When I landed in Vietnam, on a two-month solo trip through Southeast Asia, I felt strangely as though Bourdain was with me. It was his favorite country. I was reporting a story for the Guardian about the hidden economics of Ho Chi Minh City’s street food when I wound up in the home of the proprietors of a popular lunch stall, with my fixer and photographer. My stomach was ravaged from something I’d eaten the day before, but when my hostess graciously offered me a shrimp fritter and fried chicken at 9:30 in the morning, I accepted it gladly and forced it down (along with some Tums). I know Bourdain would’ve done the same.

A few months ago, I got an email from an editor at Explore Parts Unknown, the website which served as a partner to his CNN show. They wanted to include a story I’d written in 2014 from Soweto, South Africa, about a subculture of precocious fashion-obsessed teenagers called izikhothane. I’d fought hard for that story during the writing process. The US editors who had commissioned it wanted me to highlight the stark poverty of its subjects. But what had struck me during my reporting was their outsized humanity.

I pulled the story from the original magazine that commissioned it, and scrambled to get it published elsewhere. It was a huge risk financially and professionally, but I knew that to travel all that way, do all that work, and not honor the spirit of the people who had let me into their lives was to miss the whole point. That was not the thing. As a writer, the fact that it was good enough to be part of Parts Unknown is one of my proudest moments to date.

There’s a moment on every trip I love. It’s the end of the first day, still jetlagged and with that weird clammy film all over your body from traveling. That’s when I find a bar with outdoor seating, ask for whatever the cheap, local lager is (they always taste the same, no matter where you are), and sit down to watch the evening hum by. From now on, I will drink a silent toast to Anthony Bourdain each and every time.

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