93. Year of the Tiger: A Collection

As the lunar calendar turns, I realize that what really matters in my life are the relationships that I create and nurture.

Lan Ha, at left, and I enjoy a hotpot dinner in Ho Chi Minh City with our friends Kurt and Thi Bennett.

Happy Year of the Cat! 

If you think the lunar calendar is about to turn to the Year of the Rabbit, you are clearly in China. Vietnamese are thinking far more feline.

The changing of the almanac is always a time of reflection. When I started out to select two photographs per month to illustrate my past year of life in Vietnam, I expected to post a lot of postcard-worthy photos of beautiful places, as I may have done in past years.

But I discovered something as I went through them: While I have a fair number of pretty pictures, those that I valued far more were shots of people who mattered to me this year. Certainly, the Year of the Tiger — MY YEAR — was about relationships more than it was about destinations.

So, herewith my holiday gift to my readers … and to myself.


I took a 7-week journey around Vietnam at the start of the year, beginning with a Nha Trang sunrise. (JGA photo)
In imperial Hue, I was blessed to attend the funeral of the famous Buddhist monk and writer, Nhat Thich Hahn.. (JGA photo)


A child in classic ao dai dress waits at the door of the 11th-century Bach Ma tample in Hanoi. (JGA photo)
On a private cruise of Ha Long Bay from Cat Ba harbor, I got a close-up glance at the karst topography.


After my travels, I reunited with Lan Ha in Buon Ma Thuot, her home in rural DakLak province. (JGA photo)
DakLak province is widely considered the coffee capital of Vietnam, famed for its robusta berries. (JGA photo)


An afternoon visit to the Jade Emperor Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh city’s preeminent Taoist shrine. (JGA photo)
Even in a Taoist temple, the Buddha lies in repose. (JGA photo)


I enjoyed two months’ teaching at Swinburne University, but they were unable to get me a work permit. (JGA photo)
My Friday expatriate lunch bunch offered a big auf wiedersehen to one of our departing members with a Saigon River cruise.


Enjoying a delicious Korean repast with my best young woman friend in Saigon, Lam Nhi. (JGA photo)
Unseasonal rains made getting around a challenge in Saigon’s Go Vap district. (JGA photo)


In July, Lan Ha and I rendezvoused at the Hang Nga Crazy House in the Central Highlands city of Da Lat.
Vietnam’s 100,000 people drive an estimated 70,000 motorbikes, and traffic is ceaseless. (JGA photo)


Bangkok jazz club owner Keith Nolan, left, set up this photo with me and longtime writer friend Joe Cummings, right, in Thailand.
Breakfast with British-American expat John Faux at Jomtien Beach, Thailand.


There’s a ghostly edge to this image of a Saigon night market meat vendor. (JGA photo)
Beers with American photographer friends Doug Peebles, left, and Len Kaufman, at the Rex Hotel in Saigon.


South African teacher friends Vera Kruger and Kalfie Bredenkamp visited me in Saigon in October. (JGA photo)
David Blair, a good friend from Oregon, traveled with me to the Cu Chi Tunnels in October. (JGA photo)


Young entrepreneur Bao Nguyen, to my right, gathered friends for a November barbecue dinner.
Fellow Oregonian Calvin Mann and I did the floating two-step with Cambodian graduates on a Phnom Penh boulevard in November.


In December, my best friend of more than 50 years, Bruce Legas, made his first visit to Vietnam. (JGA photo)
We spent Christmas Day with Lan Ha and her family. (JGA photo)


My time in Vietnam would have been a lot tougher without my good Burmese-English-Australian friend, Adam Allnutt. (JGA photo)
May the year of the Cat bring you happiness and prosperity! Chuc mung nam moi! (JGA photo)

Published by John Gottberg Anderson

Writer-photographer specializing in travel and food subjects ... member of the Society of American Travel Writers for more than 20 years ... former editor for the Los Angeles Times and France's Michelin Guides, among others

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