The USS George Washington Didn’t Sail In Vain

Countering neo-conservative and paleo-conservative derision about the decline of American power in Northeast Asia, Carlyle A. Thayer argues that American smart power is wearing down Chinese bellicosity in the South China Sea.

US diplomatic initiatives must be placed in the larger context of US-South Korean naval exercises, the prominent surfacing of three Ohio-class submarines armed with conventional Tomahawk long-range cruise missiles in Subic Bay, Busan and Diego Garcia, and the visit of the nuclear carrier George Washington to waters off central Vietnam to mark the 15th anniversary of diplomatic relations. The view that US primacy is in decline seems premature indeed.

Slipping the Noose

I have to push back against the assumption – perhaps wishfful thinking – that the DPRK is on its last legs. I’m skeptical for no other reason than the long record Pyongyang has of beating odds. Bradley O. Babson offers some optimism for those like me that would rather not watch the DPRK explode.

A Chill in Shangra-La

The Next Battleground?Days are when I despair of a peaceful Pacific – pardon the redundancy – and I start seeing portents of an angry futureevidence of a Confucian peace notwithstanding.

My Burger My

Things have been a little quiet here of late, mainly because our Cambodian experience has been more street crime than street food (we were recently liberated of our camera.)

Back in Hanoi, however, I wrote a review of a burger place that the folks at hamburger mega-blog A Hamburger a Day have been good enough to include on the site.

If you're interested, you can read it here.

Thanks again Robyn!

Chau Doc Com's Good

As my last post not too subtley expressed, I've been feeling a little disillusioned with the street food in Chau Doc since I've been here. To be honest it wasn't just the food that was getting me down - the heat, harassment, and tiredness all had a part to play.

It's amazing, however, how a few good sleeps and Twins (starring Arnold Swarzenegger and Danny De Vito) can revitilize ones spirits. Today I hit the streets of Chau Doc reinvigorated and hungry for action, managing to score a street food triple whammy for my pains.

Ca phe sua da: Condensed milk with a kick.

We're currently in a town called Chau Doc on the Vietnam - Cambodia border, gathering our strength for Phnom Pehn and lying low for a few days while trying to avoid the tour touts and other hazards. Vietnam has been a bit of a mixed bag if I'm honest. Hanoi and the other areas in the north and centre were great, but Saigon and the Mekong delta has left us feeling a bit underwhelmed.

Street Shots: the week in pictures.

We came across this mobile fritter factory on the main street in Hoi An. Not sure what the balls were but the ones in the wok are banana fritters. Sarah tried one and said she couldn't taste any banana. Just out of shot were some thin donuts with lots of sugar on them. They tasted kind of chewy and stale - the type of thing you might buy in packs of twenty at a cheapo supermarket.

Street Fighter: Cao Lau vs Com Ga

Hoi An, in central Vietnam, is a place where you can very easily drop some serious coin. The streets are lined with hundreds of tailor shops, and the lure of tailor-made cloths can stitch up even the most rigourously observed budget. Whilst there I went a little overboard and got a three piece suit, two shirts and a fantastic imitation Baracuta Harrington jacket.

One thing that doesn't cost the world however, is street food. And in Hoi An, two of Vietnam's most famous street dishes wage a nightly battle for supremacy.

Gimme some suga!

I originally thought this stuff was bamboo, and had worked out my intro to this post before I even tasted it. I wanted to mention the fact that some species of bamboo can grow up to 18 inches per day, and that by tensile strength, bamboo is in fact stronger than steel. I even wanted to say how I someday hope to own a light green short sleeve shirt with a dark green bamboo pattern coming down it in vertical stripes.

Beer Ahoy!

It didn't take long for Sarah and I to discover another Vietnamese institution: the Bia Hoi.

These street bars are located all around Hanoi, and supply the basics - cold beer and a seat from which to watch Hanoi whizz by.

The beer is based on chezch pilsner, and brewed on rooftops all across the city. It has a fresh, hoppy taste, and most importantly, it is cheap - one glass will set you back no more than about 10p.

All this makes it incredibly easy to simply sit back, run up a tab and let the chaos get on without you.

Which is exactly what we did.

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