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An edited version of this letter was published in To Thailand With Love, ThingsAsian Press, 2013

Kanchanaburi
Thailand

December 5, 2004

Dear Family and Friends,

I am resting on a chaise lounge, on a raft, after a brief and breathless swim in the swift, churning currents of The River Kwai. Life vests courtesy of the hotel.

To my right the sun is disappearing behind the hills across The River.

At this point on its journey from Burma to The Gulf of Siam, the narrow River Kwai is slicing through the steep green and brown hillsides (it's winter now), exposing several black and gold vertical stone outcrops.

So, if the hills are so steep, where exactly is this hotel? On The River, my friends, on...the...river.

In 2008, I was pleased to announce that "Love and the American War" was the very first of my travel essays to be published.  The essay below is included in a collection called To Vietnam With Love.  ThingsAsian Press.  2008. pp 93-96.

July 30, 2003

Saigon
Vietnam

Dear Family and Friends,

My dear readers. You must be wondering, "Jan has traveled the length of Vietnam. He has extolled the physical beauty of the country and the wonderful people he has met. But nowhere has he mentioned the unmentionable." Stand by.

My tour outside of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) made two stops. The first was the Caodai Temple in Tay Ninh. The second was the Cu Chi Tunnels.

The Cu Chi Tunnels formed a network of military strongholds which held up to 16,000 Viet Cong for months at a time. Only 6000 survived the relentless bombing. Thousands of civilians died in the vicinity.

At Cu Chi, tourists crawl around the tunnels and then visit the adjacent museum. I politely declined. Instead, I sat at the nearby café and started to gather my thoughts for this letter.

I really cannot explain my reasoning; I cannot account for my emotions. Sometimes, I just "decline."

My muddy mis-adventure was published in To Cambodia With Love.  ThingsAsian Press.  2011.  pg 150.

Phnom Penh
Cambodia

Dear Family and Friends,

July 1, 2002

The rain is incessant so Jeff and I decided to skip the beach at Ko Chang and go directly to the Cambodian border. I misplaced my passport photos so the border guards ripped me off for a couple of extra dollars for the visa. We spent the night in Koh Kong - a dusty and unappetizing place. Actually the hotel was comfortable and had a lovely garden.

The next day, Jeff and I had a disagreement. He was in a hurry to get to Phnom Penh. I wanted to travel slowly to Sihanoukville. So we compromised. He went his way. I mine.

Now, here's an adventure to remember:

I made a reservation on a mini-bus that was due to pick me up at 8:30. It arrived on time at 9:15. After fifteen minutes on a rutted dirt road we were stopped by the police and abruptly sent back to town to the police station.

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