Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I'm traveling on my own now. Calum, Miles, and I all had slightly different plans, and for me to be where I want to be in a few weeks time I had to part ways with them. That's part of the reason. The other part is that for the last four months I haven't really been alone. Miles and I got along just about as well as two people can get along. In fact, until now, I had never spent so much time around just one person, and I don't think I ever will again. Even when I get married, unless my wife and I work at the same job, or get stranded on a desert island, it's likely we won't have as much contact as Miles and I had for the last four months. So even though Calum and Miles were just about the best companions to have, I began to miss my autonomy.

My first solo destination was Hanoi. It's a cool city--very crowded and very Vietnamese--but I'm losing my appreciation for cities. For almost two weeks I've been staying in pretty substantial urban centers, and I'm ready for a change in that regard too. To solve that problem, I have a bus booked to Laos, which is the mountainous country landlocked between Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and China. Most people recommend flying, but I'm partial to overland travel (plus it's about an eighth as expensive) so I opted for the bus. Despite my affinity for buses, I have to say I'm not looking forward to this one. They say it's an 18 hour ride, and I'm sure that's a best case scenario estimate. Like I said, Laos is a mountainous country, and a lot can happen in 18 hours. I can't imagine that they've averaged into that 18 hours all the delays from breakdowns, flat tires, or road construction. So I'm pretty much dreading it.

Enjoy some photos!

Our bus got a flat and we happened to find the ablest mechanic in all of Vietnam. He spent two hours patching two tires with the most rudimentary tools. His fee: 50,000 Dong (about $2.50).

The morning we parted

On the night bus from Hue to Hanoi... eating oreos.

Old town Hanoi

The shoe district

A riverside banana port. Women come here to load up their baskets and then flood the city with bananas.

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