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Food for the Soul
A visit to a tiny restaurant in Vietnam becomes a family affair
By Daisy Nguyen
"'I want to take you to my city so you can see the real deal beyond Indochine,' my father told me as we drive through twisting cliffs looking over sky-blue water on the way to Hué. I rolled the windows down to smell the salty air and take in the beautiful scenery. In Vietnam, you can see more shades of green than you thought existed. We head to the former imperial capital of Vietnam, which served as the setting for the famous Regis Wargnier film. My father grew up in this mythic city, and I realized in his statement that he wanted to show me the Vietnam he fondly remembers, something beyond the western movies about Vietnam I watched growing up in America."

Must-Flee TV
The shows suck in Vietnam! (But at least you can get a pirated copy of "Titanic")
By Daisy Nguyen
"Whenever I travel, I usually pack a light bag and always carry a good book to read. Years of experience have taught me to avoid carrying a heavy burden on my shoulders, especially one that will weigh my mobility down. Having a good book to read, however thick it may be, is an essential survival tool. In moments waiting around airports or train stations, a book can be your best friend. When you're stuck in a relative's home, and you're sick to your stomach from watching the load of crap on television, turning to a book may save your life."

Royal Thais
During a simple vacation, I suddenly got to be queen for a day
By Nitaya Chayankura
"To the outside observer, my life is as plain and ordinary as anyone else's. I live with my parents, I have no boyfriend, no job, and I stay at home most of the time. All I do all day watch television, eat and sleep. I watch MTV and daydream of a glamorous life and stare at beautiful girls in fashion magazines and wish, 'Man, wouldn't my life be so much more exciting if I was a cover model or something?' and sigh."

Hitting the trails in the buff
By Christina Stoltzfus
"At this time last year I was almost finished hiking the Appalachian Trail, or the AT. The 2,158 miles that I hiked during the course of 6.5 months were life changing for me in many ways. An interesting aspect of spending so much time away from civilization was the way that I lost consciousness of time."

Hike-way To Hell
How I caused a fire and got "trucker's ass"
By Christina Stoltzfus
"Last year at this time I was a thru-hiker on the Appalachian Trail, or the A.T., for short. I was attempting to hike all 2,158 miles of it in the same year. The six and a half months I spent in the woods was one of those times in my life that I will always look back on with fond memories."

Returning to Where I've Never Been
By Harry Mok
"Enping, China - For a few minutes my grand aunt is speechless. 'Shue King, Shue King (my mother's name)' are the only words she can utter after seeing my mom. Grand aunt Yan Jauk Wai, choking with emotion and clutching my mother's arm tightly, eventually finds the words to express her feelings. 'I've been waiting, hoping, so long for you to visit,' she says. 'It's been so long.'"

Family Ties: Strange But Familiar Faces
By Harry Mok
"Guangzhou, China - The face outside the bus window is vaguely familiar. His head is topped with gray hair now, not the shiny black that I remember from 18 years ago. It's my Uncle Shak. With him to greet us are my Aunt Chun and my cousin's husband Kuen, whom I'd never met before. We shake hands as if we are strangers, all the time aware of our connection."

Hong Kong is Home Sweet Home
By Harry Mok
"Kowloon, Hong Kong - It hit me as the doors leading out of the airport opened. I had arrived. The differences were immediate. First the 94 percent humidity and 90 degree temperature slapped me across the face - fogging up my glasses. Then, riding away from the airport in a taxi, I noticed the traffic congestion and throngs of people. Every building is 20 stories tall with hundreds of apartments. Each building crammed next to each other. Imagine San Francisco or Manhattan with 10 times the people, pollution and traffic."

Building China's New Dynasty
By Harry Mok
"Beijing, China - Walking up the steps of the Great Wall, I can only imagine the immense power and wealth of the Ming and Qing dynasties. The Wall was built with stone blocks and stretches for more than 1,800 miles atop the mountains northwest of Beijing. Up to 30,000 workers at a time were employed in its construction."