Monday, April 16, 2007

Highlights of a Trip to Vietnam

After 30 hours of travel I am happily back home from Vietnam. The country was beautiful and it's amazing to travel across the globe and realize how many ways life is the same for people everywhere. The commonalities seem to outweigh the differences. I made it through my first day back at school with only a normal dose of coffee so I believe I'm triumphing over the jet lag.

The Streets of Hanoi

Crossing the street is pretty treacherous. There are motor bikes everywhere and very few street lights. The traffic never stops. After a day or two of this, we discovered that it's kind of like Frogger. There seems to be this mutual trust that everyone is watching out for each other...but I did hear multiple stories of pedestrians getting hit so it may not be fool proof.

Sap Pa

We took a twelve hour, overnight train ride to a small village of H'mong people called Sap pa, up near the border of China. This was probably the greatest fiasco of the trip only because it was extremely cold and I had only brought t-shirts and a sweatshirt. Also, it sounds great to go see how the ethnic minorities live, but once I got there it felt uncomfortable and zoo-like. I had a similar experience when going to a reservation in New Mexico (I left before visiting). My new personal rule, no visiting of native people or ethnic minorities. It's too complicated. And it's not worth a 12 hour train ride to buy handicrafts.

Floating Villages

Another side trip was to Ha Long Bay in the the Gulf of Tonkin. There are huge, magical boulders jutting up from the water and a filmy mist hovering over everything. Even more intriguing was the water culture. There are floating villages and fishing huts. There is even a floating school. People live on the water full time. There is an impressive entrepreneurial spirit in Vietnam as evidenced by the fruit selling out on the water. I'm not sure how the fruit got there but it was offered in abundance.

The Market

The food, the food, the food! Delicious food! I was able to take a Vietnamese cooking class one morning. We wandered through the market before learning how to make spring rolls, royal rice, and a grilled fish wrapped in rice paper.

Does life get any better than this?



Blogger jen said...

oh, i've thought about you over the last two weeks quite a bit. southeast asia always pulls me...the east, she whispers...and your pictures and words reminded me why.

so glad you had a good time.

8:53 PM  
Blogger January said...

How wonderful! Thanks for sharing your travels and your beautiful photos. I've only been to a few places outside of the country but never anyplace as dramatic as Vietnam.

10:01 PM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

oh girl...such a great trip!
you seemed so refreshed today...i am glad you did this! i can't wait to see all of the pictures and hear every detail.
maybe over coconut-creme stuffed french toast at miss shirleys? : D

i love the boats.
reminds me of sailing up in new england and having small boats coming up to us in different harbors and selling clam chowder.
differences and similarities...

11:12 PM  
Blogger Deezee said...

Oh, now you've added another curiosity to my list! The photos invite me. How enticing.

11:26 PM  
Blogger Left-handed Trees... said...

I cannot wait to hear more about your journey...these photos and the story were wonderful.

11:18 AM  
Blogger angela said...

i will have to come back again, my computer won't show me the photos - i am getting the dreaded red x in a box :(

it sounds like a wonderful trip, so glad you're back.

11:05 PM  
Blogger angela said...

hooray for me, i can see your beautiful images!!
i love the market & boats with fruit - so colorful.
the movement in your first photo goes right along with your words perfectly.

10:05 AM  
Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

Our son S who is teaching in Japan at mo went to Vietnam about six weeks ago and loved it. He sent me some shells I cherish.

3:30 AM  
Anonymous my backyard said...

looks like a great trip!

9:26 PM  
Blogger Crafty Green Poet said...

Sounds like a great trip, your photos are excellent!

4:59 AM  

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