Young Tourists Killed In Vietnam In A Tragic Mystery

nha trang, vietnam Last week, two young teachers were killed while on a weeklong trip to Nha Trang, Vietnam, in a tragic mystery.

According to news.com.au, Canadian-born Cathy Huynh, 26, and American Karin Joy Bowerman, 27, fell ill only days apart from each other. Last Monday, Ms. Bowerman was taken to Khanh Province General Hospital for respiratory failure and a zero blood pressure. Only two days later, Ms. Huynh was taken to the same hospital for shock before going into cardiac arrest and passing away.

Authorities believe the friends, who were sharing a room at the Son and Daughter guesthouse, may have been poisoned. However, police are also speculating it may have been the result of drinking too much alcohol, a theory the women’s families are rejecting.

It is not yet known if autopsies have been completed.

The case resembles an incident in Thailand last year, where four tourists and a Thai guide died in northern Thailand’s Chiang Mai region over the span of five weeks. Investigators deemed the deaths a coincidence.

[Image via Arian Zwegers]

Portugal To Vietnam By Rails: Are You Up For The Ultimate Train Challenge?

Last year, Michael Hodson and two travel blogger friends challenged each other to take on the world by train. For a month the bloggers traveled on separate routes from Lisbon, Portugal, to Saigon, Vietnam, on a competitive quest to conquer the longest continuous stretches of train tracks currently on the planet. The rails-only expedition was dubbed the Ultimate Train Challenge, and after the bloggers completed the trek, Hodson found he wanted to instill his competitive spirit – and love for travel – in others.

Recently, Hodson announced that the competition would take place again. Only this time, any travelers can take part in the challenge, which is being sponsored by Intrepid Travel, Eurail, Hostelworld and Urban Adventures. Anyone with the month of November free, a $425 entrance fee and additional cash to fund the trip can join in on the 15,000-mile expedition. During the challenge, participants are asked to each raise at least $500 for Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation supporting street children, children with disabilities, the rural poor and victims of trafficking in Vietnam.

Do you think you have what it takes to travel across Europe and Asia by rails?

[Photo by Libby Zay]

Vietnam Military Service Recalled At Flight Museum

VietnamVietnam veterans will gather at Florida’s Fantasy of Flight museum in June to share their personal stories of strength, survival and patriotism during America’s longest and most controversial military conflict on foreign soil.

During the Legends & Legacies Symposium Series: Reflections of Vietnam, several veterans will interact with guests in open forum/question-and-answer sessions, followed by meet-and-greet/autograph signing sessions.

“We recognize that the Vietnam War is an emotional and complex subject and we invite the public to hear firsthand accounts from the brave men who stood up to serve,” said Kim Long, General Manager of Fantasy of Flight.

The symposium is presented along with the annual Military Collector’s Show on Saturday, June 9, showcasing collectibles for sale from the Civil War to the Vietnam era including uniforms, medals, insignia, and war relics, among other memorabilia.

“We are also proud to once again offer history buffs a chance to browse and purchase military collectibles dating back to the Civil War during our Military Collectors Show,” added Long. “Even those who aren’t collectors will be amazed at the incredible array of artifacts.”

Fantasy of Flight is one of the only attractions in the country to assemble military veterans and their families for panel discussions and to share their compelling personal accounts and unique perspectives with the public.

Unusual aphrodisiacs from Asian countries

balut Wondering how to get you or your partner more in the mood for sex? Instead of opting for expensive pills or unnatural remedies, why not learn from the Asian culture and try one of these libido-boosting aphrodisiacs? From dangerously poisonous fish to fertilized duck embryo or snake’s blood, it is clear some people really will try anything to have good sex. While these odd ingestants may be useful for people in Asia, I’m thinking that others may want to stick to increasing their libido the old-fashioned way: getting drunk and watching porn.

Balut

Balut is a common finger food in Southeast Asia and is literally an almost-developed duck embryo that is boiled alive and eaten in the shell. If you want to try this delicacy for yourself, head over to the Philippines, where it is most common, or Vietnam, Laos, or Cambodia. It’s a very popular food to enjoy at bars while drinking a beer, which makes me wonder if it’s the Balut making people horny or the alcohol.Bull Balls Soup

Bull Balls Soup, also known as Soup #5, originated in the Philippines and is a dish made from the bull’s penis or testicles. The genitalia is washed and then scorched in boiling water before being cut into small pieces. These bits are then simmered in a pot along with other meats, vegetables, and ginger. Not only is it said to be tasty, but also the bull’s genitals in the soup are believed to have a higher potency than even Viagra.

durian Durian

It’s hard to believe anything that smells this bad could be considered arousing, but this odorous fruit is said to have a strong aphrodisiac power. In fact, in Indonesia a common saying is “the durians fall and the sarongs come up.” The stench of the fruit is so overwhelming that many public venues like restaurants, hotels, and buses prohibit durian from being brought inside. I guess some people find unpleasant smells sexy.

Monkey Brains

While the eating of monkey brains is controversial – the practice has, unfortunately, led to the over-killing of the animal in Indonesia – it is actually enjoyed in many countries around the world due to the dish’s believed ability to cure erectile dysfunction. Disturbingly, many people enjoy eating the brains of the monkey while the animal is still alive, although laws are currently being implemented to make this illegal. Before you go digging into this delicacy, however, just know that in return for horny side-effects, you’re running the risk of acquiring Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, an illness similar to Mad Cow.

snake wine Snake’s Blood/Wine

In Asia, snake products in general are believed to create an unusually high sex drive. One way to achieve an increased libido is by drinking a concoction made by infusing the essence and venom of a poisonous snake into grain alcohol or rice wine (shown right). While this may not sound appealing, your other option is to slice a poisonous snake open and drink the blood straight out of its body.

Tiger Penis Soup

As we’re basically talking about the power of the penis here, it’s not surprising that a number of Asian aphrodisiacs are literally penises. Although the tiger is near extinction, that doesn’t stop locals of China and Southeast Asia from consuming the appendage for its sex-enhancing properties. Making the soup is a time-consuming process, as the tiger penis must be dried out and then soaked in water for a week. From there, the penis is simmered with spices and other ingredients. Sound tasty? Because of the difficulty of procuring the penis of an endangered animal, a bowl of this stuff can cost a few hundred dollars.

caterpillar fungus Caterpillar Fungus

Caterpillar fungus, or “dong chong xia cao” (summer grass, winter worm) in Chinese, has been a popular element of Chinese medicine for hundreds of years as a way to treat cancer, exhaustion, and, of course, impotency. The product is created during the winter when the ghost moth caterpillar burrows into the ground and hibernates. During this time a fungi enters the caterpillar’s body and eats it from the inside. Eventually, the caterpillar fungus will erupt from the dead insect’s head. While this may sound like the plot of a horror movie, this natural sex-enhancer can cost over $100 per gram depending on where you purchase it.

Bird’s Nest Soup

While many people think of a bird’s nest as nature’s architecture, others enjoy it as a tasty and libido-boosting meal. The soup is not made with just any old bird’s nest, but one made of solidified saliva, as these have the best texture for creating the cuisine. To make the dish, the nest is dissolved in water and, depending on if it is a natural white or red nest, can cost over $100 for a bowl.

hagfish Hagfish

This slime-producing eel is the only animal on the planet that has a skull but no vertebral column or jaw, making it difficult to classify. Although many are unsure as to whether the Hagfish is behind or ahead of the evolution process, one thing is certain – people from Southeast Asia love them. So what is it about these odd-looking creatures that turn people on? Most likely, it is the resemblance to a penis in shape and its production of a large amount of slimy liquid when stroked.

Dog Meat

Though many Westerners may object, in certain Asian countries it is said that eating dog meat creates a warm sensation throughout the body that is linked to passion, intensity, and carnal urges. What’s really unsettling isn’t so much the fact that it’s dog meat that’s being eaten, but that it is believed that the slower and more painful the death of the animal, the more flavorful the meat and the stronger the effects on sexual stamina. I guess for some this is worth it for a steamy night of passion.

[images via raeky, BorgQueen, Genghiskhanviet, Magnus Manske, Lmozero]

Warning: This video will make you want to go to Vietnam

The folks at The Perennial Plate produce a weekly web series about “socially responsible and adventurous eating.” Their most recent episode was filmed while traveling through Vietnam with Intrepid Travel. It’s an entertaining and dynamic video that captures the frenetic pace of Vietnam’s streets and the passion that the Vietnamese people have for their food. The only problem is that we don’t get to smell and taste all of those delicious meals.

Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’re off to find a big ol’ bowl of Phở.