Beauty, Peace, and Joy

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Ha Long Bay was magical. The air was clearer once we left the busy port area. Our junk, although not much to look at from the outside, was gorgeously appointed inside. The food was delicious, the presentation was spectacular. Loan continued to endear herself to the group with her stories and even singing. I went…

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Being flexible

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I had a version of Southeast Asia in my imagination. It was based on books and movies and travel journals and postcards. It wasn’t a perfect world; there was war, and poverty, and dictatorship. But it was beautiful and human, life was artful, and it was completely different from, and even immune to, the ways…

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Getting Better With Chopsticks

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Today a lime seed fell into my fruit shake, where it threatened to clog my straw and cause all sorts of trouble. Without even thinking about it, before it sank below the foamy froth at the top, I plucked out the slippery little bugger with my chopsticks. I’ve never had an easy time with crowds,…

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The Cult Of The God-King

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Old ways die hard, especially when they once represented life and death. It was a long walk to the mausoleum, but we went through a district of embassies and officials, so the sidewalks were passable and traffic was more orderly (although that’s not saying much). Ho Chi Minh is revered in Vietnam in almost the…

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The Old Quarter In The Modern Era

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Nothing we’ve done, nowhere we’ve seen, has prepared us for the streets of Hanoi. Our hotel was in the Old Quarter, a district of narrow streets and turn-of-the-century French architecture, absolutely jammed with people and motorcycles. Our bus was too big to navigate the few blocks to the hotel, so our luggage was crammed into…

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