Archive for the 'Vietnam' Category

Photos!

I know everyone is anxiously awaiting the posting of my trip photos.  I’ve decided to switch to the easier to use and easier to upload application on Facebook.  You don’t have to be a Facebook member to view the photos.  I uploaded my favorites and it’s by no means all of them.  I’ve seemed to misplaced one of my camera disks at the moment (lost in my room which is not entirely surprising).  I switched between using two different cameras- a “point and shoot” and my digital SLR-  so going through the memory cards and sorting the photos took some time.  I added comments on very few (very few!).  But, if you have questions just ask.

Egypt
(a few more I found that I like)

Day Trips from Bangkok

Cambodia – Angkor Wat

Cambodia – Orphanage Day

Cambodia – Khmer Rouge
(Warning: Contains some graphic images)

Vietnam – South 

Vietnam – Central

Vietnam – North

Laos

Playing with Tigers (Thailand)

Bungy Jumping (Thailand)

When I find more I like I’ll upload them to a new album so my loyal readers don’t have to go searching for them.  I’ve also added the links to the “Photos” tab located above.  Enjoy!

 

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Welcome to Hanoi…

Welcome to Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam… here’s your 20 cent beer!  Hanoi is the home of the world’s cheapest beer.  I got through about a third of it before I gave up.  Horrific stuff!  But, it’s mind blowing that five people can have one beer each and the total bill is just under a dollar.  If fact, Vietnam is a relatively inexpensive country for Westerners (but don’t tell that to the locals- it’s expensive to them).  I’ve been able to eat lunch/dinner including a soda for around $5.

I find Hanoi to be what I had imagined Vietnam to be like.  The Old Quarter is a maze of narrow streets, restaurants, loads of people and of course honking horns.  In fact, the traffic is just as crazy as Saigon.  Intersections are a free for all and I’m shocked that there are not more collisions.  Even where there are traffic signals, many just view those as merely a “suggestion.”

Yesterday we got back from the amazing Halong Bay.  It was a great day and half.  It included a boat ride through the islands, a delicious lunch, kayaking, and swimming on a deserted beach on Monkey island where it was just us and the monkeys.  Pure bliss! (Well except for the stinging sunburn I’m sporting today.)

Today, I went to the “Hanoi Hilton” as it is called by the American POW’s.  But, in reality it is known as the Hoa Lo Prison.  The prison’s history extends beyond the American prisoners and is a symbol of Vietnam’s struggle for independence from foreign occupation namely the French.  What stuck me most was the amount of Vietnamese women patriots imprisoned there.  I don’t think I’ve seen anywhere in the world where women played such an important and large role in a country’s struggle for independence.

Another part I found interesting was the American POW section.  While the rest of the prison showcased the brutality of the Vietnamese by the French, the American section showed a much different story.  There were pictures of the American pilots cooking and enjoying Christmas dinner, decorating the prison in Christmas decorations, and playing basketball, cards, soccer, billiards.  There were no signs that the American POW’s were ill-treated.  In Cambodia, I caught a little bit of the Republican National Convention where a speaker (I can’t remember who) recalled Senator John McCain’s time spent at the prison.  I was particularly moved by the details and his triumphs while imprisoned there.  It is interesting to learn about both sides and makes me want to learn more about the different perspectives.

Tonight is the official start of the last tour of my trip.  I’ll be in Laos (if you want to impress your friends- the “s” is silent) starting on Tuesday and will be flying home on October 11th.

Seas of Scooters

There are about 9 million people in the city of Saigon and about 3 millions scooters.  You do the math!!  That’s a lot of scooters.  Now, try crossing the street in this sea of scooters where pedestrians are the lowest part of the totem pole in Vietnam traffic.  Real-life frogger!!

Ho Chi Minh City is the official name but everyone calls the city Saigon.  We said good-bye to our Cambodian tour leader, Poleak, and picked up a new Vietnamese tour leader, Son, and two tour-leaders-in-training, Phat and Dung (pronounced Doond and not how you think!!).  The highlights of Saigon were outside the actual city- the Cu Chi Tunnels and the Mekong Delta.  My dad would like the Cu Chi Tunnels visit because it had a lot of war history.  Learning about the “American War” from a Vietnamese perspective has been interesting.  The Vietnamese are very proud that they beat the “imperialist Americans and their lackeys.”  Vietnam has been fighting for it’s independence for many years beginning with the French.

The Mekong Delta was a highlight as well.  We got to don pointy hats while being rowed in a rowboat, taste tasty coconut candy, and ride through country-side villages.  It wouldn’t be the quintessential Vietnam experience without rain!  And it did not disappoint.  Luckily, the tour company had ponchos for us.

Prepare to be jealous ladies!!  I’m now in Hoi An… the custom-made clothes capital of Vietnam, where since I’m doing really good with my budget in SE Asia I decided to splurge a little.  I got a tailored-made wool-cashmere suit made in less than 24 hours for $105!  It fits perfectly!  And because I couldn’t resist the incredible coats, I went to another store and got 3 wool coats custom-made for $120 total (for all 3!!).  It’s so hard to find coats that will button up on me properly.  I also got a pair of custom leather shoes for $20.  It’s a shoppers paradise!  There are around 400 custom shops in a one square kilometer area and everything can be made is less than 24 hours.  Hoi An is a highlight of Vietnam and is a stop on the cruise ship circuit (and you can tell when the cruise ships come in).  All this shopping and fittings has made me want to get pampered at the spa.  One hour facial including scalp, hand, and shoulder massage for $15- yep, that’s what I’m doing next.

Tomorrow, we leave for the imperial city of Hue (pronounced “way”) and then after that… Hanoi and Halong Bay.  I’m really looking forward to Halong Bay.  It’s a good thing we’re leaving Hoi An tomorrow because I’m might be tempted to get more clothes made.

Until next time…


Where’s Stacy?

Stacy is in West Virginia and totally amazed by the power of Math. (Nerd, I know!)

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