The never-ending adventures of a travel writer in Vietnam, Cambodia, New Zealand and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Tet in Phan Thiet

The week before Tet (Chinese New Year as celebrated in Vietnam) is one of my favorite times of year in Phan Thiet. Although I'm not a fan of the actual holiday (which is overrated by far too many ignorant guidebook and magazine writers), the week before is all about night markets full of flowers, candy, snacks and gift-buying till the wee hours of the morning.

A flower market looking down Nguyen Tat Thanh Street

Bountiful flowers at a Tet Market

Phan Thiet Water Tower with Tet decorations

Thanh, Huy and friends selling watermelons, a traditional Tet treat.

Tet Trinkets

Shoe Seller in the night market

The Tet Market "Food Court"

Dried and candied tropical fruit is one of the highlights of Tet, and traditional treats of the holiday. Traditionally these were always made at home, but as society modernizes and people's lives become busier, they buy them more and more in the market (which were always seen as dirty and not as tastey).

Restaurant Bobby Chinn

I have it on good authority that the rumor that McDonald's is taking over Bobby Chinn's space in Hanoi (at US$46/month) is a hoax. He is however closing and opening a new place, Home by Bobby Chinn (See the Hanoi Excursion post below).

Party announcement:
Saturday, January 31
starting at 6:00 pm : Drinks Special
Restaurant Bobby Chinn 888 Party - @ Restaurant Bobby Chinn Bid farewell to Restaurant Bobby Chinn, celebrating 8 Years, 8 Months & 8 Days at No.1 Ba Trieu Street Complimentary tapas from 6-7pm Set menu of signature dishes from over the years $60.00++ , a la carte also available Live Music from Bobby's Band!! to make a reservation call: 043 934 8577 / 78

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Warning to Animal Lovers: you may find the last image in this post (#5 below) disturbing.

My recent working trip for Thomas Cook included several days in icey-cold Sapa. As I'm acclimated to the climate of the tropics and own no cold-weather clothing, I had to wear 7 layers of shirts (nearly everything in my bag) but still was uncomfortably cold. I was amazed that most hotels and restaurants in Sapa don't have adequate heating.

Black H'mong and Red Dao women selling suvenires in Sapa

Black H'mong women. The H'mong were supported by the USA in the war, and as such, receive little aid from the Vietnamese government and live in extreme poverty.

Red Dao woman

typical Sapa scenery

I thought Hanoians loved dog till I came to Sapa. Dog meat is everywhere here and signs for Bun Thit Cho on every street corner.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hanoi Excursion

Where's Adam been lately? Up in chilly Hanoi researching the new Traveller's Vietnam guidebook for Thomas Cook... and a few other projects in publishing... to be announced. I had a wonderful few weeks in Hanoi and I can actually say I think I may like Hanoi better than HCMC now. Hanoi and its citizens have a reputation for being more abrasive and less friendly than their neighbors in the south. That was my past experience as well. This time though, I found everyone to be warm, friendly, generous and overall I felt like Hanoi has taken a new turn for the better. Not once did I encounter prostitutes, drug dealers, scam artists or transvestites... or a combination of all three. I'm sure they are there, but they just aren't visible, while in contrast they've over-run district 1 in Saigon. Warning to animal lovers--you may find the third picture down on this entry objectionable.

Hoan Kiem Lake at the southeast corner of Hanoi's Old Town

Van Mieu or the Temple of Literature, an icon of Hanoi

Dog meat in the market, another Hanoi institution.

Interior Decorating at Restaurant Bobby Chinn on the southwest corner of Hoan Kiem Lake. Bobby is the host of Pilot Guide's World Cafe Asia (airing previously on Discovery Travel and Living), and guest on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and guest judge on Top Chef. Unfortunately this Hanoi icon is closing at the end of the month. Until Bobby finds a new location, he will host a smaller dining room and catering service at 77 Xuan Dieu Street.

Bad Monk. Pandering for cash is a big no-no in Buddhism, although a lot of monks and ex-monks can be seen doing it in Vietnam.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

More Flora and Fauna of Binh Thuan Province

Big enough to eat birds, and located appropriately.

Tempting to try but the fruit stinks inside (although the seeds look like passion fruit).

Feather-like wings with a beautifully detailed red and black body.

A yellow tarantula-like spider (only slightly smaller than an average tarantula ), ready for a fight with enormous, venom-pumping fangs.

Wild, edible forest squash