Our first inkling this would not be just another noisy, fumy ride on a snowmobile was on the way up to the Mýrdalsjökull Glacier, when the Super Jeep ahead of us stalled in knee-deep snow. The second clue came at base camp, where we signed the customary liability waivers and spent half an hour gearing up in boots, coveralls, balaclavas, helmets and insulated gloves. Members of our group took turns snapping photos of each other in our spacesuit getups — goofy, sure, but totally appropriate given the otherworldly nature of the terrain we were about to cover.
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As the mercury flirted with 100 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity approached 100 percent during our July visit to Hanoi, we strolled past the long, snaking line of domestic tourists waiting to view Ho Chi Minh’s embalmed body in his tomb. Instead, we bypassed his former palace and explored the stilt house where he used to live. Just as the heat was about to knock us down for the count, we found a place selling coconut popsicles, served by a man behind a napkin dispenser that proclaimed, “Work is glory. Happiness to everybody.”