Vietnam Impressions

Last weekend, Nat took us further along the coast to Cam Pha just east of Halong bay. The area is where they mine coal, and it adjoins the beautiful Bai Tu Long bay which is just as fantastic as Halong. I predict that within a few years Lonely Planet will tell everyone to go there […]

Expatriates, Prostitution and Gambling

I spent the last two weekends with people from the expatriate community; first in Halong bay and then in Hanoi. Being an expat is pretty different from being a tourist. You are away for so long without the constant newness of travelling, so finding places with home comforts is more important. And western comforts are […]

Water Engineering

Vietnam has been ravaged by first of all war and then the poverty of an undeveloped economy. Unlike Cambodia and Laos, or even Myanmar, it has managed to rebuild lots of infrastructure. The roads are universally excellent, with flat tarmac surfaces. Bridges are easily destroyed in war, but now there are many new ones, including […]

Quiet American Irony

Me, mindlessly propogate links? I’m going to make an exception to the byline at the top of this page. It relates to both Vietnam (where I am at the moment) and to the impending Iraq war, so perhaps we can forgive me. ‘Quiet American’ Irony article. Seeing the film “The Quiet American” in Vietnam months […]

Across the Demilitarised Zone

Last week, I made my way into the old North Vietnam. I went on a tour of the old DMZ (Demilitarised Zone) which separated the North from the South, and across which the Vietnam war was fought. The trees are starting to grow back, and replacement houses in all the bombed towns have been largely […]


This afternoon I saw some amazing tombs, also from the Nguyen dynasty. One of them was also used as a hideaway by the king – not happy with the imperial palace, he has a second palace next to his tomb. The high taxes and forced labour to build it were so detested there was an […]

Proposition in the Imperial Palace

Rain rain rain. Vietnam is meterologically mysterious. All the books say that when you pass through the strip of mountains just north of Dangang, the weather changes, and becomes pretty awful. I couldn’t quite believe them. Yesterday morning I was in tropical winter, beautiful, hot dry climate, giving you the feeling of no care in […]

Vietnam Coast by Train

The last few days I’ve been travelling up the coast of Vietnam by railway. It’s good to have a change from buses, boats and pick-up trucks. I haven’t been on a train since an early, and somewhat bad, experience in Myanmar. It’s 1726km along the iron road from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, the […]

Pho 2000 vs Burger King

Time to talk about shopping. The nice thing about shopping is that it is easy for a tourist to make some kind of judgement about it. Shops are designed to be open, visitable, and for you to be able to find out about them. Also, coming from the consumerist culture that I do, even a […]

Cacooned by Ho Chi Minh City

I’ve been here for five and a half days now, and see no sign of leaving yet. I’m staying in a really good guesthouse, a bit away from the main backpacker area, and friendly and hospitable. My long visit is partly because you have to chill out during the Tet festival. That’s the Lunar New […]