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Vietnam Moments

VIETNAM | Thursday, 24 April 2014 | Views [419] | Comments [1]

While travelling in Vietnam, there were often things that stood out in our memory:

 Food - baby eels in Tavan village. (Homestay in a village near Sapa)

While relaxing and watching the incredible view of the setting sun, peaceful rice paddies, my sister and I see our host use his spade to search amidst the mud of the rice paddy and shovel some into a large plastic basin. What was he doing? Later in the evening we sit down to dinner with our hosts and a French couple - many plates of food are brought out. They tell us that one of the plates is a local specialty and favourite. Baby eels cooked with green banana. So that's what was in the mud. While the taste is not strong the crunching of soft bones is a little off putting.

Beer corner in Hanoi - sitting on low plastic seats at this busy intersection and drinking cold draught beer. We were entertained by the crazy traffic, vendors offering to fix your shoes; sell fans, wallets, food.The beer was cheap and good – under 20,000 Dong a tankard i.e. less than A$1.00

  Bale Well restaurant in Hoi An - in an alley, it is crowded with locals and tourists. Within minutes there is beer and the set menu arrives. Rice paper, a variety of BBQ meats on skewers, spring rolls, pickled veges are rolled together and dipped in a soy bean sauce. Later prawn rice pancakes were added to the mixture. And the price A$30 for 4 of us including dessert and beers.

http://www.travelfish.org/blogs/vietnam/2012/08/29/review-ba-le-well-restaurant-hoi-an/

People

Vietnam is a Communist country and yet the small business person has many opportunities to make a living. Small business entrepreneurs include - women setting up braziers by side of road and cooking satays, we called this "ride by food".  Small grocer shops selling all sorts of necessities; footpath food places where people sit on small plastic chairs to eat their meal. Men offer to mend your shoes or even your thongs; they have a plastic basket which includes glue, needle and thread. Men and women with a sewing machine are busy making clothes, motor bike seats. And if you go to Tin Street in Hanoi, you'll see men welding and making all manner of tin things.                                             The Vietnamese people have been through a lot. They fought wars against the Chinese, French and the Americans (supported by Australians). In general, Vietnamese people are not superstitious or servile; they are a resilient, friendly people with a great sense of humour.

 The Zen of Crossing a Street.

We found it may be helpful to have had a few beers. Whatever you do “be confident". Check for a bit of a break, step out and look straight ahead and cross the road. Don't run. Traffic will avoid you, they just weave around you. Just like magic.

There is a different attitude to traffic in Vietnam. When crossing a road in Australia the onus is on the pedestrian to stay safe and we face oncoming traffic when walking on a busy street. In Vietnam, the opposite is true, the pedestrian walks in the direction of the flow of traffic - the onus is on the driver to avoid you.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eC4BN9kInXg

We were also impressed by the push bikes and motor bikes which are a general carry all from the whole family to wardrobes, mattresses, pigs, crates of eggs, sheets of glass.

 Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and stick house. Entering the mausoleum we all had to be on our best behaviour - no talking, hands by your side and suitably dressed. Young guards in white uniforms watched our every move. I hadn't been keen on this but in an eerie way it's fine. There continues to be lots of respect for Uncle Ho, the houses he lived in were simple and functional. Only near the end of his life did they build a small 3 roomed hospital to care for him.

 Train trip

The 12 hour overnight train trip to Sapa. A memorable trip, playing cards, getting comfortable, trying to ignore the shunting and rumbling of the train. Twice is enough.

The indigenous people of North Vietnam include the H'mong women and their intricate, colourful clothing. Their selling techniques are to be admired.

 The Bac Pa market in the north is a busy market full of local people meeting each other and buying goods including the buffalo market. The flower H'mong women are even more colourful than the Sapa group.

 The scary hydrofoil trip in strong wind from Cat Ba Island to Haiphong. It was overcrowded, no safety drill or sign of life jackets. Would we be able to swim to shore?

 ‘My Son’ ruins -this is an ancient Hindu religious site from 4 century to 14th of the Champa kingdom. With a focus on fertility, lots of yonis and linghams. Nestled in a beautiful valley the peace and beauty is disturbed by the craters left by American carpet bombing. Many buildings were destroyed.

 Hoi An at night is full of brightly coloured lanterns and lights, crossing the footbridge provides the opportunity to buy candles from the locals to be launched onto the flowing river.

 

Notes on our trip to Vietnam:

            Flights to and fromVietnam - Malaysian Airlines

            Accommodation, guides, transport within Vietnam – Sinh Café Open Tour, Vietnam

Website: http://sinhcafe.com/index.htm

Email: [email protected] / [email protected]

Tel: + 844 37568868 Fax: +844 37687862

 

            Accommodation         Hanoi - Golden Cyclo Hotel (twice)

                                           Sapa - Tavan View Homestay & Unique Hotel

                                           Cat Ba Island – Hung Long Hotel

                                           Hoi An - Botanic Garden Homestay

                                           Hue - Mondial Hotel

 

Advice to anyone travelling in Vietnam:

While Vietnam is very safe to travel in, make sure you don’t leave any valuables (such as passport, Australian money) in your suitcase in the hotel rooms. Keep them on your person at all times, if not in a safe.

A big thank you to Gaye Simpson  for all the preplanning and we thank everyone involved who made our stay so interesting and enjoyable.

Susan and Peter

Tags: crossing hanoi streets, hanoi, hmong, hoi an, sapa, vietnam

Comments

1

Your impressions of Hoi-An were ours.
We stayed for two weeks during which we motorbiked to My Son ruins. Both journey and destination were amazing.

  Tric May 2, 2014 8:54 PM

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