Monday, March 3, 2008

The Old Dusty Trail...

Our trip has ended. As you may or may not have noticed, we never made it to Laos, Cambodia or Thailand; Vietnam kept us plenty busy. Those other countries will be part 3 of our Fifty Fifty Takes Over Asia Trilogy, or as I like to call it, 50/50: 3 Fast, 3 Furious. OR 50/50: Continental Drift.

P.S. Check out Part 1 from Japan!

During our 3 weeks traveling, we took 2,000 photos, ate ridiculous, stellar food, and got diarrhea, amazingly, nonce (new word. it means "sort of" but also "never!") Below are some more fun times.

Our room at the Kowloon Hotel in Hong Kong.
Front Desk: "Would you like 2 small beds or one big one?"
Us: "How about both?"

An unsuccessful East-Meets-West breakfast in HK. Listed in the menu only as "Breakfast."

As seen in every train station in China: A boiling water spout and a rubbish can overflowing with instant noodle containers.

Our first meal in Vietnam: Hanoi's famous Bun Cha. Cold noodles, pork soup, a mountain of leafy, some crunchy white things, crab spring rolls, and on the right, an entire cereal bowl of garlic and orange peppers. The magic of Vietnamese cuisine, we found, is in the texture. And flavor. Doye.

In Hanoi with our hostel's night manager, Flower. She took us to where she likes to eat dinner which was a garage literally next door where a dude made pork dumplings. I could not identify any pork. Look how suspicious I am. My verdict: "Still tight."

Flower also took us to her favorite Pho joint. Look at those colors! Despite being made mostly out of cow heart, I think it's the most beautiful soup in the world. I kissed it with my belly. Thanks, Flower.

And thank you Mom, for the money belts. By our last day, Chris got really good at lifting his shirt, reaching into his crotch, unzipping the pouch and producing dong. I got really good at hiding mine in my backpack.

We flew over a massive glacier on the way home. Both ways, actually. Or maybe it was Antarctica. Or Krypton. Or New York.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Blind Massage aka The Painful Lesson

For no real reason, I associate blindness with mystical power. Backflips, telepathy and such. Maybe it's because every martial arts movie made between 1971 and Infinity features a sightless old guy that can regulate on everyone. Actually, that's exactly why. There.

ANYWAY, when Chris and I came upon a school-for-the-blind-slash-massage-spa in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, I imagined the perfect massage: precise, powerful and just a little bit magic. Plus, if your masseuse is blind, how shady can the massage be? "Two, please."

What did 3 dollars buy us? An hour of painful, horribly off-the-mark back torture. I kept thinking, "it's supposed to be like this right?" He pounded my spine. He slapped my head. Was that a noogie? I think he punched my kidney!! Wait a minute. Did we just get conned?

"No," said Chris. "We just let blind guys give us massages."

Monday, February 25, 2008

I Drank Snake Today

My only admission: "I fell."

Chris calls this an "automocycle." China has the one-child-per-family rule, Vietnam has the two-wheels-per-duder rule. You can push it to three wheels but you'll need an extra guy and like 400 more pounds of shit to haul.

At least once a day one of us says, "Now what?" And the answer is almost always white coffee (black-as-hell coffee with condensed milk) and Chris drawing the shit out of some shit.

Outside Binh Tay Market, where the world's souvenirs are amassed and distributed. Millions of hats, nested pots, flip flops. You can find a knock-off of yourself here. We got shopper's fatigue just by looking at the piles of stuff. Video on the way.

Oh, you want to see my passport? Here it is. Don't Bullshit Me.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Two Wheels and a Can-Do Attitude

They flout the laws of physics. They stack on, pack in, and pile up. They never say die; only "more straps."

This animal, by the way, was still alive and trying like hell to kick its way off.

Friday, February 22, 2008


My last post was less about my opinion of Vietnam than it was about my disgust with consumer culture infecting every last inch of the world. My point was that tourism (people like us) are the reasons that my perception of modern Vietnam is more about westerners than about the Vietnamese or Vietnam itself. And I didn't quite expect that.

I think what is interesting is there are some enterprising young people in Ho Chi Minh City who have developed an 'in the know' proposition. Today we're hooking up with some locals from a new company called Connections Vietnam, who I read about months ago. They provide a friend for the day and accompany you around town, filling you in on the real deal, being your local knowledge. I think it's quite an interesting idea. You don't go see sights, you don't go on tours. You hang out, go to their homes, you cook with them, they tell you stories, you learn about what being a 20 something or 30 something in today's Ho Chi Minh City is like.

Not sure what to expect but I asked if we could learn how to make Bun cha.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Modern Vietnam

I'm gonna keep it real.

Vietnam is not about pretty beaches and lush rainforest, picturesque villages with artisans and craftspeople, developing cities with bustling neighborhoods full of individual personality and charm. It's about toil and grime and staying off the streets by hawking worthless knock-off shit to westerners.

It's about catering to all the fat, white tourists stumbling off their tour busses as they chug from town to town. It's about "Good Morning, Vietnam" t-shirts and authentic vietnamese lacquer "art" galleries and those rice paddy bamboo hats. It's a caricature of the worst kind because the Vietnamese in these villages don't care about their national image, they're trying to make a buck. And the tourists are promoting this fucked up cycle of what Vietnam "is".

We've quietly mentioned these observations to each other and have tried not to let it affect our overall perception of the place but it is creeping in. It's depressing really. We've tried to make light of the fun/scary things that have happened, like the bus incident (which really was both fun and scary simultaneously) or to focus on the food, which is the real reason we came. But it's hard when you're constantly face to face with misguided cultural supply and demand every second of the day.

Vietnam, we hardly knew ye.