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Exploring the Phong Nha Caves (With a stop in Dong Hoi, Vietnam)



After spending Tet in Hanoi, we hopped on Vietnam airlines to Dong Hoi. We had an overnight stay planned at a farmstay and then onward to Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park, home of a massive cave system.

Vietnam Airlines is my new best friend.

Vietnam airlines

(If you fly Vietnam airlines, keep these two pointers in mind: They will ask to see the credit card you booked the ticket with and they will check your luggage ticket before allowing you to leave the airport. In the U.S. I always threw away the baggage claim ticket. That’s a bad habit to break in Vietnam.)

Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park was, to use some overused words, spectacular, breathtaking, and awe-inspiring.


Taking a long hike is a great time to learn about local culture from your guides, who often grew up in the surrounding areas.

I learned the nearby farmers eat cows but treat their buffalo like members of the family. When thebuffalo dies, they even hold a proper burial for the animal.

Motobikes are the horses of Vietnam.


There is farmland in the surrounding areas, and we heard a funny story about “civilization.”

Our guide explained that before the caves were discovered, the women worked the corn and peanut farms. The men, having nothing to do, would sit around drinking all day.

The civilizers explained to the men they could go work in factories. For some strange reason the men left. Having never worked in a factory, they clearly had no idea what they were getting themselves into.

The moral of the story, from my point of view, is one should be careful before choosing to be civilized.

Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park looked like the setting in A Land Before Time.

Phong Nha caves

We hiked for several kilometers into the caves.

Phong Nha cave hike

I had already been caving in Puerto Rico. Once you’ve seen one set of caves, you’ve seen them all.

The inside of the caves aren’t that cool. The walk and scenery before, during, and after being in the caves was incredible.

We were in the Tu Lan caves.

Phong Nha cave

The hike was rigorous. The mountain path was steep and muddy. The rocks were jagged. Unless you’re really into hiking, you may want to think twice before taking this cave expedition.

Thick jungle and big rocks.

Yoga in phong nha caves

The guides, who were total professionals, made us an awesome lunch.

Lunch at Phong Nha caves

After lunch some swam and while others enjoyed the waterfalls.

meditating in waterfall

It was a long day, but worth the adventure.

If you’re going to check on the Phong Nha Caves, be prepared for a lengthy hike. If a long hike isn’t for you, pass.

If you’re OK with a long hike, enjoy the view!

Phong Nha farmstay

Read next: Motobiking from Huế to Hội An, Vietnam




Unwinding on the Island of Koh Samui, Thailand



As much as I enjoy the busy streets of Saigon, my mind requires large open spaces. I do my best work near the ocean or mountains (ideally both). Koh Samui, an island in Thailand, was just what I needed to relax and unwind.

Like all of Thailand, Koh Samui is hot. Heat has pros and cons. I love swimming in the ocean, but the oceans in Los Angeles are frigid.

In Thailand the water is warm, even first thing in the morning.

Mike Cernovich Thailand Koh Samui Sunset

The sunrise was, well, see for yourself.

Koh Samui Thailand sunrise ocean

In Thailand, keep applying that sunscreen. Even if you think you’ve applied it frequently enough, you likely haven’t.

My face and arms were too red for me to go outside swimming the next day.

Does Mike Cernovich have a girlfriend

Koh Samui has excellent local cuisine, with a lot of places offer an Italian-Thai fusion.

Koh Samui thai food

You can also grab a burger.

Koh Samui food

Or some sashimi.

sashimi in Thailand Koh Samui

Koh Samui is home to several temples, including the Big Buddha Temple.

I hopped on the motobike and took the drive to check it out.

Koh Samui temple

I found a dog meditating. Who, after all, understands more about gratitude and getting into the moment than dogs?

Koh Samui dog meditating at temple

The sign says:

Buddhist monks are for
Bidden to look upon
The Exposed Bodies of Women!!!
Please Respect These Holy Men

Thankfully I’m not a monk…

Koh Samui monks temple

I told you the food was good!

Koh Samui curry Thailand food

The hotel offered an ocean view.

Koh Samui hotel view

The pool was also relaxing.

Koh Samui hotel pool

Ordinarily an airport would be of no notice. Yet the Koh Samui airport was more comfortable and spacious than many luxury hotels.

Koh Samui airport

This is an airport?

Koh Samui greenage

Now I’m back in Saigon

Mike Cernovich Cigar Aficionado

You can read some of my other travel entries here:

Enjoying the Beaches of Hoi An, Vietnam – Riding Motos Down the Coast of Vietnam – Exploring the Caves of Phong Nha


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A Day in Chiang Mai, Thailand: Temples and Waterfalls



I’ve been taking some time to relax, contemplate life, and catch up with my good friends in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Nic has spent months at a time in Chiang Mai, and I can see why. He’s also been showing me around, and today we took motor-bike rides up into the mountains to check out the Doi Suthep temple.

When traveling I enjoy doing cardio rather than weight lifting. Lifting weights is too taxing. Cardio gets blood flowing and helps sweat out the bloat we acquire from flying on planes and eating.

I did a 30-minute hotel workout.

how to exercise at a hotel gym

The ride was uphill into the mountains with a lot of twists and turns. I’ll risk my life for a great pic, but not until I know the terrain.

There’s a temple on the way towards Doi Suthep.

Chian Mai temple buddha

A dragon guards the temple.

dragon Chaing Mai temple

The gorilla was permitted to enter, after promising to pay proper respects.

Chiang Mai temple Mike Cernovich

Onward to Doi Suthep.

Doi Suthep temple entrance

There are small shrines throughout the Doi Suthep temple.

Doi Suthep shrine

Please ring bell for meditation.

Doi Suthep meditation bells

There were small gardens everywhere.

Doi Suthep gardens

The view from the top. Even ancient temples are often under construction, as evidenced by this re-bar.

View from top of Doi Suthep

It’s hard to appreciate how detailed the engravings are.

Doi Suthep engravings column Chaing Mai

Each engraving tells a story.

Chiang Mai doi suthep wood engravings temple

Your soul needs to be watered and cared for, as with any plant.

flower garden doi suthep chiang mai

I did some meditation. There were pillows available to sit on.

meditation Chiang Mai temple doi suthep

After a long contemplative walk, where I considered the future of me and those in my life, it was time to leave.

I was hungry and these fried eggs/fried coconut things looked delicious.

food in Thailand Chaing mai

Still hungry, I had some coconut-fried chicken, which was splendid.

coconut friend chicken street food chiang mai thailand

On the way down I stopped by the national park to cool down at the waterfall.

waterfall meditation chiang mai

Open your heart and mind up to new possibilities, let the water flow through you.

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Living Vietnam

A Day (and Night) in the Life of Saigon



I’ve travelled enough to not get goo-goo eyes for each new city. We all know the type, “OMG! THIS PLACE IS AMAZING I AM GOING TO LIVE HERE.”

Well. Oh my.

Saigon is amazing. I. Live. Here.

Saigon has a vibe as all cities do.

Saigon has a fair amount of chaos and disarray, which excites me. I approach each new day without expectations.

Here are some photographs of Saigon I’ve taken.


Saigon is humanity.

Light traffic in Saigon

Saigon is narrow streets.

Saigon street

Saigon is work.

Coffe shop and cafe in Saigon

Saigon is a lot of coffee.

Vietnamese coffee Saigon

Saigon is traffic.

Moto in Saigon

Saigon is new games.

Chinese chess

Saigon is walking.

Saigon streets

Saigon is riding.

shark moto bike saigon

Saigon is good food.

pho in Saigon Vietnam

Saigon is service.

The Saigon Cigar Club

Saigon is open air.

Tran Hung Dao statue Saigon

Saigon is water.

Saigon river at sunset

Saigon is a city.

Saigon sunset city skyline

Saigon is life.

Saigon is whatever you want it to be.

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Read previous post:
Motobiking from Huế to Hội An, Vietnam

Vietnam reminds me of my former home state, California. Both are a single state/country and yet each offers rich geographical and...