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When Hanoi annoys, head to Ha Long (and beyond)

If you’ve been to or planned a trip to Vietnam, chances are you’ve heard of Ha Long Bay, a group of some 1,600 picturesque islands and limestone pillars in the Gulf of Tonkin. But you may not have heard of Bai Tu Long Bay. This protected World Heritage site occupies three-fourths of the bay area…

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Hanoi: A not-so-friendly bunch of commies.

Our impression of Hanoi started at poor and rapidly deteriorated from there. The problem was that the residents of Vietnam’s capital city possessed an uncanny ability to make us feel like walking ATM’s – complete with flashing, neon targets on our backs. The city loomed gray, wet and hazy from pollution as our taxi from…

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Hoi An: The grand dame of Viet-nam

Vietnam, for reasons I’ll explain in my next blog post, was my least-favorite country of the 16 Him and I visited on our World Trip. Hoi An, despite the ridiculous lack of leg room provided on the JetStar flight we took to get there, was an exception. The former port trading town is located in…

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Ho Chi Minh City: A friendly bunch of commies

When we landed in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (formerly Saigon), I was expecting to be immediately surrounded by communist propaganda portraying the evils of western capitalism and the virtues of dear Uncle Ho and socialism. Instead, the taxi ride into the city revealed a thriving, modern city complete with bustling markets, neon lights loudly…

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Exceeding maximum wat-age

The name “Angkor,” tends to conjure up images of Angkor Wat, that massive, 200-hectacre Khmer temple and its lotus-like towers. But Angkor Wat is just one of the scores of temples within the ancient city of Angkor. Angkor Archaeological Park passes are issued in one ($20), two ($40) or three-day ($60) increments to allow time…

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As gold elephants gather dust…

Throughout Southeast Asia and India, something repeatedly bothered me, fogging my brain with a cloud of annoyance that grew in size with every temple, palace and shrine we visited. While walking through the Silver Pagoda within Cambodia’s Royal Palace complex in Phnom Penh, I couldn’t keep my big mouth shut any longer. “I don’t understand…

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Happy pizza, sad history

We were driving away from the Phnom Penh airport in our hired tuk-tuk when the driver turned around, at full speed mind you, and asked, “You like shooting? AK-47?” This was when I first realized Cambodia is a country where anything — ANYTHING — is possible for the right price. Our driver, Leap Theary, was…

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