Southeast Asia

Houses of Hoi An

I grew up in the suburbs of Sacramento, a city that was named the most diverse city in the United States by Time Magazine in 2002. The cookie-cutter houses are painted mostly neutral colors, with closely cropped lawns, blooming roses, minivans in the driveway. Every so often, however, a house is painted bright turquoise, neon […]

May 30, 2012 Continue reading…

Postcard from Hanoi

Drinking “fresh beer” while sitting on child-sized furniture, dodging a constant stream of motorcycle traffic, group aerobics by the lake before the sun rises: this is Hanoi. The city in Vietnam’s north is remarkably cold: in temperature, in ambiance, in attitude. I layered on all the clothes I had, wrapping my scarf around my face, […]

May 24, 2012 Continue reading…

Rock Long, Rock Hard: cruising Halong Bay

Eating a steaming plate of noodles while perched on a plastic chair built for a 5-year-old, I faced a dilemma. I had four days in Hanoi, a city that was a grey and chilly as Saigon was colorful and warm—in weather, in buildings, in people. Hanoi’s proximity to the UNESCO-recognized Halong Bay makes it the […]

May 23, 2012 Continue reading…

Highlights of Hue

I’ve learned that when a city is proclaimed as a country’s cultural capital, it usually means it’s cold. True to form, Hue (pronounced h-way) features gray-hued skies, a chilly wind drafting over the river and squat buildings crowding the winding streets. The Imperial City of Hue is a walled complex of temples, pagodas and extraordinary art: […]

May 21, 2012 Continue reading…

Postcard from Hoi An

Hoi An is one of the prettiest cities in Vietnam: recognized by UNESCO as an exceptionally well-preserved Asian trading port, the riverfront buildings are colorful and diverse examples of 19th- and 20th-century French-influenced architecture. Hoi An is also known for its culinary delights. A major center of trade in the 16th century, the sprawling market […]

May 17, 2012 Continue reading…

The ups and downs of Phong Nha Farmstay

Every once in a while, I surprise myself and willingly break away from beaches for a chilly, cloudy destination. Exploring Ke Bang National Park was one such adventure: renowned for having some of the oldest, largest caves in the world, the region has yet to be discovered by mainstream tourism. I figured a couple of […]

May 11, 2012 Continue reading…

Postcard from the Imperial City of Hue

When I think of cities surrounded by walls and moats, I think France in the Middle Ages (i.e. Avignon).  I certainly don’t think of 19th-century Vietnam. But the Imperial City of Hue was constructed in 1802, its ruin only amplified by American bombings. It seems much older than its 200 years, with weeds sneaking through […]

May 10, 2012 Continue reading…