Rusty Compass travel blog

Blog tales from the road

Unsettled - an unsettling exhibition at Sydney's Australian Museum
20 Jun 2021

Unsettled - an unsettling exhibition at Sydney's Australian Museum

A new exhibition at the Australian Museum in Sydney, curated by First Nations people, represents a shift in the long process of balancing the...

TAGS: Australia, Sydney, Unsettled exhibition, Australian Museum,

Cemeteries and tombs - a travel guide
29 May 2021

Cemeteries and tombs - a travel guide

Cemeteries and tombs have been a big part of my travelling life. From my first international travels in the 80s till now, I've made a point of...

TAGS: Australia, Sydney, Camperdown, Newtown, Cemeteries,

Choosing Fremantle Western Australia as a place to live and visit
12 Apr 2021

Choosing Fremantle Western Australia as a place to live and visit

A few years ago I was in search of a place to base myself in Australia. I was looking for a lifestyle better suited to my situation, than my...

TAGS: Australia, Fremantle

2020 - The COVID year in travel
20 Jan 2021

2020 - The COVID year in travel

How do you make sense of a year like 2020? There were lockdowns, travel was wiped out globally, there was political chaos. I had a few unexpected...

TAGS: Australia, Sydney

Parramatta's neglected heritage - the Female Factory
13 Jan 2021

Parramatta's neglected heritage - the Female Factory

Parramatta was at the centre of the development of the British penal colony in New South Wales from its beginnings in 1788. It was also at the heart...

TAGS: Australia, Sydney

An unexpected Rusty Compass journey - an aortic dissection
09 Sep 2020

An unexpected Rusty Compass journey - an aortic dissection

2020 has been a crazy year for everyone. For most of us (except Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and other tech titans), it's been a year of challenges -...
Vietnam and the coronavirus - an unreliable travel guide
18 Mar 2020

Vietnam and the coronavirus - an unreliable travel guide

This is a rolling blog of updates on the coronavirus COVID-19 in Vietnam and how it is impacting travel in the country. As of this update (18...

TAGS: Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City, coronavirus, update, blog

My most memorable stay of 2019 - Mu Cang Chai Ecolodge, Vietnam
21 Jan 2020

My most memorable stay of 2019 - Mu Cang Chai Ecolodge, Vietnam

As 2019 ended, I thought about the dozens of places I stayed during my many months on the road. It struck me that my most memorable stay was at a...

TAGS: Vietnam, Yen Bai, Mu Canh Chai Ecolodge, ecotourism

Is the tide turning against heritage destruction in Vietnam?
09 Jul 2019

Is the tide turning against heritage destruction in Vietnam?

The past decade has been devastating for Vietnam’s built heritage. Three recent decisions suggest that the tide may be finally turning in favour of...

TAGS: Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City, heritage, Saigon,

The other remarkable thing about Pu Luong Vietnam? No piles of plastic
07 May 2019

The other remarkable thing about Pu Luong Vietnam? No piles of plastic

Pu Luong, around four hours south of Hanoi, looks set to become the “next’ destination in Vietnam’s breathtaking mountainous north. And one of the...

TAGS: Vietnam, Pu Luong, plastic, environment

One of Vietnam's most historic churches faces demolition
01 May 2019

One of Vietnam's most historic churches faces demolition

Vietnam’s three decades of rapid economic growth have not been so good for the country’s built heritage. The distinctive Bui Chu Cathedral in Nam...

TAGS: Vietnam, Hanoi, Bui Chu, Nam Dinh, history, church

Vietnam in the 1990s - Qantas returns to Saigon
15 Apr 2019

Vietnam in the 1990s - Qantas returns to Saigon

In December 1990, I was aboard the first post-war Qantas flight to operate between Australia and Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). It was a time...

TAGS: Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City, Qantas, 1990, flights

Vietnam's first international tourism campaign - from 1991?
19 Feb 2019

Vietnam's first international tourism campaign - from 1991?

I’m gonna hazard a guess that this was the first post-war Vietnam tourism promotion in a Western country. It was 1991 and Vietnam was just opening...

TAGS: Vietnam, Hue, tourism, marketing,

The drone - a symbol of heavy-handed self-centred tourism
21 Nov 2018

The drone - a symbol of heavy-handed self-centred tourism

The drone has arrived. These high-impact flying machines are coming to a beautiful place near you. The drone has transitioned from professional...

TAGS: Vietnam, Hoi An, drones, tourism, overtourism

A new heritage landmark in Hanoi?
22 Oct 2018

A new heritage landmark in Hanoi?

A grand heritage building is being renovated in Hanoi’s picturesque Ba Dinh District. This is the nicest part of the capital - though few visitors...

TAGS: Vietnam, Hanoi, heritage, architecture,

Tips for taking photos in Vietnam - people and ideas of beauty
08 Oct 2018

Tips for taking photos in Vietnam - people and ideas of beauty

Taking photos of the local people you encounter as a traveller is complicated anywhere. In Vietnam, the locals have been remarkably amenable to...

TAGS: Vietnam, Hanoi, photography, culture,

A peek inside one of Hanoi's grand colonial villas
14 Sep 2018

A peek inside one of Hanoi's grand colonial villas

A French colonial villa on Hanoi’s Chan Cam St has become one of the most photographed colonial ruins in the city. These days it’s occupied by...

TAGS: Vietnam, Hanoi, architecture, colonial era, ceramics,

Angkor has been protected from the worst tourism excesses - someone should be thanked
17 Aug 2018

Angkor has been protected from the worst tourism excesses - someone should be thanked

I spend more time than I would like lamenting the degradation of the places I visit while covering Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia for Rusty Compass....

TAGS: Cambodia, Siem Reap, tourism, UNESCO,

Saigon's pavements - yes, they're still getting worse
06 Aug 2018

Saigon's pavements - yes, they're still getting worse

Saigon’s failed campaign to improve its sidewalks has left them more dangerous than ever. It’s a disaster for locals and visitors and the reputation...

TAGS: Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City, pavements, walking, travel, cities

Tet in Saigon - a time to think about arrivals and departures
27 Feb 2018

Tet in Saigon - a time to think about arrivals and departures

Saigon has been a city of immigrants from its founding in the 17th century. At Tet, as much of the city headed home to villages and towns across the...

TAGS: Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon, pollution, liveability,

Introducing a special new tour by Rusty Compass - Vietnam by the Book
07 Feb 2018

Introducing a special new tour by Rusty Compass - Vietnam by the Book

It's more than 25 years since I ran my first tour through Vietnam. After a long break from leading tours, I now head back out on the road each year...

TAGS: Vietnam, Hanoi, Old Compass Travel, Old Compass Travel Book Club

Travel tech update - From the Apple iPhone to the Oppo F5
27 Jan 2018

Travel tech update - From the Apple iPhone to the Oppo F5

I’ve switched from one of the most expensive phones on the market - the Apple iPhone - to one of the cheapest -an OPPO F5. And so far, I’m very...

TAGS: Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City, oppo F5, telephone

Meeting the man who played Nguyen Van Troi - Robert McNamara’s would be assassin
03 Jan 2018

Meeting the man who played Nguyen Van Troi - Robert McNamara’s would be assassin

On a recent visit to Hanoi, I randomly met the delightful Mr Binh on the street. Now 82 year old, he found fame on the stage in the 60s and 70s...

TAGS: Vietnam, Hanoi, Mr Binh, Nguyen Van Troi, Robert McNamara,

2017 - our year of travel in video
15 Dec 2017

2017 - our year of travel in video

Another year exploring Vietnam passes. Here are some video favourites from my travels. Plenty of magical moments have been had. But worries about...

TAGS: Vietnam, Hanoi, video, Youtube

Postcard from Hue - in search of Tet 1968
04 Dec 2017

Postcard from Hue - in search of Tet 1968

We travel to Hue in central Vietnam, 50 years after the Tet Offensive, searching for traces of the Battle of Hue - one of the longest and bloodiest...

TAGS: Vietnam, Hue, Tet Offensive, Battle of Hue, history, Vietnam War

Visiting Saigon's historic rooftop - symbol of the end of the Vietnam War
19 Nov 2017

Visiting Saigon's historic rooftop - symbol of the end of the Vietnam War

It may be the most iconic image of the end of the Vietnam War. It was taken on 29 April 1975 by photojournalist Hugh van Es, as US choppers...

TAGS: Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City, Pittman Apartments, Larry Berman,

Remembering Kim Sinh in Hanoi
08 Nov 2017

Remembering Kim Sinh in Hanoi

One of the first Rusty Compass YouTube videos I shot way back in 2008, featured Vietnamese virtuoso guitar player Kim Sinh, collaborating with...

TAGS: Vietnam, Hanoi, Music, kim sinh, guitar,

Vale Vann Molyvann - giant of Cambodian architecture and symbol of an age of optimism
02 Oct 2017

Vale Vann Molyvann - giant of Cambodian architecture and symbol of an age of optimism

One of the most rewarding things of decades getting to know Cambodia, has been learning of the work of modernist architect Vann Molyvann. Considered...

TAGS: Cambodia, Phnom Penh, architecture, Vann Molyvann,

Farewell Jungle Beach - one of Vietnam's original
12 Sep 2017

Farewell Jungle Beach - one of Vietnam's original "back to nature" resorts closes

Jungle Beach Resort north of Nha Trang on Vietnam’s central coast will soon close its flimsy bamboo doors for the last time. We hope this doesn’t...

TAGS: Vietnam, Nha Trang, Ninh Hoa, resort, development

Two Hanoi Banh Mi stalls - a tale of travel in the age of Tripadvisor
05 Sep 2017

Two Hanoi Banh Mi stalls - a tale of travel in the age of Tripadvisor

Two banh mi stalls in Hanoi’s Old Quarter tell an interesting story of travel in the age of Tripadvisor.

TAGS: Vietnam, Hanoi, banh mi, sandwich, Old Quarter, Banh Mi 25, Banh Mi Hang Ca

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