Hanoi, Vietnam

by Reid Peryam· December 15, 2015· in Asia, Travel· 0 comments
Not my favorite destination upon arrival, Hanoi turned out to be a comfortable place to live for a couple of weeks after I became accustomed to the loud noises, smog and chaotic volume of unyielding traffic. I was in a three bedroom apartment across from the Daewoo Center, a skyscraper/department store/grocery store. The heart of Hanoi and the center which draws most of the tourism is about 20 minutes away from where I was. I joined a gym twenty minutes walk away and spent most of my time in Hanoi focused on cooking, eating and lifting. I got a new personal best on my back squat in Thailand the previous month and wanted to keep my momentum going. Highlights of Hanoi included the water puppet show (every time I say “water puppets” I smile — the concept itself is entertaining in and of itself), custom-ordering dress shirts and pants from a local tailor (they took 10 different measurements on my upper-body alone), doing Hatha yoga in a class of Vietnamese women, taught by an Indian instructor, in English and this incredibly strange interpretive dance performance that I attended. I’ve gotta say – for all the romanticism ascribed to Vietnam by post-war America […]
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My most laid-back destination this year, Koh Phangan is an island off of the Thailand mainland. It’s a beachy place without an airport and lots of expatriates. I arrived early here with about 20 friends to attend the monthly Full Moon Party (and flee the toxic smog of Malaysia). We rented an AirBnb on the north side of the island for the week before the party and afterwards moved to the south side (near Haad Rin beach) for the rest of November. November begins the rainy season here and most days it rains hard. I have a scooter that I’ve rented for the month and use to cruise back and forth to the Muay Thai gym on the west side (other side) of the island (about a 25 minute scooter ride away). Afterwards I  do running and swimming intervals along Haad Rin Beach and try to dodge the jellyfish.
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Penang was the first south east asian city I’ve visited. Unfortunately my arrival in early October coincided with the yearly jungle burnings in Malaysia and Indonesia. As the government of Indonesia attempts to create a cartel on palm oil, for months each year forested areas are burned to clear land for production. Unfortunately this results in an unhealthy, even toxic, cloud of pollution that sweeps across neighboring areas — including Penang. I didn’t see the sun for the entirety of the month I was there and many of the days the air quality index was “unhealthy” – smoggy, cloudy and disincentivizing outdoor activity. Luckily Uber is super inexpensive (and the currency, the ringgit is very weak to the US dollar) – so getting around was a snap, and everything else so inexpensive that weathering the toxic haze was at least economical. Penang is known as a foodie destination and is proud of its street food. I found the food generally terrific though the street food hit or miss. I ended up eating three entrees whenever I ate anywhere as the portions were modest and so were the prices. I found a wonderful Chinese restaurant around the corner from some coffee shops (affording a […]
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Oktoberfest, Munich

by Reid Peryam· September 28, 2015· in Europe, Travel· 0 comments
Oktoberfest has been a highlight of 2015 for me and a complete surprise. I had no expectations of loving it as much as I did. A Bavarian tradition for over 180 years (Bavaria is a region of southern Germany unique from other regions in culture, dialect and other ways) Oktoberfest is the epitome of a unique, cultural immersion that should be experienced by everyone. And in Munich everyone does! The young, elderly, single and married — foreigners too — flock here once a year for an international celebration that lasts 18 wonderful, glorious, happy and blissful days. You might recognize Oktoberfest as a drinking festival and it largely is. German breweries erect massive tents holding up to 10,000 people (16 of these tents cover the Wiesn, or “grounds”) and serve their ice-cold brews in 1-liter glass steins for 10 euros apiece. This is actually quite a deal considering if Oktoberfest took place in the United States… well it wouldn’t be nearly as fun. For instance Bavaria is known for it’s hospitality and kindness to travelers (not exactly the same as the rest of Germany) — the tents take great pride in hosting its visitors and the service is second to none. You […]
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Berlin, Germany

by Reid Peryam· September 22, 2015· in Europe, Travel· 0 comments
Berlin never had a chance. Then again it didn’t exactly help its cause. I took a bus with four friends to Berlin from Munich where I had just experienced Oktoberfest opening weekend. The friends that I was with were excited for Berlin – unrivaled nightlife, romantic cultural history and significance, blending of Soviet influences and a culture distinctly different from Bavaria. A culture distinctly less appealing to me than Bavaria. Wifi was very hard to find – none available in the many coffee shops we visited, making actually getting work done problematic. A main reason for my visit to Berlin was the Pergamonmuseum, a museum showcasing the relics looted from the ancient site in Turkey I had visited the week before. Unfortunately I learned upon arrival that the exhibit within the museum showcasing the looted items is under reconstruction until 2019. As for that historical romanticism surrounding the concrete wall — doesn’t do it for me. Nor does the night-life or clubs that my peers are so excited about. Maybe it’s because I’m 35 and the idea of buying drinks until 6 am sounds silly or I just feel no connection to the euro-chic — Berlin culture isn’t my thing. So I […]
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Pammukale, Turkey

by Reid Peryam· September 15, 2015· in Asia, Travel· 0 comments
Pammukale or the “cotton castle” is a geological mineral formation upon which the ancient city of Hierapolis was built. Today it’s a popular tourist destination also owing to “Cleopatra’s pool” a popular desert oasis and swimming hole.  
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Ephesus, Turkey

by Reid Peryam· September 14, 2015· in Asia, Travel· 0 comments
Ephesus is one of the largest and most important classical Greek and Roman archaeological sites from antiquity. A port city of strategic advantage, it changed hands over the 700 years it was inhabited. Because of its size and importance it is a popular tourist destination; while there are a lot of excavated ruins, I found the reconstructions less interesting and harder to visualize than those at Pergamon.
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Troy, Turkey

by Reid Peryam· September 13, 2015· in Asia, Travel· 0 comments
My undergraduate degree is in ancient history and Latin translation. That’s nothing like what I do professionally, nevertheless classical antiquity has always fascinated me. None more than the mythology and oral tradition of the Illiad – the war of the Greeks and Trojans over three thousand years ago. As such I had to visit Troy, the city bombarded by those filthy Greeks for 9 years. These days the ruins of the almost dozen layers of Troy (each representing a different city and cultural tradition) serve as a photo-taking destination (complete with a hokey, giant, wooden horse) and archaeological-history lesson. I wasn’t expecting to see or learn very much and I was not disappointed. The low-light coming from a souvenir shop incorrectly identifying a statue of Laocoön and his sons being killed my minions of Athena as Herakles fighting serpents; misinformation is a pet peeve of mine. Nevertheless I’m glad I made the pilgrimage to the city I’ve dreamed about and imagined for almost 20 years – it adds a remarkable context to fuel my imagination further.
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Pergamon, Turkey

by Reid Peryam· September 13, 2015· in Asia, Travel· 0 comments
Pergamon is my favorite ancient classical destination in Turkey. Perched atop a mountain to aid fortifications, the acropolis covered just a small area of land affording a dense archaeological record and a small, tightly reconstructed area to explore today. Though the Germans looted many relics from the site (and now showcase them in Berlin’s Pergamonmuseum — which I visited the week after I visited Pergamon), the site still seems in terrific shape compared to Troy or Ephesus. I was giddy to know that in Roman times one of my favorite emperor’s, Marcus Aurelius, visited the famous hospital of Pergamon, at the sanctuary of Aesclepius to recover from an illness. Also historically significant was a library found here which Mark Antony gave to Cleopatra as a wedding gift. It was easy to imagine life in ancient Pergamon among such historical contexts.  
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Gallipoli, Turkey

by Reid Peryam· September 12, 2015· in Asia, Travel· 0 comments
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