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The original world nomad "Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance." - Confucius.

How times change

VIETNAM | Thursday, 29 December 2005 | Views [1550]

Kids peddling everything, and having a ball doing it. Cholon Bus Station (1991)

Kids peddling everything, and having a ball doing it. Cholon Bus Station (1991)

We last visited Vietnam as two young travellers in April 1991. It had only recently opened to tourists, there was little infrastructure, and it was hard travelling.

Having said that, it was a very special time too with incredible memories. Travelling around the Mekong Delta there simply weren't any other travellers.You weren't supposed to travel outside organised groups, but we wandered down to Cholon, simply got on a bus going somewhere, went to various villages and towns until the police sent us back ... when we then just did the same thing again.

We stayed in Cantho at a local hostel and late at night were visited by the police who simply didn't know what to do with us. In Saigon we ate Pho for breakfast with the locals on the street corner, and stayed in a local youth centre which appeared to still be being built around us. The people were incredibly friendly and curious. The trip up to Hanoi was some of the hardest travelling we have undertaken, with few places to stay and little to eat. The description of Hoi An from our LP guidebook from those days say there was just one place to stay, a room for 4 people costing 6,000 dong (50 cents). Mattresses were available on request. Hanoi was a nightmare. And very, very unfriendly ... and who could blame them. Up here, you definitely couldn't just take off somewhere.

It wasn't much fun any more.

Now, 15 years later, we are heading back to Vietnam and have chosen to start in Hanoi to see what's changed! We have pretty much decided not to re-visit the Delta, as that time was so wonderful. Now with two children in tow (aged 3 and 1) we aren't actually sure if this is even possible let alone a good idea. We don't find the guidebooks have much advice for young families and the internet is pretty sparse, although being able to contact hotels and book online before we get there has been fantastic.

But practical questions remain:

  1. Are baby cots available on request? (They seem to be if you ask)
  2. Do you take baby backpacks, or strollers, or both? (we have no idea.)
  3. Where do we stay? There is definitely no turning up on the spot and hoping for the best with a one year old.

We found travelling as a family in Bali earlier in the year that it opens up a whole new level of a society as people seem to invite you into their lives far more readily. We can only hope the same applies ...

Tags: adventures, bus, children, fun, jobs, memories, travel planning, work


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