A bike tour in Vietnam – day 1 (and 2)

Recently, we rode through the highlands and central coast of Vietnam on a Grasshopper Adventures bicycle tour. Our first day was spent cycling around the highlands town of Dalat and getting used to riding on the e-bikes we’d rented. Our trip was only a few miles, during which we realized that if we hadn’t settled on using e-bikes, we would never have made it through the highlands: some of those hills were ridiculous. Also, thank god for padded bike shorts. If I’d had those in Greece, my trip would have been a lot easier. On the second day, we awoke…

A little more from Paramount Studios

One highlight of the Paramount Studios tour is the Paramount Studios backlot. The backlot recreates a number of generic city neighborhoods that have been used in movies and television shows. If you’ve flown on United Airlines recently, you’ve seen some of the backlot in the airplane safety video: We also visited the (physical) film and video library, which staff were digitizing. The organization of the collection seemed a little haphazard—one shelf contained, in order, “Top Gun”, “Paranormal Activity 2”, “Iron Man 2”, “The Perfect Score,” “Ghost”, “Hotel for Dogs”, “School of Rock”, and so on—but overall, the visit felt like…

Paramount Studios

So, you’re walking down an unexceptional street in Los Angeles. Fast food, cars, some nondescript houses and buildings, and a curious-looking character or two. However, the view of the Hollywood sign and the large white trucks might give you a clue as to what’s nearby … as might the globe atop the building or the small but familiar logo on one of those nondescript buildings. Welcome to Paramount Studios! While we waited for the tour to begin, we enjoyed some history, including costumes designed by Edith Head, famous props, and (not shown) clips from famous Paramount films and television programs….

More Brunique Brunei

One of the main attractions of Brunei is Ulu Temburong National Park. Brunei has preserved its rainforest, and to get there, one must take a commuter boat upriver to a car, drive to another river, and then take a longboat. Inside the park, the thing to do is to view the sunrise from atop the canopy walk, which rises 164 feet above the rainforest floor. This means getting up at 4:30 am for a quick breakfast and then about an hour’s walk steeply up the hills. A warning at the end:

Brunique Brunei

Recently, we visited Brunei. It wasn’t my first trip to Borneo, yet—because Brunei is a gas- and oil-rich country—I’d expected to see a miniature version of Dubai. It wasn’t Dubai. The capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, is about as low-key a capital as I’ve ever seen. Vientiane is bustling by comparison. Granted, we weren’t there during the height of tourist season, but it was midday, and the city felt largely deserted. I’m told that most of the commerce takes place in malls and shopping centers outside the city center. So what does one do as a tourist in Bandar Seri Begawan?…

Angkor Wat on a shoestring

Suppose you can’t get up to Cambodia because money’s tight, or because Interpol is waiting at the border. No fear—Thailand has its own Khmer temples you can visit! The temple at Phimai Historical Park is the terminus of the Ancient Khmer Highway, the most important road of the Khmer Empire, which started at Angkor Wat. A little further on is Ku Pueai Noi, which was reminiscent of Pre Rup and East Mabon with their brickwork, although not at all as large or as high.