On Figuring it All Out

Tonight, I feasted on clams with lemongrass and barbequed oysters topped with green onion and peanuts. I bit through the shells of crab covered in hot chili oil, so spicy it burned my lips, watered my eyes, made me cry and laugh at the same time, and sucked out nutty flakes of red and whiteRead more

Same Boat, Different Rivers

A rickety old bridge over the Muong Hoa River in Ta Van in Lao Cai province in Northern Vietnam.

“I’ve never met another half before,” I said to him. “You have, I am sure. But they just didn’t tell you.” “Why?” I asked. “Shame.” Like me, he can pass as full-blooded. But look carefully and you can see the face of his father. A sharper nose, eyes the same color as mine: soft brown,Read more

Half Plucked

I was going to leave him to your imagination, but in case your imagination didn't do him justice...

I’ve now spent enough time in South-East Asia to not be constantly amazed, startled or confused by the life that passes around me. In some ways, it’s a pity.  How incredible was that feeling I had in that first taxi ride from the airport in Saigon, the gateway to my first South-East Asian experience?  What wildRead more

To Be a Woman

Hmong women in Sapa, in the far north of Vietnam, follow tourists persuading them to buy small handmade items.  These women are making small bamboo grass animals.

Vietnamese women are beautiful. Small, delicate, graceful, they move through the chaos of Vietnam like exquisite underdogs. Physically, they are a generally flawless specimen. Thin, well-groomed, hair hanging long and straight like shiny black silk with unblemished skin protected from the sun as if its rays are toxic. Culturally and traditionally, they are perfection inRead more