First revealed January 2023 | Phrases and pictures by Vietnam Coracle Crew

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới! Joyful Lunar New 12 months! It’s the 12 months of the Cat in Vietnam and we kick it off with a query and reply session with every member of the Vietnam Coracle workforce. As chances are you’ll know, final yr (the 12 months of the Tiger) I began publishing articles by contributing writers for the primary time since I began Vietnam Coracle 10 years ago. Having already written my very own year-end review, the Lunar New 12 months presents an excellent probability to seek out out what the remainder of the individuals who work on this web site suppose and really feel concerning the earlier yr and the approaching one.

Year of the Cat Q&A with the Vietnam Coracle Team
The varied Vietnam adventures of the Coracle workforce during the last 12 months

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The Vietnam Coracle Crew Greets the Lunar New 12 months

I put the identical 4 questions to every member of the Vietnam Coracle workforce, together with the choice to create their very own, distinctive fifth query. My questions concentrate on Vietnam, journey, writing and the Lunar New 12 months (the 12 months of the Cat). For equity, I’ve revealed their solutions within the order through which they have been submitted to me. You may learn the total profiles of every workforce member on the Meet the Writers web page and browse all their revealed content material on Vietnam Coracle to date on the Contributing Writers Homepage.

*Private observe: I’d like to precise my due to everybody who works on this web site and the way a lot I take pleasure in working collectively: I discover it thrilling, rewarding and fulfilling to listen to your concepts, see them develop and in the end change into a actuality. However, greater than that, it’s a pleasure spending time with you. So, thanks (in alphabetical order) Ben, Biên, Josh, Luke, Patrick and Thảo. Chúc Mừng Năm Mới! Tom


1. Luke Digweed

2. Thảo Phan

3. Biên Nguyên

4. Patrick Scott

5. Josh Zukas

6. Ben Knight

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Luke Digweed

Luke Digweed, Contributing Writer at Vietnam Coracle

Luke has been residing in Vietnam since 2011, principally in Huế but in addition in Đà Nẵng & Sài Gòn. Whereas residing in Huế, he ran the Huế Grit Tour & co-organized occasions & small concert events between 2017-2020. His most up-to-date ongoing undertaking is Festivals of Vietnam which paperwork ceremonies, rituals & processions across the nation….read more about Luke

1. What was your most memorable journey expertise final yr (the 12 months of the Tiger) in Vietnam?

“Over the summer time, my accomplice and I spent a month residing in Quy Nhơn; longer than a vacation and shorter than everlasting residence. I cast new friendships, ate some new meals and visited some new areas; a few of which appeared in my Quy Nhơn food guide. My good friend and I additionally made it to Móng Cái, a highway journey that was initially deliberate in 2019 however stored getting pushed again attributable to each private and world occasions. Móng Cái, a big metropolis that borders China, had an aura about it once we first examine it. Regardless of the northeast area having a detrimental fame in Vietnam, we have been stunned to seek out prosperous cities in Hạ Lengthy and Hải Phòng; templates for the brand new middle-class way of life that almost all of the nation aspires in the direction of.”

2. As we enter the 12 months of the Cat, what sort of form do you suppose Vietnam is in post-pandemic, each usually and almost about journey?

“Finally, Vietnam continues to develop and evolve; which is in distinction to my residence nation (the UK). Worldwide tourism has but to return to its pre-pandemic ranges, principally attributable to world occasions and the Chinese language borders remaining closed till very just lately. Whereas some areas of the native financial system have suffered, it’s given the surroundings a second of reprieve. These previous few years have additionally made strolling round some beforehand crowded locations, like Hoi An, extra nice. Nonetheless, one drawback that continues to be is that tourism visas are nonetheless restricted to 1 month. At greatest, this stifles the keep of people that abuse the vacationer visa; at worst, it limits the period of time individuals can discover the nation earlier than having to do a ‘visa run’. In a constructive method, a whole lot of outdated companies that beforehand survived on the expenditure of naïve vacationers, have died a painful dying. Of their place have come companies which have needed to seize a home and extra fashionable client. Huế tourism space is a good case research of this. Lots of new companies have come previously few years, aiming at capturing a younger, native viewers. This has rejuvenated the realm which as soon as solely attracted overseas vacationers and hawkers. It’s vibrant and feels prefer it belongs to Huế, fairly than tourism. I’m optimistic it is going to keep like this whilst worldwide tourism numbers enhance.”

3. What’s your most anticipated journey plan in Vietnam for the 12 months of the Cat?

“I plan to spend most of this yr finding out, so there aren’t any formidable journey plans. My accomplice and I’ve talked about some nationwide parks in South-East Asia we’d like to go to, however nothing concrete but. There will probably be some area journeys for Festivals of Vietnam scattered all year long, and I additionally wish to decide to a month in Đà Lạt this summer time. I suppose my most anticipated journey plan is absolutely within the subsequent reply….”

4. Inform us about one article concept for Vietnam Coracle that you just look ahead to researching and writing within the new yr?

“I wish to hitchhike in Vietnam and journal it – the unpredictability, the vulnerability, the hospitality, the humanity. I look ahead to the problem this presents.”

5. Create your personal query: ‘In the event you may give one piece of recommendation to somebody visiting Vietnam In 2023, what would it not be?’

“Each area in Vietnam has completely different specialty dishes. Discover out what they’re, select a pair and hunt them down. If somebody affords to point out you some native delicacies, don’t flip it down. Eat unbiased; keep away from chains. Some consolation meals is okay (all of us do it), however don’t ever go to the identical place twice, even when their English breakfast was nice.”

Celebrating Vesak 'Buddha Day', Hue, Vietnam, 2022
Celebrating Vesak ‘Buddha Day’ in Huế

Tết Trung Thu, Mid Autumn Festival, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Tết Trung Thu (Mid Autumn Festival) in Chợ Lớn (Chinatown), Sài Gòn, Ho Chi Minh Metropolis

Cooking bánh xèo savoury  pancakes, Quy Nhon, Vietnam
Cooking bánh xèo on the streetside in Quy Nhơn

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Thảo Phan

Thảo Phan, Contributing Writer at Vietnam Coracle

Thảo is at present operating TP Garden, an city backyard enterprise in Hồ Chí Minh Metropolis, the place her passions & values come collectively to create a wholesome group & cleaner surroundings. Initially from Biên Hoa Metropolis, in Đồng Nai Province, she’s spent most of her grownup life residing in Sài Gòn, though she’d a lot fairly be within the countryside surrounded by timber & flowers….read more about Thảo

1. What was your most memorable journey expertise final yr (the 12 months of the Tiger) in Vietnam?

“In contrast to the primary half of 2022, the second half of the yr was stuffed with pure joys, unforgettable moments and distinctive experiences whereas travelling with my closest associates – from witnessing breathtaking dramatic landscapes of Dồng Văn Karst Plateau Geopark in Hà Giang to the charming surroundings of Cao Bằng (Bản Giốc Waterfall is completely stunning), from hiking in Côn Đảo Nationwide Park adopted by swimming within the sea to camping in the pine forests close to Đà Lạt. It’s arduous for me to select probably the most memorable journey expertise amongst these, but when I’ve to decide on one then it have to be my very first journey to Côn Đảo Islands with Tom in June, 2022. There have been many private the reason why this journey occasion meant lots to me: to renew travelling after two years beneath Covid restrictions and work stress, to mentally get better myself after the lack of an in depth good friend, to have a good time Tom’s birthday in addition to the 10-year anniversary of Vietnam Coracle and of our friendship, and final however not least, to lastly set foot on this historic and sacred place the place a part of my grandfather’s untold story was revealed.”

2. As we enter the 12 months of the Cat, what sort of form do you suppose Vietnam is in post-pandemic, each usually and almost about journey?

“Regardless that the fourth wave of Covid and the accompanying restrictions have been lifted since October 2021, and life has been just about again to pre-Covid ‘regular’, the nation’s financial system has been very sluggish to get better on account of many companies closing in the course of the pandemic. The final quarter of 2022 additionally witnessed the layoffs of many blue-collar employees as a result of discount of export orders in addition to the upper enter prices for manufacturing (particularly elevated prices for oil and fuel). Regardless of the not so promising image for the financial system as an entire, post-pandemic home journey in 2022 elevated considerably and is anticipated to proceed rising in 2023. A number of locations in Vietnam earned prestigious titles on the World Journey Awards, similar to Phú Quốc Island, and the federal government guarantees to use a ‘friendlier’ visa coverage. As well as, China has just lately reopened its borders after ceasing its zero Covid coverage (Chinese language made up 1/3 of overseas vacationers in Vietnam pre-pandemic). Primarily based on this, I feel the nation will entice extra worldwide travellers within the 12 months of the Cat and can attain its goal of 8 million overseas vacationers in 2023.”

3. What’s your most anticipated journey plan in Vietnam for the 12 months of the Cat?

“Coincidentally I used to be born within the 12 months of Cat (1987) and 2023 occurs to be the yr I set out for an formidable purpose which can fulfil each my skilled and private pursuits. As my enterprise in city gardening companies grows, my craving for travelling to ‘inexperienced zones’ in Vietnam and connecting with individuals who work or share the identical values in regenerative farming and sustainable residing has change into stronger. Thus, I plan to journey to as many ‘inexperienced zones’ in Vietnam as I can and construct a ‘inexperienced’ group as I am going.”

4. Inform us about one article concept for Vietnam Coracle that you just look ahead to researching and writing within the new yr?

“In relation to my reply to the earlier query, I’d love to put in writing a information concerning the inexperienced locations I’ll go to throughout the nation, and thus supply each native and worldwide travellers a distinct method of travelling and residing: low-cost and low-impact on the surroundings. Extra importantly, travellers will get to expertise new locations and work together with attention-grabbing individuals in an genuine method.”

5. Create your personal query: ‘What’s crucial life lesson you realized in 2022 and the way are you going to use it in 2023 to create a significant life?’

“I really like spending time with my shut associates and like-minded individuals simply as a lot as I crave for alone time doing issues I’m obsessed with. I used to wish to escape the group to pursue a lifetime of solitude in nature. Nonetheless, the pandemic lockdowns and the lack of a pricey good friend have taught me to worth the moments I can spend with my family members. I wish to interact with the individuals near me in as many shared pursuits as attainable and as usually as I can. In the meantime, I can nonetheless journey and spend time alone in nature with out neglecting the individuals I do know and love.”

A bowl of noodles on the Ma Pi Leng Pass, Ha Giang
A bowl of noodles on Mã Pí Lèng Pass wanting over the Nho Quế River in Hà Giang

Dam Tre Bay, Con Dao Islands, Vietnam
Exterior a ranger station with Tom on the finish of the Đầm Tre Bay hike on Côn Sơn Island

Camping in the pine forests near Dalat, Vietnam
Making ready breakfast at daybreak camping with Tom, Gydion & Ben within the pine forests close to Đà Lạt

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Biên Nguyên

Biên Nguyên, Contributing Writer at Vietnam Coracle

Biên was born & raised in Hanoi, the place he works as a Service Studying Officer on the United Nations Worldwide College (UNIS). As well as, he’s a co-owner of Bancông Cafe in Hanoi’s Previous Quarter. Exterior the workplace, he considers himself an environmental activist, a runner, a traveller & an newbie photographer….read more about Biên

1. What was your most memorable journey expertise final yr (the 12 months of the Tiger) in Vietnam?

“Throughout the 12 months of the Tiger, I used to be partly enthusiastic about Vietnam opening its doorways to the world after the pandemic and partly nervous to consider how I’d plan my life. I travelled to Đà Nẵng and Hội An in April, the identical time Vietnam welcomed the primary teams of vacationers to the nation. Speaking to a few of them made me really feel comfortable and relieved for Vietnam’s tourism trade and for everybody who has been ready for the day they may go to our stunning land. Hội An has by no means been my favorite place, however I had a good time on this journey since I had the prospect to see one in every of my greatest associates who lives there and spend time together with her and different associates. I additionally reconnected with my cousin who I hadn’t seen for a very long time. That Hội An journey was one in every of therapeutic and reconnecting for me. Being taken to some wonderful native locations for meals and drinks; getting launched to plenty of attention-grabbing and gifted individuals who have been making Hội An so particular, I began to alter my thoughts concerning the city. It’s not solely a reasonably place for Instagram, but in addition a land for individuals on the lookout for a refuge the place they’ll stay and put their souls in it.”

2. As we enter the 12 months of the Cat, what sort of form do you suppose Vietnam is in post-pandemic, each usually and almost about journey?

“Seeing a dramatic change in Vietnam since April 2022, I reckon the nation’s financial system will absolutely get better within the 12 months of the Cat, particularly tourism, which suffered probably the most over the pandemic. It’s not tough to note the big variety of vacationers coming into the nation every single day now and the flights are all the time absolutely booked.”

3. What’s your most anticipated journey plan in Vietnam for the 12 months of the Cat?

“I used to be excited to have the ability to journey overseas once more because the borders are all open now. Nonetheless, I’ll plan for some adventures in Vietnam this yr: caving in Phong Nha, extra motorcycle journeys to the northern mountains or Central Highlands, visiting locations I haven’t been to, just like the Côn Đảo Islands or Nam Cát Tiên Nationwide Park, are among the issues I wish to do within the 12 months of the Cat.”

4. Inform us about one article concept for Vietnam Coracle that you just look ahead to researching and writing within the new yr?

“Residing in a capital metropolis like Hà Nội (I usually name it a giant village) which is extraordinarily full of life and has tons of attention-grabbing issues occurring always, it’s been arduous to select just some issues to speak or write about it. I like exploring new locations for consuming or ingesting espresso, and typically trying out arts and music occasions. Hà Nội has its personal charms by way of tradition and structure, but I feel it’s the individuals who stay right here that truly make it particular. I haven’t had a lot time to put in writing for Vietnam Coracle, and one in every of my resolutions for the 12 months of the Cat is that I’ll concentrate on that includes some people of Hà Nội who’ve been working arduous to make Hà Nôi extra charming and welcoming to travellers.”

Saigon bar reunion with friends
Reunion with associates at a bar in Sài Gòn (Ho Chi Minh Metropolis)

Cat Ba Ecolodge, Cat Ba Island, Vietnam
At an ecolodge on Cát Bà Island

Working in the rice fields of Mai Châu, Vietnam
Within the rice fields of Mai Châu on a piece journey to assist construct dams & roads

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Patrick Scott

Patrick Scott, Contributing Writer at Vietnam Coracle

Patrick is a journey author & former New York Instances editor. Earlier than venturing to Southeast Asia in 2018, he was primarily based for 2 years every in New York, London & Cairo. His travel stories have appeared in publications together with The New York Instances, Monetary Instances, Wall Avenue Journal, Bloomberg, ESPN & Out of doors Swimmer. In addition to writing, he’s a instructor & a swimmer….read more about Patrick

1. What was your most memorable journey expertise final yr (the 12 months of the Tiger) in Vietnam?

“A bike sidetour on the Hà Giang Loop to our information’s H’mong village known as Xà Lủng B, excessive up within the karst-studded slopes close to the China border, between Tam Sơn and Đồng Văn. Inside his wood-plank residence, one in every of about 30 within the settlement sustained partly by the hooked up pig pens and corn liquor stills, he served us a scrumptious lunch of inexperienced beans, cabbage and rice. However the actual deal with was the flute. Our information, Cay, had made it from bamboo, and he fluidly performed a haunting tune a few boy longing for a lady whose household gained’t allow them to date. After taking pictures along with his household, we gingerly negotiated the slim path’s hairpin turns resulting in a valley beneath and continued our journey.”

2. As we enter the 12 months of the Cat, what sort of form do you suppose Vietnam is in post-pandemic, each usually and almost about journey?

“Vietnam can be in higher form tourism-wise if it changed e-visas with visas on arrival. The location is finicky about photograph sizes, and approval can take almost per week in the event you don’t apply on Monday or Tuesday. One among Vietnam’s strengths is the home airline sector that makes flights considerable, straightforward and low cost. If Vietnam streamlines its visa coverage, issues ought to look good for tourism within the 12 months of the Cat.”

3. What’s your most anticipated journey plan in Vietnam for the 12 months of the Cat?

“Hopefully tagging together with a cleft pallet and lip surgical mission within the fall to Quy Nhơn. The Worldwide workforce of nurses and medical doctors is hoping to renew the missions, on maintain throughout Covid, however is encountering authorities approval snafus.”

4. Inform us about one article concept for Vietnam Coracle that you just look ahead to researching and writing within the new yr?

“My subsequent piece will introduce readers to one of many coolest, and few, upscale lodging in Hà Giang, the H’mong Village Resort, sprawling over two hillsides and that includes two-story items formed like hill tribe carrying baskets.”

5. Create your personal query: What’s the most effective web site for reserving transportation in Vietnam?

“I inform everybody this:

With Hmong women in Ha Giang, Vietnam
In Hà Giang after serving to H’mong ladies carry their bushels of inexperienced beans

In Hue, Vietnam
With my spouse, Susan, in Huế

On the Ma Pi Leng Pass, Ha Giang
With my daughters & son-in-law on the Mã Pí Lèng Pass in Hà Giang

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Josh Zukas

Josh Zukas, Contributing Writer, Vietnam Coracle

Josh is a contract author whose body of work focuses totally on journey & structure. He covers Vietnam for Lonely Planet, CNN Create, Ink International & lots of Asia’s high inflight magazines. His structure & design tales have appeared in The Economist, Wallpaper*, Inside Design Journal, Icon & Body. He holds an MSc in sustainable tourism….read more about Josh

1. What was your most memorable journey expertise final yr (the 12 months of the Tiger) in Vietnam?

“Though I spent many of the 12 months of the Tiger in Scotland finishing a grasp’s in sustainable tourism, I used to be fortunate sufficient to replace some chapters for the following version of Lonely Planet Vietnam. This led to a month-long analysis journey by the northern mountains by motorcycle in October – in all probability the best time to go to. It was an actual privilege to place my stamp on the favored guidebook sequence. I used to be capable of make some much-needed updates on fast-changing provinces (like Hà Giang), in addition to embrace some new locations that Lonely Planet hasn’t but featured (like Mù Cang Chải and Pù Luông). I additionally received to talk with some inspiring people who find themselves creating daring and progressive tourism initiatives in Vietnam. However maybe probably the most rewarding a part of the expertise was the chance to inject a few of what I learnt about tourism and sustainability into the pages of the guidebook. It will likely be revealed later this yr.”

2. As we enter the 12 months of the Cat, what sort of form do you suppose Vietnam is in post-pandemic, each usually and almost about journey?

“It is a little difficult to reply as I haven’t spent a lot time in Vietnam just lately, so I don’t have my ear to the bottom. However my sense is that the chaos of the final three years has achieved little to mood the tenacity of Vietnamese tourism. The trade will growth once more – and shortly, no less than within the quick time period. I’m no professional in geopolitics, however I think about that different world points – similar to warfare in Ukraine and China’s rising assertiveness in the direction of Taiwan – can have a better medium-term affect on tourism in Vietnam. It’s price remembering that almost all guests to the nation aren’t from Western nations. Certainly, in 2019, China was Vietnam’s largest vacationer supply market; Taiwan and Russia have been its fourth and sixth largest respectively. Lengthy and drawn-out wars involving these international locations, which, mixed, provide Vietnam with over a 3rd of its worldwide guests, can have an infinite affect.”

3. What’s your most anticipated journey plan in Vietnam for the 12 months of the Cat?

“I’m most wanting ahead to spending a month or so in Huế as quickly as the town warms up and dries out (often round March). I’m in want of a break, and there’s no higher place to loosen up than the leafy, storied, pleasant metropolis of Huế.”

4. Inform us about one article concept for Vietnam Coracle that you just look ahead to researching and writing within the new yr?

“Just a few months in the past, Tom requested if I’d be excited by writing about perceptions of the Vietnamese countryside. Like him, I’m British, which suggests I’ve grown up with very explicit concepts about what makes a beautiful rural panorama. Within the UK, we have a look at rolling, farmed, deforested hills and suppose they’re stunning; in Vietnam, we see deforestation as grotesque. Why? I look ahead to exploring this for Vietnam Coracle later within the yr.”

The picturesque rice terraces of Mù Cang Chải, Vietnam
The picturesque rice terraces of Mù Cang Chải

Research road trip in the northern mountains, Vietnam
On a analysis highway journey for the brand new Lonely Planet Vietnam guidebook within the northern mountains

A homestay at night in the northern mountains, Vietnam
A homestay at evening within the northern mountains

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Ben Knight

Ben Knight, Technology Manager at Vietnam Coracle

Ben grew up within the US however now lives in Vietnam, primarily based in Saigon. He loves exploring distant corners of the nation on two wheels and finding out its distinctive language, tradition, meals, and historical past. Ben manages all expertise for Vietnam Coracle….read more about Ben

1. What was your most memorable journey expertise final yr (the 12 months of the Tiger) in Vietnam?

“I used to be in a foreign country till late June, after which my visa scenario required me to journey internationally each 30 days, so I solely ventured past Sài Gòn thrice: to Hà Nội and Pù Luông in October, Vũng Tàu in November, and Đà Lạt in December. Of those, probably the most memorable journey was Pù Luông as a result of I used to be lucky to go to in the course of the cool and sunny autumn season and since it was the one place that was new to me. What impressed me most about this vacation spot was how a lot it retained its unspoiled rural appeal and resisted the commercialization and mass tourism that has affected many different locations in Vietnam.”

2. As we enter the 12 months of the Cat, what sort of form do you suppose Vietnam is in post-pandemic, each usually and almost about journey?

“Economically, post-pandemic Vietnam is booming. From my perspective, the tempo of improvement has even accelerated in prosperous areas like Thảo Điền in District 2, Ho Chi Minh Metropolis. In 2023 it is going to be attention-grabbing to see if this development continues or if the worldwide financial downturn will begin to take its toll right here as properly. Journey-wise, one noticeable distinction is that the trade is now closely dominated by home tourism, with locations like Đà Lạt booming whereas different locations extra depending on worldwide vacationers, similar to Nha Trang, are having a slower and even static restoration. This yr I predict worldwide vacationer numbers will proceed to rebound particularly with the doubtless rollout of a brand new visa coverage to make Vietnam aggressive once more within the area.”

3. What’s your most anticipated journey plan in Vietnam for the 12 months of the Cat?

“My purpose this yr is to discover some locations I’ve by no means been – Sơn Trà, Nghệ An, Tam Kỳ, Bến Tre – in addition to go to some locations I’ve solely visited as soon as however felt I may have spent extra time – Phong Nha, Hội An, Cao Bằng.”

4. Inform us about one concept for Vietnam Coracle (technological or content-based) that you just look ahead to researching/implementing/writing within the new yr?

“My hope is that Vietnam Coracle stays true to its roots by persevering with to pioneer new off-the-beaten-path journey experiences in Vietnam, whereas additionally updating guides for key locations similar to Hà Giang, Phú Quốc and Phong Nha. With a purpose to keep the location’s high quality and independence, a significant purpose have to be to seek out methods to generate a steady and dependable revenue from the web site with out compromising its integrity. That is obligatory as a method to proceed to supply such a priceless useful resource and one which inspires extra individuals to hunt out self-guided, unbiased, genuine and ideally sustainable journey experiences as a substitute for package deal excursions, which itself is a method of counteracting the mass commercialization of Vietnam resulting in the lack of heritage, tradition, and the pure surroundings.”

5. Create your personal query: What was your most memorable Vietnamese meals expertise in 2022?

“Chả cá Lã Vọng at Thăng Lengthy restaurant in Hanoi”

Homestay in Pù Luông Nature Reserve, Vietnam
Homestay-hopping in Pù Luông Nature Reserve

Chả Cá Lã Vọng at Thăng Long Restaurant, Hanoi
Chả cá Lã Vọng at Thăng Lengthy Restaurant in Hà Nội

Homestay in Pù Luông Nature Reserve, Vietnam
Bản Hiêu homestay in Pù Luông Nature Reserve

*Disclosure: All content material on Vietnam Coracle is free to learn and independently produced. I requested the Vietnam Coracle workforce these questions as a result of I’m excited by their responses & I need my readers to know extra concerning the contributing writers on this web site. For extra particulars, see the Disclosure & Disclaimer statements and About Page

Questions, updates and journey studies are all welcome. Nonetheless, please hold feedback well mannered and on-topic. See commenting etiquette for particulars.


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