Tag Archives: travel

Vietnam Trips 2009

8 May

An open letter to the blogosphere:

Dear Blog Reader,

This summer, my friend Paul Pinkerton is leading two service trips to Vietnam. Paul was combat veteran…who later became a rogue POW/MIA activist…and then an honored humanitarian. If you’re interested in visiting Vietnam…or participating in a service trip this summer…going to Saigon with Paul is a great opportunity. I know…because I’ve done it myself…and am glad I did!

* The first 10-day trip runs July 19-30. More info here: http://mysite.verizon.net/paulskids/ff/

* The second trip is for college-age students and runs August 16-27. More info here: http://mysite.verizon.net/paulskids/

* More fast facts about Paul below…or here: http://mysite.verizon.net/paulskids/ff/fastfaq.htm#paul

* Paul’s Kids Vietnam Children’s Charity is sponsoring the trips. You can learn more about Paul’s Kids below…or here: www.paulskids.org <http://www.paulskids.org>

Thanks…and please feel free to share this info with anyone who you think might be interested. Any questions…please give me a ring: (801) 580-6479.  Go ahead, call me.

I got a lot of emails last year from people interested in Vietnam and for a good part of 08′ if you happened to Google the phrase “elephant ear fish” (as I’m sure you did) my trip report was the number one spot.

I think about that trip a lot and what an incredible country it is.  While I have traveled to numerous countries around the world none stand out quite like Vietnam.  It has everything one would want in an exotic destination; incredible food, scenery, history, people and an unforgettable vibe.

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Maybe you’ve never even thought about it or have been dreaming about it for years, either way now is the time to go.  My good friend Paul Pinkerton of Pauls’ Kids,who I traveled with last year, has put together 2 different trips this year to Vietnam.  You’ll not only get to experience the exotic destination but you will also be able to participate in life changing humanitarian work with the children of Vietnam.

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I promise it will be the best trip you ever take anywhere during your short visit here to planet earth.  Just don’t drink the snake wine.  Trust me.

Thanks for reading, now go!

Brad

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Spring Break

12 Apr

We finally took the kids to Disneyland.  Much to my great disappointment they are no longer the only kids on the block that haven’t been to Disneyland.  The good news is that now I never have to go back.

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I learned a valuable lesson that I’d like to pass on to anyone about to head to Disneyland or any other amusement park for that matter.  Never, under any circumstance, get on a ride immediately after eating one of these monsters along with a couple $7 IPA’s.

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You will totally regret it.  I promise.  That thing was as big as Kendra’s leg and the 4 of us couldn’t eat it all.  The following picture doesn’t even come close to conveying the gravity of my situation.

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All in all I would have to say that taking the kids to Disnelyland wasn’t nearly as bad as I though it would be.  I actually had a great time, much more fun than I expected.  Plus, I got this totally cool hat.

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Keeping with the cycling theme of this blog I thought I’d also share this cool little video that Elden shot of Jamie P and myself jetting around corner canyon a few weeks ago.  Happy Easter!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Corner Canyon, Late Winter 2009 on Vimeo“, posted with vodpod

Final Thoughts And Parting Shots

18 Feb

If there is one thing, turns out there are a bazillion, you should do if you plan on visiting Vietnam I’d have to say you AFL (abso……lutely) must visit the Vietnam War Remnants museum. I couldn’t bring myself to take any pictures. The horrors of war were on display and I made the mistake of having breakfast beforehand.

Nothing could have prepared me for the sobering experience of seeing the Vietnam war through the eyes of the Vietnamese. It totally caught me off guard and I had to stop several times to regain my composure. I don’t completely understand the politics behind the Vietnam war but the suffering and cruelty I saw spoke volumes about the evils of war.

I have the distinct feeling I will return to Vietnam sooner than later. I’ll be forever grateful to Jeff for inviting me tag along for the ride and for introducing me to Paul from Paul’s Kids. Everywhere we went in HCMC someone had a smile and a hug for Paul and of course he reciprocated in kind. I was touring the city with a celebrity and it was always apparent the impact Paul has had on the people of Vietnam.

 

Some of my favorite pictures from Vietnam. Cute kids.

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Have a scooter:

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Paddling around the Mekong.

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The beasts of burden.

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Elephant Ear Fish And Little Tiger

15 Feb

The food in Vietnam is so good that if you got nothing more than a days worth of meals here for the 20 hour plane ride then it would have been worth the hassle to get here. Food is fresh, colorful and can be had for a song and I’d sing any day for it. Pho bo is the daily bread and is eaten for breakfast lunch and dinner. I never thought I could eat beef, noodles or soup for breakfast. Turns out I can eat all three. Delish!

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It doesn’t matter what time of day you walk around the city you’ll find people out on the sidewalks sitting at what looks like Barbie’s picnic table, tiny little tables and chairs, eating. It seems like all they do all day is scooter around the city and eat. Sounds good to me as long as I can get skewered meats.  Is it just me or does everything taste better on a skewer?

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One of my favorite meals here was on an island in the Mekong delta where we ate grilled prawn heads and Elephant Ear fish. The fish was brought to our table standing upright and looked like it had volunteered for a taxidermy school. 

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It’s not really food but snake wine is everywhere in the south. It’s the Vietnamese answer to Viagra or so they say. When in Rome…. don’t do it. It’s the only thing I’ve ingested in my life that actually tastes worse than it looks. I hope I don’t get hepatitis.

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I almost forgot, if you see see “little tiger” on the menu don’t order it, wait until you visit Cambodia where it’s not so tough and stringy and yes, it’s exactly what you think it is.

Vietnam Valentines

14 Feb

Vietnam is and isn’t a communist country. They pick and choose to suit there fancy. You can practice any religion you want but its illegal to preach. Supposedly there is prostitution (I’ve seen no evidence) yet it’s illegal to have the opposite sex in your home or apartment past 10 p.m. No holidays other than TET (Thanksgving, Christmas and New Years all wrapped up into one) yet they go crazy decorating for and celebrating Christmas and today they celebrated Valentines.

My Valentine Isn’t with me today so I was thinking about her and where we would go and what we would do If she were. Pretty easy, We’d visit Ha Long bay:

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We’d spend the night on one of the Chinese junks in the bay. Yep, that’d be the perfect Valentines day.

Viet Cong

12 Feb

I visited the Cu Chi tunnels where the Viet Cong entrenched themselves in an ingenious series of tunnels and beat the U.S. into the eventual withdrawal. It was at once fascinating and horrifying. A sobering reminder of how awful warfare is and how cruel humanity can be. I still don’t know how I feel about my visit. A bit weirded out I guess.

This entrance has been widened for large folk. The original entrances were only 8″x8″.

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They lived in these tunnels for weeks at a time. Our guide showed us the many booby traps the Viet Cong laid for American GI’s as well as how they made land mines from unexploded U.S. cluster bombs. They recycled all of the U.S. Military garbage to fashion booby traps and explosive devices. Essentially beating us with our own supplies.

It was a little creepy to say the least. The weirdest part of the visit was the shooting range where you could fire one of 10 different weapons including an M2 machine gun.

The most amazing thing about Vietnam is how recently we were here tearing their country apart and I am here now and the people absolutely love America. Once the war was over they just wanted to get on with their lives but the U.S. had an embargo against them up until just over 10 years ago. We are sure good at holding grudges.

I’m Huge

9 Feb

In Vietnam anyway.  I never have to worry about getting lost in the crowd here.

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We spent the afternoon visiting Go Vap, one of the orphanages here in HCMC.  Can you believe this cute little girl is an orphan?  I can’t.

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Don’t you just want to pick her up and squeeze her? I did so, I did.  Far from being the depressing place I had imagined the orphanage to be it was actually pretty upbeat.  Most of the kids there were busy just being kids.  Yelling and smiling and stealing my sunglasses and camera and wiping their snotty noses on me.  I think they were mostly just thrilled to interact with someone other than the workers in the orphanage.  The number one thing these kids need is human contact.  To be picked up and hugged does more good than just about anything else. 

One of the action items being discussed on this trip is how to impelement a program where people can visit Vietnam with discounted airfares and hotel stays to make it affordable and spend half a day every day for a week or more interacting with the kids.  A hug goes a very long way.

There were some pretty extreme cases of kids with encephalitis that absolutely took my breath away and made me stumble. I wondered how it’s even possible with todays medicine that these kids can be suffering like they do.  Needless to say I didn’t last very long at all in that room.  I couldn’t bring myself to take any pictures either.  Its was too hard to deal with the reality of it all.

So, on a brighter note here are some shots of an incredibly beautiful city with great food, very polite people and lots of things to see and do.

View from stairwell in my hotel:

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Veiw from the Rex Hotel of downtown HCMC:

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Crazy man on the drums:

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I finally got out on a bike ride today and what a bike ride it was.  More on that later.