Farewell San Diego, Good Morning Vietnam!

Posted by on Jan 4, 2015 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Flights – Jan. 1st.-3rd. 2015

Ho Chi Minh City – Jan. 3rd.-6th.

After sleeping pretty much the whole way to Vietnam, I got out of the airport with all of my gear intact in spite of the fact they made me jettison half of my pack and my tripod on two separate occasions. I then entered what can only be called a sea of humanity on motorcycles, and thus it has been for two days. I decided to get over any jet lag with a ten dollar massage, and another serious round of sleep. I had stayed up all night packing up my apartment, and run short on rest for a couple of days prior to leaving.

I took an easy going tour of the Mekong Delta on Sunday and enjoyed the boats that were essentially floating fruit and vegetable markets brought downriver by the farmers. The excessive amount of motorcycles in Vietnam can only be equaled by the sheer volume of fresh fruits and vegetable being sold on every city block and every nook and cranny throughout the country. That’s not even counting the markets. It’s clear my healthful intake is going to skyrocket during my time in Southeast Asia. With fresh coconut juice in the coconut for less than a dollar, who can resist?


Cao Dai Temple – Tay Ninh Province

Started Monday with a visit to the Cao Dai Temple in Tay Ninh Province. The temple is as colorful as the religion is bizarre, but then again aren’t they all really? The religion itself is a rather strange mixture of many of the world’s main religions blending Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, Confucianism and more.  Its saints include Buddha, Victor Hugo, William Shakespeare, Joan d’Arc and Winston Churchill. Founded here in 1926 it now has 3.2 million followers in Vietnam. The spiritually strange gave way to the spiritually challenging as we paid a visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels.

This series of tunnels and many like them were built by the Viet Cong in order to counteract the overwhelming firepower of the United States and their South Vietnamese allies. Thousands lived in these underground cities, and as many as 45,000 perished defending the Cu Chi Tunnels. It was a little difficult taking it all in considering the suffering received and perpetrated by my countrymen. One consolation is that I got to shoot an M16 machine gun with confiscated ammunition. At least these bullets didn’t kill or maim, but just stimulated the local economy.


Going full automatic on an M-16


  1. Karen Devers
    January 5, 2015

    Hi, John — how exciting to see you are “launched” on your travels. What happened to your excess baggage that you had to ditch? Would love to see some photos when you get a chance. I’m glad Vietnam has recovered from the war. I protested against the war and thought it was horrible. I recently watched the movie, The Fog of War, Robert MacNamara’s mea culpa, sort of. Looking forward to your next post!

  2. Ava
    January 6, 2015

    Hello John!

    Glad to hear you made it over to Vietnam safely! I have no idea how you were able to sleep for an extensive amount of time on the international flight! I was unable to get any decent sleep on my way to Switzerland in 2012 😛 Hoping you are having an amazing time and taking in all the wonderful sights and people with open arms! Hoping to see more from you soon, very excited to see some pics!


  3. The Travel Zealot
    January 7, 2015

    Hi Ava,
    Good to hear from you. My sleeping abilities continue to be legendary. Bumpy daytime bus rides complete with honking horns, and boats up the Mekong are no challenge whatsoever. It’s a wonder how I stay conscious. As you can see I finally got a few pics up. My first lodging was a bit spartan and there was no desk. I had to do everything on the bed.

  4. The Travel Zealot
    January 7, 2015

    Oh, I just had to check it. No ditching yet. I will ditch a small pack after I explore the caves of Phong Nha region. I visited the War Relics museum yesterday, and it was kind of a greatest hits of atrocities perpetrated upon Vietnam by the U.S. Upon entering I was greeted by a man who stepped on a land mine when he was eight. I shook one of the stumps that were the remains of his arms as he steadied himself on the leg that was not taken in the blast. He gazed at me with his one good eye, and proceeded to sell me a Vietnamese phrase book.

Leave a Reply