Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and something that every visitor to northern Vietnam must experience. The sad truth about the place is that while it’s beautiful and memorable, the tourism industry there is incredibly in need of reformation. Price gouging occurs more often here than in other places in Vietnam, and boats are not always safe. If your level of calm is high and you’re able to handle these negatives, a trip to Ha Long Bay is necessary; otherwise, find somewhere else to visit. I took these photos during a trip with my best friend and roommate from college.
Emperor Tự Đức was the 4th Emperor of the famous Nguyễn Dynasty. His tomb is located near Hue and it has become—along with other tombs in the area—one of the premier travel destinations in Vietnam. It’s best to arrive very early at all tombs in Hue, as hoards of tourists and guests take away from the serenity of it all during midday hours.
Emperor Khải Định was the 12th Emperor of the famous Nguyễn Dynasty. His tomb is located near Hue and it has become—along with other tombs in the area—one of the premier travel destinations in Vietnam. It’s best to arrive very early at all tombs in Hue, as hoards of tourists and guests take away from the serenity of it all during midday hours.
2010 came and went, and some important events happened along the way. I…
- lived in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, at my wonderful grandmother’s condo (January 18th–February 24th)
- received my first tattoo, an initials and date of death tribute to my father (February 23rd)
- attended a Volunteers in Asia (VIA) Spring Orientation in Sausalito, California (April 9th–April 11th)
- ate dim sum, watched Wicked at the Orpheum, attended a Corinne Bailey Rae concert, and was overwhelmed by taiko drummers during my first trip ever to San Francisco, California (April 12th–April 17th)
- returned to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, for two months in preparation for a year with VIA and a goodbye to Saigon as home (June 22nd)
- became 144-hour TESOL certified (August 31st)
- said farewell to Saigon and made Hanoi my permanent home in Vietnam (August 31st)
- guest lectured at Hanoi University for a semester (September–December)
- reached my 1-year anniversary working with Graph Paper Press (September 13th)
- attended a VIA mid-year conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (November 28th–December 4th)
- committed to a 1-year extension on my guesthouse lease in The Old Quarter (December)
I’d rather not reflect on feelings or other non-action based items from the last year. That’s not what Twenty Ten was about; it was instead about never stopping and always moving. It was also about respecting how little time we all have to get stuff done in our lives before we expire.
I flew last night to Saigon from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I’d been there for a week, attending the Volunteers in Asia mid-year conference.
The conference was stressful. Volunteers in Asia, like many organizations in the States, is very seriously revisiting its finances for not only the immediate future but also the ultimate future of the NGO. It was our responsibility to talk about it and figure out what, if anything, we as volunteers can do to smartly focus VIA’s efforts in Southeast Asia. I doubt much of our recommendations, if any, will matter. I’ll actually be shocked if they did.
If anything good came out of the conference it was an opportunity for me to revisit the last three months of my life and present them to fellow volunteers in the form of images, video, and music. We are all spread throughout Southeast Asia—other than Vietnam’s in-country representative, I’m the only VIA-affiliated member who is posted in Hanoi—and there are very few of us in the region, so this exercise was critical to putting faces and feelings to bland, paper-based post descriptions.
For someone who doesn’t go into a lot of specific detail about his day-to-day life, it was important for my video to accurately portray my last three months. I eat (a lot), spend a great deal of time at home, have girl troubles and triumphs, party and dine with coworkers, and think—probably too much—about my future in Vietnam. This was not only for VIA but also (mostly, actually) for my family and friends in the United States, who collectively have an incredibly difficult time visualizing or understanding my reality in Vietnam. I don’t blame them; I would, too.
I had fun making this, if only because during the time spent creating it I thought long and hard about my role with Volunteers in Asia, my professional and social life in Hanoi, and my future—if there is one—in the United States.
three months now and then I will make a video like this. I need to keep track of my life and do it in such a way that the photos, videos, and music I use all preserve as much as possible my state of mind at the time of the video’s creation. Sometimes I’m happy, other times sad. But it all happens while music is playing in my head and at least I’m surrounded by wonderful souls who know how to make me laugh.
Tomorrow I’ll leave Saigon and return to Hanoi to finish 2010. Seems appropriate, I think.
My teeth, while clean and mostly well-formed, suffer from visible wear and tear due to Bruxism—grinding of the teeth and clenching of the jaw, which is at its worst during sleep. Couple that with a cross-bite and I have what a dentist in the States once referred to as a “beautifully malformed mouth”. It looks good, but there’s a lot wrong with it.
Headaches and stress have gotten the better of me lately, and while a lot of that is self-imposed, my Bruxism hasn’t helped lessen the aches and pains I wake up with on a daily basis. Enter my newly acquired, custom-fitted night guard.
Its purpose is to act as a teeth shield and pseudo-retainer. It’s a bit snug, but it does just that. The only side effects I’ve felt have been very slight teeth soreness after waking up, the inability to wear my night guard and speak comfortably, and an odd oral fixation with sucking on the night guard like a pacifier. This likely explains the soreness.
More important, though, is the comfort I’ve gained from visiting Westcoast International Dental Clinic and realizing that for as long as I live in Hanoi—which at this juncture points to years, minimum—I’ll have an excellent source of dental care in Vietnam.
The night guard, dentist consultations, a single cavity filling, and teeth cleaning combined set me back a very acceptable $300 USD, give or take a buck or two. I hadn’t been to the dentist for a solid ten years; given this week’s pleasant experience, I’m quite certain I’ll have more dental work performed within the next several months.