Tastes Like Chicken

At an alley restaurant in Siem Reap, this plate of ginger snake was somewhat uninspiring — tough and chewy, not-so-gingery — and, yes, tasted like chicken. On the bright side, before leaving the restaurant I purchased a plate of fried rice for a dusty, barefoot boy who had been going table to table begging, unsuccessfully, for money. His hunger was tangible, a queasy pang in my gut. When his simple meal arrived, he called over another beleaguered-looking boy and the two of them ate with a diligent intensity reserved only for the truly famished. Strangely, the act left me simultaneously buoyed and weighed down: happy to have a couple dollars to help out, but helpless to do anything more practical than purchase a plate of rice.

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Epic Journey: Stage Two: Dalat to Mui Ne

At a roadside shop outside of Dalat, a family finished their midday meal, helped us with directions and told us the proper way to pronounce chicken — ga — in Vietnamese. Their mutt was too cute not to photograph.

Descending from Dalat treated us to some amazing scenery, and the ride was much easier going down than climbing up — though once we hit the lowlands again it was one pothole-peppered dirt track after another. At one point Arron got squeezed off the road by a large construction vehicle and had to execute a graceful crash landing in a fortuitously placed pile of barley. And thus our adventures in Vietnam continued.

By the time we hit the streets of Mui Ne — after a final stretch of gorgeous winding, well-paved road — it was well after dark and we were beat. By the time we actually found our hotel, hunger and fatigue had fully taken hold. We grabbed a quick bite across the street — one of the best cold beef salads I’ve ever had — and headed back to the hotel.