And the Winner is…

By Dave Fox

Deanna in Los Angeles, California, was the extremely clever first person to guess where I’m going on vacation next month. After six arduous plane rides (actually, only one of them will be arduous), I will touch down in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Why so many plane rides? As I said on Day One of the contest, I’m taking a circuitous route to get there, and it’ll be a week before I land at my final destination. The first day’s clue was a list of how long each flight would take:

Flight 1 (4 hours): April 2 – Seattle to Chicago
Flight 2 (1 hour): April 2 – Chicago to Dayton, Ohio

Q: But Dave, what kind of idiot flies from Seattle to Vietnam via Ohio?

A: Me. I’ll be in Dayton for four days attending the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. Moving right along….

Flight 3 (1 hour): April 6 – Dayton back to Chicago
Flight 4 (4 hours): April 6 – Chicago to San Francisco
Flight 5 (14 hours – eek!): April 6-7 San Francisco to Hong Kong

(Two-day stopover in Hong Kong)

Flight 6 (2.5 hours): April 9 – Hong Kong to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

So the detour via Dayton threw a few people off. My Day Two clue was also a bit of a decoy: “A song about this city made Billboard’s Top 40 charts in the 1980s.” The song everybody thought of was “One Night in Bangkok,” which was recorded several times by different artists. (The 1984 version by Robey peaked at number five on the Billboard dance charts. And here’s some totally random trivia for you: The song was actually written by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson from Abba!)

So what song was I thinking of? “Ho Chi Minh City” hardly rolls off the tongue when you’re writing lyrics. But in 1982, the Charlie Daniels Band recorded an ode to Vietnam veterans using the city’s former name. “Still in Saigon” hit number 22 on Billboard’s pop charts and also ranked on Billboard’s country charts. Deanna tells me when she guessed (after Day Three’s clue about the country being a former French colony), she was actually thinking of a different song, which I had forgotten about — “Goodnight Saigon” by Billy Joel, which topped out at 56 on Billboard the same year as the Charlie Daniels tune.

So… congratulations Deanna, and thanks to everybody who entered! Deanna has won a copy of my forthcoming second book, Globejotting: How to Write Extraordinary Travel Journals (and still have time to enjoy your trip), which will be published this summer. (I am putting the finishing touches on the manuscript this week.)

About my itinerary: I’ll be traveling with my girlfriend, Kattina. We’re spending two days and nights in Hong Kong before flying on to Vietnam. We plan to spend a couple of days in Ho Chi Minh City before heading off to smaller towns in the Mekong Delta. Due to vacation restraints, Kattina flies home after six days in Vietnam. I’ve got four more days when I don’t yet know what I’m doing. Possibilities include more Vietnam, more Hong Kong, Cambodia, and mainland China. I’ll be blogging along the way as much as time and technology permit. (Including reports from exotic Dayton, Ohio.) Stay tuned!

Published on Friday, March 7, 2008

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