As activists flex new freedoms in Myanmar, government and business interests still maintain powerful hold on society

Free Speech Radio News July 31, 2013 Myanmar, the southeast Asian country also known as Burma, is transitioning toward democracy after a half century of harsh military rule, and it’s an open question exactly how civil society groups will engage in the new political landscape. Activists say while they now have more freedom to fight […]

In Myanmar’s push for foreign investment, land grabs threaten local residents, farmers

Free Speech Radio News July 30, 2013 Two years after generals in Myanmar, the country also known as Burma, transitioned to a quasi-civilian government, parliament is passing laws to protect land tenure and prevent rapacious economic development. But other laws are meant to encourage economic growth and foreign investment, and developers are confiscating land across […]

All Aboard?

Banyan | The Economist July 30, 2013 IT TOOK until 1995, a full two decades after those iconic American helicopters beat a hasty retreat from the roof of an official residence during the fall (or liberation) of Saigon, for Vietnam and America to normalise their diplomatic relations. Since then building up their relationship has been […]

An Island in Cambodia to Call Your Own

International Herald Tribune July 18, 2013 SONG SAA, Cambodia — Approaching this modest outcropping of sand, rocks and tropical foliage off Cambodia’s coast, a local resident might assume the thatched-roof huts on the shore belong to yet another remote fishing village. But the thatch is decorative, and the huts actually are luxury villas owned by […]

Colin Flahive opened a restaurant in China that’s a beacon of enlightened management

Christian Science Monitor July 11, 2013 KUNMING, CHINA Colin Flahive and three friends didn’t open Salvador’s Coffee House in 2004, on a busy street in the capital of China’s southwestern Yunnan Province, for ethical or humanitarian reasons. At the time, they were just trying to make back the $30,000 they’d invested in the business while […]

In Mekong Delta, Rice Boom Has Steep Environmental Cost

Yale Environment 360 July 11, 2013 In Mekong Delta, Rice Boom Has Steep Environmental Cost Vietnam has become one of the world’s leading rice producers, thanks to the construction of an elaborate network of dikes and irrigation canals. But these extensive infrastructure projects in the storied Mekong Delta have come at a high ecological price. […]

A Bungalow Built for Fun, Then for a Whole Lot More

International Herald Tribune June 27, 2013 AREY KSAT, Cambodia — In 1991, two young men began looking for a riverside property near Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh. It was more of a lark than a calculated business move: They wanted a scenic spot to drink beer, watch the sunset and escape their stressful jobs as medical […]

Humerus reunion: Doc returns Vietnamese vet’s arm

Associated Press July 1, 2013 HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — An American doctor has arrived in Vietnam carrying an unlikely piece of luggage: the bones of an arm he amputated in 1966. Dr. Sam Axelrad flew into the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, on Saturday from Houston. He was traveling through central Vietnam with his sons and two […]

In search of China’s alpine wildflowers

Washington Post June 27, 2013 I grew up on New York City’s suburban fringe — not exactly a haven for biodiversity — and most of my early nature experiences were linked to mowing grass or raking leaves. My obsession with alpine wildflowers, by contrast, stems from a 2010 trip to southwest China’s Yunnan province, which […]

Vietnam Hunger Strike Tests Official Intimidation

Associated Press June 19, 2013 HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Cu Huy Ha Vu’s books come with pages torn out by prison guards. Only some of his letters reach home. He is not allowed to access evidence from his trial or to see his wife alone. This treatment, described by Vu’s wife, has driven the Vietnamese […]

Ministry of obscurity

Banyan | The Economist THE Communist Party cadres who run Vietnam’s government have never been regarded as the biggest fans of free speech—they prefer jailing the dissidents who challenge their authority—but they may have reached a new low recently, with a law designed to force foreign television broadcasters to pay to be censored. more

Top Hotels Look to the Next Frontier

New York Times June 12, 2013 LIJIANG, China — Tourists from China’s crowded coasts have long considered this city of 1.2 million in the Himalayan foothills to be a scenic getaway. Its hotel choices are still predominantly low- and mid-range properties, but a few of the world’s top luxury hotel brands are putting the final […]

Myanmar’s youth wait for key fruit of reform: jobs

Christian Science Monitor June 1, 2013 YANGON, MYANMAR Htein Lin Aung is studying hard for a degree in architecture, and the stakes are high: He has already failed his first-year exam twice, he says, and without a passing score this year, his chances of finding a good job won’t improve. more

Open for Business?

Earth Island Journal Summer 2013 Late last fall, the government-built irrigation pipelines in the village of Alwan Sok stopped pumping water to rice fields. Local officials governing this small farming area about 13 miles southeast of Yangon, Myanmar’s former capital, offered no explanation. The fall rice crop had been harvested already, but without irrigation farmers […]

Renting a Vintage Home in Ho Chi Minh City

International Herald Tribune May 30, 2013 HO CHI MINH CITY — Rosie Pollard and Rick Stockley were not planning to move in October 2011, but a surprise offer prompted them to reconsider. more

Up a Creek

The Economist May 4, 2013 HO CHI MINH CITY THE rivers and canals of Ho Chi Minh City (known locally as HCMC) meander like veins through its motorbike-clogged districts. The city’s location is good for manufacturers who cheaply produce goods here and truck them to nearby ports with easy access to the South China Sea. […]

NGO programs teach kids in developing countries to swim

Deutsche Welle May 15, 2013 Drowning kills hundreds of thousands of people each year, with children in poor countries being particularly vulnerable. Now, non-profit groups have started training impoverished children across the developing world to swim – as a way to protect them from water hazards. Mike Ives went to a water-safety class in Danang, […]

A Jungle Retreat Where Local Wildlife Has the Right of Way

International Herald Tribune May 9, 2013 KHAO YAI, THAILAND — Michael de Santiesteban maintains a business travel regimen that during especially busy weeks may whisk him from his home bases of Bangkok and Singapore to several spots across Asia or Europe. Whenever he has a free weekend, he rarely feels like boarding yet another plane. […]

Table-sharing in Hanoi

Monocle Radio March 21, 2013 listen (scroll to 31 mins)