When I finally landed in Saigon around 11 pm last night, exhausted, dirty, hungry, and hotel-less, I was in no laughing mood. But then I got to chatting with a nice German wife /Australian husband couple (who met while backpacking... hmm!), who let me share a cab with me from the airport. And then I tailed them into their hotel in the off chance it would be decent, affordable, and have vacancy. And then it was -- $25/night for a clean and air-conditioned room with hot water that spewed out instantly (my first since.... well, since Rockville) and American cable channels on the flat-screen TV and an actually shower stall with a door (hard to imagine). And then I went to a cafe on the corner and got a cheap beer and some chicken curry and chatted about German castles with the train engineer sitting next to me. And then I had a good night's sleep and woke up to a brilliantly sunny day in Saigon.
And then I felt better.
So yes, long-term travel can be filled with once-in-a-lifetime experiences a la hiking the Great Wall practically solo or kayaking through the endless rocks of Halong Bay, but it can also make you feel completely broken and inexplicably hateful toward whatever country you happen to be in for the night. The good thing is that the bad feelings usually disappear as soon as you have a hot shower, a place to stash your stuff and some food in your belly, whereas the once-in-a-lifetime experiences are branded in your memory forever.
Anyway, the post is entitled pics, so why am I still prattling on? You probably skipped this and went straight to the pics anyway, it's okay, I'm not offended. So, then:
cyclo or bike lady, who will win?
sunset on hoan kiem lake:
fellow kayakers going underneath a huge rock formation:
jumping off the top of the boat:
motorbike on cat ba island:
local girls, cat ba island
local beach in hoi an:
ladies at market (right lady's lips are stained red with betel nut):
my spring rolls with fresh rice paper!
hoi an streets: