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Friday, January 23, 2009

A few days

I just spent a few days on Phu Quoc Island. You should look it up, because it truly is ridiculously beautiful. While there, I did the following things:

Here was my daily schedule:
read on beach
swim around
read (in hammock)
play pool
happy hour
australian open
play pool
maybe play poker

I finished 3 more books:
- The Last Supper, by Chris McChristopher or something, a truly trashy spy novel that I recommend to nobody, ever. I only read it because the other stuff on the shared-book shelf was in German
- When Heaven and Earth Changed Places, by a Vietnamese Lady named Bay Le Ly or some such, kind of like a "Diary of Anne Frank" except a lot more graphic and terrifying. Not that I've ever read "Diary of Anne Frank."
- White Teeth, by Zadie Smith. A truly zany post-modern, post-colonial, post-whatever melange of Salman Rushdie and Douglas Adams and probably some other people. Pretty cool, but I wouldn't recommend reading all 540 pages in one day.

I am still reading Soul Mountain, but it's actually so awesome that I don't want to finish it, so I keep buying or bumming all these other books to read in between chapters. I just got "The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy. Despite the promising surname, all the good reviews have me skeptical. Also purchased a pirated "Lonely Planet: Laos" guidebook. Pirated books are all over the place here, it's truly crazy. Oddly, or perhaps not oddly, enough, I have scruples with buying pirated books and managed to search out a legit Vietnam guidebook. No such luck on Laos, though.

Tomorrow afternoon I start a 19 hour train ride that will take me to Hue, which is only in the middle of Vietnam. Who knew this place was so stretched out? It takes 31-41 hours to get from Saigon to Hanoi by train (depending on which kind you take), and that still leaves off quite a bit of the North and South regions.

After the ride, I'll have at most 5 days in Hue before my visa expires and I either move to Laos or a prison. I'm hoping to wind up in prison, because getting to the capital of Laos apparently requires another 25 hours of bus rides. Maybe next time I'll try to calculate how many hours I've spent going places and how many hours I've spent being there. The ratio will surely make me sick.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Two short lists

Things you can buy for about a dollar:
-a pineapple, peeled and cored and ready to eat
-a mango, similarly prepared
-a pound of strawberries
-various fresh fruit juices and shakes
-dandy lunch A): bowl of tofu and noodles, 2 spring rolls, and a bottled drink
-dandy lunch B): Bahn Xeo (vietnamese omelette/crepe), also with 2 spring rolls and drink
-17 sticky-rice pyramids wrapped in coconut leaves
-a 450ml bottle of Saigon Red beer (75 cents at happy hour), or most of the cheaper cocktails (2 for 1 or 4 for 3 at happy hour)
-4 hours of internet time
-2 new flip flops

Things you can put on the back of a little motorbike:
-2 parents, 3 children
-1 parent, 4 children
-1 mattress (queen sized)
-a plate of glass, or perhaps plexiglass, also the size of a queen mattress.
-1 large potted plant (palm tree?)
-large bundles of sugarcane stalks (to be used for juicing)
-3 plastic crates of 24 (maybe 36?) beer bottles each
-metal and pvc poles 4-5 times longer than the bike itself
-up to 8 miscellaneous boxes

and more that I can't remember.