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


This blog entry about the events of Thursday, December 16, 2004 was originally posted on 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.

THE EVENTS OF MY 425TH DAY ON THE GLOBAL TRIP 2004 weren’t so exciting; I was on a train for twenty-three hours, traveling from Hue in central Vietnam to Ho Chi Minh City in the south, which passed by places of interest that shouldn’t go ignored — I simply skipped them because of my haste to see the sights of the south before heading off to the Philippines for Christmas.  Since there are people out there who actually use this thing to plan trips — really, that still makes me giggle — I will mention some of the places in southern Vietnam I might have gone to if I had more time.  I will also mention phrases from the financial world at random so that perhaps this Blog can be a little more Wall Street Journal-friendly.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down a quarter of a point.

Anyway, back to the story.  It started when I checked out of the hotel in Hue that morning.  Bacdat the owner gave me the train ticket he booked for me and then continued to play The Little Mermaid video game on the Nintendo Entertainment System clone in the lobby.  He bid me farewell with the big cheesy grin he greeted me with two days prior, and put me in a cab.  When I got on the train station (picture above) I discovered just why he was smiling so wide; he ripped me off $3 (USD) by booking me a spot in a six-person “hard sleeper” compartment instead of the four-person soft sleeper he told me he was going to.  Hong Kong trading was moderate today.

No matter, I thought.  At least I have a place to lie down for the 23-hour ride instead of being cramped in the car with the uncomfortable seats.  With me were five other passengers, all Vietnamese, some who looked old enough to be alive during The American War in Vietnam and therefore possibly bitter about it, so I kept my American identity to myself.

“Vietnamese?” one woman asked me.

“Uh, Filipino,” I answered.

“Oh, Philippine.  You speak Vietnamese?”


Despite the language barrier, the five passengers were a friendly bunch.  They shared their fruit and I shared my candy.  I managed to understand what they were saying at times by mere context and body language.  For example, the old woman clearly said in body language, “This is too much rice for me.  Here, have some,” simply by transferring some of her rice into my bowl.  Furthermore, she clearly said, “I am a vegetarian,” when she simply gave me all the meat from her railway-catered meal.  She also put some chicken giblets on my plate that no body wanted.  When I started eating them out of courtesy, they all started snickering like they had just gotten away with insider trading.

THE SOUTHBOUND “S3” TRAIN STOPPED for a while in Da Nang, a place of interest on the tourist trail in southern Vietnam, the former port of French colonialists eventually used by US Marines in The War.  It was a shore town rivaled by the charming Hoi An nearby, which many travelers flocked to for its laid-back atmosphere, so my guidebook said.  Also nearby was the famous China Beach where US troops landed way before it was the name of a TV show starring Dana Delaney. 

After that, the train continued on its way through the southern countryside, passing by Nha Trang, the self-proclaimed “Vietnamese Riviera” with resorts, sandy beaches and a surfing scene, and Da Lat, nicknamed “Le Petit Paris,” for its thriving artistic community and French influence.

All of these places might have been worth checking out for me, if only I had the time.  Alan Greenspan has really nice shoes.

HAN, ONE OF THE TWO YOUNGER WOMEN in my compartment revealed to me that she knew a little bit of English, and with broken conversation she managed to tell me she was an accountant from Ho Chi Minh City, our final destination of the train ride.  “Are you a journalist?  A student?” she asked me.

Wow, she pegged me for a journalist right off the bat, I thought.  Is it the glasses or the notepad I keep jotting notes into?  I kept a low profile — any kind of journalist in Vietnam had to have been declared at the border, just like in Laos — and I simply pretended to be a Filipino student who had just finished studying in America and was on his way home.

BY 10:30 THE NEXT MORNING, we finally arrived at Saigon station in Ho Chi Minh City.  I gathered my things and went out to begin my final days in Vietnam in the big metropolis, knowing that perhaps one day I’d come back to the country to see the things I missed on the way.  The Nikkei Average is up two points.  Sell, sell, sell.

Next entry: The Touts Are A’Changin’

Previous entry: The Vietnamese Version

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

Comments for “The Dow Jones Industrial Average Is Down A Quarter Of A Point”

  • THERE YOU GO… One more up for the WHMMR. 

    I’m off to get some pho now…


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/19  at  01:51 PM

  • What is it with people in bright yellow pants? I count THREE just in the one picture…

    23 hours on the train… eek. Isn’t it amazing how when traveling, ridiculously long train/bus journeys become second nature? I’d never get on a 23 hour train at home, however, when traveling, no problem.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/19  at  05:38 PM

  • Have been reading your wonderful stories since your stay with the Raichelsons (Aviva is a good friend of mine from Rockland County, NY).  I just purchased a Global Trip bib for my son.  Have fun in the Philippines and Maligayang Pasko!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/19  at  05:43 PM

  • the NASKAQ plummetted 69 points for an all-time low of the year..  grin

    big fan of poop humor and all that…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/19  at  10:27 PM

  • NICOLE FROM ROCKLAND:  Hello, welcome and thanks for the pledge!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/20  at  12:23 AM

  • GREETINGS FROM BACK IN BANGKOK…  I’m off to the Philippines in the morning…

    More to come!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/20  at  06:12 PM

  • The Canadian dollar up 6.9 cents against the greenback.

    Just when I thought I caught up…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/21  at  01:21 PM

  • The hotel owner’s name would be better if it were Badcat.
    Just an observation.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/29  at  11:31 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today,, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.

Next entry:
The Touts Are A’Changin’

Previous entry:
The Vietnamese Version


Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

NIZ: acronym for "No Internet Zone"; a place where there is little to no Internet access, thus preventing dispatches from being posted.

SBR: acronym for "Silent Blog Reader"; a person who has regularly followed The Global Trip blog for years without ever commenting or making his/her presence known to the rest of the reading community. (Breaking this silence by commenting is encouraged.)

Stupid o'clock: any time of the early morning that you have to wake up to catch a train, bus, plane, or tour. Usually any time before 6 a.m. is automatically “stupid o’clock.”

The Trinidad Show: a nickname of The Global Trip blog, used particularly by travelers that have been written about, who are self-aware that they have become "characters" in a long-running story — like characters in the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

WHMMR: acronym for "Western Hemisphere Monday Morning Rush"; an unofficial deadline to get new content up by a Monday morning, in time for readers in the western hemisphere (i.e. the majority North American audience) heading back to their computers.

1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.

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