|Today after bicycling to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek 15km outside of Phnom Penh, I decided to continue on biking and explore some of the neighboring villages. The choice lead to one of the most fun and rewarding experiences of the whole trip. As I rode through the villages, not only did people give me a friendly wave and smile, but the children began to join me in my journey. Little girls and boys ran beside my bike as older teenagers jumped on their own cycles and formed a train. We laughed our way around homes and chanted our way through rice fields. It was an afternoon that I, and surely those kids too, will cherish for a long time.|
Pictures from today and the final pictures from Vietnam (Saigon, Cu Chi Tunnels) are now up.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Below is a list of all the exotic foods I have tried throughout this trip. Has anyone else tried any of these? Or maybe something different?
-Spiders: Village in Amazon Jungle
-Cayman: Self-prepared in Amazon Jungle
-Piranha: Self-prepared in Amazon Jungle
-Guinea Pig: Street stall in Banos, Ecuador
-Warthog: Village in Zimbabwe, Africa
-Crocodile: Border town of Zimbabwe/Zambia
-Pig Brain, Snout, Cheek, Eye and Tongue: Village in Malawi, Africa
-Cow Bone Marrow: Restaurant in Paris, France
-Snake: Street stall in Beijing, China
-Roaches: Street stall in Beijing, China
-Scorpion: Street stall in Bangkok, Thailand
-Crickets and Grasshoppers: Street stall in Bangkok, Thailand
-Hornets and Bees: Market in Chiang Mai, Thailand
-Maggots: Market in Chiang Mai, Thailand
-Chicken Feet: Village near Udomxai, Laos
-Rat: Market in Muang Khua, Laos
-Locust Larvae: Market in Hoi An, Vietnam
Thursday, April 21, 2011
|It has been my privilege and sincere pleasure to be traveling with my nephew, J Bradley Snyder, over the past 10 days as together we have toured the country of Vietnam. This is a trip I've wanted to take for several years now, but one I probably have "needed" to take for several decades. |
I was at least 10 years old, in 1968, before I realized there might not always be a war going on in Vietnam, and that I might not have to serve in that war. But the war didn't finally end until I was just two years shy of the age when I would otherwise have signed up. It felt literally like "dodging a bullet" at that time, but then I knew I would need to come here sometime to see where so many people had died for a reason that gets even less clear as time goes by. As we learned just a couple days ago, people (mostly children) are still dying here at the rate of 5 or 6 per MONTH as a result of previously unexploded land mines or other types of bombs. And then there's the long-term effects of exposure to Agent Orange wreaking havoc as well.
Beyond thoughts about the war, however, we witnessed this week other troubling trends that can be traced to the influence of Western culture, namely a rapidly growing tourist economy and the sometimes associated negligence with respect to the natural environment. One wonders if the war isn't still going on, in far more subtle ways...
Vietnam is a stunningly beautiful country, with a remarkably diverse cultural heritage firmly rooted in a wide array of native communities (known here as "minorities"). I think all Americans should come here at least once, if for no other reason to understand what's really at stake for the Vietnamese people, and ultimately for ourselves. A country like this, facing very stark challenges related to its ongoing development, should serve as a reminder of our own responsibility in the world to show leadership in making the sacrifices that will be necessary for all peoples to live happy, healthy and sustainable lives for the long-term future.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Monday, April 18, 2011
|The past 3 days have been spent in and around a town called Sapa in northwest Vietnam. The area is best known for its terraced rice fields and colorful hilltribe people. If you can ignore the hoards of other tourists there with you and frequent selling bombardments by village women, a trip to this area is well worthwhile.|
Friday, April 15, 2011
The visit was an interesting one and left me really scratching my head. This place had pictures of the captured American soldiers living it up while in the prison! They were playing sports, attending church, drawing and coloring pictures together and even cheerfully decorating a christmas tree.
Now whether or not these pictures accurately portray the prisoners' daily life I do not know. I am not familiar enough with the subject. Nevertheless, it certainly made me rethink the stereotypical war-movie conditions that I imagine for a POW. It turns out, the situation is not always that simple; it sometimes, as in the case of the Vietnam War, involves a complex mix of strategic, public persuasion and world perception.
Monday, April 11, 2011