Sunday, February 27, 2011

I'm on a boat!

Vietnam has a lot of water: 3,444 km of coastline, over 30 rivers (two boasting fertile deltas), and there's no shortage of lakes either, particularly not in Hanoi. So it's only natural that part of our time in Vietnam should be spent on water-faring vessels.

Our first experience was an expedition from Hanoi to take a day cruise around the famed Ha Long Bay:

In Hue, we had the quintessential tourist experience with a short dragon boat ride on the Hue River:

Our last boat ride was by far my favorite: a leisurely mid-morning to afternoon glide around the Mekong Delta near Cái Bè. It was warmer in the south, but the gentle breeze on the water kept us comfortable. It is a contender for my favorite experience during the trip:

Video from Matt

Put Your Money Where Your Pink Is

Awareness is important, but so is action. A friend is participating in the Komen San Antonio Race for the Cure this year, and her goal is to raise $2,500 for breast cancer research as well as for nonprofits that provide screenings, treatment and education. If you'd like to help her reach that goal, check out her blog or her team page.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

City Snapshot: Hanoi

A street in Hanoi (Mã Mây, maybe?)

On February 10th Matt and I departed for our first visit to Vietnam, and my first trip outside of North America. En route, we met up with Matt's dad and his dad's wife, who you could call our hosts since they planned the trip. We all arrived late on the night of the 11th and were welcomed with the sight of an overburdened motorbike on the dark road into Hanoi, a perfect way to begin our two week adventure.

We stayed near the Old Quarter, a place with such hustle and bustle that it's impossible to really describe with words since everything is a flurry of color and sound and smell. The picture above is deceptively calm, but you can catch a glimpse of the uneven sidewalks crowded with motorbikes, the narrow buildings leaning up against each other, the wires in strange and hazardous clusters, mingling with the paper banners strung across the street (leftover froTết, perhaps?), and the ever present fluttering flag of Vietnam.

What the photo doesn't show are the street vendors selling produce, meat, clothes, flowers, paper, shoes, food, and just about anything else you can think of on the sidewalks. Sometimes they are store fronts or restaurants that spill out onto the sidewalk with merchandise or, in the case of restaurants, with stools, tables, and usually the kitchen. Sometimes the sidewalk is the entirety of shop, with the shopkeeper squatting next to his or her merchandise, which has been laid out on the sidewalk, right next to the gutter. Sometimes the shops are mobile, carried on a bicycle or a bamboo pole over the shoulders of a woman in the quintessential conical farmer hat.

What the photo can't show is the ever-present cacophony of honking cars and motorbikes. It can't show the mouth-watering smell of noodle soups and grilled meat, or how that smell unfortunately mingles with the odor of sewage. It can't show the subtle taste of the clear broth of phở for breakfast or of the cold lagers (Bia Hơi--fresh beer) you can find at beer corner.

But until we get smell-o-vision and taste-tv, you'll have to settle with this photo and these words, which together serve as a snapshot of my impression of Hanoi.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Movin' to the country, gonna eat me a lot of . . . Hot Brown?

I love San Diego. But it is expensive. Matt and I have talked about eventually moving somewhere with a lower cost of living, but it has always seemed like a far off possibility. We'd never really even seriously discussed where we would go.

Then Matt's employer offered him a position in Louisville, KY and we decided it would be a good opportunity to move onward. While I think I was hoping for something north of the cultural Mason-Dixon line, I am looking forward to this forced change. I have never lived anywhere but Southern California, so this will be an education of sorts for me. Plus, while Kentucky may seem like the sticks, Louisville seems like it'll be a pretty neat city to explore.

So that's my news! I'm going to be pretty busy with packing and prepping for this new adventure, but I'm going to try to make time to write about another sort of adventure--our recent trip to Vietnam and Cambodia:

Hanoi (photo by Matt)

PS The Hot Brown is an open-faced sandwich with origins in Louisville.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Okay, so I know I've been missing in action lately and it doesn't look like I'll be able to post on any sort of a regular basis for a few months. Right now, all I can say is that big things are just around the corner and I'll say more when I can.

I should also mention that in addition to not posting lately, I have been lousy at reading the blogs I follow as well. I miss you all . . . But I'll be back!