Monthly Archives: March 2014

Travelogue: Hoi An

After finishing my tour of Saigon and the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam, I traveled north to the old city of Hoi An, in the center of Vietnam. And it’s a very beautiful city, but extraordinarily touristy, a prime example of Disneyfication. In the old quarter, the architecture and ambiance is amazing, but every single building and business caters to the tourists who descend upon this city. Clothing stores, souvenir stores, bars, restaurants, tailors, and art galleries. Everywhere.  But quite picturesque.
Hoi An - river at night 3 Hoi An - streets at night 3

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Travelogue: Mekong Delta

Once the post-Tet celebrations ended, I decided to take a trip from Saigon to the Mekong delta, to the town of Vinh Long and the island of An Binh. For me, there’s something about the Mekong – in my mind at least, it’s got this mystique, this mystery. And after my horrible experience taking a tour of Cao Dai Temple and the Cu Chi Tunnels in Hanoi, I vowed to go to the Mekong by myself, instead of relying on a tour. I was pretty happy with the results.
Mekong delta - panorama biking view Mekong delta - panorama Mekong river

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Travelogue: Saigon

Saigon, the old capital of South Vietnam, before Communist North Vietnam conquered / liberated the south. For Americans like myself, Vietnam holds a special place in my country’s history, so I had to go and see the country, experience the culture that somehow defeated the US military.
Saigon - panorama river
Saigon - festive streets 2 Saigon - local market

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Travelogue: Saigon during Tet

Don’t be in Saigon during Tet, everyone says. Everything is closed, everything is three times the price, there’s nothing to do, and it’s impossible to get out. Contrary to all this advice, I decided that I HAD to be in Saigon during Tet, the lunar new year celebration. After all, it’s the biggest holiday of the year for Vietnam, surpassing both Christmas and New Years. Plus, I always have to be a rebel.
Saigon during Tet - Tet eve crowd

Conclusion: Saigon during Tet is totally awesome, and completely worth it.

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Travelogue: Kampot

After finishing Phnom Penh, Battambang, and Siem Reap, I traveled to Kampot, a laid back town in southern Cambodia, known primarily as a place to chill and relax near the beach. Most of my fellow backpackers would choose to go to Sihanoukville, but I’ve heard it is too much of a drugs and partying town for my tastes, so I avoided Sihanoukville and visited Kampot  instead. I was quite happy spending a couple days lounging about in Kampot and seeing the sight sof Bokor mountain.
Kampot - panorama river side 1 Kampot - panorama Bokor mountain view 2

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Travelogue: Battambang

After the touristy madness of Siem Reap, I decided to visit Battambang, a very chill town. Even though it is Cambodia’s second largest city, there’s not much to see here – mostly the bamboo train and the bat cave, so there aren’t many tourists. I stayed here for a couple days, just soaking in the ambiance – and of course, visiting the bamboo train.
Battambang - bamboo train portrait

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Travelogue: Angkor Archaeological Park

Angkor Archaeological Park! Angkor Wat! Angkor Thom! Bayon! If not for Angkor Park, Siem Reap would be utterly devoid of tourists. But as it is, every day a phalanx of tourists descend upon the park, and it’s probably one of Cambodia’s greatest sources of income ($20 per person per day for an access permit!) Many people choose to do Angkor Park slowly, over the course of a couple of days, but I chose to do a grand one-day tour, from sunrise to sunset, and visiting all the most famous temples of Angkor Archaeological Park.
Angkor Archaeological Park - Angkor Wat sunrise 14

This will be a very photo-intensive post!

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Travelogue: Siem Reap

From the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, I traveled to Siem Reap, the tourist capital of all of Cambodia and home to Angkor Wat – which will get its own article later. The thing about Siem Reap is that it is totally a tourist town, built to accommodate the millions of people who fly into Cambodia just to see Angkor Wat – so there’s not much here aimed at backpackers, but a lot aimed at more mainstream tourists.  Still, if you get away from the touristy parts, it’s an okay city.
Siem Reap - riverside tranquility

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Travelogue: Phnom Penh

Back on the road, in Phnom Penh! Oh, how I’ve missed it, backpacking!  Sure, taking a break in Taiwan is awesome, but there’s something about the rest of southeast Asia – the noise, the heat, the endless tuktuks, the feeling of adventure.
Phnom Penh - street 2

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