Controversy on the Tibetan Plateau

“The main reason Tibet is so undeveloped and un-Chinese – and so thoroughly old-fangled and pleasant – is that it is the one great place in China that the railway has not reached.  The Kun Lun Range is a guarantee that the railway will never get to Lhasa.  That is probably a good thing.  I … Continue reading

Swingin’ Through Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)

Saigon – Economic powerhouse – The Vietnamese work ethic – Regional differences – The American War – “Motorcycle for Sale”… I entered Saigon by bus, snuck past the motorcycle taxis and tuk tuk drivers, and caught a local bus to the center of town.  I passed through the sprawling city into its center and jumped … Continue reading

Good Morning, Vietnam! (Cambodia/Vietnam Border)

Kampot – Vietnamese Drivers – Distinct Culture – S. Vietnamese History – Fortunate Son My Lonely Planet guidebook described Kampot as being a pleasant riverside town with “fine French architecture.” I now know that “fine French architecture” is a euphemistic phrase that really means, “There is absolutely nothing to do here.” Therefore, I did nothing for a … Continue reading

Great Expectations (The Journey to Mandalay, Burma)

Mandalay – The Janky Bus – Ford the River! – My Fear of Monks – Suffering – Riding on the Roof Mandalay was disgusting.  I was utterly disappointed.  I made a vow to myself to never expect anything from a city ever again.  From now on, I would expect every city to be horrible so … Continue reading

Pilgrim for a Day (Kyaiktiyo, Burma)

Wake up, pseudo-pilgrim – the agonizing bus ride – how can monks take shortcuts? – The golden rock I woke up in Kyaiktiyo to the sound of Buddhist prayers streaming through my open window.  The air was smoky from villagers burning trash and farmers practicing slash-and-burn agriculture.   I was in Kyaiktiyo, the destination of thousands … Continue reading

Chiang Mai oh My (Chiang Mai, Thailand)

A strange comparison – Jay and I dig Buddhism – NGOs and tales from Burma – Motorbikes are fun ============================================== Chiang Mai is a Thai version of Los Angeles. Chiang Mai sits in a small basin in the north of Thailand, surrounded by mountains and saturated in smog…so far, the comparison holds.  Traffic is wild, … Continue reading

A Strange Introduction – Yala Province, Thailand

The train started with a lurch, then slowly gained speed as the soldiers in my cabin gripped their M-16 assault rifles, stuck their head out the windows, and scanned the horizon for trouble. I was in the southern Thai province of Yala, where a Muslim uprising has been simmering for decades.  Of all the places … Continue reading