Dog on a motorbike, Vietnam edition

This is a Hipmunk post from Jodi of Legal Nomads.
Earlier in my writing for Hipmunk, I was living in Chiang Mai in Thailand. I noticed that many of the dogs in the area were perfectly comfortable sitting on motorbikes while their owners picked up food or supplies, patiently waiting on the seat. And then, when the owner would return, the dogs would put their paws up on the handle bars and off the bike would go.
In my 2 months in Vietnam, I’ve yet to see a dog on a motorbike – until today! Thanks to James from Nomadic Notes for capturing these as we were walking around.
Dog on motorbike by James Clark

Dog on motorbike, by James Clark

And the bird’s eye view -
Dog on a motorbike in HCMC, James Clark

Bird’s eye view – what a jacket too!

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Wonderful video of frenetic traffic in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City

This is a Hipmunk post from Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads

I often talk about how crazy it is to cross the street in other parts of the world. Being from Montreal, I’m well-versed in the art of jaywalking but in many cities even a jaded jaywalker can find herself overwhelmed. In Morocco, the key was to make eye contact before stepping out into the street, in Turkey it was running as quickly as possible and in Vietnam, it’s a slow-motion musical  - don’t make any sudden moves, sway into the flow of traffic – and you ought to be fine.

No one has captured this as well as Rob Whitworth who, with the help of some fun music and a lot of talent, has put together a terrific timelapse of the energy in Vietnam. With boats, cars, motorbikes and bicycles, he’s managed to convey both the frenetic movement and the seemingly casual chaos and gracefulness present in all of it.

For anyone who has been to Vietnam, I’m sure you’ll find yourself nodding along in agreement – this is a great depiction of what it’s like to move around the in the curled waterways and streets of HCMC.

[vimeo w=500&h=281]

Hope you enjoy!

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6 Great Travel Reads That Inspire Wanderlust


This is a Hipmunk guest post from Jodi Ettenberg

Reading is one of the pleasures of travel, be it during the journey to get somewhere or as a lazy afternoon treat on a beach or in a new city’s cafe. Here are 6 travel reads that inspired me to keep wandering, sorted by country. 

1. The Dominican Republic


What to readThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. Set partially in the Dominican Republic and partially in New Jersey (where Diaz was raised), the book tells the story of Oscar de Léon and his extended family. Told in turn by Oscar’s troubled sister Lola and family friend Yunior, the book blends science fiction, nerdy fandom and history in one sad but unforgettable narrative. Lots of history from the Dominican Republic interspersed within the family story.

2. China

What to read: The River at the Center of the World: A Journey Up the Yangtze, and Back in Chinese Time by Simon Winchester. Drawn to the beauty of Ten thousand li, a stunning 53 foot scroll by Wang Hui, Winchester works his way along the length of the river in reverse, from its mouth at the South China Sea to the looming plateaus of Tibet where the river begins. The book covers the history and geography of the Yangtze beautifully, with personal anecdotes about what Winchester calls “the delicious strangeness of China.” While the book was written in 1996, it is a well-researched, fascinating way to discover the tangled mass of culture, people and geography along the Yangtze’s edge.

3. Myanmar (Burma)

Img_1736 What to read: The River of Lost Footsteps: A Personal History of Burma by Thant Myint U. Burma is a complicated place, and travel to the country requires some context and history. This is easily the most beautifully written and thorough history of the country, making sense of the horror and wonder from centuries of tumult. Lost Footsteps manages to explain so much about the Burma of today. The country has some incredible sights on offer (Inle Lake below is just one of them) but it reading up ahead of time is highly recommended.

4. France

Img_5927 What to read: The Seven Ages of Paris by Alastair Horne. Horne’s long love letter to Paris, starting with Caesar and Abélard and moving through the ages, is a dense but excellent read. The book blends the passionate politics of the city with its art and  music and scandalous royal class, resulting in a great, enlightening book spanning Paris’ lifetime. 

5. Vietnam:

What to readCatfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam by Andrew X. Pham. Caught in the cross-roads of many decisions, Pham abandons a burgeoning career in engineering (despite his parents’ pleas to the contrary), and embarks on a new path of freelance writing. “I am a mover of betweens” he writes, “I slip among classifications, like water in cupped palms.” After his sister’s suicide, Pham decides discover his roots by travelling Vietnam by bicycle, beginning in Ho Chi Minh City. Alternating between Pham’s desperate desire to find himself and the painful, often harrowing flashbacks of his father’s imprisonment in a Viet Cong death camp, the book comes together beautifully. Disgusted by modern-day Saigon and alienated from the Vietnamese he meets on his trip, Pham tries to find a balance between his family’s haunting saga, the country he thought he loved and the person he has become.

6. Morocco

What to read: In Arabian Nights: A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams by Tahir Shah. With one foot in the East and the other in the West, Shah’s memoir about his new home in Morocco, Dar Khalifa, and search for the teaching stories that provide a foundation of learning in the East is a captivating read. A great combination of terrific storytelling, cultural quirks and travel adventures.

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What are your favorite travel reads? Leave them in the comments!

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