Eager to leave Hanoi, we hopped on a flight to Singapore to visit a friend of Claudia’s from graduate school, Shivani.  She and her parents had kindly agreed to host us in their apartment on the outskirts of the city, lucky us.  Definitely the best deal in town, with breakfast included!  Here is the view from their … More Singapore

Hanoi, Vietnam

From Ninh Binh, Claudia and I boarded the train back to Hanoi.  The seats assigned to us on our tickets were already taken, and it seemed like the standard operating procedure was people sat wherever they wanted.  That is, unless you’re German.  In that case, as some of our fellow passengers demonstrated, the thought of someone not being in … More Hanoi, Vietnam

Tam Coc, Vietnam

One night in Hanoi before leaving for Ninh Binh the following morning.  We came all the way to Vietnam to eat pho and listen to…Mexican ranchera music? Claudia models the flashpacker look: big backpack on the back and smaller daypack on the front.  We bought our train tickets online ahead of time, but when we … More Tam Coc, Vietnam

Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang is a darling town overflowing with culture.  The rituals of everyday life are deeply rooted in Buddhist tradition, wherein the art of living is a spiritual practice itself.  Dana, or generosity, is one of the foundations of the Buddhist path, and in Luang Prabang each morning begins with an act of giving.  At six … More Luang Prabang, Laos

Krabi, Thailand

Greetings from paradise!  I am finally catching up on my blog while doing a little seaside relaxation, but not at this beach.  This is the last post from the first leg of my trip I didn’t get a chance to write before the second leg started.  While I’m currently reporting to you from Ko Samui, … More Krabi, Thailand

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur is one of the strangest cities I have ever been to.  Half the time, I couldn’t figure out where on earth I was.  The Islamic culture combined with conspicuous wealth reminded me of some oil-rich country in the Middle East.  But then around the corner is a Hindu shrine, and you think you’re in India.  We stayed … More Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Hoi An, Vietnam

Not to be confused with Hanoi, Hoi An is about three hours south of Hue by bus.  (No amount of reminding could get Natalia to remember that Hanoi was not on our itinerary.  If you ask her right now, I bet she’ll tell you that Hanoi was great.)  This time, we were on the nice … More Hoi An, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Next, we travelled to the city of Hue in Central Vietnam, just south of what was the DMZ during the war.  It’s a beautiful area.  But let’s back up to the airport in Saigon.  Just getting on the plane was an ordeal.  Since coming to Asia, I’ve gotten somewhat used to cultural differences regarding personal space, but in … More Hue, Vietnam

Saigon, Vietnam

After sailing through the visa process without a hitch, we took a taxi to our guesthouse.  We were hungry and dashed out to the closest noodle shop.  It was a typical street food operation with communal tables and plastic stools lining the alley.  I must say the pho we were served tasted just like what you can … More Saigon, Vietnam