Peter Hessler – driving in China

Peter Hessler (born June 14, 1969) is an American writer and journalist. He is the author of three acclaimed books about China

River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze 2001

Oracle Bones: A Journey Between China’s Past and Present 2006

Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory


I read his third book while in China. It’s excellent. Hessler does a terrific job of painting a picture of how China has changed since he first arrived 1996 with the Peace Core.

Emulating the USA, China built many roads before the population had cars to drive them.

Chinese road

Surprisingly, the stories of what happens to him while driving rent-a-cars across the new roads of the emerging nation are fascinating and informative.

Every Province is different. Every town within a Province is different. And every Chinese citizen he meets is a unique individual with their own story.

So different than the simplistic stereotypes assumed by myself and most other westerners.

In 2011, Hessler received a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” in recognition and encouragement of his “keenly observed accounts of ordinary people responding to the complexities of life in such rapidly changing societies as Reform Era China.

Those 3 books are highly recommended for anyone visiting China.

Maura Elizabeth Cunningham, in 2010, posted a review of all the writing by foreigners who have lived and traveled in China. She rates Hessler high.

Vietnam – adventurous eating

Bun Bo Nam Bo

Finally, an eatery in Vietnam where I’d be proud to bring Anthony Bourdain.

street front

It’s a cheapo, yet ranked #11 of 943 Restaurants in Hanoi.

Always crowded, this hole in the wall in the old quarter pretty much sells one dish. Rice noodles with beef in broth.


Roasted peanuts, bean sprouts. A few other things.


As I entered, I just held up one finger, meaning … ‘one bowl’.


Mine wasn’t spicy. But you can add Soy and Chili to taste.

missing Glen Campbell

The Country Music Hall of Fame member … was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2011

… video for the final song he’ll ever record — “I’m Not Gonna Miss You.” It was recorded in 2013 …

Click PLAY or watch it on VEVO.

Because of the progression of the disease, the 78-year-old Campbell was admitted to a special care facility in Nashville in April. …

Glen Campbell releases powerful final song and video

Are we no closer to solving Alzheimer’s? :-(

Vietnam – Pho

Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of broth, linguine-shaped rice noodles called bánh phở, a few herbs, and meat. Pho is a popular street food in Vietnam and the specialty of a number of restaurant chains around the world. It is primarily served with either beef or chicken. …

In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, Vietnamese refugees brought pho to many countries. Restaurants specializing in pho appeared in numerous Asian enclaves and Little Saigons, such as in Paris and in major cities in Canada, the United States, and Australia …

my first Pho in Vietnam $2

Fresh. Tasty. Safe. :-)

Though I’ve been to KFC (twice in Hanoi, once in China) I’ll make more of an effort to try the local staples.

Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Hanoi.

… Today’s Vietnamese water puppetry is a unique variation on the ancient Asian puppet tradition.

The puppets are made out of wood and then lacquered. The shows are performed in a waist-deep pool. A large rod supports the puppet under the water and is used by the puppeteers, who are normally hidden behind a screen …

When the rice fields would flood, the villagers would entertain each other using this form of puppet play. …


It seems all puppet theatre script is simplistic. Punch & Judy simple. The puppets are crude. Therefore the plotting is crude.

Click PLAY or get a glimpse on YouTube.

Eisenhower was wrong

It’s as if you can’t trust a President / Commander in Chief. :-(

Though he never directly used the term “domino theory“, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower put the theory into words during an April 7, 1954 news conference, when referring to communism in Indochina:

Finally, you have broader considerations that might follow what you would call the “falling domino” principle. You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly. So you could have a beginning of a disintegration that would have the most profound influences.

Introducing the domino theory, that if Vietnam fell to communism, the rest of Southeast Asia would soon follow. Press conference, April 7, 1954.


Today Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Canada? are NOT Communist.


Eisenhower was wrong.

… Hanoi will be the fastest growing city in the world in term of GDP growth from 2008 to 2025 …

On February 2013 Dubai-based property developer Global Sphere announced a mega-project to build about 70 residential towers in Hanoi in an area dubbed the Hanoi Wall Street. The first phase, valued at $10 billion, is expected to be finished by 2020. …

Fall of Saigon - evacuation of CIA personnel 1975

Fall of Saigon – evacuation of CIA personnel 1975

The USA could not win in Vietnam. Nor can they win in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, …

George Santayana – The Life of Reason

When you hear a leader call for armed intervention, follow the money. Who’s going to profit in the proposed military action?