Hello from Saigon

Followers of my dispatches on Twitter will know that my brother C and I have been in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and the surrounding area all of this week. I have many things to say about this great city. I really love it. And I shall be sharing some images of people, sights, and (most of all) food next week.

We return to Bangkok tomorrow (Fri.) afternoon local time, so if there are any of you in this neck of the woods who’d like to meet up, please email me: newley [at]


My New Story about Riding a Soviet-Era Motorbike in Vietnam

I have an article in the April issue of Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia magazine about a recent six-day trip I took through the northeast of Vietnam on a Soviet-era motorbike. The issue isn’t online, but if you’re in the region you can find the magazine on newsstands. If you’re in Bangkok, look for it in bookstores and at BTS stations. The article is called “Riding High” and it starts on page 91. Here’s more info about T+L Southeast Asia.

The image above is a pic of me and a friend I met during the trip.


Overland from Laos to Vienam — By Vespa

Vespa [Not My Image]

Great story — and images — from New Mandala (which, by the way, is an excellent blog about Southeast Asia):

The Vientiane Scooter Club recently conducted its annual rally from Laos to Vietnam, a journey which saw many of its members rediscover their origins. A group of urban middle class Lao nationals of Vietnamese and Chinese descent, the club members are driven by a desire to find their own authentic place in Lao society.

The club is one of a few new social groups to have emerged in recent years along with greater economic and cultural liberalization in Laos. On their rallies through the countryside they spread a road safety message and donate equipment to rural schools on a painstakingly restored fleet of forty-year-old Italian Piaggio Vespa motor scooters.

(Emphasis mine.)

(Related: the Vespa rickshaw.)

Bikes of Burden

Bikes of Burden is a coffee table book featuring images of Vietnamese motorbike drivers hauling around enormous amounts of various and sundry items. I saw a copy in a bookstore here in Bangkok recently; it’s fantastic. The author is Hans Kemp, a Dutch photographer. Here’s a gallery of some pics from from the book. This one might be my favorite. Bikes of Burden is available from Amazon here.

Excellent New Cambodia Food Blog

Phnomenon is an excellent new food/drink-centric Cambodia blog. It is for the Kingdom what Noodlepie is to Vietnam.