Ta Van and Sa Pa, Vietnam: Homestay with a Hmong family

Windy roads and scenic views Through a series of events and mutual friends, we found ourselves making our way to Sa Pa from Hanoi. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We just went with it. We took a five-hour sleeper bus--in essence, a bus fitted with bed-like seats, not actual mattresses, …

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Things that could have gone better on my birthday

I like writing reflective entries every year around my birthday (see my 30th). This year, however, it seemed like the universe decided that the theme for my birthday was "Murphy's Law"--a rather creative and unconventional theme, if you ask me--deeming it difficult to look past numerous incidents for me to write something pensive about growing a year …

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Hanoi, Vietnam: Bustling foodie city with a magnificent Bay

Southeast Asia is notoriously known for its hot, hot, hot days all year round, but not Hanoi. The coolness and fog from our first day reminded us of San Francisco's constant cool weather. And of course, we weren't really prepared with enough warm clothing. I didn't know what to expect from Hanoi, aside from the …

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Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam: A layover complete with pho, cunning cobblers, and coffee apartment sunset

Busing our way to another country Getting from Cambodia to Vietnam seems like an easy process. They're neighboring countries. But when you're on a budget, the options slim down quite a bit. Also, there was a tourist visa for one of us to worry about (not me, because ASEAN woo), which complicated matters a little because …

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Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, Cambodia: From Angkor temples to folks shakin’ it

More dusty roads We stayed in Laos longer than planned after our friend had to get surgery. LPB was a great town to do nothing, even if it meant just being on our computers most of the day. We had a few ideas about where to go next--Chiang Mai? Vang Vieng? Siem Reap? I would …

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