Heavenly Bodies Rise and Descend on Topsail Island

On Friday, July 15, at the end of a wonderful week with family and extended family in three houses on Topsail Island, N.C., I excused myself from our ritual big-group dinner preparations for an appointment with something I try not to miss when I can: A full moon rising over the ocean. My sister accompanied me on the short walk over to the beach, where it also happened to be high tide ... really high ... with waves crashing right up against the wall of sand they'd already created. After wondering if the cloud cover on the horizon might obscure the moon until much later, we ... [Read More]

Nha Trang: Cheap, and Beautiful

When you think of top beach vacation spots, Nha Trang, Vietnam, doesn’t spring immediately to mind. It should. The secret is out about this tranquil beach town on Vietnam’s southeast coast, and its population is booming, expected to nearly double in the next seven years alone. Tourists are flocking to the new luxury high-rise hotels and resorts sprouting up along the beaches, and, commendably, the city is thus far doing an excellent job of balancing its burgeoning tourist industry with its historic roots as a fishing village. Our hotel, the exquisite Sheraton Nha Trang (itself a recent edition to the city -- it opened its doors only eight ... [Read More]

Sleeping With Virgins in Brasstown

blue view mtn11

  I'm not a religious person. Spiritual, but not religious. I grew up catholic, went to catholic school & was even an altar boy for a few years. (I was never even molested, which offends me. Guess they didn't find me attractive.)  Like Underoos, however, I eventually out-grew the religion of which I was indentured & expanded my "mental horizon", seeing religion for what it truly is. Imagine my amusement when we arrived at the beautiful home we borrowed from a family friend (who is a very devout Catholic) & discovered pictures of the virgin Mary all throughout the house! There were also many pictures of Indians (feather, not ... [Read More]

Tear Gas and Laundry in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lampur

The week I spent in Kuala Lumpur researching a Site Selection investment profile was the same week Malaysia’s government played chicken with an opposition movement, The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, over whether a protest demonstration would be held at a national stadium, if at all, on Saturday, July 9th. Bersih 2.0 was the name of the demonstration organized by a coalition of political parties, mostly from the north of the country, seeking “bersih” (clean) elections and access to government-controlled media, among other reforms, when the next national election is held, most likely next year. The first Bersih rally took place in 2007. The ... [Read More]

The Vietnam I know

  U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War ended the month before I was born. Growing up most of what I knew about Vietnam I learned from watching movies like Platoon, Full Metal Jacket and Robin Williams’ wonderful Good Morning Vietnam. These films did not paint an entirely flattering picture of Southeast Asia’s third most populous country, and I’m embarrassed to admit that I was almost totally ignorant of all other aspects of Vietnam’s long, rich history. Nam Viet, which later became Vietnam, first became an independent kingdom in 207 BC (roughly the year Betty White was born.) Since then, Vietnam has spent much of its history at war, ... [Read More]

Singapore Style

Singapore’s had a rather turbulent history, dating back a thousand years from its beginnings as an important trading port in Southeast Asia, to its destruction by the Portuguese in 1613, to a very prosperous century under British rule. During World War II Singapore was occupied by brutal Japanese troops, who inflicted untold atrocities upon her people, before being returned to the Brits after the Japanese defeat. Singapore, as part of a federation with Malaysia, gained independence from the British Empire in 1963, but two years later ditched the Malaysians and formed their own independent country. Singapore is hysterically disdainful of their brothers to the north, viewing Malaysia as backwards, ... [Read More]

Hong Kong: The Haze, the Haggling and the Hutong

    Hong Kong’s air generally has more in common with something you’d expect to be used on prisoners at Guantanamo Bay than anything you’d actually want in your lungs. Seriously – visibility in Hong Kong most of the year is about 5 miles. So I was more than a little startled, and thrilled (once I’d assured myself the pilot hadn’t touched down in the wrong place), when we arrived to crystal clear air, with nary a hint of haze or pollution. In nearly three decades of visiting this great city I don’t think I’ve ever seen it so clear. This is a fact about which I apparently found ... [Read More]

Only on the Ocoee

Clint "riding the bull" with me on the left trying to hold on!

Being sodomized by an inbred hillbilly has never ranked high on my bucket list. Any time I visit the mountains North Georgia, I can't help but recall the 1972 movie starring Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight and Ned Beatty. Deliverance was filmed on location in and around the Chattooga River (not to be confused for the Chattahoochee) and featured the now-famous “dueling banjos” and a scene of a tourist being anally raped by a hillbilly. I can't help but hear the banjos in my head anytime I visit the area. This is not to suggest that North Georgia doesn't have anything else for which it's famous. ... [Read More]

Lost in translation

  “Do you eet da pussy?” With this question my colleague stopped me in my tracks, and ruined what was about to have been a successful attempt at conveying food to my mouth with the hated slippery metal chopsticks. Koreans are known for being extraordinarily direct, and very willing to ask what to a westerner would be inappropriate and personal questions. Most relate to your social status, income, etc, but this one had me flummoxed. “Beg pardon?” I managed to stammer, dropping my food in the process. “In Korea, you eet da pussy?” I was knocked speechless (a rarity for me.) I’m pretty open, but this line of questioning was really ... [Read More]

Understanding Seoul

  I hate chopsticks. Mostly because they hate me, too. And those in Korea hate me more than most. In Korea they traditionally eat with thin, slick, metal chopsticks, no-doubt designed purely to torment Western guests. Soo and I were famished when, after 24 hours of travel, we arrived in Seoul late Sunday. So, after dropping our bags at our hotel we headed straight out for a bite. By sheer luck we stumbled into Gomsotzid, a traditional Korean barbeque joint, and one of the best meals we’ve ever had. The food was extraordinary, and the staff gracious and helpful. At least when they weren’t laughing at my often feeble ... [Read More]