4 05 2010

We will have been in Vietnam for two weeks as of tomorrow and I am finally starting to settle in and become a bit more comfortable with the country and the people. Starting out in Hanoi was a bit of a shock especially coming from the fairly laid back state of Hawaii but as we travel through more and more areas of the country we are starting to get used to the pace of life and the way things operate. Over the past thirteen days we have seen and experienced so many things but cannot shake the feeling that we are hardly scratching the surface let alone beginning to understand this place. We have experienced a whole range of emotions from shock and fear to wonderment and amazement sometimes all within the length of walking one single block. One thing I can say without a doubt is that Vietnam is a beautiful country both scenically and culturally and the people are some of the warmest and friendliest I have yet to meet on my travels. I have yet to receive a single gesture of resentment or animosity from any one here young or old which is truly astonishing considering us as Americans and our role in this countries not too distant history. Overall the feeling I have gotten is that the past is the past and most are generally focused mostly on the future especially the young. It is true that the majority of the people that you will engage here are going to try to sell you something or a some kind of service but in general this is usually handled with a smile and once you have come to an agreement on a price they become extremely helpful and even generous. Negotiating prices is a way of life here and takes some getting used to and is truly more of a social event than a business transaction.  One thing someone from the west must understand when visiting Asia is the concept of “face”.  Saving face is all about composure and one tries to avoid offending or embarrassing someone in order for them to save face. To be yelled at or confronted in front of others is a source of great shame. As a result of this most of the time issues we would typically handle at home with raising our voices, slewing a string of epithets and or extending and equally appropriate hand gesture are usually just averted with a quick smile and life goes on. A typical example of this is seen over and over again on the streets and highways of the country, as there seems to be next no rules governing traffic most people do as they please so instead of traffic orderly traversing an intersection most vehicles just dive right through with hardly a hint of slowing down. As you can imagine this is bound to cause many near misses and I am sure many collisions although I have yet to witness one. Of the many close calls I have seen most are resolved with a quick smile a little bit of laughter and just moving on. I do not believe road rage exists in Vietnam. I have already adapted to this style of conflict resolution while in Asia and hope not to lose it upon my return home.

One of the other things we have come to love here is the food. Justyna and I are both food lovers and I truly believe in order for you to make any real connection with the people of the land you are traveling through you must engage in the local fare. That being said we have had nothing but one amazing meal after another, from an incredible noodle dish in a small restaurant in Hoi An to the delectable little snacks you can grab from street vendors in Hanoi everything has been great. Everywhere we go has seems to have a regional specialty that we have tried and we have not been disappointed yet. I am not going to attempt to describe the multitude of dishes we have sampled so far but just conclude that if you are truly a foodie Vietnam should be a “must visit” destination at least once in your life.

Well to sum up I review where we have been since my last post. We have spent the last three days mostly relaxing around an area called China Beach which you might remember from the overly sappy romantic TV series which was also a famous R&R retreat for serviceman  during the Vietnam War. Today other than quite a few mega hotels being built up the beach it is mostly a sleepy beach side area frequented mostly by locals. That being said it is one of the nicest stretches of beach along the entire coast. We got here by sleeper train which although not up to the standard of the train to Sapa was fairly comfortable for the 16 hour ride. After getting here we got a cab to a guest house called Hoa’s Place which turned out to be fantastic. Hoa the owner is amazing and being only half a block from the beach the place is ideal. It is a bit off the beaten path which is something I needed desperately especially after being surrounded by so many backpackers and tourists in Hanoi. We have spent most of our time visiting some of the local highlights like My Son an ancient temple complex dating back over a thousand years. We also visited the town of Hoi An which along with My Son are both listed as Unesco World Heritage Sites. Hoi An not only famous for its ancient old town area but also for its food and tailored cloths. We visited a little shop recommended by Hoa and picked out a few items of clothing we wanted made for us did a little negotiating and agreed to return the next day to pick up our purchases. We returned to China Beach for a quick swim followed by a family style dinner at the guest house. We got around the first day by paying a driver to take us around but on our second day we decided to do as the locals do and take a motor bike into town. The traffic in this area of the country is nothing compared to Hanoi but still took some getting used to. Overall it was an exciting trip and miraculously we found our way back to the little shop to get our new cloths. Everything was great, I got two button down shirts, a pair of shorts and Justyna got two dresses. After a quick fitting and a few adjustments we got some lunch and toured the town before returning to Hoa’s Place. In the evening we took another bike ride up to a spectacular temple complex called Monkey Mountain. The drive back was amazing as the sun was setting along the beach and everything was bathed in a wonderful golden light. Today we are spending the day around the beach just reading and writing while we await our onward train tonight to another beach town called Nha Trang. We only have 10 days left before we must leave the country and I am already experiencing the feelings of loss of leaving a beautiful place you have begun to love that you may never return to or at the very least may not be the same when you do return.

The Train To Danang

China Beach

Pogoda On Marble Mountain

Temples At My Son

Hoi An

My New Wheels

Justyna's New Dress

One Of The Great Things About Vietnam 4000vnd= 20 cents

On The Road

A 20 Story Monument At Monkey Mountain

Being Blessed

Archway At Monkey Mountain




One response

7 05 2010

really good talking to you justysia today !
Ania says tysia ady soon, which means she will see you soon !
love you

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