Friday, March 30, 2012

Cám ơn, Việt Nam

As my Bangkok bound flight ascends higher into the air, the birdseye view of the Saigon night sky becomes but an illusion of the past - and I am reflecting on the past two weeks.

I am left in awe over this incredible country; what respect & fondness I've grown from the rich, troubled history, and how I've been touched by & connected with such a kind population of people. I have learned and seen more then I could have hoped for in two weeks, yet it was not nearly long enough.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Venturing Vietnam

What a world it is! In the realm of just Southeast Asia, each country proudly exhibits a vastly different culture, language, religion and cuisine. Upon landing in Hanoi, Vietnam, I felt for the first time in my 6 months on this continent that I was really in Asia. I'm struggling to pinpoint what feels so much more foreign, which may well be my developed comfort in Thailand.

Imagine the place you thought had the most insane drivers & lack of traffic regulation, and times that by 20 = Hanoi. I once thought Israeli drivers were out of their mind, until I saw the reckless roads in southern Italy, until I witnessed the helmet-less families of 5 crammed on one motorbike swerving in between cars on the wrong side of the road in Bangkok, and now I'm convinced there can not be anything crazier then Hanoi. Saying that, I've been forewarned that the biggest city in Vietnam, Saigon, takes the lead in roadside hysteria. It's hard to describe in words the intersections lacking traffic lights with the swarm of thousands of motorbikes, cars and bicycles maneuvering around pedestrians, but certainly not stopping for them - even people midway across the street are left to dodge the vehicles strategically. A few days in Hanoi, and you'll learn that crossing the street is a skill. Motorbikes often carry enormous loads of wholesale goods triple the size of the actual bike, strapped on with bungee cords, requiring a double glance to ensure your eyes don't lie. Vietnam brings a whole new meaning to honking: it's not used in the negative context that it is often in Western society; instead it's a repetitive harmonious-like symbol to warn others, "Watch out, I'm coming!" And watch out you best!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

[Ham]mocking Real Life

I'm writing this from my iPod touch on a 12 hour journey back to Bangkok. As annoying as the touch screen is, I have not much else to do but twiddle my thumbs, so I figure I might as well put then to use.

My travels have kicked off with a bigger bang than I could have hoped for. Other than a series of unfortunate events, such as my beloved Chaco sandals being tossed out of the emergency exit on a bus in Bangkok and Joann's multiple battle wounds from the week, it has been a great start to my travels & hopefully just the vacation Joann needed from real life in NYC.

It all began on Friday March 2nd at the same place it began in October in Bangkok: Khao San Road. Only now, I felt completely out of place on the packaged tourist streets that I've grown to despise. But, as I am being a backpacker for 2 months, I suppose it is fitting to begin such a journey there.