A Travellerspoint blog

Vietnam

Vietnam photos

We're half way through the trip. Lynette and I arrived in Hong Kong two nights ago. Its a beautiful and wonderfully modern city. I've got to say its nice to be somewhere more developed again for a change. We are staying with a friend who lives here for a few days and he's got a great internet connection. So I finally have time to upload some photos from our month in Vietnam. Its nice and cozy here and I had all day so I posted a lot of shots. If you fade off half way through feel free to take a break in between. Even still, I had a tough time deciding what to post and what not to. There are so many things we want to share but only so much time.

Saigon
We started in Saigon. Here is a view of the skyline:
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Having fun on a rickshaw:
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South East Asia is full of galleries selling copies of famous classic or modern artist's work, and even movie posters. You can walk inside and see the artists painting a Van Gogh, Klimt, Warhol etc. You can even purchase a Mona Lisa for your wall back home.
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As Lynette mentioned before, the scooters rule the streets here.
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The starting line:
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Here are some photos of the Cao Dai temple. Its a religion combining, Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism. I was blown away by the psychedelic color scheme and fantastic design of the place.
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After Buddhism there is a large percentage of Catholics in Vietnam. We visited this prominent cathedral.
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There's not as many bicycles in Nam as there used to be because motor bikes have taken over but there's still a fair share.
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When doing construction on a building they wrap the building with these tarps that look like huge blankets.
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We took a day trip to the cuchi village where I nearly blew out my thighs trying to navigate the tunnels. It was surreal and strange to visit this place as a tourist attraction knowing the history behind it. Remember these tunnels have been widened a good deal to accommodate tourists. Here I've stopped for a subterranean photo shoot.
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Here is a demonstration of the hidden entrance to the smaller tunnels:
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Mekong
We took a boat tour on the Mekong Delta. We stopped at a fish farm and a coconut candy factory along the river.
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At the candy factory, which consisted of about 5 people making candy in a large bamboo hut, Lynette tried her hand at making the rice paper that they use to wrap the candy. It takes a skilled hand to pull the thin layer of cooked rice liquid off the cooker without tearing it.
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A house on the river:
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We stopped at a village and had some fine fish for lunch:
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Nhatrang
From Saigon we headed up to Nhatrang where we went on another boat trip. This one was to some of the surrounding islands. We also did some snorkeling where we were freaked out by some jellyfish.

At one point when the boat was stopped they floated this guy out into the water in an inner-tube who served free wine.
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Needless to say it didn't take long for everyone to jump in. The white dude to the right is me. This is the slow season in Vietnam for foreign tourism, but high season for the domestic traveling so the boat was primarily filled with Vietnamese guests. It was a cool experience to see the locals at play because we usually only see them at work. Everybody was bobbing around drinking the wine and hooting and hollaring. We were all laughing and high fiving eachother like we were all pals. All at once the Vietnamese folks would yell "Yo!" and the few westerners would join in. It was crazy and a lot of fun.
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After lunch on the boat some of the crew members put on a show. They pulled out this makeshift drum set made from bamboo and buckets. They even had an electric guitar. The front man was a real ham, singing and dancing and joking around. They sang a bunch of Vietnamese songs then they would pull one of the western tourists up on stage to join in on a song, luckily one in english.
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I got to sing along to Yellow Submarine,. Lynette was fortunate enough to not have to do this.
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Back in town I got my hair cut from a street barber. He did an OK job but he mainly concentrated on the sides and back and barely touched the top. And he didn't speak enough english for me to explain what I wanted. It was good enough though, I didn't expect to nor do I need to have a perfect doo on this trip. The guy was really adamant though about cleaning out my ears which is a big thing in Vietnam. He strapped a light to his head and shined it in my ear to show Lynette how much wax I had built up in my ear. He pulled out these long metal sticks with fuzzy brushlike things on the ends and was about to go digging in my ear. I kept trying to tell him I didn't want it done but he kept insisting. I'm sure they do this all the time and its quite safe but I just couldn't get over the fear of possibly having my eardrum punctured by this crazy guy. Luckily we were running late for a tour pick-up so we paid for the cut and high-tailed it out of there.
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We visited a Buddhist temple with a huge buddha statue. Its amazing how different the likeness of Buddha differs from one country to the next. They each have their own rendition.
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And a Catholic church with a great view of the city.
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Hoi An
Our next stop was Hoi An which is definitely one of both mine and Lynette's favorite towns that we visited in Vietnam. It was small and quaint, and there's just a real laid back and easy paced feel about the place. No large buildings just a grid of streets with a combination of Asian and French architecture. Lots of shops and art galleries. And tons of tailor shops. I had a shirt made because I'd worn out one that I brought with me. Lynette had a dress and two pairs of shoes made. It only took one day and we had clothes made that were fitted specifically for us. Really cheap too. Pretty neat.

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View of boats from a bridge:
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What are the chances of catching a photo in mid-sneeze:
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Finally, a place that sells shoes big enough for Lynette's feet. Hey, Lynette told me to say that!
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A gas station:
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Hue
After Hoi An we made our way up to the city of Hue. Here are a few of the sights:
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Hanoi
Then it was off to the capitol city of Hanoi where we had the treat of seeing Ho Chi Min's preserved body on display at his Mausoleum. We couldn't take pictures inside but we were given time to pose out front:
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Here's some shots of the city:
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As you would imagine the countryside is filled with rice fields.
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Check out this bright pink dragonfly. Never seen anything like it.
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We visited the oldest pagoda in Hanoi:
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No, this kid is not reenacting a scene from Apocalypse Now. He's actually fishing around for money in the water.
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No, this guy is not reenacting a scene from Apocalypse Now either. He's washing the bottom of the boat. Its just weird to look over and see a head poking out of the water. Creepy.
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Halong Bay
From Hanoi we went out for a three day, two night boat tour of Halong bay. (I've had my fill of boat tours for a while....unless Lynette wants to do another one :-)

The boat was very cramped. Danger lurked everywhere. It had very narrow passage ways with low ceilings along the outside of the boat to get to your cabin. Only one person could get by at a time. Only about an 8 inch tall rail surrounded the top deck, creating a great trip hazard from which you'd fall right into the water. I gashed my finger on the rough wood climbing up the ladder after swimming. Luckily we've brought our own first aid kit because there wasn't one on board. When I showed a crew member my bleeding cut he just handed me about 4 kleenex. And you have to go down these steps to get to your cabin where you have to make an extreme left at the bottom otherwise you fall off the two feet of deck at the front. And no railing! Was scary at night.
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But the views were great.
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Sapa
From Hanoi we took the overnight train up to Sapa. This was a beautiful area where we did some trekking. The temperature was perfect, much lower than the rest of sweltering Vietnam. We wished we could have stayed there longer, and tried to change our train ticket to a later day, but the later trains back to Hanoi were already all booked up.

Check out this amazing view from our hotel:
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Leaving the hotel to start our trek we just walked through town and into the hills. This was a neat change from the usual. We normally have to hop on a bus for a while. Our tour guide was a young Vietnamese woman from the H'mong tribe dressed in traditional garb. There's only 800 H'mong tribe people. As soon as we left the hotel to start our walk there was a group of other H'mong women gathered around us. They were dressed just like the guide (sometimes I'd get them confused) and they followed us the whole way. From the start they were asking each of us questions like, "What's your name, how old are you, and how many brothers and sisters do you have?" I could tell they were buttering us up for something. When locals ask you questions that usually means they want to sell you something. Just before our lunch stop their questions changed to, "You buy from me?" They spent the rest of the day bugging us to buy the hand stitched products like purses, blankets, and hats that they make. It was quite annoying. But all in all the people were really nice and there were some cool interactions with them as well. And even though their friendly banter was not without ulterior motive it was still a unique experience to talk and spend the day with these native people.

Here's Lynette with the gang of followers:
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We stopped and spent the night at a homestay which is basically a big house where you stay with the people that live there. Here we are at dinner. There were two tour groups staying there that night, about 14 people, and so many countries represented. There were people from Canada, England, Norway, France, Israel, Holland, Germany, and Peru all at this one table. We had some great discussions.
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The "toilet" was outside, and rather primitive as you can see. At night we were shocked to find that we were locked inside the house and had to slip out a window to use the facilities.
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The Sofie Star meets up with the H'mong tribe in the Sapa Valley of Vietnam!
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Lynette balances her way through the corn fields:
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When the ladies weren't selling they were very sweet.
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I'll end with this panoramic view from our friend's apartment in Hong Kong. He said its hardly ever this clear, that you usually can't see the river, mountains in the distance, or even some of the closer buildings because of the smog and pollution. But its been beautiful the two days we've been here so far. So I guess we are blessed to have such a treat.
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Posted by schuckley 02:37 Archived in Vietnam Comments (5)

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