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6/21/2000 - Melissa have great photos!! I really love it! I'm vietnamese myself and have been here for most of my life, I haven't had a chance to go back to visit my country. Hopefully that chance will come true soon. I'm amazed that foreigners find VN is actractive. I know our country is not that perfect but i'm glad to see others are trying to learn our culture!!


>Thanks for the compliment on the photos. I'm glad you enjoyed them!

6/13/2000 - The Man, The Myth, The Legend, Will Okun - NC, USA


Yo, yo Alex -
This sight is super tight, Dave rosen told me about it last night (poetry). It's good to know that you are doing so well, travelling and learning. I hope next year goes just as well, definately want to see more photos. I think some glamour bikini photos would fit in real nicely.
much props, willie okun


>Oak! Where you living these days bro?? Drop me a line!

6/6/2000 - Karin

Hi Alex
Thanks a lot for replying to my post on LP, and my compliments for your great web site. I find it really nice how you answer to all the e-mails.
You must have had great experiences and will have even greater ones in future. You are talking about working in Vietnam., so I would like to ask you if it is possible to work as a volunteer, even though I don't have any degrees, only worked for a short while with the first aid group?
Well, I'd have tons of other questions about the country, the people, health,...
All the best for your future plans


>Hey, thanks for your interest in our work.  Unfortunately, I don't think we will be able to use volunteers.  Good luck with your plans and your trip!

5/22/2000 - Vien - North Carolina, USA


Hi Alex!

Many thanks for sharing all those wonderful pictures on your site. I was thrilled by the fact that there are so many people out there who are very interested in learning about Vietnam.

I left Vietnam exactly 5 years ago.  Memories of Vietnam and the town I lived have not been faded away.  The  dream of going back and practice medicine there is still a wild dream for me.  Until Vietnam is a free nation and the dream of being a pediatrician come true :). My family came here due to the Vietnam War (I am sure you understand what I'm trying to say).  I talked to a French man, who visited Vietnam for a few times; he tried to argue with me that Vietnam is a free nation and that the idea of communism is not there anymore, but what he doesn't know is that he has not LIVED with communists and he only saw what he could see in foreigners' eyes.
I'm going to major in Pre-med at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill next fall, I am wondering is there any tip you would like to share as a pre-med major student?


>Chapel Hill is a great town!  I grew up there.  My best advice would be to keep your grades up and enjoy school.  You might even want to consider doing a major in a non-science subject.  You will get so much science in medical school, so you may want to pursue any interests that you have in the humanities while in Undergrad.  Of course, you still have to take all the required basic courses for med-school.  Good Luck!

Hope you'll have a great time in Da Nang, if you have a chance stop at Nha Trang beach and Phan Rang (my hometown) (gotta taste grapes there!) :) take a lot of pictures alright? :)  I've never have a chance to go back & visit, but I know that it has been changed greatly (I only saw those changes through videotapes that were sent by my cousin). Oh this is a great tourist place in Phan Rang, here is a picture of that place.  If you want to look at it:

when I was still there, I came to this place very often with the hope of seeing foreigner and practicing my English with them.  One time though, I met this Westerner, thinking that he must be American, I started speaking English to him, but he couldn't understand much of what I said, later it turned out that he was a Russian.

Thanks again, and many lucks to you and your future,

Vien Tran 


(the Tran's family that you stayed with, that was very cute!)

p.s: how far are you with your Vietnamese? ( I meant in speaking and
writing).  If you live somewhere near here (High Point, NC), I would love to volunteer and teach you or whoever want to learn Vietnamese. I taught many children who were born here.  Vietnamese is difficult to learn how to speak but the grammar is extremely easy compares to English and French.


>Thanks for the offer!  I currently live in Texas but I do have a Vietnamese friend that is giving me basic lessons.  Unfortunately, I have not gotten very far yet.  It is a very difficult language to learn (phonetically speaking).  Hopefully, after a year in Vietnam I will be somewhat conversant!

5/20/2000 - Vinh - Melbourne, Australia


Hi Alex,

Thanks for sharing the VN pics. I left VN in the late 60's and had plans to do the kind of trip you did when I return after studying overseas, but that wasn't to be, and 30 years later am still considering doing that kind of trip, but probably on a motorbike, as I am not in my twenties anymore.

I could not see any pics on the Saigon 2 page, so will check back some other time.

It is ironic that while you will be moving to Danang to work, my brother and his children are in fact working in the medical field in Houston!

Cheers, Vinh


>Glad you enjoyed my site.  Good luck with the Motorbike trip- sounds like fun!

5/15/2000 - Phuoc

I stumbled upon your homepage via from the photo section.  I truly enjoyed your site!  I envy you because you get to see so much more of Vietnam than I do! I have been wanting to go back to Vietnam and visit but haven't had a chance yet.  I still have plenty of relatives there, many of whom I have never met as they were born after I left.  It's been almost 18 years!  My family originally came from Tan Thoi, or the Binh Nham/Song Be Province. Look for Song Be River.  Our town is known for the ceramic factories and the fruit orchards...boy, everyone has got to visit those orchards during the summer season!  Can you find that on the map?


Currently, I am in dental school and have been enjoying it for the most part!  I've been toying with the idea of going back to practice in Vietnam someday, but I know that there are many challenges due the lack of most things...  Well, first I have to focus on my studies and pass all my exams or else I won't be practicing on anybody!   :)  Take care

5/07/2000 - Jerry


I have enjoyed your pictures and it brought back some memories. Unfortunately we were getting shot at when I was there.  Even more unfortunate it was to support a regime that was too corrupt to help defend its own cause.  What few people I met on a one to one basis were friendly and nice.  One of the most significant conversations was in my inadequate French with a former rubber plantation foreman. Most people were just existing from day to day and not thinking about ideologies.

Thanks for the memories. I hope your stay is enjoyable.  Best wishes.

5/07/2000 - Ryan - Australia


Hey, just read your resume thing.

I am a doctor too, in postgraduate training to be a specialist here in Australia. Our education system is quite different from the USA by the way.  I am also going to pursue working in developing countries with the aim to improve local medical care. I wonder if you would keep in touch, even via this web page, with your developments and progess in Vietnam. That would be great. For example, i assume you speak Vietnamese, but how well?


>No problem!  As for the Vietnamese, I speak only in the most rudimentary sense.  I am currently trying to learn tones and stuff.  Very challenging but a wonderful language!

My own interest is in establishing better health care in far western China at this stage. However there are some very difficult hurdles to overcome that i really am only beginning to realise, as this is quite a sensitive region in China.

Well done on a terrific site. This is quite professional, and what subject matter! Great.

I was a keen cycle tourer previously, and I think it would be great if you included practical details of your trip such as distances traveled, a more specific route, and any vagaries of cycling in Vietnam that need watching out for, or will be helpful in trip planning. Anyway I have a twelve day holiday coming up and hope to go to SE Asia. You've inspired me to inflate those tires again and pedal around Vietnam for a week or so. Could you suggest a route? (7-9 days). I'll be there in July and I'm still fit!


>That's great!  I'd definitely recommend cycling around the delta.  Since you only have about a week, try incorporating some boat travel into your plans.  That way you can cover more ground and get to any particularly interesting places you want to check out.  One thing to look into would be the weather, however, as July is the rainy season in the South.  I'd be happy to answer any particular questions you may have, however, be sure to check out Felix Hude's Biking Southeast Asia website (Check out my links section).  He has 2 rides in Vietnam with much more practical info than my site.  Good luck!

5/01/2000 - Mark


Hey Alex
I traveled Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh Oct 99 by bicycle, the most alive I have felt since my children were born. Your pictures do a great job of capturing the spirit of the people and the country. Good luck and god bless


4/27/2000 - Larry - USA


Hello Alex,as a Viet Vet i loved your site.While stationed in Danang,1967 1nd 68,i worked in alarge compound directly across from the ferry landing downtown Danang,and i was berthed at a place called Camp Ten Sha.We would have to take the ferry across the river to 3rd MAF headquarters,and then catch a bus,or hitch-hike to the base  to get a nights rest.Can you give me any info on these two places,if not i wish you all the best there,and may God bless.Thanx


4/27/2000 - Trevor - Australia


Alex, I found your site via the thorn tree - what an inspiration ! I would love to do the same with my wife & kids next year. How long was the trip (in days)? What is the best time of year to travel in Vietnam ? Your advice would be appreciated. Thanks. Greetings from Australia!!


>My trip was 2 weeks - that was all the time I could get away from school unfortunately!  As for the best times to travel, it depends on whether you plan to be in the north or the south I guess.  I was there in March and it was great, practically no rain.

4/19/2000 - A. Nguyen - Tx


Hi there, I'm a 15 year girl from Houston, TX. I visited North Vietnam (Hai Phong) two summers ago, to see my parents' family. There, I knew exactly what I wanted to accomplish. On a road trip through the beautiful country w/ my uncle, his truck busted a tire. We stopped at one of the many tire shops, and while the guy was trying to repair it, he busted his finger pretty badly. He still continued to repair the tire, and we left. On our way back we crossed the shop again, it was pitch black, and the most I could do was offered to give the man 20 u.s. dollars(which is alot) to buy medicine. One particular Vietnamese priority is education. I was alwayz interested in the medical field. And it is too, my dream to return and offer free medical help to the country people. Oh yeah, while I was there, I ate a buncha food, and yeah, like all foreigners, developed diarreha. My aunt whipped me a really horrible medicinal brew, and surprisingly, it worked. Many, many country people are reluctant to use modern medicine, and use traditional medicine. But I think that what you are doing is GREAT and it is also something I hope to do one day. I even promised myself to cure or at least help my cousin, who is paralyzed (and crawls on the floor) that I will get a way for her to walk.


P.S. Your photographs are wonderful. I would just want to many times a day did the people try to take advantage of you and take money just because you're a white person? I am Viet, speak fluent Viet, and looks like a Viet. Many of the country people adore foreigners. ThanX for listening.



>Hey, thanks for the mail!  That's great that you too are interested in medicine.  As for people trying to take advantage of me for money, it wasn't too bad.  Of course, many people view westerners as being wildly rich (understandable since the per capita annual income is about $360 U.S.) and so, naturally, they often charge "foreigner prices."  I also encountered a coupla scam artists, but you just have to take these things in stride, smile, and stroll on.

4/19/2000 - Sumner


E-mail from my older brother!  He is a journalist that has been living in China for the greater part of a decade now.


Yo Alex!

So there I am doing some research on an overland journey from Phnom Penh to Luang Prebang in Laos and I come across a site that links to this!!!

What great soulful craziness!

Keep it up!

4/16/2000 - Tony


Hi Alex,

I have cycled through VN twice now, most recently this past January. I was just a young lad out of highschool when I first arrived at Cam Ranh Bay in 1969.  I realized even 30 years ago the country was beautiful. I had the fortune of traveling from the small village of SaPa, near the Chinese border down to the Delta.

When someone says tell me about your trip, it's easy. My reply is, the food is great, the people are wonderful, and the country is breathtaking.

Your pictures warm my heart and brings a lot of good memories.


THANKS !!  Tony

4/16/2000 - Niek - Belgium


HI Alex,
Seems like an impressing trip to me. I love to travel around on bike too and it's to poeple like you I look up to. You have a great site and really beatifull pictures that let you see how the country is really like. I myself live in Belgium(Bruges) and you have given me a new country for a possible bike trip in the future. Keep up the good work.

4/15/2000 - Ernie & Christine


Great photos of the Vietnam trip!


My wife and I are considering a bicycle trip through Vietnam this year.  We have road bikes -- do you think road bikes are OK or would you recommend mountain bikes?  We rode the 1000 miles of the California coast (Oregon and 2/3rds of California) a couple years ago and are looking to combine a bicycle trip with a bit more adventure.



>The main roads are in pretty good shape so I think you could do a trip on your road bikes without problem.  Saigon to Phung Hiep is a very nice paved road.  South of Phung Hiep it gets a little rougher, but not bad.  You may come across an occasional pot-hole, but nothing major.  However, if you want to be a little more adventurous and explore some of the back-roads, bring a mountain bike.  Good luck!

4/12/2000 - HAIFM


Wonderful pictures and write up.  I  just curious how much it cost to hire a
boat from My Tho to Vinh Long?   


>I think I paid about $15.  There are much cheaper boats available but they wouldn't take my bike.

How long it takes to get there?  


>It took me about 4 hours.

Do you have to bargain with the boat owner?  


>Definitely, but it's friendly.

Do you still have contact at My Tho? 


>No, but there are many touts along the waterfront who will be eager to get your business.  Finding a boat is not a problem.  In fact, they will find you.

I plan to take a trip back to VN next year so I  may ask a bunch of stupid questions and hope you don't mind.  Thank you.


>No problem!  Feel free to ask whatever.  Good luck!

4/11/2000 - Anh


I just saw all of the pictures that you took in Vn. It was really nice, and just by coincidence I saw my old house in one of your picture on Cong Quynh Street. It really stirs up my memmory. Tonight, I am gonna show that to my parents cuz they are always wondering about the old house on Cong Quynh St. Again, thank you for allowing us to see all that great pictures. Take care.


>Wow, now that is cool.  I've inserted a thumbnail of the picture Anh is referring to below.  Click the photo to go to the page with the full-size shot.



4/07/2000 - Erika- Washington, DC


Its nice to see such personal pictures of Vietnam on your site. I was in Vietnam last November and the one most beautiful aspects of the country is the people. Your pictures captured so many smiling faces. The Vietnamese are so welcoming and warm, there really is no place in the world that has made such an impact on me. I spent more time in the northern part of the country near Hanoi than the south and found it hard to leave a village without having tea with nearly every family. Your pictures stirred my memories. Thank you.

4/06/2000 - Greg - Portland, Oregon

Your photos and notes from Vietnam are wonderful!
What a trip ...... I really enjoyed your web site.

I'm going to Vietnam in a couple of weeks, won't be traveling by bicycle (at least not most of the time), but looking forward to it .... I do get to travel with good Vietnamese friends for most of the trip!

I'm trying to gear up for the climate and culture shock ..... can't wait!

4/05/2000 - Sandy


These are beautiful pictures.  I'm going to Vietnam/Cambodia in July and this just whetted my appetite.  Thanks for sharing!

4/01/2000 - Thanh


Hi, I found your post on The photos look great! I'm planning a trip to Vietnam this August. I want to travel around by bike and I have a lotta questions...

4/01/2000 - Miki - Tokyo, Japan


Hello, Alex.

This is my first time to send you e-mail.

I am Miki from Japan.  I am an university sutudent at Chuo University in Tokyo.

I have just accessed to your home page and find it interesting.

You seem to travel a lot!!

Now I don't have enough time to write longer mail.

But I will read your report again.

Write you again!

4/01/2000 - Dee


I wrote you a reply in the Adventure Travel Community that I would send you info. about medical work abroad. My husband gave me the name of an organization which is a coalition of 160 US based non-profits which include some well known ones like Medecines sans Frontiers (Doctors without Borders). It is called InterAction and it has a web site, I checked it out and it looked pretty good.  I also have the following address & phone number for it.  1717 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Suit 801, Washington, D.C. 20036, telephone (202) 667-8227. This from a couple of years ago, but it should still be good.

Good luck!

3/31/2000 - Son


Thanks for the photos about my homeland. I really enjoyed them. Your photos take me back VN 25 years ago.

About One photo you said it is a US bag, however, I did not see that bag during the War.



I wish I can make a trip as you did. I spent all my young
age time in those areas. Did you eat and drink coconut?


>No, unfortunately I didn't.  Next time!

3/31/2000 - Renee


Hi, Alex! My name is Renee and I linked to your site from the budget.backbacking newsgroup. Unfortunately I don't have any job leads for you, but I do have a couple questions about touring Vietnam. Would that be all right?


>No problem,  ask away.

3/30/2000 - Felix - Australia:


yep, looks like a great trip. i just LOVE that first pic on the site (Soc Trang)... I've downloaded it and have put it up as my desktop picture for March. It's a beauty (as we say here).