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Beyond Our Conestoga

Allure, Gone Cold.

VIETNAM | Thursday, 8 April 2010 | Views [593]

Well, the verdict is in and I am definetly DONE with Vietnam. We've been swindled, gauged, robbed, lied to and rejected. Who enjoys any of that? While there are those that love Vietnam and can handle the nuances here, I am not one of them. Yes, I am admitting, I can't hack it. I can't handle it and I am fed up. It is here I have learned a lot though on personal liability and where I draw the line on morality (or is it ethics?). Where my own morals lie and how much I can withstand of others. WHen it stops being comical or amusing to a day in and day out reality.

I feared that here in Vietnam is where I learned my limit in terms of traveling. Is it really true? Can Leisa really not handle 4 months of backpacking in foriegn countries? Am I really homesick? Is that possible coming from me? I am shocked at even the slightest inkling? But when I really think about it, it isn't the homesickness that one may think, but a desire for basic human decency.

Sure I miss some things back home. Some very basic things. THese are fulfilled in other new items here though. Language barriers can be tackled, one way or another. Visual stimulation is so diverse. The joy of a train ride, or a bus ride through beautiful countryside. You learn to satisfy your basic needs one way or another. You travel in a budget, but to maintain your sanity, you can treat yourself to certain modern conviences when needed. All up until Vietnam, I haven't had these just down and out wore out feelings, both emotionally and physically. I racked my brain. Why here? Why here? And then it hit me. TRUST. How far this can take you or bring you down.

Here in Vietnam, the traveling is so rough for me because I can't trust anything or anyone. I can't trust the price given is fair. I can't trust I pay the same for the person next to me. I can't trust the product is true. I can't trust I am being told the truth. I can't trust I will get taken to where I have paid to go. I can't trust my bag won't be taken. I can't trust I will get the food I ordered. I can't trust the room rate is the same at checkout as it was at checkin. I can't trust the food I ordered is the same price before and after the meal. I can't trust the store is even what the sign says it is. I can't trust I won't be charged for the 'gift.' I can't walk, sleep, eat, drink, type, look, breath without having to watch my back. This is a country mentality that I just flat out don't jive with.

I applaud those that can handle it. My hat goes off to you. Or as in Eric's experience, his hat is stolen to those that can. A small price for a lesson learned. Better than most any other of our traveling possesions. A prime example of the result of the action harmless in the grand scale, but the principal of the matter and the manner in which it is done, just leaves a bitter cold feeling.

So, the result of all this? A change in the game plan and strategy for the rest of the trip. Any other country, we would of moved on more quickly and left elsewhere. Here, our plane tickets are already booked and with only a single entry visa, we are slaves to the wolves, short of expending more mulla which I guess is our last saving grace. We are willing to fight a bit longer. We moved on north much quicker than planned and are just staying put for about a week in Hanoi. Now we have learned, we enjoy Saigon better, but hind sight is always 20/20.

We have booked a little mini vacation if that is what you want to call it. What is supposed to be a reprieve from the constant haggle. A (vietnamese) luxury cruise to Halong Bay for 3 days. Everything is planned out and if we haven't been swindled on this too, what should be 3 days of relaxation and hassle-free boating, kayaking, swimming and eating. Our little mini-honeymoon cruise we joke. We leave in 2 days to return for 3 more days in this country before our onward travel to Hong Kong. I can't wait! A little out of our budget, but still attainable.

The entertaining things lately? Well, shopping: $.25 cent fresh beer, $15 made to order shoes, $50 tailored clothes, $25 made to order genuine silver bat ear-rings (hee-hee). And the activities: $1/day bike rental leisure exploring days (minus any flat tires or non functionaing brakes of course), $5 tours of Chu CHi tunnels (VC tunnels during the war), seeing the embalmed Ho Chi Minh, homestay on Mekong Delta, more days of biking around fruit plantations, visiting various war history museums, visiting the love capitol of Vietnam--Dalat and a visit of the Crazy House. Eating more Banh Mi's, noodles, noodles and more noodles. We did have a 'fine dining' evening of 'western' food (french) at about $11 total! Soft chell crab, goat cheese spring rolls, fresh salad, bread, real butter, caramel beef, shrimp coconut salad, fresh squeezed lemon juice. Fresh green salad, cHeese and butter being the first of the trip! DIdn't think we would have those till we returned home. TO clear the air, you can get these items in SE Asia, but normally only in the big cities and you pay for them, so we haven't 'luxured' ourselves in this way.

The museums are so entertaining I must say. The perspectives shown and limited information given is almost as educational to the culture and government here as the museum exhibits themselves. So one sided, and not the side I am used to seeing for sure. How made us Americans are. What autrocities we bare to these people, let alone what they have done. SO much history I have learned on our entire trip really. SO much about American history at that. Funny that I have to come to SouthEast Asia to learn about some aspects of my own culture's history. Americans in Laos during the war, and the Khmer ROuge in Cambodia top the list I beleive.

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