The First Time I Almost Died-Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

By the end of this story a number of people will be dead. The compact dirty white van left the tourist choked streets of Hanoi, Vietnam’s French Quarter early in the morning. We were a group of 10 strangers bound together by our desire to see the turquoise beauty of Ha Long Bay, and its breathtaking limestone islands thrusting out of the waters. We were also cheap, backpackers looking to save money but desperate to spend 3 days living on a boat, cruising the pearl culturing backwaters of Vietnam’s UNESCO World Heritage site, and exploring the natural caves dotting the area. Sixty eight dollars was a lot to us for two nights on the boat, three meals a day, and an English guide. Sixty eight dollars almost cost all of us our lives. What you get for 68 Dollars Seagulls screeched as the van jerked to a stop at the Read full article…

Rice Paddy Terraces: Travel Photo Contest Friday 28

Update: The winner is Caz…who guessed the Longshen Rice Terraces, also known as The Dragons Back Rice Terraces in China (OK she only said Longshen China). Thanks again to Andrea and her educational travel blog.  Here is what makes these rice terraces so special to Andrea: “It’s a special place because the terraces are stunning. They were mainly built during the Ming dynasty, so are about 500 years old. The lower terraces are at 380m, while the highest part is 880m, so there are 500 meters of stunning photographs at every turn. One of the best parts of Longshen are the female porters, who moonlight as manic pashmina sellers in the evenings. They have a wonderful humor that breaks through any language barriers. The family homes that are run as guesthouses also make it a special place to stay. Longshen is a wonderful break from the crowds and pollution of China. Although the hike can Read full article…

Fighting Fires in Luang Prabang, Laos

This article won the People’s Choice award from the Southeast Asian Travel Writing Competition. Thanks to everyone who voted!   No, Thank You Laos How many people can you feed with a 600 pound catfish I wondered as I walked down the deserted street in northern Laos. Somewhere, in the darkness close by, the mythical Mekong River snaked its way through the intense blackness, hiding the massive catfish and the largest population of gigantic species in the world. It was just after 9:00 PM but there was no one else on the streets. I walked cautiously, afraid to disturb the romantic stillness in the air and the humming wildlife from the encroaching jungle. I was in Luang Prabang, the ancient capital of Laos and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995. Lost to a bygone era, the French inspired Indochinese houses surrounded me, converted to coffee and gift shops but Read full article…

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