HCMC Dining Guide

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Into the wild

This will likely be my last post before I fly up to Hanoi early Monday for a major three week trip. My roommate and college friend Anthony is leaving the country mid-August, so we wanted to do one last trip together that will cross a few things off both of our Southeast Asia bucket lists. Outside of H2H this will likely be the most hardcore traveling I've done out here.

First, we're spending five days motorbiking along the border with China in Ha Giang province, one of the poorest, most remote areas of the country. It's so old school up there you still have to get a travel permit to move around, an ancient vestige of the country's closed past. Hopefully we won't get arrested by any jumpy border guards. Just to give you an idea of where this is, here's a map, since even most people who live here have never heard of this province.
We'll be (hopefully) taking a night bus from Hanoi to Ha Giang town, the provincial capital, where we'll rent bikes and hit the road into the unknown, along QL4C northeast into tiny towns like Dong Van and Meo Vac.
The roads and scenery should be incredible, but the accommodation will be spare and the food unexciting. This will be traveling in the truest sense of the word: nothing booked, just us and our bikes and wherever we end up before the sun sets or the rain moves in.

After that we have two nights in Bangkok, which will be a shock to the system after rugged Ha Giang. We plan to do little more than sit inside air-conditioned mega-malls watching movies and eating Dunkin Donuts.

Then it's on to Myanmar, a country that has been in the news a lot recently, for two weeks. All we have booked is our first night in Yangon, the former capital. After that we'll see what happens. The basic plan is to hit Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake, but that will all depend on what we come across and the weather (it will be the monsoon season). Myanmar has been near the top of my 'Asian countries I need to visit' list for a while, so I can't wait. This will be pretty tough travel as well, as the country's infrastructure is in terrible condition after decades of isolation, but it should be awfully rewarding as well. Plus, we want to get in before the tourist swarms descend with the country's government taking tentative steps to open up. See you in August.

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