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Postcard Pretty Hoi An

Hoi An, River Scene, Vietnam

Hoi An was unkind to us in a way. We knew we were visiting this central Vietnamese city near the end of its rainy season, but with a week to spend in the relatively small town we figured we had more than enough time to see and do everything. We were wrong. The rain was nearly relentless for seven straight days.

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Europe on Sale

Euro Exchange Rate

Bad news for the European Union is good news for U.S. travelers. Over the past six months renewed economic concerns in Euroland have driven the area’s currency down nearly 16% versus the U.S. dollar. That means every country using the Euro, all 19 of them, is on sale. Every hotel, every meal, every taxi ride is 16% cheaper than it was just six months ago.

As with most sales, these bargains won’t necessarily last. So if you’ve had your eye on a shiny new European vacation, it’s just gotten a whole lot more affordable.

If you’re in the market for even deeper bargains look further east where the Russian ruble is down about 45% versus the dollar.  

This Post Brought to You by a Total Disregard for Intellectual Property Rights

Water Puppet Show Hanoi Vietnam

The most remarkable thing about the Water Puppet Show in Hanoi, Vietnam, was the way in which absolutely nobody cared if you photographed it or even shot video.

The performance itself, one of the “must do” attractions in Hanoi, was only vaguely interesting. It’s an hour long display of an art form originally developed by rice farmers as a way to entertain one another after their fields flooded. Staged in a pool of waste-deep water, wooden puppets (controlled via submerged poles manipulated by puppeteers hidden behind a screen) act out tales of rural Vietnamese folklore.

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A Day in Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay Vietnam “The police are behind us. Jump on!” I heard from over my shoulder as we leapt through the doors of the still moving mini-bus.

The driver’s offense: idling in Hanoi city traffic. No officers gave chase, though, and we settled into our seats and set out with a small group on an overnight outing to scenic Ha Long Bay in northeast Vietnam.

Several hours later, after a honking-filled ride along highways chaotic with traffic, through dusty small towns, and past watery rice fields, we got our first look at Ha Long Bay’s dramatic hallmarks—limestone pillars rising from the water and mostly shrouded in mist. We knew we were rolling the dice by coming to this striking spot in December, which is the start of Vietnam’s winter. In fact, several days earlier, severe rain storms had forced tourists back to Hanoi shortly after making the lengthy trip out to Ha Long Bay. Continue Reading →

Tis The Season

Bride and Groom Lighting Candels

For professional portraits, apparently.

All over Vietnam we saw couples and what appeared to be recent graduates dressed to the nines with professional camera crews in tow in scenic spots like Hoi An’s riverfront and Hanoi’s Temple of Literature. It was quite nice, actually. 

We intruded just a little to sneak a few photos of our own. I hope they don’t mind. Their presence added such a wonderfully personal and totally joyous context to the places we were visiting. We were happy to share these brief moments with them, however distantly. We really wish them all the best. 

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