December 09, 2018

Reasons why I could live in Vietnam

1. There’s a lot of economic diversity (i.e. can earn significant $, and spend very little)
2. 43 years after the Vietnam War the county’s capitalist economy is booming
3. Extremely hard working and very proud people
4. WiFi is excellent and cheap
5. Religion diversity (7 religions)
6. Good climate except for typhoons
7. Close proximity to excellent scuba diving in the South Pacific
8. Non-begging tourist culture
9. Absolutely amazing food

November 26, 2018

Day #2 - Cu Chi Tunnels

We cycled 30k on the first day to Cu Chi Tunnels. It was fairly easy and it was nice being back on a bike again getting some exercise. instead of sitting in a bus, truck or plane.

Over the next 10 days, we'll be cycling from Ho Chi Minh City (previously Saigon) to Hue, then taking the overnight train to Hanoi followed by an overnight boat trip in Ha Long Bay, then back to Hanoi before flying to the Philippines.

Yay - Phō for lunch

There is 18 people in the group. The average age is probably 48. 

November 25, 2018

Day #1 - Ho Chi Minh City, (previously Saigon) Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh Opera House - a classic example of French Colonial architecture that is prominent around Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC, perviously Saigon). 

It was great meeting up with Richard from DC, who now lives in HCMC for dinner and walking around the city the next day. 

Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum - Better than what I expected, but not that great. 

I could eat noodle soup everyday, and I doing it here in Asia. At least once a day I have a bowl, on somedays I have two. 

The morning of my second day in HCMC it started to rain, by evening it was a mini typhoon.  I tried to walk around the city but within minutes I was drenched.  I skipped the city tour and headed back to the hotel for the rest of the evening. 

Another Asian city with a construction booming everywhere. It's difficult to believe that the war with the US ended in 1975. Only 43 years ago and the city is extremely developed with top designer shops, shopping malls, high-end hotels locate through out the city. 

A young waitress served by beer with a glass of ice and a straw. Bless her.

November 24, 2018

Myanmar Food

Crushed Green Beans (L) and Shan Noodle Soup (R)

Palm Sugar (lower left) and condiments (right)

Fresh Green Tea Leaf Salad - It was very bland. I liked the Fermented Tea Leaf Salad Better.

Tom Yam Thai Soup (L) and Tomato Salad (R) - there was lots of Thai influence foods available at most restaurants. 

Fermented Tea Leaves (center) and the added fixings surrounding it to make a salad.

Night Market

Watercress and oyster sauces (L) and Sour Bamboo Shoot Soup (R)

Cucumber salad with black sesame and shan spices - the cucumbers were shredded like spaghetti. 

Shan Noodle Soup - the noodles were bit sticky and heavy.

Tomato Salad made with onions, greens and peanuts (with the consistency of peanut butter)

November 23, 2018

Myanmar's Craft People and Artisans

Granite Stone Carvings 

Gold Leaf Pounding

Gold Leaf Processing

Lacquerware is an art typical of Southeast Asia, originating in China. In Myanmar, the art form began around the 12th century in Bagan. We visited a shop to learn more about this intricate process.

Lacquerware Design

Palm Oil Production

From palm toddy they make palm wine and alcohol. 

Palm Wine

Inn Paw Khon Village - Lotus Fiber Weaving

More Lotus Fiber Weaving

Nan PanVillage - Handmade Cheroot Cigars

Ywa Ma Village - Silversmith 

Silver Wares

Mulberry Bark Paper

Dried Mulberry Paper for making Shan Paper Umbrellas

Other Random Information about Myanmar

Myanmar is pronounced myan-MAR

Hello - min-ga-la-ba
Thank You - cè-zù tin-ba-deh
Longyi - Myanmar version of sarong
Kyat - Myanmar currency (pronounced “chyat”)

Aung San, father of the current leader, Aung San Suu Kyi (“the lady” as our tour guide referred to her) was assassinated together with six of his cabinet members on 19 July 1947. xxxx The country was under communist rule by Ne Win from 1962 to 1988.

Majority of the population in Myanmar are Theravada Buddhist.

Apparently, genocide is occurring in Myanmar against the Rohingya Muslim population in the northwest region close to the Bangladesh border per the world media. People in the tour group asked our tour guide about the genocide, but he didn’t have much of a response. Even though he is a Myanmar citizen his access to the news in the region in question is limited.

Tourist boycott was lifted in 2010.

November 22, 2018

Day 13 - Inle Lake to Yangon

We flew back to Yangon for a farewell dinner at a G Adventures-supported project: LinkAge Training Restaurant which provides skill-building opportunities to vulnerable youth, teaching them culinary skills as well as developing holistic and sustainable sources for social support such as housing and education.

I've traveled with many groups over the past couple of years, this group was one of the best! 

November 21, 2018

Day 12 - Inle Lake

We explored the lake by longtail boat and visited some of its floating villages while trying to spot the famous Intha leg-rowers. We saw a few. The boat tour included visiting Indein, at the western end of the Lake, where farmers were cultivating their produce.

Shwe Inn Tain Pagodas 

Floating Gardens

Traditional Massage