Destination: Vietnam

Our Own Apocalypse Now

Our Own Apocalypse Now Photo by Two Roses via Flickr (Creative Commons)

From a football stadium in Seattle to a sweaty nightclub in Saigon, Haley Sweetland Edwards wrestles with the f*cked up magic of war

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Expat Tales: Wanderers, Starving Artists and Dissolutes

Expat Tales: Wanderers, Starving Artists and Dissolutes Photo by shashiBellamkonda via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by shashiBellamkonda via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Novelist Malcolm Pryce rounds up his top 10 expat tales with heavy representation from Asia and the Pacific: novels and journals on Vietnam, Thailand, Tahiti and Sri Lanka make the cut.

Eurocentrics will appreciate Pryce’s inclusion of the Thomas Cook European Railway Timetable, but, for Asia travelers, the money quote can be found in his description of Bangkok: “The city is, in fact, a combine harvester for the ex-pat male heart.” Something tells me that line will come to mind next time I’m walking through Patpong.

Travel Warnings: What’s So ‘Non-Essential’ About Travel?

Travel Warnings: What’s So ‘Non-Essential’ About Travel? REUTERS/Jorge Dan

On the intersection of place, politics and culture

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Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam REUTERS/Kham

A farmer works in a rice paddy field outside Hanoi.

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A Traveler’s 10 Best Musical Discoveries

Contemplating and celebrating the world of travel

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Exiled to America

Exiled to America Photo illustration by Adam Karlin

Adam Karlin tries to reconcile his love for the road and his love for home

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‘A Zen Level of Patience’: Matt Gross on Air Travel

ipod on flight Photo by The Shane H, via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by The Shane H, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

When I fly, I follow a simple rule: I always ask for a window seat as far towards the front of the plane as possible. I love to stare out of the window, and I prefer the front of the plane because it’s a smoother ride (the tail bounces more) and, once the plane arrives, you get to deplane sooner.

But I was curious to find out what rules and feelings about flying another traveler might have, so I called up World Hum contributor Matt Gross, the man who writes the Frugal Traveler stories for the New York Times. We caught up while he was on assignment—on a train, to be precise—in Europe. He estimates that he’s been on about thirty flights in the past year, all of them in economy.

He told me he loved flying.

“How can you not love flying? You get on a plane somewhere. You sit down; you try and relax. I relax relatively easily. You know, four to twenty-four hours later, you’re somewhere else. It’s pretty cool. I like the anticipation of it as well. The trip has not yet been ruined,” he said, laughing. Gross laughs a lot, a good quality for a traveler to have. “Hopefully it hasn’t yet been ruined.”

“You’re about to go somewhere. You have all this time to gather your thoughts and emotions and everything and get ready for the adventure,” he added.

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On Asia: Points East

On Asia: Points East iStockPhoto
Shibuya, Tokyo. iStockphoto.

If this is indeed the “Asian century,” count me as an early adopter. I’ve quit two full-time jobs to explore the world’s most diverse continent, and they were the two best decisions I’ve ever made. To an Asia hand, the lavender fields of Provence might be pleasant, but it’s the chanting of novice monks, the mystical tinkling of the gamelan, a bowl of spicy dan dan noodles that really get the blood pumping. I’m drawn back, again and again, and I don’t know if I’ll ever kick the habit.

My (unlikely) introduction to Asia began in arid, post-Soviet Uzbekistan in the late ‘90s. As soon as my conference in Tashkent wrapped up, I hopped a bus to the Silk Road city of Samarkand, where blue-tiled madrassas dazzled against an azure sky. They were like nothing I’d seen, a window into an ancient time when Tamerlane traipsed across the steppes.

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Eight Best Cities for Street Food

Istanbul iStockphoto

Terry Ward lifts the lid on a few of the world's tastiest places to eat the people's cuisine

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Six Degrees of Vietnam

Julia Ross went to Vietnam seeking relaxation and a place to recover from a breakup. She found a whole lot more.

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Another Tet Offensive

Another Tet Offensive Photo by Joel Carillet

At a cafe in Nha Trang, Vietnam, in the midst of Chinese New Year celebrations, Joel Carillet worked up the courage to ask out his waitress

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In Vietnam, a Moto is ‘a Bionic Limb, a Magic Carpet, a Personal Jet Pack’

Anyone who has traveled in Vietnam has seen the motos—everywhere. Patti McCracken paints a vivid portrait of the country’s moto culture in the Christian Science Monitor.

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Out: Ho Chi Minh Trail. In: Ho Chi Minh Highway.

David Lamb’s terrific story in the Smithsonian chronicles Vietnam’s efforts to turn the former Ho Chi Minh Trail into a 1,980-mile “paved multilane artery” from the Chinese border to the Mekong Delta. “The transformation of trail to highway,” Lamb writes, “struck me as an apt metaphor for Vietnam’s own journey from war to peace, especially since many of the young workers building the new road are the sons and daughters of soldiers who fought, and often died, on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.”

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Tags: Asia, Vietnam

New Travel Book: Bad Karma

Full title: “Bad Karma: Confessions of a Reckless Traveller in Southeast Asia”

Author: Tamara Sheward

Released: Nov. 1, 2007 (U.S.)

Travel genre: Bad Aussies abroad (you know the type)

Territory covered: Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia


Culinary Explorer: Getting to Know a Culture by Creating its Cuisine

It’s been said that the best way to get to know a country is through its food. As a fan of the food writers Diane Kochilas and Corinne Trang, who combine a traveler’s cultural awareness with a chef’s creativity in their cookbooks, I believe cooking authentic cuisine from abroad helps you get closer to a culture. Dorothy Aksamit went one step further on her trip to the river town of Hoi An, Vietnam: She took a cooking class led by a local chef.

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