Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lovely Luang Prabang

We arrived in Luang Prabang, Laos after our bus ride from hell and we all crashed hard. The next morning we were up bright and early after Brittny accidentally locked herself out on our porch and I had to get up to let her in. We pretty much just chilled out and caught up on sleep, blogs and relaxation. The next day we went on yet another boat trip on the Mekong river. This time we went to a "Whisky Village" which was basically an old guy with five 10 gallon drums of rotten rice heating up his own moonshine oh I'm sorry "rice whiskey". I have never had a drink that heated my body up so quickly and made my legs and arms spontaneously jerk like that. Yowzahas. Next we stopped at a cave with thousands of Buddha figurines in it. It was pretty cool and I got some good photos but it wasn't spectacular. One of the men on our tour became our bff quickly. Glenn is a funeral director from Atlanta, Georgia and although a bit strange he was completely harmless. He invited us to dinner at his guest house and we are not ones to turn down free food. He got a whole bunch of yummy things from the local night market and of course we had some Beer Lao to wash it down.

Buddha Buddha everywhere

Mekong River in the background

The next day it was off to a beautiful waterfall and bear sanctuary. I swam in a waterfall how freaking cool! The Moon bears are in captivity because there are so few of them left in the world that they need to be protected. their gallbladder juices are still used in many oriental medicines so these poor little guys (and girls) are often put in cages and never allowed out so it was nice to see a few playing and relaxing together. The waterfall was cool and so relaxing. I never thought in my life I'd be climbing on rocks and jumping into a whirlpool at the base of a waterfall. (Out of my comfort zone experience #4). Don't let the photos fool you that sucker was flowing with some serious force. It was so freaking cool I still can't get over it.
After our waterfall fun we saw a snake and after a couple of cool photos i touched it. Gahh I touched a snake!!! (out of my comfort zone experience #5).
Hey mister
So beautiful and cool!
He was very soft smooth

My signature pose

Totem time

Take that Cindy Crawford!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

24 hours on a bus? AWESOME!

When we signed up for a 24 hour bus ride to Laos we knew it wasn't going to be amazing but our travel agent promised us it would be a good bus. Well... Once again we were stuck in the back of the bus however this time it wasn't a sleeper bus like we were used to. This was set up with seats that laid back basically onto the person behind you. We were uncomfortable from the get go and the seat lever that was implanted in my ass left a sweet little bruise. We finally stopped for a pee break about 5 hours in and the bathroom smelled so badly the only way to endure it was to rub a little tiger balm under your nose. We had thankfully brought some food with us however the fuckheads at the place where we got it decided to wrap it like it was a sandwich not freaking Pad Thai. It was totally messy and really too difficult to eat but since the bus never stopped we were happy to have it.
Even after a handful of sleeping pills there was no sleep to be had on a bus that wrapped corners like a wooden roller coaster. When the tire blew at about 2 am I nearly shat myself assuming we were close to barreling down into a ravine. Nope.. instead we just drive on the rim for a couple of miles until we found a place to fix the tire. The next stop we made was at the border. Since our driver decided not to stop for breaks along the way we were all ready to explode. The bathroom at the Vietnam border patrol office looked like a shit monster had been blown up in it. Most of the girls just positioned themselves over the urinal but I had to go number 2. I held it for as long as I could but eventually I just had to close my eyes, hold my nose and head into the stall.
When we were finally allowed to leave Vietnam we walked to the Laos border and waited for about 2 hours for them to process our paperwork. I asked our bus guide where the bathroom was and she replied, "NO". Well ok then there is no bathroom? Now I don't usually get all uppity American but for fuck's sake! Can you imagine walking into any government building and being told that there isn't a bathroom not even one covered in shit fireworks? I would GLADLY spend days dealing with that blond bitch at the Chenango County DMV (you know the one!) rather than ever have to spend time at the Laos immigration office again.      I finally went outside to a border patrolman with a roll of tissue and asked for bathroom he pointed and I ran. Upon reaching the bottom of the stairs I quickly ran back up them and into the office where everyone was waiting. With tears streaming down my face I declared that I tried to find the bathroom but there were 5 German Shepards, not German soldiers at Brittny thought I said. I was standing there like a child who has recently been potty trained wanting nothing more than to NOT have a accident but I was afraid I was going to be the 30 year old that shit her pants with another 12 hours of her bus journey to go. Lizzy, always my savior, took my hand and lead me back down the stairs to find the bathroom. We never found a bathroom but I have a feeling the Laos border patrol found something that made them wish they had a public bathroom.
The bus crew did not want to stop for breakfast either and handed out something called a Lucky sandwich. I felt Lucky that there weren't enough to go around and I didn't get one. It was a bun filled with pork but in my experience pork, even old rancid pork, isn't furry. It was bizarre looking and smelling and even as hungry as I was I could not bring myself to eat such a thing. After the bus finally stopped for lunch we were feeling ok knowing that we only had a few hours left in our journey. We made a video blog on Laura's computer and had a little fun.
The fun ended when we found out that we would be on the bus for another 6 hours. I had a complete emotional meltdown and just started weeping. I know that no one was happy but I had reached my breaking point. I had never been so uncomfortable, dehydrated and hungry for such a long period of time. Over 30 hours on a bus was really horrible but we made it to Laos safe and sound so it all worked out ok.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hue and up

Hue was great. We had a lovely guest house where the staff was attentive almost to the point of annoying but lovely none the less. We didn’t do a lot on the first day due to sheer exhaustion. The next day was filled with more recoup time. I tend to forget that I’m getting older and a day of travel on a rickety bus can really take time to bounce back from. We found a couple of great bars although I think they could use some work with the names. Brown Eyes sounds like a bar in Castro not a hot spot for foreigner fun. We met up with a girl we had met earlier in the trip and the ice cold (without the ice for once) beers went down quickly. Before I knew it we were dancing Loft style at Brown Eyes shots and beers kept coming and coming wow it was a banner evening for sure. Lizzy walked me home and then went back out for more fun with the girls.
The next morning we had a tour of Hue on the backs of motor bikes. I was hung over in a terrible way and nervous to hop on the back of a motorbike for the day. I held on for dear life the first few miles but was able to ease up as we moved along.

Me and my trusty driver 
Behind us is the Perfume River and the Mountains
in the far background are Laos.

One of the Pagodas
My ladies on their bikes.
Hot Stuff!!
I got to see some interesting sites during the day including an old woman trying to sell me fruit whose mouth bled as she spoke. Barf. I saw the oldest covered bridge in Vietnam. Who cares? But really I did get to see some of the countryside which was great. It was really interesting to see the rice growing process. People tilling the fields with hand pushed equipment. Picking the rice by hand and seeing it laid out in the sun to dry. Watching the old women pick through the rice to get rid of every bad piece. It just really showed me that Uncle Ben might be the face of rice but little Vietnamese women are the ones doing all the work.
At one of the sites it was so blazing hot that we decided to take a rest on some stairs under a tree. Well apparently being fat, tall and white makes me Angelina Jolie! We were swarmed but parents who wanted photos of and with us. They were putting children on our laps and all laughing in a giddy manner as they squeezed in-between two of us. There were flashes every few seconds as the Asians laughed and whooped it up. HaHaHa. I was called out for a few individual photos too. I would like to believe it was not because I am the fattest person they had ever seen but I’m pretty sure it was.
We got to make out own incense and see a bunker that was used by American soldiers. We saw a group of monks in the middle of a prayer and that was beautiful. The view of the perfume river was beautiful too. We saw some old buildings including the Citadel and an old pagoda. I was scared at first but I now see why people love their bikes so much. Out of my comfort zone task # 2.
At the end of the day we were happy to take a cold shower and get some food before heading out on our night bus journey. This time we headed north to Hanoi. We were stuck in the coffin part of the bus and I had a few moments of claustrophobia but I survived. I took some photos from the bus to pass the time. Valium is also an over the counter drug here so a few of those little puppies can help make the trip a little more tolerable. We got to our hostel dead tired but I needed to sort my gear and take a shower so no nap for me. We met a really nice woman from Ireland who made an excellent lunch suggestions. Al Frescos was delicious and so needed after the week we had been having.
We woke up early the next morning to head out on a 2 day 1 night trip out on Halong bay. It was a party boat type atmosphere and we did meet a couple of great ladies. Our tour guide however was a total douche and made for a game of Kings even more intense than my Thanksgiving ’10 game. Halong Bay is on a list to be one of the 7 natural wonders of the world and while it was beautiful I don’t think it deserves to be on that list at all. It was really gorgeous and the waters were emerald green and very refreshing. The food was also good but as far as the service provided by our guide “Chops” and the other workers on board it was pretty nonexistent. We wish we had gone on a different trip but live and learn right? Right!
Swimming in the beautiful bay

That night we got on board a night train to Sapa. It was so much fun to have our own little room with our beds and some bumpin’ Vietnamese tunes. When we got to our hotel we had time for breakfast and a little freshening up. We then met up with our guide and some women from one of the hill tribes in the area for our trek. Now we were told a minivan was going to take us to each village and our actually “trek” time would be like 3km. WRONG! No bus as all Just us hiking our asses all over Sapa. The first day was mostly downhill but still a little hard with the stones and sometimes slippery rocks. We got to see a water fall, a Hmong village and cross a couple of nerve racking bridges before the day was over. We took motor bikes back to the hotel and settled in for some lunch and nap time.

Look at all that green!
The second day was the true test of my strength and had I known what I was getting into I would have said no way! Once you are in it though there is no way out so just gotta push on through. Well our first test was to get down a hill that was at about a 60 degree angle. I was first in our pack and with the help of one of the ladies I made down terrified but unscathed. Worst part over right? Ohhhhhhhhh hells no! We still had like 8 miles of downhill terrain to get through. Liz twisted her ankle on a rock and fell on her knee. After digging some of the rocks out and cleaning it with the little water we had the hill tribe women wrapped her up and we were on our way. Those ladies amazed me. I was terrified the entire time that I was going to fall and they were bouncing around in their shower shoe type sandals with babies on their backs like it was nothing. My first fall was into a giant pile of buffalo shit that had thankfully been mixed with enough mud and water that the smell wasn’t as bad as it could have been. M like it was nothing. My first fall was into a giant pile of buffalo shit that had thankfully been mixed with enough mud and water that the smell wasn’t as bad as it could have been. My next fall however was the one that really got my adrenaline pumping. I was trying to climb up a hill but even with my bamboo pole and little ladies helping me it was too slippery for me to get a good hold. I slipped a couple of times and my helpers caught me but the third time I fell hard and fast. I only slide maybe 5 ft but I was more scared than I’ve ever been. If I had not been able to catch myself what waited below me was a ravine with jagged rocks and rapid flowing water. I got myself back up and after digging a few steps with my bamboo pole I tried to make my way with jagged rocks and rapid flowing water. I got myself back up and after digging a few steps with my bamboo pole I tried to make my way up again. This time I made it but quickly lost my footing and sliding fast and furious down the hill. This time I caught my leg on a stick and got a nasty cut that felt like someone slicing me with a hot knife. It was bleeding pretty profusely and the tribe ladies basically pulled me up the rest of the hill to get me fixed up.
It was hard to throw out my western ideal of medical treatment but I just turned my head the other way while the Hmong women fixed me up. After a delicate combination of spit, chewed up plants and pressure the bleeding stopped and I was good to keep walking. I really loved meeting the women and didn’t mind spending money on their trinkets and whatnots because they were all handmade and it is the way they make their income. The coolest souvenir I got from the day is not the 6 inch scar that I will have but the leg wrap our guide gave me to stop the bleeding. It was part of her traditional dress and it isn’t something one can just buy. It was a real treat to be able to meet the women and see their villages. Ahhhh i’m always going to be an anthropology nerd!
I had a really wonderful time in Vietnam and it is safe to say that I will visit again. Now onto Laos and time to 
figure out what we will do after Brittny leaves us on July 1. Sad face!
The rice paddys were so amazing

Some Black Hmong women

Our first "easy" path. BS!

This downhill slope was seriously at about 70 degrees or more

Us with some of the Red Czah Women

The beauty mark left by my fall

Nah Trang to Hanoi

Nah Trang- This was a pretty great place. Our hostel was a proper backpacker house complete with many accents and free buckets with dinner. We woke up early the next morning to hop on board the Funky Monkey party boat. I actually got really emotional as we were heading down the river after leaving the dock. They were blasting CCR and it made me think of being home singing along with my friends and it made me really think about the men who were here before me. Thinking that music might have for a brief moment transported them from the fear and destruction that surrounded them to thoughts of having a beer with their friends and family. Obviously my Vietnam experience isn’t comparable at all but just the thought of music from an era that wasn’t mine got to become a strong part of my Vietnam memories. We got to jump off the boat and have drinks from a floating “bar” and by bar of course I mean a guy poured luke warm jungle juice into small plastic cups. We also got to go snorkelling again which was great. The water was crystal clear and cool enough to feel refreshing. The fish were beautiful too.
The Funky Monkey Band

The Guitar player for the Funky Monkey Band

The 4 of us at the "floating bar"
 After our party boat experience we went back to the hostel and then out on the town to meet up with some of the folks we had met on the trip. We went to a bar called Red Sun which turned out to be a total Bridget Jones experience. We sat down and immediately a Connect 4 game was set in front of us. We ordered our drinks which were buy one get one Mojito free (could I please just have another beer?). We also were quickly drawn into a hair party. The bar staff was quick to create up do’s for Liz, Laura and me all whilst hustling other customers into the bar. After a couple of beverages we were helping them by yelling at the foreigners as the passed by. We quickly switched our game of choice to Jenga and I’ll tell ya Vietnamese women know how to play some Jenga. I could have been shaking that table and somehow it would have remained steady for them. Liz and Laura weren’t honing the skills of the barmaids and had to both do a chicken impression/dance on the street in front of the bar. 

Liz getting ready for the prom with that do

Me and Liz with our lovely "hairdresser"
The next day we went to eat lunch at the home of one of the workers from the bar (we found out later that he did NOT in fact work for the bar and just spent time there getting foreigners to pay for a lunch at his house). He made us a huge meal of traditional Vietnamese food and then took us to a local salon for mani/pedis. The food was great I will say everything was delicious. That being said.... it was one of the most ridonkulous experiences of my life. Dang, our host, made Jack from Will and Grace look butch. He had a lovely silver glitter mani/pedi and could belt out any Brittney Spears song pretty much on command. He “fell in love” with our friend Brittny and made the entire day uncomfortable with his constant worship of her. He serenaded her about every 5 minutes and let me say his singing really leaves something to be desired. At his house we met his family which consisted of his old aunt, sister, mother and the only normal thing in that home his younger brother. Upon walking into his home we met, well saw his sister and even from the back she looked like a character from Mortal Kombat. I wish I had a photo because I don’t think I can even describe her but I’ll try. Maybe she weighed 110 lbs but only because the sheer amount of sequined bejangle on her bright red spandex dress gave her some extra poundage. She had long hair that was in a high pony tail and nails that could have been featured in some low budget version of National Geographic. Oh yes fingernails AND toe nails my friend. BLECH. She never spoke to us or greeted us in any way she just played Zuma and hot boxed smokes while we sat on the floor and had a feast. Dang’s brother was very sweet and it was clear that he recognized the circus that they lived in from his ladyboy brother pretending to want a girl to the “healing animal” on top of the fridge which looked like a road kill carcass taped to 4 sticks. He has taught himself to play piano and violin and he is very good at both. He kept rolling his eyes at Dang and clearly wanted to do anything but play for us. Dang’s sister finally sprang to life when it was time to go to the salon. She got her hair did, her nails finger and toes panted with sparkles all the while smoking away. Everything including taxis, lunch and salon time was of course on us. We should have known going into the day that there would be a catch but regardless we did have a good meal and a good laugh at Brittny’s “love” Dang. 
That evening we got on a night bus and headed to Hoi An. I got in a verbal dispute with a bus worker because he wanted us to sit in the back of the bus. This was a sleeper bus so the seats laid back not enough to be horizontal but enough to get a sweet lower back cramp. So picture the bus from an aerial view. Three seats across with tiny aisles in between. When I say tiny I mean I was sliding sideways and having a hard time making it through. There were seats at floor level and then seats on top of them bunk bed style. At the back of the bus there were three seats right next to each other elbows to assholes style. This of course is where the angry Vietnamese bus worker wanted Brittny, Liz and me to sit. Oh hells no! It was like a small coffin with no air or windows and there was no way I could spend 12+ hours there. I asked if I could move and he wigged out. We ended up yelling at each other and he got physical with me which started a foreigner mutiny on the bus (thanks for the solidarity all). He actually got so mad at me that he threatened to throw all of the foreigners off of the bus if I wouldn’t move. One of the British guys told me just to sit down and let the angry man pick me up if he wanted me off the bus. So he eventually backed down and we were on our way. After about 20 minutes we stopped and picked up oh I don’t know about 30 Vietnamese people who packed onto every nook and cranny that the bus had to offer including all of the aisle space. It felt like a death trap on wheels. At around midnight we pulled into a dark parking area and from what I saw did some sort of illegal arms deal. There were about 20 wooden crates loaded onto the bottom of the bus and then one of the bus workers handed a woman a giant wad of cash and we were on our way. Thanks for being sketchtastic night bus! Oy Veh... We finally made it to Hoi An and we were so dead tired that we didn’t even get to explore. We lounged by the pool and relaxed for 2 days and then we were on a bus and headed to Hue.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mui Neh, Vietnam

Next we began our journey up the coast of Vietnam. Bus, train, motorcycle, ATV and a fair bit of walking helped us make it all the way from Hi Chi Minh to Sapa. I feel that my Vietnam adventure was pretty much a non-stop out of my comfort zone adventure. I did so many things the I never thought I would have the courage to do but with the help of my friends I pushed my way through the blood, sweat and tears and had a really great time.
Mui Ne- This is known as a place for great beaches but frankly after being spoiled by Thailand the beaches here seemed pretty craptastic. We did find a nice free pool to chill at and they also served delicious food so we pretty much camped out there all day. That night we found a bar called Discoteque complete with bumpin bass,beanbag chairs and cheap buckets-o-liquor. We ended up having a rousing game of truth or dare with a couple of other female backpackers and it got pretty rowdy. Irish dancing, strip tease on a picnic table and well...let’s just say you wouldn’t want to drink out of any of the buckets there any time soon. We like to push the few boundaries we have left.
Mui Ne is also known for their sand dunes so we went to check those out with a less than enthusiastic tour guide in an old military Jeep. On the way we got to see a floating village and some men making fishing nets by hand which was pretty neat. It still amazes me how primitive some of the tools used to sustain life in South East Asia are (more on that in another post).
A fisherman making a net 
Laura always wants to kick it up a notch and decided to ride an ostrich which I have to believe should be illegal. That thing looked so terrible with his saddle and missing feathers but it did provide us with a really funny few minutes as it ran her around the ring.
Laura was terrified when the ostrich took off running
When we got to the sand dunes we rented sled to go sand sledding however about another 50 ft down the path we quickly ditched the plastic carpets for 4 wheelers. Now I’m not sure if you are aware but "adventure sports" have terrified me since I was a small child and “Big Bill” Sherman would drive us around his parents lawn at what felt like warp speeds. It was basically Willy Nelson’s doppelganger rocking a cut off sweatsuit (yes pants and shirt)  with a bandana tied around his braided mane Rambo style yelling over the engine in his raspy voice “Don’t let go Casserole” laughing while I was trying not to piss myself. I was not an adventurous kid who liked to be thrilled and the fear I had as a child came flooding back to me as I started at the mountain sized sand dunes in front of me. With encouragement from Lizzy I sucked up my fear and got on. I moved very slowly at first and after I felt more comfortable I picked up speed and was whizzing around the dunes.
Rocking my 4 wheeler
I almost cried when I got stuck at the peak of a dune and was convinced that I was going to start sliding down the hill with this machine on top of me. I mean I do have a tendency to catatraphize things just a wee bit however it was really freaking scary. Lizzy came to my rescue and helped me through and I made what can only be described as like a 16 point turn on the top of this narrow peak and then ploughed my way back down the hill. Out of my comfort zone task # 1.
Liz, me and Laura at the top of a dune

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Father

Happy Fathers Day Pops!
 There is a song between a father and his daughter that never has to be sung. It started long before either of them met each other or knew themselves. The tune is not known until their journey together has created it. It’s a song that sounds like love and is played with courage. There is no known melody and the tune can change as quickly as the seasons. The longer the song is played the easier it becomes to forgive and to forget what you are forgiving each other for. There is no blame in the father daughter song, only miscommunication that makes the song out of tune. As we learn to play this song together, please remember that I am who I am because I am your daughter and if you didn’t make mistakes I wouldn’t be perfectly me. Our song will play and play and eventually we will know how to sing it together the way that it was written long before we knew each other.
Love, Bugs

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Mekong River Tour

Our second day in HCMC we were off on another tour set up by the hostel (or someone they know). We were off to explore the Mekong River. After a very cramped bus ride there we boarded what can best be described in Archie and Jughead terms as a jalopy. The boat made each of us a bit nervous and the cappuccino water didn’t make me comfortable about a possible abandon ship situation. One thing I have learned to do on this trip though is breath. In the states we have so many rules and regulations which I’m sure do prevent injury but sometimes we need a little fear to remember why we live. So our lovely tour guide serenaded us down the river as we neared our first destination which was to get off of our boat and get on to even smaller boats. He told us 12 to a boat but no one said anything about the 15 of us on it. We then went to a coconut candy “factory”. Factory of course means 5 women making, cutting, wrapping and packaging coconut candy. It was good and we bought some for the road. The rest of the day was pretty much the same. We visited small family run businesses and heard a variety of songs written by our tour guide and let me just say he should not quit his day job!
I love bees and think they are very interesting so i was psyched to visit a bee farm and sample some of the fresh honey. We had tea and some dried fruit by the bees wanted some of the sweetness too and wouldn't stop crawling in Lizzy's tea. 
A bee takes a sip of Lizzy's tea
Pinky out 
We also got to get paddled down a part of the river by a man and woman who must have been at least 70 and maybe weight 100lbs soaking wet. I was skeptical that they would be able to give us smooth ride but they did glide us right down the river and gave us a lovely view of the scenery. We were sure to tip them well for their hard work with us "big size" westerners.
Our boat captain
Oh how we love touristy photo ops
.After a long day on the river Liz and I had a nap and then headed off to find the Hard Rock Cafe. My pops is gaining quite the collection of pins on this trip I can’t wait to see all of the guitars pins from my journeys together. With over 4 million motorbikes in the city and only like 2 traffic lights walking just a few blocks made me feel like Evil Knievel. It is basically a game of working up your courage putting your hands to the side and walking with great speed and confidence to the other side. We were very proud of ourselves I must say. We 
made it to the and had a beverage.  
DSC08640The collection of stuff wasn’t amazing but it wasn’t too bad. They did have a guitar that Eddie Van Halen gave to his son Wolfgang and it made me think of my friend Todd. They also had a nice Crosby, Stills and Nash display with some photos and couple of guitars. We decided to take a cab back to the hostel rather than test our luck on the busy streets again. I really like HCMC it was a nice change from the dirt and poverty present in Cambodia. I didn't picture Vietnam to be so developed and "western" considering they fought so hard to keep foreign ideals out.While there isn't a Starbucks or a McDonalds to be found there are KFCs all over South East Asia. Everyone has a right to some KFC right? I mean, the Colonel with his wee beady eyes puts an additive chemical in the chicken that makes ya crave it fortnightly, smartass! 

Where's Charlie?

Well I've been in Vietnam for almost two weeks and I feel like I have a million things to write about. When we first arrived in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) we dropped off our bags at the hostel and went to find some food. I had my first Vietnamese meal and it was delicious. A big ol' bowl of noodles with chicken and plenty of cilantro. YUM! I was quickly taken aback by the great number of Soviet flags flying alongside the Vietnamese flags pretty much every 5 feet. 
I found out it's the leader’s (North Vietnam) way of showing solidarity and thanks to their communist forefathers in the former Soviet Union. Swell! It didn't feel like a communist country until we couldn't get on Facebook, YouTube or the BBC. Our hostel guy quickly showed us how to get around those blocks and we happily reconnected with the world without fear. 
One of the entrances to the tunnels
We woke up early the next morning to head out to the Cu Chi tunnels. They are a giassgantic underground network of tunnels that the Viet Cong used to hide from the US troops. The tunnels exist all over northern Vietnam and were how the VC planned to take down Saigon. It was pretty amazing to see the tiny spaces that the VC were able to get in an out of. Also to know that the entire network was dug by hand. They have made a section of the tunnels “western size” so that big foreigners can fit through. Laura walked through about 25 meters of it in a squat position Brittny tried but turned around at the opening. Good on both of them I was just fine staying above ground thank you very much.  

I’ve learned about war in school and watched it in movies but actually seeing the giant craters left from the B52's that dropped bombs on the area was a real eye opener. We also saw the traps that the VC made to capture US soldiers and then, the highlight of the day was when we got to watch a propaganda video that was made around 1965. My favourite quote from the movie was "Americans are crazy white devils who come in and kill our men, women, chickens and ducks. They bomb our children, schools and pots and pans. They will not stop until they have made Vietnam a dead land." Ducks? Pots and Pans? I'm sure those are the memories that haunt the thousands of soldiers who suffer from PTSD. Where are the LIFE photos of ducks running down the street covered in napalm? I certainly don't mean to make light to the tragedy of war in any way but the video was so ridiculous. It infuriated me and filled me with an extreme frustration that I've heard many folks who lived during that time voice during my life. We were trying to help. Those "crazy white devils" were only doing what their government sent them to do and the VC creeping around setting booby traps and convincing the people that we were going to enslave them didn't help anything. I'm glad I went and it made me see how the US soldiers really stood little chance against the guerrilla tactics that were used. I left with a sense of pride for all of the people who did were up against the terrible terrain, bugs, bombs, mind games, hunger, pain and every other fear and obstacle associated with war.
The more I travel the more I hope to be able to home school my kids so that I can take them around the world to show them all of the things a book just can't teach you. I have learned more world history in the past month than I did in all of my expensive education. I feel very slighted by the regents system for making my teachers spend what felt like months teaching me about the French revolution but about 1 week on all of the wars after WWII. It's a great feeling to learn something new about myself and my world every day after all that's what life is all about.. Experiences.