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Hoi An!

and all the random people you meet

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View Southeast Asia on sam.m.'s travel map.

Hello again! I can't believe it's almost Christmas. It's amazing that I've been travelling for 11 weeks; it's all a blur and I don't want it to end. Of course, there are times that the homesickness kicks in full blast and all I want to do is go home and watch a hockey game, but I know that as soon as I get back home, I'll wish I was sitting on a beach in Thailand, or tubing in Laos, or just meeting some random person in a pub and having an eye-opening conversation. The whole experience is starting to really affect me in the best way possible.

I was in Nha Trang about a week ago, playing pool with an American guy, and a girl walked up to me and we started talking. The great thing about travelling is that everyone has something in common: no one is home. Conversations are incredibly easy. So we were talking, and it turns out this girl works for the State Department in Baghdad. She said she used to work in Washington, but got bored of it and took a year long contract in Iraq. They pay her about twice what she made in the States for the same job because of the danger involved, and she gets three weeks of holidays every three months. I asked her if it was as dangerous as they make it out to be, and she said that Baghdad is pretty stable now, but she has been truly scared about three times in three months so far due to explosions. Pretty crazy. Just an example of the different types of people you meet.

I've been travelling with the American guy I met that night since then. He's from Laguna Beach, California, the same town as the show, and when I asked him he rolled his eyes and told me that's the first thing anyone ever says to him. He's right too, everyone we've met since has asked him, especially the girls. He must get right sick of it. It's funny though, his brother's girlfriend is on the show. So anyways, he lives in South Africa now and has for the last six years, running a surf/safari company with a partner, and he's on his way back to Laguna for Christmas.

We spent four nights in Hoi An, one of the best cities I've been to in Southeast Asia. It's a pretty small town, but it's got loads of old French architecture, and all the streets are tiny. It's full of character. Many travellers go there to get clothes made, because there are tailor shops absolutely everywhere and they're dirt cheap. There must be well over a hundred of these shops, and the town isn't very big at all. I shopped around and ended up buying a dark brown, three piece, cashmere suit with pinstripes, two collared shirts and really nice jacket, all for $107. I've never had clothes fit me so well in my life.

Right now I'm in Hue, an old capital that has a few sights to see. I'm leaving tomorrow night on a sleeper bus to Hanoi, a 14 hour bus ride. But these sleeper buses are great, so it shouldn't be too bad. I've only got nine days left on my Vietnamese visa, so I'm only spending one night in Hanoi, then I'll go to Sapa in the north for a couple nights, then to Halong Bay in the east for a couple more (supposedly one of the most naturally beautiful places on the planet), and then back to Hanoi for Christmas. I fly back to Bangkok on Christmas night, and I'll be in Thailand for a week or so to celebrate New Year's, and then it's off to India for a month, as long as I can get everything arranged in Thailand. After that, it's back home. I can't believe I can see the end, but there's much more left to see.

Some pics:


This was in Hoi An. There are so many neat little shops like this. I wanted to buy so many things ..


A typical street in Hoi An.


Being a Communist country (well, not really, but that's another blog), Che's image turns up often. And it seems writing things on the wall is a big thing in Hue. Lots of restaurants and cafes are covered in graffiti written by the thousands of travellers that have passed through.


My awesome jacket.


My awesome suit.

That's all for now. You'll be happy to know my massage hickeys have all cleared up, although I'm sure I'm far happier about it than any of you. Until next time!

Posted by sam.m. 20:19 Archived in Vietnam

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Woohoo, the beard and moustache are back! Sorry, just had to get that out of my system. You look incredible, Sam! Yes, awesome describes the new clothing perfectly! Hoi An sounds really cool! I'd be going nuts with all the shopping! We'd probably be the first to NOT ask your friend about the TV show, as we've never watched it. It wouldn't even have crossed our minds to ask him. Kind of aging ourselves, aren't we? I think that show was more for the young folk! And the girl who works in Iraq. Wow, nice holidays, but pretty scary stuff in her job. Glad to hear your "markings" are a thing of the past. Ah, yes, memories! Ha, ha! Well, it sounds like you've got lots more exciting things ahead of you! Have a great time! Looking forward to seeing some more wonderful pics (they really are good, Sam). 'Til next time! Love Janie, Gerry, Brock and Bekki.

by Janie J

Hi Sam, Well I've been following your trip with much interest. I can't believe that you bought a cashmere suit! You look absolutely fabulous in it. In your pictures you are looking so relaxed, healthy and MATURE! It sounds like you are really missing hockey. Don't worry about that. John will get you caught up on everything that you have missed! Continue to enjoy your adventure. I will wish you Merry Christmas now. We will all be missing you and thinking about you. Love Judy

by JudyB

Lookin' good, Sam! Didn't take long for the beard to grow back! As much as you don't want your trip to end, we are looking forward to your return for more stories and pics.

by momdad17

Amanda and Kristina say you should get rid of the stash.

by Luke M

KEEP THE STASH! Man! You look like a rock star, baby! So hot! Sorta seventies, too, with the long hair. Finally, my dream of Sam with long hair has come true!!! Pleeease don't even trim till I see you.

Yeah, Hoi An was my fave too. And I did a 2/3 day boat trip in Halong Bay which was probably the best way to see and wander throughout the thousands of scattered little islands. It's so pretty it's magical. Like out of a fairy tale.

And India! I'm so excited for you!

by parisa

Hi Sam,

It seems that you are having a great time :-) Your pictures are great. Your hair looks good and you look relaxed. What an awesome experience.

I am also going on a trip myself. I will be leaving Vancouver to Tehran on Tuesday December 18, 2007. I'll probably stay there for a month or so and then going to Dubai and then to Europe. I am planning to see Parisa in France and stay sometimes in rest of the neighboring Countries and then back to Vancouver in mid February 2008!

I wish you have a great time during the holiday season and hope to see you soon after our trip.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year


by Mattx

Sam hahahah I seriously love the suit man. Wish you were here for Christmas, I'm missing ya. Totally jealous of India... one of the places at the top of my never ending - never actually getting to list.
Looking forward to you getting back here and us catching up on FSMF times. Gen.

by Genevieves

Hi Sam! We just wanted to wish you a very Merry Christmas! This is one Christmas that you will definitely remember! Dinner is at our place this year, so you know it'll be crazy around here! 'Gotta love it!!! Just got to remember to make gravy! Take lots of pictures of "Christmas in Hanoi!" Enjoy every moment, Sam! Love Janie, Gerry, Brock and Bekki.

by Janie J

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