ceF in vietnam – part 8
hoi an

October 31st, 2010 · 42 Comments

i flew into denang and have been in hoi an for nearly a week now and i must tell you that i’d been particularly looking forward to coming here ever since bourdain mentioned his love affair with this small city awhile back. it’s well located on both a river and a beach and you’d be hard pressed to find anyplace more charming.

luckily due to an agreement during the american war, this old city escaped unscathed from any active fighting keeping the ancient buildings intact. over the years due to dwindling trade the village had slid into decline but thankfully hoi an was resurrected about 15 years ago as a big tourist destination and in 1999 received unesco world heritage status. granted i’ve seen more white people here than in any other portion of my journey, yet somehow despite all the tourists and the countless souvenir shops all hawking the "same same but different" stuff, hoi an has retained an elegance that somehow combines the very old with the very new and still holds tight to all its beauty and authenticity.

i spend my days wandering about always hitting the market first to have breakfast and to revel in the simple yet highly aesthetic nature of these people. it’s a gritty kind of beauty but it draws me in. hoi an is small, with narrow streets so there are no cars allowed within parts of the ‘old city’ although motorbikes are allowed 3 days a week. you can feel the french influence in the architecture and it’s often compared to new orleans. but there is no mistaking where you are. this is vietnam...

my first two weeks here i managed to buy nothing at all. i’m traveling light and armed with michael’s measurements my only intention was to pick up a bespoke suit for him while in hoi an, a city well known for its plethora of tailor shops. the plan was to buy just one suit that i would be able to bring back with me in my modest bag.

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ceF in vietnam – part 7
last post from the south

October 27th, 2010 · 17 Comments

 

the fishing boats of mui ne

i’m back in saigon after spending 4 days on the south china sea, or as they call it in vietnam, the east sea. there’s been no rain to speak of and the temps have been manageable as has the humidity. this is nothing short of pure luck so i thank the weather gods for being on my side – so far, so good…

before i forget, i learned something new today. ok, i learned a few new things today – like that vietnam is a little over twice the size as ny state (but visually quite svelte as one might expect from vn), but this? this is my favorite… i learned how to say "oh my god" in vietnamese! troi oi (troy oy). there you have it. but wait, there’s more! because for all you burgeoning buddhists out there the literal translation means "oh my buddha". is that not great? i can not begin to tell you how much this bit of knowledge has entertained me this afternoon. i plan on using it every chance i get. it even sounds yiddish. this is just too good.

and now, before we go any farther, back by popular demand…

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ceF in vietnam – part 6
going coastal

October 23rd, 2010 · 16 Comments

one of the many astounding things i see in vietnam everyday…

i arrived in mui ne 2 days ago. it’s a haul from saigon, about 4 hours and i swear my driver takes valium for breakfast because he somehow manages to drive below the already painfully low speed limit. on the upside this allows me to practice a more zen approach to getting from a to b, which really, if it took, would be a very good thing for the likes of me who pretty much puts the pedal to the metal every chance i get. and then there’s the other benefit of the speed of life here in vietnam – i get to see everything around me for just a little bit longer.

i keep noticing how vietnam has its own static pace. whether you’re in the cities, in a village or on the water, the level of energy here feels constant. somehow this country has a certain grace to it. i feel it everywhere and it remains seemingly unchanging when i move throughout this land. vietnam just is.

for right now my travel adventures have been simple ones consisting of daily tasks such as finding a banh mi for breakfast (.50 and damn good), some aspirin (not as easy as you might think) and a few small custard apples for lunch. looking back, each of these little events were strangely fascinating in their own way – and i never so much as thought to pick up my camera. perhaps it’s all becoming ever so slightly familiar… could that even be possible?

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ceF in vietnam – part 5
the mekong delta – lower river

October 21st, 2010 · 10 Comments

i’m happily back in saigon for the night before i take off for the beach in the morning. i like it here, big city girl that i am. but not enough to go out tonight. i just ordered some room service pho ($1.50) and i am staying in. it’s just begun to storm and i could use the downtime to catch up on some more sleep – and sort through photos – and write this post. again, it will be more pics than anything. it’s gotten late.

i’m just back from can tho which is as bustling a city as you will find in the mekong, but for the likes of those like me (tourist. said in a hushed tone) it’s not much more than a jumping off point to experience the floating markets. the riverfront is abuzz with people hawking their boats. you choose one and off you go on a 20 minute ride up (down?) river.

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cef in vietnam – part 4
the mekong delta – upper river

October 19th, 2010 · 17 Comments

 

i’ve been on the move, so for now this post is one in pictures… about 40 or so, briefly captioned.

i wanted to lead with this shot. it’s from the home where i stayed the night before last which you will see more of in a moment. this is a wall in their kitchen which although somewhat rudimentary was quite large. these past two days have been incredible, only marred by my sleep schedule being thrown off in a big way. i’m just now back on track and i am on my way out the door to the cai rang floating market of can tho. more on that later but in the meantime please have a look at my latest wanderings. i’ve only brought my little point and shoot camera with me as i’m traveling for 5 weeks with one carry on bag. i’m a terrible photographer but i fancy myself having a decent eye so i hope you enjoy what i was able to capture. i’ll write more soon…

now on to the pictures…
 

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ceF in vietnam – part 3
more market gazing and fine dining in saigon

October 17th, 2010 · 18 Comments

oh vietnam… don’t make me love you so. the time will pass so quickly and then we will be apart. 

it’s the people. it’s the vibe. saigon has this "thing’ about it. this way of being that has taken me by surprise. amidst the never ending drone of 4 million scooters with a chaotic traffic pattern that somehow moves with a slo-mo ease that feels comfortable, even strangely choreographed – perhaps even enhanced by the the endless symphonic clamor of construction going on everywhere, i feel very peaceful here…

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ceF in vietnam – part 2
saigon cooking class and again, dinner at the night market

October 16th, 2010 · 20 Comments

 

i think the only thing that’s truly remarkable about the fact that i made this dish is the whole "presentation" thing. i’m usually short on looks and long on flavor. by the time i get a dish tasting how i want it, the way that it looks matters little to me. especially if knife skills are required and it’s only a decorative garnish. i’m just not that cook. except for today. today i spent about 6 hours with 2 guys, one who was the chef and the other who was just a lost paying soul like me looking to glean some cooking tips. there were 4 courses for our lunch which began with a trip to saigon’s biggest and best market, ben thanh. i’m going back by myself tomorrow for a longer look. the hell with the war remnants museum and the reunification palace, show me how the people live, show me what sustains them. to me the market is the life force of the city. 

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