The never-ending adventures of a travel writer in Vietnam, Cambodia, New Zealand and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Durian Addict

Warning, graphic depiction follows.

I ate a 4-kilo (9-pound) durian all by myself tonight. It was like ripping into the womb of a long-dead reptilian alien and eating the rotten, yet sweet and creamy fetus… with a hint of custard, garlic and almonds. I'm not sure how or even what made me do it. But I'm already regretting it 30 minutes later, along with everyone in sensory range. Its like giving birth to twin dragons that are already flame-throwing before they even clear the womb. Its like the Wizard of Oz when it changes from black and white to technicolor, with James Cameron 3D and George Lucas THX surround sound. If you were here, I'll bet you could taste it too.

…and I'll bet tomorrow I'll do it all over again.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Little-Known Ancient Temple Ruins in Vietnam

Last month I took quite a few epic adventures in-between guidebook writing, which unfortunately I haven't had time to really share here. I think though that I'd better take a break from crime fighting and insert some Indiana Jones back into the mix so I don't lose viewership!

Below are some photos of remote temples that have been prescribed to the Oc Eo culture of Vietnam by government archaeologists. I happen to think that Oc Eo is hogwash but perhaps I should save my explanation why for a book deal... I believe these are Champa.

This first set of 3 photos is from the Cat Tien ruins in Dong Nai province, just outside the national park. These ruins are comprised of at least eight sets of temples on the Dong Nai River. Most of them are not actually accessible to the public, but well, lets just say someone had mercy on me after driving for 2 days on hot dusty backroads on the back of a motorbike to get there.


This is a big chamber under the center of one of the temples. This is where the archaeologists found buried treasures, some of which are on display at the Lam Dong Museum in Da Lat.


Here's some of that buried treasure I was talking about. Solid gold pressed characters on display in the Lam Dong Museum.



Here's me in front of that temple. I had to get permission to stand here. There was a similar ruin right beside it, and three larger temple buildings surrounding.


This is the main temple ruin at Cat Tien, set on a hilltop. You are looking at the largest Linga (phallic) in SE Asia.


This is Choc Mat Temple in Tay Ninh Province, near the Cambodian border. This we reconstructed with a great deal of imagination by French specialists. I am doubtful of the authenticity of those rounded arches. I was interested to see however, that the base, which is largely original, bares striking resemblance to temple ruins I have seen in Central Vietnam.


This is Binh Thanh Temple further south in Tay Ninh Province. It's also been reconstructed by imaginative French people.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

PWA Windsurfing Grand Slam Vietnam Awards Photos

Below are photos from the PWA Windsurfing Grand Slam Freestyle Event that wrapped up last week in Mui Ne, Vietnam.


Jose Estredo (left center) placed 2nd & Taty Frans (right center) placed 3rd


Jose Estredo (left center) placed 2nd, Kiri Thode (center) placed 1st, 
Taty Frans placed 3rd


Jose Estredo (left center) placed 2nd, Kiri Thode (center) placed 1st, 
Taty Frans placed 3rd


All the participants at Sankara for the awards ceremony in Mui Ne


The Top 5 spots in the Event went to:

   1st Kiri Thode                          (Starboard / Gaastra)


2nd Jose Estredo                           (Fanatic / North)
           3rd Taty Frans                 (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic)
4th Tonky Frans                             (Tabou / Gaastra)
5th Dieter Van Eyken                      (Starboard / Severne)