hello: xin chào (shin-jow)
population: 91,519, 289
area: 128,565 sq mi
drives on the: right
government: Marxist-Leninist single-party state
(allow me to sum up...communist)
thank you: cám ơn (cam on)
alive, organized chaos, friendly, in motion, unique, inexpensive, touristy, busy, complex, resilient, HOT!!!
welcome to vietnam.
kiana and i arrived in ho chi minh city (saigon) via an 8 hour bus ride from phnom penh. we were exhausted. but thrilled to meet up with megan, who was flying in from korea, and kris, who was coming from japan. we all met in our hostel, and were giddy to be reunited from around the globe, swapping stories and travel adventures. the four of us spent about four nights in saigon, seeing the mekong delta, the palace, the vietnam war museum, notre dame, the cu chi tunnels and tons more. the traffic was ridiculous, and crossing the street became our most difficult daily challenge. it was literally a small miracle every time we made it across the street. we safely made it across every street. unfortunately we had another minor safety scare, when megan was the victim of a snatch and grab, via motorcycle. basically, 2 guys on a motorbike came up on the sidewalk and tried to grab the purse that was across her chest. the bag didn't break and megan was airborne for a good 10 seconds until the guys finally gave up and dropped her. we knew this little incident was a possibility thanks to lonely planet, and we had been very conscious of our belongings and how we handled our money. but sometimes...sh** happens. needless to say, we were all pretty shaken up. we applauded her 30 year old coach bag for not breaking, and made a pact not to tell our moms what had happened until we were back home. a decision i think they actually all appreciated. other than that, we ate lots of pho and spring rolls for dinner, and baguettes and coffee for breakfast. god bless indochina and their french influence for leaving a baguette legacy throughout vietnam.
after saigon, the girls headed back to LA and kris and i flew to northern vietnam to spend a few days in and around hanoi city. hanoi had an even stronger french influence, which led to french architecture everywhere, and being called mademoiselle rather than miss. we walked through the city, and passed by the lenin statue and a few communist flags on our way to checking out ho chi minhs preserved body. ew. and the museum dedicated to him. the museum was so obviously one-sided it was a little eerie. we then spent a day in ninh binh and a few in ha long bay.
|view from the balcony of our hostel.|
|another day, another dong.|
|kiana, kris, kate and megan.|
|it really is quite an efficient method.|
across the street from coffee bean. i was stoked.
|river dinner cruise.|
|vietnam war museum.|
it was pretty anti-american. we joked that we were canadian that day.
|the woman in the bottom right with her baby, is the little girl running naked in the original photo.|
my students love this picture.
|traffic night shot.|
no picture can do justice to just how chaotic the traffic was. so i've added a video.
"small miracle guys, small miracle." -megan
|houses along the mekong delta.|
|snake and scorpion wine.|
we learned it was "good for the impotence" and lots of other things in that general region.
|we play the role of tourist real well.|
|day to day.|
|"won`t you try to hit the buffalo?"|
|cu chi tunnels.|
the elaborate and extremely narrow tunnel system built by the vietnamese during the vietnam war.
|i only went 20 meters in the narrow tunnels and that was plenty.|
|crystal clear reflection.|
|kris and cam.|
|streets of hanoi.|
|ho chi minh.|
a few fun facts...
-tropical forests cover 42% of the country's area.
-saigon officially became ho chi minh city in 1975.
-the flight from ho chi minh city to hanoi was a little over an hour.
-every few years ho chi minhs body is sent to russia for "touch-ups".
-the rules inside the mausoleum are as follows,
" Legs must be covered (no shorts or miniskirts). Visitors must be silent, and walk in two lines. Hands must not be in pockets, nor arms crossed. Smoking, drinking, eating, photography, and video taping are also not permitted anywhere inside the mausoleum."
-as this was my first time visiting a communist country, i became curious as to exactly how many others there are currently in the world. right now, there are 5.
vietnam, north korea, china, laos, and cuba.
a vietnamese moment.