Where has Don been Lately?

This is the 5th installment of this page.  I like to call it a "living web page" since I will be updating it as I visit interesting places.  Check here often or at least once a month.  If you missed the previous pages, you can still view them by clicking on the following hyperlinks:

http://www.ddjohnson.com/been 1st edition.htm

http://www.ddjohnson.com/been 2nd edition.htm

http://www.ddjohnson.com/been 3rd edition.htm

http://www.ddjohnson.com/been 4th edition.htm

Since moving to Thailand on July 4th, 1999 I have traveled outside Thailand frequently, as well as many trips within in the country to places like Changmai in the northwest to Cha Am, Hua Hin, Chumpon, Krabi and Phuket to the southwest -- and of course Bangkok.

I took pleasure trips to China, Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia, Viet Nam, Singapore, Indonesia, Laos the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore and various places the US.

Here are a few photos from my recent travels that I hope you find interesting:

Burma (Myanmar)  Carmen and I visited Burma for two weeks this past May.  We had planned to only visit Yangoon and Mandalay but was convinced to also visit Bagan, the ancient capital.  The Bagan area, built about 1,100 years ago, should be the 8th Wonder of the World.

We went to Burma with few and low expectations.  We returned to Thailand with praise for the friendly and beautiful people, a remembrance of the beauty of the country and a hope that someday they will have a government allowing freedom for its people.

Here are a few photos of the experience:

   A young Monk in training in Sagaing, near Mandalay Shwegugyi Temple in Bagan, one of over 4,000 temples in a 25 square mile area (that's 5 miles x 5 miles) Amazing!

 Bagan temples

One of over 4,000 temples in the Bagan area

 Temple at Yangoon                  A beautiful Nun
 A temple near Mandalay Room of Buddhas in Yangoon


 A common sight in Burma The Floating Temple on the Aryawadi River

Viet Nam  This was my second trip to Viet Nam (click on 2nd Edition above to view the photos from my first trip).  The primary purpose for my trip was to complete my training as a PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC) Staff Instructor at the generous invitation of Course Director Steve Blumenthal in the first ever IDC in Nha Trang, Viet Nam.  The training was completed for 10 Instructor Candidates over the next week.  The PADI Examiner arrived the next day from California to administer the exams over the next three days.  All 10 passed!!

Prior to departing Thailand I planed my visit to not only include the Nha Trang IDC, but to take advantage of being in the country to explore more places to the north.  I traveled for the next two weeks from Ho Chi Min City (Saigon) to Nha Trang, then to Da Nang, Hoi An, Hue' and finally to Hanoi.  My sister Michele flew from San Francisco (Berkeley) to meet me in Hanoi where we took in the sights, food and culture of Northern Viet Nam.

My impression of Viet Nam is multi-faceted.  The country, its people, the food, and the cultural history are beautiful, interesting and worth experiencing.  From a "personality" standpoint I found the people of Viet Nan, in general,  to be tricky, conniving, dishonest and lacking in personal integrity.  However, I found several exceptions to this and was pleased meet people who seem to be genuine, honest and interested in meeting Americans, especially in the South.  My advise to travelers is to be extremely careful of your belongings, knowledgeable of your simple agreements (such as the cost of a hotel, cost/min. for internet access, taxis, etc.) and carry only those items you need for that particular excursion.

Here are a few photos of this beautiful country:

The best way to get around most every city in Viet Nam 

The mausoleum of Ho Chi Min.  He's really in there, preserved in a glass coffin to view


 The entrance to the prison in Hanoi called the "Hanoi Hilton", which held many American pilots and crew during the war, with Michele getting hustled by a local

Michele and me in Hanoi

 Ho Chi Min's home in Hanoi

The headquarters of the North Viet Namese in Hanoi during the war with America

 Free air conditioning, but standing room only

The remains of many wars within Hue'

Check this site in late November for photos from the trip to New Zealand.

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