Category Archives: Student Posts
My name is Beau Bommarito and I am from Saint Louis, Missouri. I am currently a sophomore at Emory University and am majoring in business. I am also on the Emory Basketball Team, and a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. Although I am not sure what I want me career path to be, I hope to concentrate in Marketing and Finance in the Emory business school. I enjoy learning the Italian Language as well as learning about the culture of Italy. My website is focused on the Sicilian Mafia and its effects on Italian society both historically and in the present day.
I last posted when we got to Hoi An. Our time there remains the most relaxing period of the trip. We stayed at a hotel and mostly just rode bikes around the quiet coastal city and ate its street food. The rest of the gang bought suits at a very impressive tailor, but I refrained (the most important part of a suit is obviously the name inside, c’mon) and elected instead to peruse the markets. We ate banh mi (baguette sandwiches) at some little restaurant that Anthony Bourdain went to. So far Vietnamese food has eclipsed both Thai food and Chinese food in my rankings of Asian cuisine (though Japanese remains in first by some distance).
Next we flew to Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon. Our hostel there was boring and no one liked hanging out so we made our own fun. The first night we walked into a bar with maybe four large Indian men dancing with probably 15 scantily clad Vietnamese girls. Sketchy vibes. Tower asked one girl what kind of place we were at. She said, “This is a bar where you buy drinks and buy girls…………drinks.” The message was clear, and we took off.
We also went to the war museum in HCMC. They had a room filled with haunting pictures of the victims of Agent Orange. Spooky vibes, but historically important vibes. That night we went on a food tour around the city, riding on the backs of motorbikes. It was terrifying. Not the food, the traffic. At least 500 bikes would flood into one giant roundabout and just honk and nudge each other and spew out emissions. The food was amazing though. We also took shots of snakewine, which tasted more or less like scotch and came from a giant vat of brown liquid with a dead king cobra in it.
Next we took a bus/ferry to Koh Phangan for the Full Moon party. Every full moon, tourists swarm this island to paint themselves in neon and pee in the ocean to the soundtrack of droning house music. It was quite an experience. I remember walking out of our hostel to the end of the block and three (3) women had already accosted me to buy a bucket of alcohol from their stands. Red bull vodka was certainly the bucket-du-jour. We stayed up until the moon went down and the sun came up and my phone left this realm for good. Then we stumbled into a bar at 7 AM to watch the Cavs win the title. I was more exhausted than postgame LeBron when we got to bed at 10 AM. I had certainly worked harder.
I’ll sign off with that, but there’s more to share from Phuket/Patong. Sneak preview: I got iced by DeAndre Jordan. No kidding. DeAndre Jordan bought a Smirnoff Ice and made me drink it on a knee in the middle of the street. Still hate the guy, go Mavs.
Tower and I arrived at our hostel in Hanoi at around midnight. Ten minutes later, we were standing in the street, taking pulls from a Vietnamese vodka bottle. As Peter and Andrew brought us up to speed on where they had been the last two weeks, a hostel employee ushered us into a dark nightclub across the street, closing the garage-style door behind us. Apparently, Hanoi has a midnight curfew, but many clubs pay off the cops to stay open later.
We get to this club and order some bucket of alcohol. British people are standing around with balloons full of nitrous oxide. The tone has been set.
Eventually we go to another club and meet more people from all over the world. Then the cops show up and shut down the outside part of the club. These new parameters, however, do not deter cigarette consumption.
We got back to the hostel around two. I took a very productive shower in the communal bathroom. The good news is that 3 years of living in a fraternity house prepared me pretty well for staying in a backpacker hostel for $8 a night. The bad news is that staying in a backpacker hostel for $8 a night made me wonder why I* paid so much to live in a fraternity house for 3 years.
Anyway, the first night in Hanoi was a success. The next day we went to Ho Loa Prison, where John McCain and other American pilots were tortured. It was pretty sobering stuff. They had one room about the American pilots that pissed me off. It showed them playing basketball and playing cards and smiling and celebrating Christmas and “Oh, look how nice we treated them,” etc. The guillotine in the other room told a different story of the conditions there.
After that we went to Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum where Peter’s dead body fetish really came out. Unfortunately, we were three minutes too late to see Uncle Ho’s actual body because Peter had to read every damn word in that museum before going to the body. Poetic justice 1, Pete’s dead body fetish 0.
Pregame Pete’s intellectual curiosity on full display.
Then we went to the Temple of Literature. It was built in 1070 which is neat. Poopypants Pete found a huge snail and named him Honus.
The next day we set sail on the hostel’s Castaway Island tour in Ha Long Bay. We took a bus, then a boat, then another bus, then another boat to get to there.
On the boat ride in I bought four beers from a Vietnamese guy, and for whatever reason we just started yelling “Four beers! Four beers!” together. Then he punched me in the dick. The tone has been set.
The island was unbelievably beautiful, but it was very strange to consider the contrast between an American’s visit to Vietnam today and that of only 40 or so years ago. One was hell; the other, paradise. For better or worse, this thought dissipated with the all the activity around us.
There was kayaking, wakeboarding, rock climbing, volleyball, basketball, even a booze cruise. At night, the DJ mixed up some tasty jams as the bioluminescent plankton came out to play. Everyone smelled horrible, but no one cared. The whole scene was surreal.
We also met some incredible people with some incredible stories. I maintain that my favorite part of the whole excursion was meeting these people. The bungalow we were in facilitated a lot of quality hanging out and degeneracy. Bung 102 forever.
View from our island in Ha Long Bay.
We departed after two wild nights there. On the way back to Hanoi, the hundeds of rice farmers I saw toiling over the landscape made me realize how blessed I was that a jellyfish sting and a hangover were the worst of my concerns that day.
That night, we boarded a sleeper bus to Hue, which seemed like a 5-star hotel compared to the den of sand and body odor that we had become accustomed to.
In Hue, we got some dank noods before boarding another bus for Hoi An, from which I’m currently writing this. When I get Wi-Fi, I’ll post it and try to add some pictures.
Peter Montgomery quote of the day: “Buying cookware is so fun.”
In the month or so leading up to my departure for Southeast Asia, many friends and family implored me: “You have to send us pictures!”
Even though I graduated from the College of Arts and Crafts, I wasn’t a pictures major, so I decided to reclaim this website to post written updates from the trip. Hopefully, this blog will also challenge me to reflect more critically on my travels than would a simple Facebook post or email.
Side note: I originally created this website for a Shakespeare class. Please disregard those posts (unless you want to pore over the fruits of my worthless degree).
Typically, I’m not one to share photos or updates or even memes on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, but I believe an adventure of this magnitude warrants documentation and presentation. Furthermore, I feel like not documenting the trip would be a disservice not only to myself, but also to the many friends and family who asked for pictures and updates.
Accordingly, this site is now your source for our shenanigans. Depending on the availability of time/Wi-Fi, I’ll try to post periodic updates that include our experiences and perhaps a bit of reflection. The goal of this site is twofold: (1) to document what we do, and (2) to force myself to think about the trip beyond “Wow these drinks are cheap,” and “What’s that bulge in that woman’s pants?”
So there you have it. Tomorrow I set off on 24 days of travel. See you on the other side.
To quote my buddy Spencer’s text from a warehouse rave last night at 5:46 AM: “Shit is about to heat the fuck up.”
One semester after the conclusion of my Shakespeare class, I have returned to this site with a new multimodal project to present. This past semester, I have oriented my study of English not around Old Bill, but around serial narratives.
In ENG 212, we read Dickens’s Great Expectations, we watched the first season of Mad Men, and we listened to the first season of Serial, the podcast. We focused on how seriality affects narrative technique, how presentation affects content.
We learned that new technologies often lead to new modes of presentation and accordingly, new stories altogether. The podcast Serial resonated with me as it was my first experience with a story that unfolded as I listened to it. This form of presentation, as we discussed in class, promotes a greater level of investment and intrigue among its listeners than would an open-and-shut case. For this reason, I chose to produce my own podcast for my final project.
This podcast examines a murder trial currently underway in Fulton County. I have changed the names of those involved, but the facts surrounding the case remain the same. The episode not only examines the actual criminal investigation and witness testimonies, but also comments on legal theory and the nature of our justice system. I tried to challenge listeners to think: what does it mean that our court system can let murderers walk? Or put an innocent person in prison for life?
I also looked at the nature of evidence and the psychology of eyewitness testimony. How might a witness’s memory conform a narrative that investigators encourage? Just how much doubt constitutes reasonable doubt?
If this podcast were to become a series, these questions would come up repeatedly, because, of course, these questions really do come up every day in court rooms all over the world. Many people, however, never consider them until they’re either in handcuffs or sitting in a jury box. It is my hope that this episode provokes its listeners to consider these questions more explicitly, and does so in an interesting and engaging way.
Finally, the podcast as a format challenged me in many ways. I tried to communicate a large amount of information while maintaining listeners’ attention and interest. To achieve this goal, I used music before, during, and after the narration to provide a sense of cohesion. I also used audio from a TED Talk to alleviate the monophony. Ultimately, I came away with a better appreciation for podcasters and all verbal storytellers.
Enjoy the episode!