ENTRIES FROM THE GLOBAL TRIP BLOG CHRONICLES

Platoon

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 12, 2004

DAY 418:  “I really feel guilty being here,” said fellow American Dara at the border crossing into Vietnam.  “I gave my form [to the customs officer] and he read it and said, ‘American’ and just gave me this look.”

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The War Between Tourists And Touts

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 17, 2004

DAY 419:  “Did you ever see the movie Speed?” I asked Brit Lisa in the back row of the bus gunning us from Vinh to Hanoi that morning.  Unlike the rest of the bus, the back row was elevated in a way so one could see the oncoming traffic ahead.

“Yeah,” she said.  “You’d think it’s like that.”  Our bus was almost out of control, weaving in and out of traffic like it’d explode if it went below 50 miles per hour.  Often it’d speed down the opposite side of the road towards oncoming vehicles, and at one point, it swerved in and out of a closing railroad barricade.

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Rebel Without A Clue

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 17, 2004

DAY 420:  If there’s one distinct memory of Hanoi that Western tourists will bring home, it’s the image of Hanoi’s crazy traffic, a majority of which is comprised of motorbikes.  Hanoiites (Hanoiers? Hanoians?) zip around the streets, sans helmets, to get to where they have to go in any way possible with only a few intersections with regulatory traffic signals.  Most Westerners I met found the madness of it all sort of terrifying, and thought it crazy to ride on the back of a motorcycle taxi, let alone drive one.

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A Plan To Be Spontaneous

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 17, 2004

DAY 421:  My “platoon” that I had arrived with in Vietnam two days before was on a much more relaxed schedule than me; they were after all in Vietnam with vacation/holiday-mentality, not that there’s anything wrong with that.  I on the other hand was merely rushing to cover the only-in-Vietnam sights before heading to the Philippines for Christmas.  The night before, I bid my platoon farewell for I would be transferred to a new unit in the morning.

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Good Morning, Vietnam; Bad Evening, Vietnam

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 18, 2004

DAY 422:  There was a peaceful, quiet darkness in my cabin near the engine room on the boat in Ha Long Bay, just before the break of dawn.  My German cabinmate Andy and I were snug under our covers in our respective beds.  Then, just a little passed 6 a.m., the motor kicked in to move the boat farther along and provide electricity to the ship.  The loud rumbling was incessant and inescapable.

“Oh yeah, I like that sound,” Andy said with the sarcasm one has after such a rude awakening.

“Good morning, Vietnam,” I added, also with the same kind of sarcasm.

“Yeah, ha ha!  Goooooood morning, Vietnam!”

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Temporary Ceasefire

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 19, 2004

DAY 423:  When historians think of Vietnam, chances are they immediately think of The American War from 1965 to 1973 — well, that’s what I think of at least.  In each entry I’ve written about Vietnam so far, I’ve eluded to The War with subtle literary devices, but for a change of pace, let’s turn to another part in Vietnam’s history.  Call this a temporary ceasefire if you will.

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The Vietnamese Version

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 19, 2004

DAY 424:  When I was fifteen, one year short of being able to get a legal work permit, friend and Blogreader wheat and I made some cash to buy music cassettes (yes, I said “cassettes”) by working off the books at a local family-run chicken take-out place that, because of its crappy location, didn’t get much business.  To suffice for the lack of customers, the Filipino-American owners of the place made a living by setting up food vending stalls at just about every summer street fair in the metropolitan New York City area.  Wheat and I went from fair to fair every weekend that summer of 1990, to grill up chicken parts and pork shish-kabobs under questionably sanitary conditions that would make Upton Sinclair turn in his grave. 

The job paid us though, so I could get that latest tape from Information Society (yes, I said “Information Society”), which is why we dealt with it:  riding in cargo vans on top of grills, booth equipment and spoiling pork pieces, and dealing with pushy bosses.  It was especially an experience when we’d work the New York Gay Pride Parade and get approached by male customers flirting, “Hey boy, you sure have a lot of meat on that stick!”

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average Is Down A Quarter Of A Point

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 20, 2004

DAY 425:  It has been brought to my attention that there are people out there who use travel Blogs (such as this one) as a informational resource for making their own travel plans.  Can you believe that?  People actually read this thing other than for its stories of misadventure and self-effacing poop humor.  Ha!

I know this bit of trivia about travel Blogs as informational resources because I was interviewed by a reporter from The Wall Street Journal who was doing a feature about the business of travel Blogs.  The interview with New York-based journalist happened over a series of back-and-forth e-mails that started way back when I was traveling through Morocco with a Canadian named Sebastian.  If you recall the comment I posted from Tokyo about the outcome of that interview, in the end, the article failed to mention me or The Blog at all.  I sighed and moved on.  (This wasn’t the first time this had happened to me; a CNN reporter once interviewed me for a feature about my on-line New Jersey Turnpike-inspired t-shirt store, but that too went nowhere.)

I understood completely, figuring that my Blog wasn’t exactly WSJ material — until this entry, that is.

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The Touts Are A’Changin’

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 21, 2004

DAY 426:  In 1973, the Paris Peace Accords put an end to The American War in Vietnam.  The US conceded to North Vietnam and eventually pulled out its troops so that Vietnam could begin the road to recovery.  Two years later, on April 30, 1975, North Vietnam hammered the proverbial “nail in the coffin” into the south when, using a big military tank, they stormed the presidential palace gates in the former South Vietnam capital of Saigon.  Vietnam was reunified under Communist rule and after that day, the official name of the southern city was renamed after the Communist leader and became Ho Chi Minh City, often abbreviated in print as “HCMC” to save space and decrease writer’s cramp.  Verbally, “Ho Chi Minh City,” is a mouthful in itself, which is probably why people still just call it Saigon.  “Saigon” just rolls off the tongue.

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Blame America

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 21, 2004

DAY 427:  Allow me to reiterate a statement from a previous entry:  “History is written by the winners.”  In Vietnam, “history” has painted US Troops of The American War in Vietnam as heartless, imperial scumbag bad guys, the same way the Germans are painted as in Hollywood World War II films, and aliens are painted as in the movie Independence Day.  To be fair, the Vietnamese can say whatever they want in Vietnam; it is their country after all.  As a visitor, I wanted to be respectful of it; besides, it’s always nice to hear the other side of the tale.

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Mekong Enterprises

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 23, 2004

DAY 428:  The Mekong, one the world’s great rivers, touches six countries — Tibetan China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam — and has provided prosperity for those places in terms of trade and agriculture for centuries, as most rivers do.  If you recall from your geography classes in grammar school, rivers usually spill out into a larger body of water, and the place where they meet is called a delta.  Deltas provide a wealth of opportunity for business; they are “showcases” if you will, of the labor and services of the river within.  Such is the case with the Mekong Delta at the South China Sea.

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ABOUT ERIK R. TRINIDAD

When he’s not making a living as an interactive/motion designer or playing with fast food, Erik R. Trinidad is a travel writer, blogger, video host and producer focusing on adventure and culinary content. His work has been featured on National Geographic Intelligent Travel, Adventure.com, Discovery.com, Saveur, Condé Nast Traveler, and Hyenas Laughed at Me and Now I Know Why, which also includes the work of Tim Cahill, Doug Lansky, Jennifer Leo and Rolf Potts. He has also referenced his travel experiences in his solo book, Fancy Fast Food: Ironic Recipes with No Bun Intended.

For over ten years, Erik has traveled to the seven continents of the world — from Timbuktu to Kalamazoo — with a curiosity for exotic foods and a thirst for adventure (and writing material).  In his travels, he has been mugged at knifepoint in Cape Town, extorted by corrupt Russian police on the Trans-Siberian Railway, stranded in tornadic storms in the American midwest, and air-lifted off the Everest Trail by a helicopter that was thankfully paid for by his travel insurance.  But it hasn’t been all fun; he has also donned a tuxedo amidst the penguins of Antarctica, paraded with Carnival-winning samba school Beija Flor in Rio, run for his life at Pamplona’s “Running of the Bulls,” cage-dived with great white sharks, gotten shot point-blank in the stomach in Colombia (while wearing a bulletproof jacket), and above all, encountered many people around the world, including some Peruvian musicians in Cuzco who learned and played “Y.M.C.A.” at his request. He loves the irony that, after everywhere he’s been, he has never been to Mexico.

Erik writes stories and news articles when he’s at his base camp in New York City, and continues his blog when he is on the road — provided he’s not occupied tracking down lost luggage.

Additional news/article clippings at ErikTrinidad.com.



See Erik talk about travel in an American Express ad:



Read about Erik in this feature article from Filipinas magazine by National Geographic Traveler Associate Editor Amy Alipio.



The views and opinions written on The Global Trip blog are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official views and opinions of the any affiliated publications.
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