Okinawa Sunrise

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Hanoi and Halong Bay

Angkor Wat

Cu Chi and Cao Dai

Mekong Delta

Motorbike City!

For all of your still checking this space...I admire your stick-to-it-iveness! I really am the most negligent of bloggers. I blame facebook. Once I tack some pictures up there and update that community on our goings on I tend to consider my obligations to cyberspace fulfilled! But not so! My little un-loved blog calls and after some months I always come back to it!
Here, for your viewing pleasure, are some photos of our trip to Vietnam and Cambodia in November. The weather was just perfect. Hot, but not sweltering. Halong bay, in particular, was just perfect.

We first visited Ho Chi Minh city, known most appropriately by it's nickname, motorbike city. If mopeds had the vote....a vespa would be mayor. The place is overrun. Getting around in a taxi cab, as we did most of the time, was frightening but you took comfort in the fact that you were the larger vehicle and could push your heft through the throng. Walking however, was taking your life in your hands. The trick in the end, is to walk resolutely into the road, head up and at an even pace. They will go around long as their mobile phone doesn't distract them or they drop one of the refrigerators they are transporting.

We shop shop shopped in Ho Chi Minh....that was my birthday present :) And we ate wonderfully! We also took a day trip to the Mekong Delta where we got a look at the more rural side of Vietnamese life. Vietnamese school girls still wear the archetypal white trousers and tunic with straw cone shaped hats. We rode our bikes through small villages and saw how coconut candies were made. From Ho Chi Minh, we also made an excursion to the Cu Chi Tunnels, where Viet Cong guerrillas made their base during the Vietnam war. The tunnels, were claustrophobia inducing and frightening even now, without the chance of booby traps around every corner. At 5'2'' I still had to bend in half and bend my knees to make the tight squeeze.

From Ho Chi Minh, we flew to Siem Reap in Cambodia to visit the temples of Angkor Watt. These temples really have no equal and have to be seen and experienced rather than described. Each temple in the large complex is unique. I have about 600 pictures but I've attached just a few of my favorites here. The town of Siem Reap is a dusty little place that hasn't quite caught on to the fact that it's now a major tourist destination, even though the big five star hotels have already moved in! I am sure that if we ever find ourselves there again, in 20 years or so, it will look a great deal different.

From Siem Reap, we flew to Hanoi and then directly on by bus to Halong Bay. By far the most relaxing and beautiful leg of our trip, it was almost cathartic after the hustle of HCMC and the dry, tourist infested temples. We took an overnight sail on a beautiful junk boat. The food and the scenery were sumptuous! Our MC for the tour was a little too by the book..."you have from 8:00 to 8:35 for relax time on the sundeck....yes.....please proceed at 8:35 to the dining room for eating buffet dinner at 8:35....yes....delicious....yes.

Then our last few days were wandered away through Hanoi's old quarter exploring more delicious food venues! We also indulged in the local bia hoi.....freshly brewed local beer without preservatives that must be drunk shortly after it is made. No problemo! It's only .10 cents a glass!

We hope these pictures give you something of the flavor of our trip! We hope to visit Vietnam again in the future. Perhaps visiting the northern town of Sapa, where many indigenous tribes still live, and some of the older colonial cities of Hue or Hoi An. We heard wonderful things from fellow travellers.