Vietnam

Below are all the posts for Vietnam, part two of the China-Vietnam trip. The first part of the trip was China .

Vietnam Photos

Here are some of my favorite photos from my trip to Vietnam. Click any photo to see the slideshow.

 

10 weeks in 10 minutes

Photo highlights from ten weeks visiting China and Vietnam in early 2011. Includes photos of Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Lijiang, Jinghong, Kunming, Dali, Hanoi, Cat Ba, Nha Trang and Saigon. Slideshow with recorded Dongba music. Some video.

Vietnam, arrived Hanoi from Nanning, China

We crossed over the border into Vietnam. We left Yangshuo by bus back to Guilin for two hours and took a bus for four hours to Nanning. We stayed at a nice hotel and had a wonderful Cantonese meal. In the morning, we took a Chinese bus to the border and then a Vietnamese bus to Hanoi. The border crossing went smoothly.

Arrived Cat Ba

Arrived Cat Ba Town on Cat Ba Island. Took a bus to another bus to a hydrofoil to another bus and arrived after four-and-a-half hours. Found a nice hotel with balcony facing Ha Long Bay. After three days of traveling, it’s time to enjoy the ocean breezes, view and fresh seafood.

Cat Ba Island is northeast of Hanoi, Vietnam in Ha Long Bay. We stayed in the town of Cat Ba and took a tour in a small boat. The limestone hills or karsts form a wonderful landscape in the water.

Cat Ba Photos

Here are some of my favorite photos in and around Cat Ba Island.

Happy New Year

This photo shows sunset on Cat Ba Town bay on New Year’s
Eve. Have a wonderful 2011. May the world find peace and
prosperity.

Cat Ba

Leaving Cat Ba to return to Hanoi and points south. Enjoyed
staying here. Nice views of limestone mountains (karsts) rising
dramatically from the sea and floating villages. Fishermen were
taking care of nets, boats, food, ice and generally coming and
going all hours of the day and night. Hired a woman to row us
around the harbor in a rowboat made of bamboo with tar coating the
bottom. Went on a tourist junk for a full day and kayaked twice in
chilly, windy weather. Saw a local New Year’s Eve community program with singing and dancing. Our harbor-view hotel room on the 8th floor was very affordable at $10 per night.

to Vietnam

When I think of Vietnam, I think of the war. Arriving here is like arriving in any unfamiliar country. Getting off the bus at some no-name side street instead of the bus station. Being surrounded by taxi drivers and touts. Wanting a W.C. and an ATM. Unsure if the guide book hotel address will be understood. Avoiding scooters, pickpockets and scams. Coughing from the noxious fumes of air pollution.
Hanoi. I grew up with the word, Hanoi. A country on the other side of the world. The war in our living rooms. Family, friends, names, faces, photos, caskets. Deferments, dodgers, lottery, protests, massacres, honor, domino theory, carpet bombing, agent Orange and on and on. A flood of words, memories and feelings.
I don’t doubt the warmth of the Vietnamese people and a wealth of beaches and tourist sites. But I feel compelled to visit the battlefields and memorial sites. Once again I will try to make sense of a war–and more generally dwell on mankind’s inhumanity to Man.

Hanoi sites

Today I visited several war-related sites in Hanoi: Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, house and museum; Military History Museum; and Hoa Lo Prison.
The history related to the “American” war was all very sobering, even recognizing the role of the Propaganda Department. The display showing and detailing the type, size, purpose and amount of bombs dropped on Vietnam was most upsetting.

Streets of Hanoi

I like to walk city streets. Unfortunately this is difficult if not dangerous in Hanoi. Scooters. The problem is millions drive scooters. You can’t walk on the sidewalk because of parked scooters. Scooters swirl around cars and trucks. Scooters drive against traffic and don’t stop at lights. If there is space on the sidewalk, they drive on the sidewalk.
They usually do a good job driving around you when you walk across the street. But to park, they push you aside to get on the sidewalk. One woman literally drove her front wheel onto my foot. They carry up to four passengers. They can carry a full size mattress and boxes as wide as a car. One motorcyclist’s box hit Dawn in the back. The noise from the sound of the engines is horrendous, of course. But the incessant honking is unnerving and tiresome.
Everyone but the tourists seem to accept it. I saw several scooter accidents. Keeping in the inner peace zone and avoiding road rage is a real challenge.

arrived Hue

Left Hanoi for south because it was too cold. We took the
night train to Hue, about 335 miles. The train left about 7.30 p.m.
and arrived about 10.30 a.m. the following morning We had a soft
sleeper meaning four bunks in the compartment. Unfortunately,
although it is warmer here, it is pouring rain. Just like home,
only warmer. In the morning we plan to travel 300 miles farther
south in search of sun and warmth.

Map, Cat Ba Island

This shows Cat Ba Island in relationship to Haiphong harbor and Hanoi. High speed ferries run regularly to the island from
Haiphong.

arrived Nha Trang

Yeh! Finally we are in warm weather and no rain. Just went for an evening walk along the ocean. The stars are shining. I wore a T-shirt. Although we had a good time in Hanoi and on Cat Ba Island, it was colder than we expected.
More often than not, we have been chilly on this trip. We thought
being in the tropics would mean we were warm. We have been working our way south since Guilin. Hue was somewhat warmer but it was also pouring rain. After a day there, we continued south by train. We left at 8:30 AM and arrived at 8:30 PM. From Hanoi to Nha Trang is 1300 kilometers or about 780 miles. We have now traveled 24 of the 30 train hours from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City.

Oceanography

This photo shows pickled seahorses at the National Oceanographic Museum in Nha Trang. The museum presentation style is basic, but they have a large selection of live animals as well as preserved specimens dating back 200 years.

Leaving Nha Trang

I enjoyed the beach and hustle and bustle of this tourist town. There are many Russians and Europeans vacationing here. Many shops and restaurants have Russian names. I ate ostrich and whole squid and bought a beach towel and polo shirt at the local market.
Now we are traveling about two-and-a-half hours south by bus to Phan Rang. When we mention it, people say, “But there is nothing there, only a beach. It is hard to get to.” For us that is the attraction.

arrived Ninh Chu beach

Arrived Ninh Chu beach, just east of Phan Rang. When we got off the bus, several tourists asked, “Where are we? What’s here?” But the driver was impatient and told us to get off by the side of the road. Eventually we found a taxi and made it to the resort.
Happily what we were told is true; there is nothing here. Just ocean, sky, beach, fishermen….

Satellite image

I am under the fourth umbrella down.

Pho to

If Pho bo is noodle soup with beef, and Pho gio is noodle soup with chicken, what is Pho to?

Dawn at the beach

This photo shows dawn at the beach. After a very windy and turbulent day yesterday, we were rewarded with a lovely morning today. Yesterday we were sandblasted as we attempted to sit under the palapa. The waves were so fierce that we dared not go in the water. But today was calmer and we had a good swim.

leaving Ninh Chu beach

After eight days at the beach east of Phan Rang, we are leaving for Saigon. We enjoyed our stay at the Den Gion Resort. The sound of crashing waves replaced the scooter honking of the cities. Walks along the 11 kilometer beach replaced our sometimes hectic travels. There were no touts selling anything. We ate at the resort restaurant. Everything was comfortable.
Our days began with the sound of fishermen exercising before beginning their work. I would sit on the beach, drink a cup of coffee and maybe take a swim or go for a walk. After breakfast, we would sit in the shade under the palapa and maybe take a swim or go for a walk. I spent a lot of time listening to my iPod and watching the waves roll in. The fishermen worked their nets using individual, circular, woven basket boats.
When it go hot or windy, we retreated to our verandah. Then we had lunch and then…well, it went on from there… tides, winds, a tanker, dinner, stars.

Dawn at the beach, 2

This photo shows Dawn at the beach. Locally, she is called, Madame. She is taking photos of the fishing boats. The boats are basically woven baskets with tar on the bottom.

Dusk at the beach

This photo shows some color from the setting sun.

arrived Saigon

We arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, sometimes known as Saigon. Took a taxi, a nine-hour bus ride and another taxi to get to the hotel zone. Saigon is busy; the first few hotels we tried were full.
Visited War Remnants Museum which has a yard full of captured American military hardware;  photos and exhibits describe the American or Vietnam War (depending on your point of view). War is horrible.
Took a look at the Saigon River; it is used for industrial and commercial purposes. Went to the central market, Fine Art Museum, shopping mall and generally tried to avoid getting hit by scooters.

Watermelon juice

Watermelon juice is delicious–and no seeds.
Another popular drink is Vietnamese iced coffee. The hot coffee is made very thick like expresso and served with sweetened condensed milk. It is a thick syrup. But, when they add it to ice, it tastes like coffee ice cream!

 

at the Mall

Photo taken at the mall. Everyone is getting ready for Tet. The mall is air-conditioned, clean and doesn’t have scooters. And, good ice cream.

last day

This is the last day of our trip. We move to an airport hotel tonight and take a 6 a.m. flight in the morning. We fly to Hong Kong to San Francisco to Eugene.

3:17

The alarm clock is set for 3:17 a.m. Let the odyssey begin.

arrived Hong Kong

Waiting in Hong Kong airport for our flight to San Francisco. Drinking Starbuck’s coffee.

arrived SFO

Arrived in San Francisco after traveling 7,000 miles from Hong Kong. Feel tired.

arrived Eugene

Arrived home after about 24 hours of travel. We woke up early Tuesday morning and now it is early Tuesday afternoon. It’s good to be back home.

Comforts of home

Ahhh, the comforts of home. My own bed, a hot bath, fresh coffee, fast WiFi.