Monthly Archives: June 2012

My last few weeks were spent racing through the central area of Vietnam.  Shame I had to move so fast really, it was a beautiful area covered in what’s been the best sand and wonderful food.  Now I’m in the south central part of the country, much less scary than the less South Central I lived in.  The central coast was home to many large cities of the Open Bus tour, so there were quite a bit of foreigners and took me quite a bit of walking to get to some good, cheap local food.

Outside of Nha Trang I’ve been in random seaside towns or at worst for crowds, Vietnamese resort towns. They are amusing in an entirely different way.  It usually still means mediocre, expensive food sadly.  There are still the crowds, if not more so because of the tour buses.  I enjoyed watching a bunch of Vietnamese tourists and locals mix as they rollerbladed along promenades in obstacle courses.  Their wheels even lit up in neon technicolored moving lights, like everything else in this country.

Vietnamese tourists means I get to contend with whole tour buses and lots of motorbikes worth of people at Cham sites.

What are the differences then between a Vietnamese crowded beach and a foreign one you might ask?   The Vietnamese tourist beaches though, there is generally trash everywhere.  This is a beautiful country but those who live here do not seem to want to take care of it.  I worry when I see lots of broken glass everywhere.  There are generally seafood restaurants everywhere; shacks, on tarps on the beach, in things that look like hotels or homes, and anywhere else you might take a gander.  I have partaken in the various offerings, often including fresh tanks of still squirming fare.  This was something I didn’t understand about all the foreign restaurants in Nha Trang.  You have a bountiful sea, why are you concentrating so much on fries and meat?  Seafood was cheaper, even in the foreign restaurants I noticed.  Vietnamese people tend to not know how to swim, especially the women and children.  You will see the latter groups wearing bright orange and green life vests that everyone seems to own or renting giant truck inner tubes.  They also hide in the shade even in the setting sun.

They have a weird sense of “cute” style here. I think this creepy little guy is a trash can. There are no penguins around these parts, and certainly none with bow ties.

I cannot explain what this even creepier little guy glancing at you from behind a tree  is supposed to be.

There seems to be a preference in cheaper places to have windows, which is great when you’re by the sea and near a refreshing breeze.  The thing I don’t get is why no one here uses screen windows.  Instead there is a complex system of lots of bugs, mosquito nets over beds, geckos in the houses to eat bugs, cats to eat geckos, dogs to eat cats, and humans to eat everything but the mosquito nets.

Alas, not everything can be deliciously fresh seafood and calm, sea breezes.  In one town, I managed to get propositioned by two drunk men outside a weird amusement park.  The security guard nearby was too busy horseplaying with them to do much to either let me in the park or to stop the men.  It is unfortunate to find out that the same lewd hand signals are used everywhere and that there are men like this allowed to be around places for children.  A luxury coach full of children drove out of the park and right by me as all this was occurring.  I had to forcefully shove the drunker of the two men away from blocking my bike and from his futile attempts to jump on the back. What I’ve read of the amusement park was that it was full of hilarious statues and second rate attractions.  Well, that certainly wasn’t Disneyland and those were worse than second rate attractions.

A longer lasting problem has been that I have been stricken with food poisoning.  Indeed, one would think this ails me more often given how I eat.  I have had minor bouts with the most common traveler issue but this one has me sidelined for a few days.  On the upside, what better place to be sick than one where I can chill out on a bed all day staring at the ocean?

Well, if I’m going to be sick, at least it’s somewhere gorgeous!

I’m pretty sure for ten bucks this would not be the two views I see outside my windows in most other countries.

Do not take the one or two bad things that happen to me in the wrong way.  For every negative thing it feels like many more wonderful things happen.  I greatly enjoyed chatting with the local woman swimming at the beach who at first approached me cautiously.  She watched some other locals interact with me in a broken batch of Mandarin, Vietnamese and random English words.  I guess there’s an hydroelectric plant nearby so a lot of the locals know a few Mandarin phrases.  Soon though this woman gathered the courage up to come up and practice some English.  In the middle of our conversation she jumped up and ran back to her bike to give me a perfectly ripe custard apple.  There are few things more perfect than a delicious custard apple on the beach. I’ve also enjoyed chatting with the batch of child actors and their parents who are at my hotel.  They seem ever so happy to wave hello every time they see me and ask how I’m doing.

I meant to take more time to read and do a bit of writing and drawing anyways so this has been a perfect opportunity.  I have a few more beach towns to go, although the next two are one big foreign stop and one big Vietnamese/expat stop.  I’ll enjoy this quieter beach while it lasts.


After six weeks of gallivanting around Vietnam with me, my friend had to go.  So for her last week she wanted to relax resort style.  Good thing we had arrived in Nha Trang.  This is the resort town of Vietnam.  A Vietnamese Pattaya or Miami if you will.  Ok so it’s a resort town and a den of debauchery.  It was a week of splurges and relaxation as I bid my friend farewell.

Having no idea how long she could stay, we got to her most important item first.  She went diving and I went snorkeling.  I have some rather poor inner ear balance and it means I’m very prone to being seasick.  However this time I managed to survive the boat ride, only to become sick from the waves as I was snorkeling.  I guess I’ll take learning to dive off of my list of things to do.  The coral and fish were still beautiful, I just had to grab onto some rocks at some point and get ill.

Hello fishy!

I then set out to do some volunteer stuff that I blogged about here.  Inbetween hugging adorable children we went to a mud bath and mineral spring.  I’ve only had bizarre hot springs incidents in Asia otherwise and I’ve never had a mud bath.  For a mere few bucks this was definitely a fun and relaxing experience.  People in Asia don’t like to tan though, so we were the only people in the sunning area letting our mud dry and cake on.  I wish I had pictures but was afraid to get soft silty mud into my camera.  If only I could share the heart shaped tubs and car wash like pressure showers that were all outside.  There was also a “zacuzzi”, a warm and a cool pool and some waterfalls to sit under.  Definitely worth a day trip in Nha Trang.

We went to the seaside water park and amusement park.  There is a fancy expensive new amusement park on its own island, but we went for the cheaper (by a factor of 10!) one on land.  We didn’t really try much at the boardwalk like amusement park.  They told us we were too big to get in the bounce house after I spent a few minutes trying to motion jumping up and down to communicate this fact.  The water park was more of a success.  I had never been to one before, likely due to my inability to swim.  We had fun racing down the rather short by American standard slides.  However there were no lines either so we got to do a lot more than usual.  The wave pool was turned off, so we just had a personal pool instead.  Near the end of the day we found a zip line that dropped into the pool.  This is more fun than it sounds as the thing was really slippery!  This is when my friend figured out I really couldn’t swim and she had to drag me out of the pool.  Whoops, I guess my lack of fear of water is pretty confusing.

I spent a lot of the rest of the time with my friend just hanging out on the beach or wandering around.  I was particularly impressed with the man riding a motorbike who balanced a whole tray of donuts he tried to sell us on his fedora.

Vendors wander up and down the beach selling peanuts, chips, cigarettes, things in banana leaves, and soft tofu desserts. I didn’t even look at the ones with sunglasses and books. This picture is showing in the evening, when vendors set up grilling stations for fresh seafood.

I think I have mentioned before that the Vietnamese don’t like the sun.  This means they are only on the beach early at dawn and in the evening.

I had a bit of an oasis around me because there was no shade where I was. What a difference a continent makes, from sun lovers to sun haters.

Once my friend left I returned to my regularly scheduled activities of wandering around a lot.  Going to the Oceanography Museum was a good excuse to go across town on the beach.  It was aquarium like and had large rooms full of dubiously real bones or jars full of preserved sea critters.  Good pictures were certainly easier to get here than they were snorkeling.

I found Nemo! He was hiding behind this fluffy pink thing.

I’m convinced no alien could look weirder than the things in the ocean.

You know you are in Asia when placards for fish say things like “This fish is very tasty”.

I don’t know why they had multiple trashy pictures of mermaids.

Why stick to weirdly sexual paintings of mermaids when you can have creepy statues as well. Why does she have a butt above her tail?!  Pull up your fish parts, lady, this isn’t a jail!

I also found out there is a Cham temple.  I’m a little confused because it looked partially Buddhist now but perhaps I just don’t understand the Cham culture.

It’s not Angkor Wat, but does everything need to be? It is beautiful and I wish I saw it before the restoration.

The temple is on a hill overlooking the river and city. It would be so peaceful if not for the throngs of tourists. I advise going early.

As you can see in the last picture this isn’t the smallest town.  On the upside the number 4 bus goes to the Cham temple and Oceanography Museum for anyone who doesn’t want to hike that far.  I’m off to a quieter beach next.  I have enjoyed doing some more vacation like activities but I definitely need some downtime and I’m sure my wallet could use it too.

The north of Vietnam has invented lots of dishes, including the most famous of all Vietnamese food, pho.  However it seems they get dolled up and fancied up in the south, which is how I’ve seen most of my Vietnamese food.  So now I am seeing some familiar dishes (finally, pickles in my banh mi!) as well as the continuing stream of things I’ve never seen before.  Throw in a good dose of seafood because I’m near the sea.  The only downside is that this is a vacation resort town, so many of the best restaurants are meant for sharing with large boisterous groups and not your lone, intrepid traveler.  I found this site pretty helpful for describing Nha Trang specialties.

As I’ve traveled through Southeast Asia I’ve seen rice used in all ways and rice noodles everywhere.  Things are getting different while still covering all the old bases.

There are a lot of carts on the street selling sticky rice covered in your choice of, or in my case all of, a slew of various meats.

Com tam is broken rice, or rice that was too small to make the cut. It’s steamed and topped with a grilled fatty piece of pork, fish or shrimp cake, fried egg and pickled vegetables.

Being by the ocean, one of the dishes to try here is jellyfish rice noodle (bun sua). While I like the texture of jellyfish, this just wasn’t very flavorful.

Why only use rice flour to make thin noodles when you can make a variety of different shapes and put them all on one delicious plate? I particularly liked the stuffed ones.

Banh hoi are rice noodles woven together into mat sheets and topped with sauteed green onions. Mine came with offal and blood sausage. That’s a filling breakfast!

This is banh can, a rice flour pancake like thing made on a cast iron brazier set over charcoal. To make them one ladles in watery looking batter and adds scrambled chicken egg or whole quail eggs before covering them to steam. They come out fluffy on the inside and crisp on the outside.

When done cooking, they end up looking like those browned little sandwiches. I should’ve taken a picture of the fish sauce with fish still in it. These banh can were served with a huge bowl of fish sauce, chiles, scallions and green papaya dipping sauce.

I’m a big savory food person, particularly for breakfast. This is my dream: steak and eggs. A thin steak, one fried egg, tomato sauce, sandwich vegetables and a crusty baguette. It doesn’t get more perfect than this, especially with the cow shaped cast iron plate. It’s called bo ne, so my five year old self made so many jokes.

When near the ocean, the seafood is cheaper than the meat. Here are some delicious grilled abalone and tiny conch in coconut milk & butter. Also, a rarity these days, a whole plate (well, a half eaten plate) of vegetables! I do love my okra.

I don’t really eat in restaurants that often, so this is my on the beach meal. You even get a tarp for the sand. That lime juice with salt and pepper is delicious.

When in big towns I have the opportunity to get some not local food as well. It may be telling that I don’t miss burgers and skipped the Texas bbq but got this sushi and Indian food. I did get a microbrew or two where I got this sushi. The beast on the bottom is a sushi pizza, a tempura fried disk of rice slathered in fish and sauce.

I’m really quite excited as each new town I’ve been in Hue surprises me with what seems like an endless amount of new foods.

[Updated: A few days after posting this, I saw this campaign. Hooray, targeted advertising working finally.  Children are indeed not a tourist attraction.  It does not help the weird helpless feeling I have when I try to help and it seems they just want money or an English teacher.  One day I hope I find something else I can give.]

I try to volunteer.  I try to do a lot of things I do less than I like, like sketching and reading.  Well I’m catching up on all of those this week.  It helps to stay in one place more than a day or two.  So I’ve been in Nha Trang about a week now and I discovered a most interesting restaurant.  In a city known for debauchery, drugs, and resorts I found a place trying to help local orphans.

Lanterns Restaurant is a travel book recommended place owned by an Australian who came on vacation, visited an orphanage on a tour, and had his life focus shifted to this beautiful country.  He spent what sounds like a year living in orphanages trying to help out.  He had never opened a restaurant before and opened one solely to funnel profits into local orphanages.

Most of the orphanages we went to seemed to be Catholic or government sponsored. The Buddhist view of detachment doesn’t do much for saving the children. The helpers and teachers in the summer are often university students on break.

So what does that mean for volunteering?  If you go to the restaurant, they’ll happily take you to visit an orphanage.  I’m not usually much of a kid person, most of my interaction was sitting at the other end of a table watching how they play.  These kids are pretty darned cute though.  Once at the orphanage, it mostly involves just playing with these kids who often are thirty or forty to a few adults and don’t get that much love and attention.  Play aimlessly with children?  I can handle that.  They also asked if I’d like to return to teach English, but I have already come to the conclusion at other volunteer places that a mere week will do nothing for their continuity of learning.  I wish I had a way to apply my skills more than “I am a native English speaker”.

Vietnamese people must shove as many people as possible on anything they ride, even boxes full of milk cartons.

Most of these places will take monetary or clothing donations as well, but I’m rather more flush with time than any of those.  I was also impressed that I went on a longer visit where a bunch of college students took us.  I couldn’t help but think that I was much too self absorbed with the college experience to volunteer all that often after my freshman year.  Granted, these kids looked quite a tad hungover as well, but that makes it even more impressive that they cheerfully took us to far off orphanages in the pouring rain.  I do meet more locals when I volunteer somewhere and I get fun glimpses into the culture.  I asked these college students why their T-shirts for their group “We ❤ Nha Trang” had a Facebook link.  Facebook is blocked in Vietnam.  The college student then tried to tell me about some proxy trick to get around the block he kept insisting didn’t exist.

Boxes upon boxes full of rice, meat, veggies and egg. I was told I was doing it wrong because I didn’t ladle enough meat sauce on top, which was necessary “because we aren’t giving them any fish sauce!”

The other thing the restaurant does is hand out free food to the needy every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  I showed up for that this Monday and got to have an interaction with the lottery ticket sellers and cyclo drivers that was based on something besides them trying to sell me something.  I still wasn’t exactly having conversation with them but it was pleasant to see them in a different situation than screaming “Madame, madame, cheap ride!” at me.  I’m not really sure I was much help at all as the employees volunteer their time to do this and are way more effective than this bumbling traveler.  I did enjoy talking to the employees, who have rather impressive English, about local life.

So, if you have time for it, just eating at this restaurant would be helpful.  The food is decent, if at tourist prices and flavorings, and the money goes towards good things.  I can get behind that, I just wish I could do a little more.  They’re also about to move locations, so if you can’t find it from the guide book, ask around.

One of the greatest things about traveling by motorbike is the ability to go where and when as I please.  While I have enjoyed the cities that you can buy the tourist open bus tickets for, I have loved the places in-between more.  Like a great sentence, it is the silent pauses in-between all the busy words that carry more joy for me.

The verdant rice fields that travelers often marvel about finding at pricier “off the track” flashpacker places. Turns out they’re everywhere if you’re willing to stay off the open bus. I see this daily on the road.

This is not to say there are not hindrances like needing to find parking or dealing with the craziness that is road rules in Vietnam.  Yet when I have those times where I am cruising a beautiful empty road with the ocean to one side and endless greenery to the other, it is hard to imagine sitting in an air conditioned bus.  I much prefer the rush of wind that makes you feel like you are flying.

This is as peaceful as it looks.

The central coast of Vietnam has quite a few touristy cities.  Hue and Hoi An are full of touristy old towns, recreated and saved by tourism dollars.  Their long mixed histories producing cultures, particularly foods, worth stopping to savor and enjoy.  It takes barely any effort then, to escape this cleansed and packaged beauty for that of the unspoiled.

My first encounter worth mentioning is an area along China beach.  I stopped at a guesthouse called Hoa’s Place.  Hidden in a sliver of land between bunches of five star resorts and luxury golf courses is a rather basic few guesthouses and homes right on the beach.  It is on a tiny road that I drove by multiple times even after arriving just north of the Melia resort.  Inland from there is a bunch of crazy marble vendors who tried to sell me six foot tall statues to put on my motorbike with a persistence usually held by cyclo drivers, tchotchky vendors and travel agents.  Yet this one little oasis is a quiet stretch of beautiful beach.  The guesthouse runs a family style dinner every night that is uninspiring for food but lovely in the sense that it isn’t developed.  It used to be more welcoming as the owner, Hoa, is a Vietnam war veteran and former English teacher who regales guests with past tales.  However after 18 years, he and his wife have semi-retired and are only there in the mornings.  This leaves his sister-in-law with much less English to take care of the place.  It is not great as far as guesthouses go, not full of amenities, and hard to find but it is the last bastion against the $200 dollar hotels as far as the eye can see in every direction.  One of the best things to do while there is to enjoy seeing the locals arrive at 5 am or 5 pm to swim and avoid the sun.  Floods of motorbikes magically appear with food and flotation device vendors setting up shop everywhere for a mere two hour swim break.  Like watching some crazy dusk bat feeding frenzy, the locals appear to enjoy their ocean in the few hours the sun is not overhead.  It makes me incredibly happy that they still can enjoy this slice of beach, even if there are boundary markers for the fancy hotels keeping them from wandering too far astray.  You can even spot the round basket like fishing boats used in lives past still being used today.

My second pleasant encounter was on the path from Hoi An to the even more touristy beach town of Nha Trang.  I stopped for the night in Quy Nhon, a rather large fishing city.  While it is rather populated it is completely devoid of tourists, foreign or domestic.  This led to a glorious city that was free of people pestering me for anything and guesthouses with reasonable prices right on the ocean.  The seafood was abundant and the mood was laid-back.  Had I not been trying to race down to meet my friend in Nha Trang, I could’ve stayed quite a while longer here.

I stopped by the provincial museum to learn more about the Cham rulers of this area for about half of the last millennium.  It is ignorance on my part to realize that Vietnam is like China in that it was hardly unified in the past, broken into so many kingdoms.

The Champa Hindu influence is very obvious some places.

And is its own beast other times.

It is proposed that Cham rule came over from Indonesia and that later Muslim influence came from similar places.  While perhaps less individually impressive than Angkor Wat, there are quite a few ruins dotting the land.  It is, as the museum stated, a part of our human history.  It never ceases to amaze me how the more I learn the less I feel like I know.

As I rode through the climbing mountains, I felt like I had discovered some sort of secret world. Look at all those ships!

The road out of Quy Nhon was also one of the most beautiful rides on this trip.  Winding coastal mountain roads gave me a view of the seas clogged with ships in the way that Vietnamese traffic does on land or sea.

I got off the main highway 1A to the side branch 1D and it led to this beautiful, curvy road.

The ride reminded me of the curving coastal drives I used to take back home along the cliffs.  Like a rose though, the most beautiful things are the most deadly.  High winds blew me across one and a half lanes on a one lane highway.  Buses and trucks either almost ran into me or ran me straight off the road, almost into ditches one time.  We barely braked to a stop half a foot away from each other another time.

I stayed in and then passed through so many fishing villages and towns. If I thought their roads were clogged, their sea lanes are just as bad!

It is a ride I am glad I taking with stops I am glad I made.  These are not where you’ll go when a tour agent sells you the cheapest option, but I highly recommend a local bus to these places.  I seek to see the real Vietnam before the tourism trade took over and this journey is providing it to me in spades.  It is not easy and confounds me often but it certainly is beautiful.

There are still unpopulated pockets of beauty. This country contains cities and towns shoved full of people and then lots of vistas like this.

I am already on the road less taken but these locales still appear in travel guides.  I cannot even begin to imagine what else lies out there.

I knew little of Vietnam when I came, only the divisions of north and south.  What history lies in the central coast though!  I was all proud of myself because this is probably the most I’ve learned of a new language on this trip.  Then I learned that the north, central and south all have their own dialects. Well the good news is the Hanoi dialect I started learning is the one “the people on TV use”, so at least everyone’s heard it.  Now if they could just decipher my butchered accent.  If you thought Mandarin Chinese’s four ways of saying words was tough, they have six here!

The grand old Hue castle, former seat of the last dynasty to rule Vietnam, the Nguyens. The current government left it in disrepair as a sign of failed royal rule but then realized the tourist appeal and started renovating.

I want a moat full of flowers. And alligators. Wherever I saw moats, I also saw Vietnamese people fishing. I saw quite a few moats.

They’ve started renovating the citadel of Hue but I think i prefer seeing what wars, typhoon and time have done to the place.

This is where real fusion happens.  Where so many invading forces and different people living can only become a mix of cultures.  I come from Los Angeles, where fusion both happens and is forced as a trend.  I definitely prefer the former.  Here it is interesting to see the mix of Cham, Chinese, French and even Muslim influences as they passed through these lands.  It is all mixed with Vietnamese ingenuity and resourcefulness.

Their basket weaving skills extend to making round fishing boats. The beach was empty all day until sunset when the locals arrived and so many little restaurants sprung up on the beach.

The last Vietnamese dynasty was based here too, so a lot of Vietnamese food was created from this mix of flavors as well.  The architectures and statues reflect this odd mix in a beautiful way.  It is an understated way, much like Laos, that I have trouble capturing in pictures.  It is an atmosphere that must be felt and I do recommend a trip here.

Sandwiches are getting better as I head south. I still miss the pickles, but I’m starting to see them.

This is nem lui, a specialty of Hue. Grilled ground pork spiced and put on lemongrass skewers to be grilled. Then you slide that and a bunch of herbs and vegetables into spring roll wrappers.

Ok so this isn’t a Vietnamese thing but I love rice buns. They’re great for spicy tuna burgers. I was also super excited to find a coke float, I can barely find those in the states!

Even the rice porridge is exciting here, chock full of spices and pork blood.

Another specialty of Hue, com hen is a delicious dish of clam and crispy bits with some broth to wash it down. It is more subtle than your standard Vietnamese dish.

I didn’t remember to take a picture of the specialty of Da Nang known as mi quang.  It’s tumeric spiced yellow rice noodles mixed with pork, herbs and vegetables.  Another one I have no pictures of in Hoi An is called cao lau, made of rice noodles with water from a special well in town.  They were delightfully extra chewy.  My one disappointment were Hoi An white rose dumplings and fried wontons, from the one restuarant in town where you can see unhappy women in Vietnamese traditional garb making them.  They were ok but highly overpriced and not worth going out of your way to eat.  I’ve also started spotting banh xeo, the yellow crepes stuffed full of delicious pork and shrimp.

This is bun mam, a rice noodle soup of salted anchovy which should include pork ears but this one did not, probably for tourists. It was still delicious. Little did I know how many ways one could cook rice noodles.

The downside to such a beautiful area is the high tourism and therefore strongest negative feelings I have had in Vietnam as well.  Just try to ignore all the Vietnamese people screaming “Madame” and “Cyclo ride? One dollar!”  They’re really nice once you get past that, it’s just particularly strong in this region.  It is oft said that ripping off foreigners is the national sport of Vietnam, and it certainly is in practice here.  Tourism has taken too strong of a root in places like Hoi An and I’m not much of the real culture remains beyond the buildings.  I keep wishing UNESCO world heritage sites managed to save the people as well as the buildings.

So many touts bothered me, I wish I had that no cyclo sign all the time. Not that they paid attention to this sign on the bridge either.

However don’t come to Vietnam only expecting the worst.  The people are really nice and you barely need to get off the path, often in the same town, to experience how nice the Vietnamese really are.  They are only what tourists have allowed them to be.

The hotel owner in touristy Hue wanted me to take a picture with his kid. They were super nice the entire time we were there.

My time motorcycling the Ho Chi Minh Trail has come to an end for now.  I’ve headed to the coast to hit the beaches and stopped to see the old Demilitarized Zone.  I have, pleasantly, not encountered a single incident of anti-American sentiment in the north.  This is not the end of my motorcycling time.  I look forward to cruising the sandy roads.

Missile-like statue near the old border river. There were also speakers on booth sides of the river. Must’ve been a loud shout out.

It seems the people here have either forgiven, forgotten, or are too young to even know.

The war stuff is usually so propaganda full that it was nice to just see some smiling pictures of people.

The government museums and sites were full of propaganda in the north, but that has lightened up considerably in this area.

Just in case it wasn’t clear:

This is the kind of propaganda you see in the north.

I always have a hard time imagining such a beautiful, peaceful place as the site of a horrid war.

The old war sites were overgrown with lush green vegetation.  The museums had exhibits from the American veteran’s groups and the Mine Action Group (a British NGO).

The wheelchair bikes here are crazy and slow. You rock that wheel back and forward to move.

The mine education center seemed more interested in using western funded money to educate their youngsters to protect themselves and how to help those who have been affected than to place blame for those bombs in the first place.

Laos and Vietnam do reuse their bombs a lot. This one was in front of the Mine Action Visitor Center. They use it as an education center for local children to teach them what to do with found bombs and how to treat those affected with kindness.

While still a dark mark in American history, I’m happy to see less pessimism and propaganda as I head south.  A fitting way to end the Ho Chi Minh Trail for now.  I may find myself back on this road in the south, but goodbye for now mountains.  I’m off for some beach time.