Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I swam in a dam in Vietnam...

I swam in a dam in Vietnam...

Was the water clean?? I have no idea, but what fun, and in that heat it was bliss. Two young Israelis went with us, but were very sceptical about getting in. But when they saw me doing it, I think they were ashamed of being scared, and followed. But they did not venture close to the wall, sissies...

My son took me to Mai Chau . We went by bus, a 4 hour bus ride. When we got there, he booked into  a homestay in the village for one night. It is in the middle of rice fields, very beautiful surroundings. 

Fortunately we were the only two in the room. All open, with mosquito nets. The bathrooms were very clean, if primitive. How nice to sleep so open, no door, nothing. It cooled down with a little breeze as the sun went down. 

We went for a walk and saw the village preparing for a wedding. The venue was decorated:

The chickens of the East are quite unusual, not much body and long legs. Of course they love the legs and feet. 

So the food for the wedding came to the venue:

This is how they are sold on the market!

Quite a large house in the village:

For the next night we took a taxi to another homestay out in the farming area called Minh To. Because there was a school group also staying there, we got a separate room:

It was over a dam, so the mosquitos attacked us! Thank you for nets over the bed. 
The food was excellent:

We went for lovely walks in the farming area.


This friendly woman's teeth were rotten because of the betel nut some of them constantly chews. 
It has many harmful effects on their health and is carcnogenic to humans, often resulting in oral cancer.
Usually for chewing, a few slices of the nut are wrapped in a betel leaf along with slaked lime and some spices, cardemom, cloves etc. (Wikipedia)

Farming in Vietnam is mainly done by hand and animals. The small spaces between the mountains does not allow for tractors etc. 

Rice was being harvested when we were there.
Being cut:

Since a large portion of maize crops are grown for purposes other than for humans, rice is the most important grain for human nutrition, providing more than one-fifth of calories consumed worldwide by humans. 

Wild rice, from which the crop was developed, may have come from Australia. Domestication took place first in the Pearl River valley region of Ancient China 8,200 -13,500 years ago. It comes in many different colours and sizes.

Here the rice is being taken off the stalks and then bagged in the little village we stayed in. 

two pretty little faces:

I love Vietnam. it is still untouched in a way, unspoiled.  

Another memory made. These memories with my son will have to last me another year!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Typhoon in Vietnam.

After our ride to Cat Ba island, we fell into our bed that night. Only to wake up the next morning with lots of activity around. Everything that is loose or might get loose is being lashed down. Sandbags are filled by a row of people. Garden furniture is shifted indoors. So we hear about Typhoon Sarika. 

We had to pack up to move to a hostel close by. One night of "luxury" is all my son would allow his old mother. This is our new place. And, of course our room looks like an afterthought high on top of the building, made of something like plywood, or so it looks to me. Here the same activities takes place: the roof of our bird's nest of a room is lashed down with one thinnish little rope!We are in the middle pimple on the top. 

This from the other side. We sit on an outcrop, totally exposed to the elements. We have to go down on outside stairs, and already the wind nearly let me fall down, and Sarika was only coming early evening!

I seriously think of moving, but we do read that we will not be in the centre, and that by the time it reaches us it will have lost a lot of its power. But the girl at the hostel warns us to be really careful, it will be no joke and you never know...

Below you can see the garden furniture lashed down. 

But the view is good... 

Our plywood nest at the top of the tree.. My son sleeps upstairs, right under the roof. 

We walk to the little town and buy some food. We see the men using these little boats to go between the bigger boats and land. All the boats are leaving the harbour.... Going to the bigger one on the mainland where it is safer. 

The sun goes down and the wind starts blowing really hard. My son ventures down to chat to some other guests. I take the camera to take the photo below, the wind nearly tears the camera from my hand, so I quickly slip back in our room. We were warned to keep all windows closed. 

During the night you can hear the wind howling, but our room is surprisingly sturdy. 

The new day breaks to a beautiful day, no clouds and no wind. 

Well we survived, and I am brave now, saying I wish it had been a really bad one, just to have the experience!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

I will never ever forget it!

Scooter road trip in Vietnam .

I stayed a few weeks with my youngest son in Hanoi. It is my second time, last year, same time. Sleeping on a mattress that could as well have been a plank.

Before I came, he promised me a road trip on his Honda scooter. We planned a trip to Cat Ba island in Halong Bay. When I heard 4-5 hours on the bike plus a few extra on ferries and waiting, sanity prevailed and we decided on the bus. 

The morning breaks and he casually says that it is a pity we are not going by bike because we would  have no transport on Cat Ba. I looked up and thought, oh well, I told people back home I am going on a road trip, so let's do it! In a mad scramble we pack the bare necessities but with my camera bag it fills a big backpack that he has to hold between his arms in front of him. In the first hour "I can not possibly do this" and "This is a huge disaster" went around and around my head.

The traffic is crazy and I see an accident meant to happen in front of me every 2 minutes. He asks me to please take my hands off his middle since he is sweating. I am supposed to place them on my knees! Instead I grip the back of the seat with both hands and ended up with extremely stiff arms the next day! The sun is blazingly hot and I am not sitting comfortably. Fortunately I realise after an hour when the traffic becomes less is that the blanket I am sitting on (to cushion my poor behind a little bit) is folded under me, hence the uncomfortable seating!

It gets better, and after 130 km of relentless sun and about 4 hours we reach Hai Pong, where we wait for the ferry.

Remember you can click on the photographs to see them better.

Loading the ferry...

Me, on the ferry, not caring about anything but rest...

There are passengers that must be more uncomfortable than me... They were climbing on top of one another, and looked very hot and thirsty!

Then 6km and then over the island Cat Hái (6km) and then another ferry...
My son kept quiet about the last trip to our destination, 26 km! But it was beautiful scenery. Both of us were exhausted when we reached our destination:

Our cabin for the night, VERY small, but with a beautiful bathroom!!!

This was tough, 172 km on a scooter on Vietnam's roads! We decided that I would take the bus back, but the two of us made a wonderful memory, and it was not finished yet, we then had to get ready for Typhoon Sarika!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Laos, again!

Should I eat Frog Porridge??

This is my second time in Laos. Last time I was in Luang Prabang and enjoyed it so much that I came back, this time to the capital, Vientiane. But I was underwhelmed. It had all the same friendly people, but none of its charms. It is a very laid back sleepy capital.

The hotel, Vientiane Golden Sun Hotel was good value for money, clean with 2 lovely swimming pools, much appreciated! Even an old traveller like me make mistakes. I did my Taiwanese visa at home, saw I have to get my Laos visa at Vientiane airport and remembered that I got my Vietnamese last time also at the airport. Right and wrong! I do get it there but have to do it online 2 weeks before entering. Mad scramble late the night before I fly. The Vientiane Golden Sun Staff were extremely helpful with this. It cost me a lot to do it so quick, but at least I could fly!

I have had frog legs in Paris. I was offered frog legs arranged like a lotus flower in China. but Frog porridge does sound rather unappetising! Or paddapap in Afrikaans...

But the following sounds really disgusting and made me smile:

Another sign that made me wonder and smile was outside a hairdresser, big in neon letters : 
One hair, One style!

Can one hair have more than one style?

ລາກ່ອນ (la khãwn)

(good bye!)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Hanoi and Goodbye Vietnam!

I actually downloaded Good Morning Vietnam and watched it again. Such a great movie and Robin Williams a great actor. 

Hanoi is a big city, and I feel with more character than Ho chi Minh city. But that is a personal feeling, and maybe it is because I spent more time in it and got to know it better. The old town sector, and the many beautiful lakes makes it a pretty town. 

Two of my sons and the ones' girlfriend teaches in Hanoi. I stayed with one and his girlfriend in their lovely apartment. My
mattress was fairly thin:

I slept in the lounge, which was lovely, because I was in the centre of tv watching, cooking and chatting.

Having a wonderful dinner.

I bought a suitcase, and my poor son had to walk through the streets of Hanoi. The Vietnamese carry things hanging from their shoulders, but never on their heads. They certainly looked at this very tall man walking with a big object on his head!

Me and children on bikes- oh my goodness, I can not tell you enough how scary this was!

I watched these five get on (there is a child in the front) 99% of people wear helmets, but never the children!

Full moon in Hanoi

School girls in their uniforms .


Another beauty getting photographed.

Traffic chaos.

Beauty in Hanoi.

Baskets, anyone?

Street scene.

This is how the girls of Hanoi protect themselves. Even their hands!

Hanoi, I will miss you!

Goodbye, Vietnam!