Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

We went to Ha Long Bay (5th on the UNESCO  provisional 7 wonders of the world) for 2 days and 1 night on the Imperial Junk. The sleeping cabin was beautiful and more importantly, the view from the deck was wonderful. The water is a jade like green colour.

We stopped to visit an immense cave where our guide pointed out rock formations in the shape of animals etc.

There were monkeys on the cave island.

Some  of the locals earn their living by fishing.

Some of the locals have given up on fishing and gone into retail. This woman would row from boat to boat selling chips, pop and hard liquor.

When you get fed up with your neighbors you just move you house.

We had a good time.

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For Neale

I have a brother-in-law that we consider a fanatic when it comes to the environment and biking. When I saw this bamboo bike in Vietnam, I knew it was for him. A steal at about $65. To top it off, all profits from the sale go to an NGO that helps women earn a living in their own villages.

Mekong River Market

The best trip we did so far in Vietnam was a boat ride down the Mekong River. On this trip we stopped off to visit a market place. Our guide warned us not to eat the food, although I doubt anyone would have been game enough to try it. During the trip one of our friends had a rat run over her foot and on the way back to port she had a fish jump out of the river onto her lap. Some people have all the luck.

Our boat at dock near the market.

One passage way in the market.

A traditional Vietnamese hat. Women could use this hat to shade them from the sun when working, protect them from the rain, collect fruit and nuts, and shield their face from unwanted looks from men.

Meat for dinner.

Fish for dinner or maybe some chicken legs to go with them.

Some household items including fishing spears.

Some fruits and vegetables. The fruits here are really tasty.

Some baby chicks or ducks as pets and then supper when they lose their cuteness. I am sure they are tasty too.

Hand made brooms from palm leaves. Course broom for street cleaning and fine broom for indoors.

Hanoi, Vietnam

Today in Hanoi it was 15C and grey

Today was our first full day in Hanoi. I much preferred Ho Chi Minh. It is full of tourists here and the area we are in is one immense tourist trap. Nothing but store after store of souvenirs. The air is very polluted and the traffic is crazy. Vendors harass us constantly for food, souvenirs, shoe shines, bike rides etc. I understand that they are trying to make a living but after 3  No Thank You’s, it becomes offensive. And when your potential customer is wearing sneakers, it is pointless bugging them for a shoe shine.

We did visit a beautiful museum about Vietnamese woman. Reading about the marriage rituals of the different ethnic groups was very interesting. It is the first time I hear of a female child being preferred over a male child. There were many different marriage rituals but the most interesting was that the bride and groom spend the first 2 weeks of their marriage with the grooms family and then they live at the brides family, the groom becoming a new son for the family. Not so sure my mother in law would go for that, least not in the early years of my marriage…

 

 

 

Mekong River, Vietnam

Today in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, it was 30°C

Last Monday we decided to take a riverboat tour of the Mekong River. It was a wonderful way to pass the day. The guide was excellent, imparting upon us his knowledge of the river and Vietnamese society in general. Below are some of the 800 photos/videos I took on the trip.

Departing from the dock which was a 5 minute walk from our hotel.

The shoreline full of garbage. It really stank on this part of the river. Garbage was floating everywhere.

Homes on the side of the river during low tide. There are 4 tides over 24 hours.

Local folklore has it that the river has monsters. People always have eyes on their boat to scare them away.

The river is brown due to the sand content.

Rice field with 3 month rice that has been growing for about 3 weeks. Farmers will either grow three crops of 3 month rice or one each of 3 month and 6 month rice.

Duck farm on the side of the river.

Shipping the sugar cane to the market.

Our desert at lunch time at the orphanage where the chldren are taught Kung Fu. Apparently they are a big hit on “Vietnams got Talent”. Leibling gave them each a piece of “Twizzlers” licorice. A first for all of them, including our guide who said it tasted like “red candle wax”. It certainly looked a little more appetizing than our dessert.

Lumber mill/carpentry shop

CuChi Tunnels, Vietnam

Today in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, it was 29°C

Today we visited the tunnels at CuChi. During the Vietnam War, the Americans felt they needed to control this area to win the war. I will leave out all the propaganda, as there was so much it was ridiculous, and just mention the things we saw that had to be true. One very nice aspect was they had people actually making food and sandals as they had done during the war.The Vietnamese people of the area lived in a tunnel system during the war and gave the Americans nothing but deception and horror. The tunnels were actually started during a previous war with France but by the end of the Vietnam War there were over 200kms of tunnels. The Americans tried to bomb it away but unbeknownst to them, they had actually built one of their headquarters on top of a section of tunnels where the Vietcong could actually listen in on the American army.

 

There were 3 levels of tunnels with multiple entries and exits. The top level was for fighting and the bottom level at 30 metres deep was for living. Trap doors were installed between levels to prevent flooding and the propagation of poison gas. One section actually went into the Saigon river as an entrance/escape route and served as a drain when the Americans tried to flood the tunnels with water. There were living quarters, infirmary and kitchen all under ground. Air vents were disguised as termite hills.It is mind-boggling how creative man can be when it comes to killing one another. Unexploded American bombs were sawn open and the TNT used to make landmines against them.  Animal traps were redesigned for humans.

Old tires became sandals for Vietnamese soldiers (they would wear them backwards during wet periods so it looked like they were going the opposite direction). Shell casings were reused as lanterns. Forests and rivers were poisoned.I crawled 40 metres through a widened tunnel with lights. The tunnel was cramped and had lights. I cannot imagine crawling in complete gear through a cramped one in the dark expecting an enemy at any second. I also shot an AK47, the King of all guns invented by a Russian.

The Vietnamese have come out of the tunnels and laid down their guns, but they still build traps. They are called “tourist traps” and usually involve buying a $5 T-shirt. A small price to pay for a trip to Vietnam which involves spring rolls, museums and massage parlors. To bad for everyone it wasn’t that way in the 1960’s.

 

 

Water Puppets

 

 

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