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Explorer Begins Kayak Odyssey Through Vietnam


"Pretty wild," says explorer Jon Bowermaster, on the third day of an 800-mile (1,300-kilometer) kayak odyssey down the northern Vietnam coast.

He was describing the scene of thousands of Vietnamese celebrating a holiday by drinking rice wine and cheering on dragon-boat racing.


From the Chinese border to China Beach, Bowermaster and his four expedition mates are chronicling little-known cultures and corners: floating fishing villages, pirate junks, beachside pagodas, ancient outposts ensnared by the jungle.

The expedition is racing to reach Danang before midsummer's stifling heat hits. To do that, they're averaging 15 to 20 miles (24 to 32 kilometers) a day through steamy, monsoon-soaked seas.

"I met someone in his sixties who had never spoken to an American," Bowermaster said in his most recent dispatch, phoned in from Vietnam. Two U.S. Navy planes shot down in the Vietnam War were as close as the man had ever been to an American. Now, "he couldn't believe he was so close to someone who at one time had been their enemy."

Hear Bowermaster's audio dispatches and view his photos from Vietnam on nationalgeographic.com's Adventure guide. Go>>

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