Asia 2005 Post mortem.

Well I'm back in New Zealand... after roughly 26 hours of flying and stop overs (Hanoi -> Bangkok -> Sydney -> Auckland) I landed back home... to be greeted by a selection of my family (Parents, Brother, Nieces and grand parents no less) - which was all good.

My last few days in Hanoi were great - didn't really do much sight seeing... just enjoyed the good food and beverages on offer in Hanoi and generally relaxed as well as I could - was lots of fun - and put me in a good frame of mind to head home.

The trip out to the airport in Hanoi was also pretty cool - there's a funky bridge you have to travel over... wish I'd got some pictures of it, pretty impressive.

And now that I'm home... well I've got the winter blues a little - to come from 36 degrees and  doing whatever I pleased all day long... to 16 degrees, GST and income tax waiting in the wings and a town full of generally unfriendly and distant people (in comparison to most parts of Asia I visited).. It did/has left me in a bit of a daze - though only temporary I'm sure.

Oh, and for the curious... If I was to list my favourite countries, it would be in this order:

  • China
  • Vietnam
  • Laos
  • Thailand
  • Cambodia

Which isn't to say I hated any of them... but I did definitely loved China just that little bit more then the others... if there was a place I'd head back to for another visit (or to work...hmmm)... probably Beijing or Hangzhou for a city.

Oh and as for some myths dispelled... I remember at first thinking that woman were wearing masks perhaps because of fears of bird flu or SARS... and I think Nikolai commented that it was probably because of air pollution? Well we were both wrong, it was because the woman wanted to hide from the sun and keep their faces as white as possible... they even have shirts with extra long sleeves that button up/down (makeshift gloves) and attached bonnets and face masks that look like giant collars - just to hide from the sun when riding around on bikes.  Asian woman want to be white with big breasts (loads of adverts for breast enlarging "cream" on the local TV)... Western woman want tan's... cest la vie.

Another thing that puzzled me at first was the Cambodian kid I saw with what looked like lash marks and scars on his back (who's family I got a ride with over the Laos/Cambodia border)... It was actually just a bad reaction to a big dose of tiger balm "stripes" - which they normally apply when someone has a dose of the flu - saw loads of people like this in Vietnam and Cambodia, that and people covered in lots of black/purple round spots where they've been using vacuum "therapy" to suck the "poisons" out of their blood... fun stuff.

Guess my next blog post will probably be a technical one - should make for a change!

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Halong Bay to Hanoi...

Well I survived the 4 hour ride in Ninh Binh... it's a pretty flat town :) so it's not exactly taxing... though "Buck" (Clint, but we call him buck.. as he's a respected elder) did somehow cause his back tire to explode...

At any rate, after Ninh Binh I headed out to halong bay... went out overnight on a "chinese junk" like ship... which is pretty damn slow... hardly surprising for a 60 foot 3 story boat that only has a 4 litre nissan diesel motor pushing it along - Sadly it was overcast all day, so my pictures probably dont do it credit at all.. but this place is stunningly beautiful (and even hauntingly so when it's raining)... basically it's Yangshou/Guilin in China, but reproduced in the middle of the ocean - i.e. thousands of limestone peaks of various sizes that are amazingly steep and jagged.

After going for a bit of a swim in the sea.. and a kayak around some islands (even went through a cave and popped out in a completely enclosed lagoon in the middle of an island... stunning).. oh and visiting "surprising" cave.. which is surprising, in that ships ram each other for a chance to unload passengers on the island (bloody funny to watch) .. and that the cave from the outside looks "tasteful" - yet inside it's like some kind of really repetative disneyland.. coloured lights.. the odd sound effect... oh la la!

That evening I got myself a tad laquered... wine.. beer.. "hanoi" vodka.. and even some scotch.. needless to say it was an amusing evening.. and ended up spending a good four hours cloud watching with Helen out on deck and discussing the why's and where for's of being "barren" *snigger*... It's funny that because you generally bump into people with very diverse backgrounds and interests that inevitably discussions always end up going back to "people" and "relationships" as opposed to things - which, though it passes the time, slowly liquefies my brain... I can't wait to get back into some coding.

The following day we departed from Halong bay and headed up to Hanoi... ye olde capital of Vietnam - which is where I am now (sitting in the old quarter thinking how I really need some bia hoi and a shower).. for the ummm... 2nd day?

At any rate - I've been binging on western "treats" for the last 2 days... Tastey bbq ribs at Al'frescos last night... tasty lunch at Koto's  (Koto stands for Know one, teach one... which is a restaurant started by an australian dude who trains street kids).. Halida beer - which only seems available up here in the north - and tastes pretty good... and I even sat down and watched a DVD this afternoon (the life and death of peter sellers... not that bad actually) while eating a take away "caramel cream" and some "tizzarisu" from the bakery down the street.. (poorly spelt tirramisu I suspect it was, damn tasty).

All in all, hanoi is treating me pretty damn well.. though being overcast here seems to make absoloutely no difference to this sodding heat and the humidity is sky high - so I just spend all day with my shirt soaking wet with sweat... I hope it's bloody miserable and freezing cold when I get home - that first kiss of cool eye should be brilliant!

On the cultural side of things... I've been to see Uncle Ho this morning.. so I can scratch another dead preserved communist/socialist leaders body of the list... it's actually pretty good, I think the setup and surrounding buildings and museum are a lot "nicer" then the tacky shit they try to sell as you depart from chairman Mao's mousaleum..  that probably only leaves Lenin? Unless I've forgotten someone else.

At any rate, couple more days and I'll be flying home.. for the curious I'm expecting to touch down at around 12:30pm on the 16th of June... And I figure that friday I'll probably head out for some drinks or a meal somewhere if anyone in the Auckland region is keen.

Oh and tomorrow night in Hanoi, the Culi Cafe is opening there downstairs italian cafe... and it's free beer and wine for all... if you can make it, I'll see you there!

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Hue to Ninh Binh

Leaving Hoi An

Well I left for Hue from Hoi An around 2pm - the drive took us past the Marble mountains and china beach.. pretty much a non-event other then there being a lot of domestic tourists... and then the bus crawled it's way up the gorgeous Hoi van pass -
if I was to start a love affair with  Vietnam, this would be the place to initiate it.

At this point I should probably make a note about vehicles in vietnam ... the speed limit is generally 50 km/h (rumour has it it's 60km/h for bikes?) on the open road and 30km/h in the city limits.  Needless to say road trips can take longer then you would initially think!  But after having driven on the roads around here I hope they never change that limitation, because it would just be a death sentence for so many more drivers... it's hard enough at 30km/h and I've already had to duck through peoples car ports to avoid hitting cars and performing various other cunning slow-speed manouvers ;o)

The current statistics suggest that for the 80+ million population there is about 44 million registered bikes... remove the elderly and kids and you have a huuuge vehicle owning population (not to mention all the non-registered bikes out in the countryside).  And whats even better is that a number of the bikes are being "riced" up... I've seen spinners on the wheels, respray jobs and neon underlighting... though no one seems interested in squeezing additional performance out of those 110 cc engines.

Arriving at Hue

I got to Hue about 6pm.. and ended up going out to dinner at a french vietnamese restaurant and then drinks at the DMZ bar - which is a mix of locals and expats... met a couple of expat friends of Marks, Darra and Jim...Jim has the honour of being a 3rd place winner in the "Minsk olympics" of vietnam... basically making him an expert at drunk russian motorbike piloting, as far as I could tell.

In fact I think the club has a website ( for the curious... it seems to be the popular choice of vehicle if you want to tour through Vietnam.

I actually ended up getting a lift home on his "Minky"... they're a pretty funny old beast... smokey...heavy... gutless... a perfect example of russian 1950's engineering - and the expats can't seem to get enough of them in vietnam, it seems to offer them a bit of identity in a country which could no doubt do your head in after a few years - the fact that the vietnamese hate them because they're "old" and "uncool" only seems to reinforce the appeal - like most expats, they dont so much want to integrate (or can't, it's easier said then done).. as create a niche for themselves to inhabit.

The following day I went on a motorbike tour with crazy Mr Than, a martial arts master (of some vietnamese variant of karate?) who is also a keen photographer... I think he stopped to take more photos then we did... but it was a great morning of exploring Hue's back roads... even visited some chanting monks (and chanted with them... because it seemed the right thing to do) and a nunnery..  I have a soft spot for Buddhist nun's - they're always a little cheaky - and often get inducted from a very young age.. so other then the odd tourist to
giggle with, there lives can be quite sterile from an outsiders perspective - I can't imagine being 10 years old and seeing your entire life pre-planned for you... They cooked an awesome vegetarian meal for us as well... perhaps the best vegetarian meal I've ever had in fact... mmmmm

Some other stuff happened.. blah blah blah... then that evening I attempted to go see a motorbike stunt show... however I was a little too late, as they had already oversold the show and a small riot of a thousand or so people was starting up outside as
the security tried to pull the doors shut :) absoloute chaos, so it was worth the effort just to see that... but still a little dissapointing.. The reports from some attendees was that they played about an hours music (mostly vietnamese battle hymns.. heheh) and then had a michael jackson "impressionistic" act followed by half an hour or so of motorbike stunts... with half of them done on the little 110cc scooters, which must've been funny to see.

The following day I visited the Citadel... basically a walled in fort with an inner forbidden purple city (ah la Beijings "forbidden city") where the emperor lived... a huge amount of this site is completely obliterated by various conflicts (French, American and allies ..and of course the north vietnamese themselves who during the "good times" of communism took it upon themselves to burn all the ancient texts in the libraries here). 

None the less, it's a beautiful spot and well worth a look around .. especially if you haven't been to China (the further north we go, the more chinese influence I keep seeing).

The D.M.Z

After Hue we headed to Dong Ha and spent the night there so we could leave early to explore the DMZ that seperated north and south vietnam "back in the day"... while around the DMZ I visited the Vinh Moc Tunnels, the old and new bridges across the river that seperated north and south plus some other random nearby sights...very cool, then tunnels were inhabited by about 300 people and are situated near the coast.. I think they were formed around 1965/1966 during the height of war time... the deepest tunnels are about 23 metres below the surface, and alot of the network survived repeated carpet bombing from the U.S.  The text on the entry ticket reads:

"Visiting Vinh Moc today, you will feel as you lived back in the glorious time with the historical heroes who made these exploits"

heh... "keep living the dream" springs to mind.

Also visited the Phong Nha Cave(s) later in the afternoon... this is a boat trip for half an hour, followed by looking at some caves lit with red, green and blue flourescent lights... the best bit is the english guide they supply you for free.. who's obsessed with seeing things in the  deposits... of course, because he's asian they all happen to be either a dragon, water buffalo, elephant, tiger or turtle... but at times he seemed melancholoy if you didn't see it too (which was often) - I kept having flash backs to the "cave guy" in the League of gentleman series...
"child killed in cave tragedy, local man blamed..".. at any rate, it's probably not a reference many people will get... so, moving right along.

Had a good hot pot for dinner in Dong Hoi (squid, prawns, meat and fish...) that though expensive (about $6 NZ) .. was enough food to feed four people, though I had a good go at eating it all myself... That evening we jumped a night train (after stopping briefly at Bia Hoi, which had sadly "run dry"...Bia Hoi [beer hoy! sounds like a piratical drinkery nyarr] is locally brewed beer... about 120,000 dong for a 22 litre keg (about $8 US dollars)... I'm definitely keen to give it a lash - its what most expats hit if they're planning to drink alot.

The overnight train was surprisingly comfy... I'd heard that hard sleepers on this route weren't that shit hot (ie. no padding) .. but these 6 bunk cabins even had a door you could pull shut... we hit the "Lum Noi" (basically vietnamese vodka) .. which goes down
ok with a bit of Da/Nook Da (ice) and Soda Chang (soda water and fresh lime) and cranked out some rather tragic guns and roses to listen too.

Today I'm in "Ninh Binh" .. basically it's another 200,000 population viet town, like all the rest... I've wandered through the market this mornin' to have one of my last "fills" of open air butcheries... this afternoon I'm gonna jump a bicycle and have a cruise round the town.. apparently there's a quite good 24km ride around this area - though the clouds are lifiting so it's probably going to end up being bloody 38 or 40 degrees again.. bleh, tomorrow I'm off to Halong bay... which I'm looking forward too, boats are my preferred way to travel :)

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Leaches, my special little friends

Nah Trang

OK, well we arrived in Nah Trang at about 6:30am, got to the hotel and just crashed.. slept till about 12:30 then went for a walk up the beach.. this was back on the 27th of may.. interesting walk.

Nah Trang seems to have dual personalities.. one a cute fishing village/town, the other a beach resort "hell on earth" (to my way of thinking...) - think deck chairs, fat men getting massaged and half the beach being "private" so that a stroll ends up with you being chased off... heh - oh and I did I forget to mention the couple of syringes I almost stepped on up the far end of the beach.. woot ;o)

At 2pm I headed up to some local Cham era ruins which are amazingly well preserved (compared to other Cham ruins I've seen) and then onto the local "attraction" - some medicinal mud baths - which was nice, so I soaked in hot mineral water, mud baths, steam rooms and got an hour of full body massage all for the princely sum of around $10 US.  If your in Nah Trang it's well worth it, and the one thing we all noticed was how good your hair feels afterwards...mmm

That night we hit some of the local iconic spots.. drinks at the sailing club (nice view, hugely overpriced beers) - then hit the best little seafood restaurant in town for a 100,000 dong bbq... which included 4 lobsters, scallops, mussels, squid (which was gorgeous), fish... the list goes on, it was a truely huge amount of food.. and the fun thing is that it's just an outdoor restaurant that sets itself up in a bus stop on a road corner - classy!

Later that night I made myself "comfortable" in the Red Sun bar.. had 3 "zombie" buckets made with the local rice rum.. each bucket is about a litre... kinda catches up with you after an hour though.. like any cheap spirits I guess.

The following day we went for a "cruise" on the harbour with dodgy old Papa Langs "second best island tour" - visited an Island that was half fishing village, half "super" aquarium.. shaped like a giant gallion made from coral.. it was truely awe inspiringly tacky... I loved it... played with some turtles... watched kids tormenting the turtles... (Vietnamese aren't too clued up on animal cruelty) and went on our merry way.

That afternoon we did some swimming/snorkeling over some reefs... had a nice lunch that the crew of the boat prepared "on the fly" with a little gas cooker (more squid, honestly the squid in vietnam is the best I've ever had... mmmm) - and then got dropped off on an island beach (Mimi?) that was deserted.. so I lay around listening to music while watching the world go by, and interspersed it with cooling off in the sea.  Pretty damn sweet.

Burgers and beer for dinner... *bliss*... yes it's not traditional vietnamese fair, but to be honest .. most vietnamese food is pretty boring and bland compared to their surrounding cousins (other then the seafood).

Off to the Central Highlands

Grabbed a bus to the central highlands.. Dropped our big packs at Buon Ma Thuot to drove out into the country side... originally there was going to be a 1km walk to a local E-de minority peoples village, but there's a big hydro dam project taking place that's ripped all the roads to shit (and though providing work for the local tribes people is probably going to displace them all once it's complete) - this is the difference between vietnam and it's neighbours (excluding china obviously)... it's just a buzz with industrial projects - the entire country is like one giant roadworks project.

So... the big hydro project meant big bulldozers on muddy roads.. which also meant our bus wasn't going to get very close to the village... so we ended up walking about 3 km's through the hydro project (which I quite enjoyed) before we finally got to the village/farm stay.  The E-de village was an interesting spot... the people weren't particularly engaging.. I didn't mind but some of my fellow travellers thought they were rude and unfriendly people (the fact that they didn't attempt to engage them and of course that all these people had just worked 16 hour days didn't really enter there minds I suspect...) - though it was a lovely spot and I got to play with some pigs - the next day we had an 18km trek up through vietnamese jungle to a M'nong village called Buon Triet.. This was a nice walk, though about half way through it we suddenly entered leach country... A new experience for me - and not that pleasant.. the little fuckers get into everything... climb up your shoes, and can even slide through alot of fabricks weaves ie. socks - I had to keep nocking them off every 5 or so minutes for about 3 hours, and still ended up with 8 of them attached to me...

..a couple got really big before I finally got rid of them (wish I'd taken a picture) - at which point you look like you've been mortally wounded because your blood wont clot (due to the anti-coagulent they secrete) - kinda creepy, but pretty harmless in small doses.

That afternoon/night I got on the piss with the locals... After my experiences in Lao I'm pretty "ok" with rice wine... we did it the "traditional" way where by you do shots and have some cooked meet and greenery to chew on in between - I love drinking with locals, even though of course I get far too loud (A drunk Henderson is a loud person, even to the vietnamese ;o) but it was loads of fun and the older and more respected men of the M'nong villages (ie. Buck's and up.. me being just a lowly "em") are hilarious to watch.

The next day we got up and walked out to where a bus should have been to pick us up.. on the way we got to see a motorbike accident and get some first hand experience as to east meets west first aid..

The accident

This kid came hooning down past us, then turned sharply into a narrow driveway at about 40kms and missed it completely running into the deep ditch next to it.  He was nocked unconscious and may have sustained spinal injuries... so (probably incorrectly) two of our fellow travellers first on the scene helped pull him out of the ditch and lay him on the ground... Then mark (our guide at the time) turned up and attempted to assess the situation... but at about this point an argument ensued with the local family that had come out because they
believed he needed to be rushed to hospital... on the back of a motorbike... at this point as a westerner there's really nothing you can do accept close your eyes and let it take it's course... but they proceeded to lift the unconcious guy up (without supporting his head which flopped back and assumed a rather sickening angle) and then sandwiched him in between two other people on a motorbike as he flopped around... they then started to take off and after a couple of metres noticed his feet were dragging on the ground and decided it might be a good idea to pick them up... erk...

After the incident Mark talked about a sweedish guy who had hit a logging truck while on a bike in vietnam... he survived (amazingly).. and woke up in a sweedish hospital with massive facial reconstruction and most toes missing from either foot... ground off on his rushed trip from the scene of the accident to hospital on the back of a bike... hmmm... the moral of the story is dont get injured in these countries if at all possible.

At any rate.. after that our trip to the bus continued.. but it had broken down, so we hung around with some local kids playing "photographer" and then eventually got some "local" transport to the next town where our bus was.  Local transport consisted of an old jeep that had no clutch and no brakes... needless to say the trip was pretty amusing (they'd start then thing in first gear and god help you when you needed to stop!)

After all the mornings activities I had a lazy afternoon as I borrowed Helens portable DVD player (will have to take one of these next time I travel ;o) and watched a couple of random things... Love Actually and Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind... I kinda enjoyed the later, though that could just be because I like girls with blue hair that wear hoodies.

Hoi Ain Ho!

On the 1st I flew to Hoi An (Well to Danang from Buon Ma Thuot, then took a bus to Hoi An) - the flight was short (just under an hour) .. and it's the first time I've been in a turbo prop aircraft... there a little bumpier, which is fun.  Hoi An is a unesco protected world heritage sight.. with a lovely "old town" sector, a nearby beach, rivers and some good eating spots - all in all it's a lovely spot to chill out for a couple of days.

After arriving in the early afternoon I went for a cycle round town.. had lunch in the cargo room (lamb rack...mmmm...) then retired back to my room for a brief nap, swim and then headed out to Tam Tam's for dinner and drinks... being Low season most of the night spots aren't exactly going "off" - but personally I think that makes it better... I'm into just chilling out at the moment and squeezing as much relaxation as possible into my last few weeks of tripping around.

The following morning I decided to go see woman slapping eachother with fish in the local fish market... which is pretty funny as the old ladies get fairly heated in their negotiations :) ... bought myself a vietnamese coffee dripper and some coffee (they do gooood coffee in vietnam...).. Walked around the old town, hilight being the Fujian Assembly hall which is a very cool old building.  Did a little shopping and had a quiet'ish night of drinking, eating and savouring the delights of a local patisserie ;o)

On my 3rd day in Hoi An I took a motorbike out for a bit of a ride (with roger on the back) and visited a local orphanage and got shown around by a volunteer coordinator (Nicole Woods, a laywer from Australia) who's been there since october last year.. it's interesting to get the "low down" on the rather depressing circumstances that result in kids getting shipped off from home - often they aren't so much orphans in the traditional sense but the refuse from a widowed wife, who upon remarrying, the new husband doesn't want the children - either because of financial reasons, or that it might discourage the woman from wanting to have children to him - sometimes the parents just cant afford to keep the children, this is especially common with the subsistance fisherman in the near by Cham islands. 

The kids in the orphanage are currently being fed on about 5000 dong a day per child... $0.33 US cents a day :( - and these aren't small kids, they range from 7 to 20 years of age. Even in the local market I could only buy a small bottle of water and baguette with animal parts pate' for that... hardly 3 square meals - needless to say they eat a lot of plain rice.

That night I'd arranged to do a cooking class with Mr Hai... Mr Hai is umm... interesting :) he was completely sozzled at 6am before he'd even started to do our 2 hour cooking class... very very funny - I'm not sure what I learnt about vietnamese cooking ;o) but I had a good laugh - and ended up drinking with him for a few hours afterwards - he definitely seems like a bit of institution in Hoi An, and until the 11th of this month he was one of Vietnams oldest (and dodgiest) bachelors.. but alas no
more, as he's marrying a woman who doesn't look good but smells great... or something to that effect, I couldn't really understand him alot of the time.  Finished off the night drinking Majitos in the "Then an Now" - probably the mintiest one I've ever had.

And today (the 4th) I'm leaving Hoi An for my next destination in an hour or so... Hue.. should be interesting... Though the heat in Vietnam is pretty nasty at the moment, seems to be averaging a very uncomfortable 40 degrees... the real problem though is the humidity.. as your sweat just doesn't evaporate... fun and games, ugh!

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Mekong delta and war crimes ensemble

Fun on the Mekong

Well the last few days on the Mekong delta have been great -
especially yesterday as we jumped a boat to take us eastwards
down the mekong to Can Tho where we stayed in a local farm stay
(basically just somebodies house converted to allow for visitor

The boat trip took about 8 hours, and I spent most of it a hamock
reading a book or listening to music...  there is such
an abundance of things to look at! So much is going on in the
Mekong delta - I've seen brick factories, loads of family owned
live aboard cargo boats, floating fish farms (basically houses
with netting cages underneath housing the fish), barges dredging
the harbour of transporting fertilizer and all sorts of other
random things.   It's definitely my favourite part of
the Mekong that I've seen so far - I'd love to come back with my
own boat and explore the region thoroughly one day - it's simply

This'morning we got up early and headed to the floating markets
in Can Tho by boat - the markets setup every morning,
selling food predominiately, but also covering things such as
porcelain, fuel and building materials - all from boats floating
50 or so yards off shore.. I would estimate that there was at
least 200 boats there this morning - fascinating stuff to watch,
especially as just about every boat over 6 or 7 metres
doubles as a family home.. so you have mum, dad and the
kids all helping out.. some more then others (the woman here seem
to get worked bloody hard).

Also while in Chau Doc we headed up the Sam mountains to watch
sun set over the amazingly fertile Mekong delta (I've never seen
any place greener) - and headed out to a village near the Khmer
border which had all but 3 of it's occupants slaughtered by the
Khmer rouge - and amazingly one of the 3 survivers runs the local
drinks shop, so you can talk to her (via a translator) - what a
tough old bugger she is too - shot in the neck and beaten over
the head - she lost conciousness only to awake 3 hours later and
discover everyone else in the town dead (I think it was
aproximately 3000 killed?) - and somehow she just kept of living
ever since.

Back to Saigon, The War Remnants museum

This afternoon we headed back to Saigon, where I am now.. and
decided to visit the war remnants museum... which is basically
the American/Japanese war crimes museum.. the museum seems to be
split into 4 sections.  The first is a number of war
artificats - including tanks, fighters, helicopters and artillery
from the vietnam war... which was quite interesting, to me at
least.. second section is a wonderful array of war time
photography done by american and japanese war correspondents that
provides an insight into the photographers themselves as opposed
to what they were capturing on film, included in this section is
a book listing a page long history of each photographer who lost
his life (or just went missing) during the conflict.. I never
realised just how many war correspondents perished in the
conflict.. there are a lot of pages.

After that we have the war crimes sections, which I see as two -
basically the first one you hit is what generally horrifies most
people - which details the devestation caused by defoliants, such
as agent orange, and phosphor based bombs dropped on villages. If
the photos on the walls aren't bad enough (people with skin
falling off, disfigured and humongous birth defects) - they also
have fouetuses in jars showing massive deformities as a result of
gross dioxin poisoning in their mothers.

The second section is the more traditional war crimes -
documenting the wholesale slaughter of men, woman and children..
with some truely horrific pictures of American soldiers looking
pretty pleased with themselves as they proudly show off corpses
(and in some cases partial corpses) of their victims.

I think the museum in itself is interesting for two very
different reason, one because of the truely amazing photographs
that are on display, and secondly because it is truely a product
of propoganda fueled from the north - displaying a
particularly one sided view of a tragic and drawn out conflict -
a good reminder of whoever wins the war, writes the history
books... but regardless of bias, the end result is that a lot of
people died on both sides, most of them needlessly. 

Off The Nah Trang

Tonight we jump onto an overnight train at 11:00pm to take us up
to Nha Trang ... it will be interesting to see how the
trains are in Vietnam, compared to China and Thailand
- Looking forward to it, definitely been too long since I've
been able to catch a train (seeing as Laos has none, and Cambodia
has one or two (depending on who you talk too) .. but it's
only capable of travelling at ~20km/hr!)

Incidentally Nah Trang used to be the traditional R&R spot
for american soldiers, and still carries a very dodgy reputation
after dark - it should be good for a laugh, though my guide
warned that they've had cases of men being chased by prostitutes
- even all the way into elevators in hotels.

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