Los Angeles give me some of you!

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Los Angeles come to me the way I came to you! – John Fante

During the four hour bus ride from Hanoi (Vietnam) to Halong Bay, I glimpsed remnants of the Tet Festival whizz by and was reminded of a delightful blog post by kimi about Chinese New Year celebrations in Los Angeles. I especially found her blog post refreshing because I was reading Ask the Dust by John Fante, who portrays LA in a somber way. Of course, this is understandable because this semi-autobiographical tale is about a struggling writer living in LA during the Great Depression era. I should have realized Ask the Dust would be a morose story because it was praised by Charles Bukowski whose writings aren’t exactly merry.

However among the gloominess, there was humor…

Almighty god, I am sorry I am now an atheist, but have you read Nietzsche?

…and bright spots of romance

You are nobody, and I might have been somebody, and the road to each of us is love.

-What does love mean to you Camilla?
-That you can fall in love with whoever you want to and not be ashamed of it.

Similarly, dotted along the industrial, bumpy road to Halong Bay were intervals of beauty: Rice paddies, bright pink lotus flower decorations draped along power lines, and children playing.

From a steady cruise ship to a tumultuous speed boat, I tend to get drowsy riding the sea (the reason why I have not pursued my lifelong dream of sailing lessons). Luckily, my frequent drinking of iced cafe sua da kept me awake during the five hour boat trip. Therefore, I didn’t miss any sights:

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Although the last segment of the voyage was seeing

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(Neptuno’s grotto is better) …the true climax of the trip was disembarking at the floating village to take a smaller row boat navigated by a tiny, surprisingly strong Vietnamese woman. It is then I felt miniscule among the imposing limestone formations:

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In my opinion, the Vietnam government needs to pay more attention to the decline of this UNESCO sight. Perhaps the Ministry of Tourism should tack on a “preservation fee” for Halong.

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This is my second blog post via the WordPress app! On the four hour night bus ride back to Hanoi, I had to keep my eyes distracted from the constant oncoming headlights of trucks and buses due to the erratic traffic of Vietnam. Try not to sit in the very front of the bus.

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