minh City, my first ride ever. Overall, not bad! Would definitely consider it in the future. The rocking of the train seemed to help lull me to sleep, although the anti-malaria pills have been stirring up some wild dreams.

Nha Trang is, ok. Our hotel room looks like one of those shady true-crime reenactments. There are signs in Russian everywhere, ooray for the new ugly Americans on the tourist scene. For breakfast we had bo ne, sizzling steak and eggs with tomato, definitely breakfast of champions. The French bread they make here is second to none.

Our beach barbecue was awesome, one of the highlights of my trip. There's something soothing about the ocean crashing in the background, wiggling toes in the shore and feeling the wet sand stick to your soles. With food so fresh and simply yet tastily prepared. We were told the typical day at the beach is, drink copiously, throw your girlfriend in the water (preferably fully clothed), and pass out, grazing on food during the day. The other highlight so far was the motorbike tour the next day. Seeing Vietnam the way locals do, zipping through crowded streets and avoiding hazards, was the first time I have felt really and truly alive in a long time.

Monday, December 13, 2010


After a fun-filled weekend in Hong Kong gossiping about work and bringing the 10-year reunion to Y, it's onto Vietnam. We found a good tour after the recommendation of another sorority sister, which was affordable and unstructured enough to take care of transportation and accommodation and leave flexibility for everything else.

Truth be told, I had no idea what to expect from this country. The war with the US, not to mention the Chinese and the Cambodians, must have devastated the country. My dad's impression after five tours with the Merchant Marine was that of "the @$$h0le of the world" - dirty, smelly, depressing. My glimpse out the window from the plane and noticing a parking lot full of motorbikes should have been my first clue.

My goodness, there are tons of motorbikes in this town - 9.5 million with a population of 8 million people. Crossing this street is riskier than using a meat slicer or working in a mine. Every time I cross the street I curse more than a Tourette's sufferer.

The Cu Chi tunnels were quite interesting. It's amazing how ingenious the Viet Minh and Viet Cong were, constructing miles of underground passageways, including booby traps with recycled or basic materials. The shooting range with Vietnamese and American heavy artillery, felt a bit inappropriate, but otherwise it was a neat site. I barely made it out of the sample tunnel, with my breasts and then hips grazing the opening.

I am a huge fan of pho. So far I have had a huge bowl, with all the various cow parts, as well as several glasses of cà phê sữa đá. There must be crack in the condensed milk.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Going Hongkers

My first trip to Asia! The flight, fifteen and a half hours in economy, turned out to be bearable. Since our headphones didn't work we ended up shifting around and taking turns stretching out in the row. We also got a US$50 credit for inflight duty free.

HKG is, in a word, awesome. There is so much energy, which you'd expect for having the same number of people as New York in a fourth of the landmass, but also great food, a very cosmopolitan feel, and a lot to do. It didn't feel that foreign, if anything I felt as if Chinatown got bigger. It was great to see two friends from work, one from college, and run around town for a bit. Having twice considered taking a role there, I'd definitely accept if offered the opportunity again.