In the 12 days Dan and I trekked through Vietnam, we managed to do many things: not die in a taxi ride from hell; survive the insanely chaotic streets of Ho Chi Minh City (harder than you might think); dine with two internationally-renowned divas—one from New York, the other from London; drink no less than 25 (a-piece, and not an exaggeration) fruit smoothies made with fresh, locally grown fruit; visit three fantastic, eye-opening museums, including the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh (formerly known as the American and Chinese War Crimes Museum, but renamed in order to avoid offending the recent influx of American and Chinese tourists); nearly lose my lunch upon viewing photographic testimony to the devastating effects of white phosphorus and “Agent Orange,” two chemical weapons employed by the US during the Vietnam War; eat our weight in pasta, pizza, lasagna, and “soggy shit”; eat more than our weight in spring rolls, white lotus…”thingies,” and fried wantons; eat dog (probably); gorge ourselves on splendid Nepalese cuisine; get massages (the legitimate kind…although offers for the “other” kind were also on the table); witness firsthand the awe-inspiring beauty and magnificence of Halong Bay, Vietnam’s preeminent World Heritage Site; imbibe five bottles of wine with three awesome, newly acquired friends from Germany—Trixi, Julia, and Dorothy; wake up early the next day (without a hangover) to explore the caves and grottoes of Halong Bay via kayak; coast along the Perfume River in a row boat en route to the so-called Perfume Pagoda; realize that said Pagoda is really just a cave with a tacky lightshow, and the “perfume” just incense and the stench of rotting fruit; eat dog again (probably); order custom-tailored suits, shirts and trousers; devour far too many bars of Ritter Sport chocolate; pale at the sight of a blood-smeared body bag blocking the road back to Hanoi; marvel at the fact that Vietnamese motorcyclists refuse to wear helmets; join Trixi, Julia, and Dorothee for drinks at Dragonfly, one of Hanoi’s swankiest bars; enumerate the many ways in which people from LA are fake (excluding yours truly, of course);  proceed to drink too much tequila, and then stumble back to our hostel only to find it’s shuttered for the night; bang on shutter hoping someone will let us in; wander the backstreets and alleyways of Hanoi during the wee hours of the night; refuse offers of sex with an army of trollops; fend off shockingly brave rats the size of small cats (in other words, freaking huge!); fall asleep on a park bench (a new low for me); explore the ancient ruins of Champa, a civilization dating back to the 4th century BC; purchase and subsequently lose no less than three pair of “designer” sunglasses; relax upon the sugary sands of Cua Dai Beach, all the while sipping, naturally, fruit smoothies; and last but most certainly not least, we managed to come down with two lovely cases of traveler’s diarrhea!  Call it a hunch, but I’m guessing this was caused by those bloody fruit smoothies.

Of course, there were plenty of things we didn’t get around to doing—there are only so many hours in a day, afterall.  Here are a few of them, in no particular order: learn to speak Vietnamese; take a Vietnamese cooking class; meet travelers from Iceland; break down and get one of those “alternative” massages; smoke “ganja” with a French hippie; eat rat (hopefully!); view Ho Chi Minh’s stiff corpse; visit the Hill Tribes; drink coconut milk (we didn’t want full-blown diahrrea); hunt for gold on Cat Ba Island (legend has it there actually isn’t any gold on Cat Ba, but that just means someone’s keeping it all to themselves!); eat any “washoku”; check my blog (the same cannot be said for Mr. Norton, however); discover true love; resist the urge to speak in a Scottish accent; understand English when spoken with a  Scottish accent. 

All things considered—particularly the fact that we almost perished before the trip even got underway—not a bad way to spend 12 days. Now, bring on the pictures, you bloody Yankee!