Look for a new link to all of our pictures from Cambodia and Vietnam on the right. I'm not sure why they are all mixed up, but I tried to put captions on the bottom if you get confused.
There as been many requests for pictures of our new house. We hear ya! We are working on some and will post some soon.
Monday, March 12, 2012
Sapa is in far northern Vietnam not too far from the Chinese boarder. To get there from Hanoi we took an overnight train to Lao Cai and then took a van the last hour to the village of Sapa. Sapa is a hub for hiking and home stay treks with the local Hmong and Dao hill tribes. We stayed at a local guest house and did a couple of day trips based out of Sapa.
We stayed at the Cat Cat Hotel, named after a nearby Hmong village.
While the village was nice, the hiking was even better. The first day we hiked down into the valley to a waterfall, enjoying the views along the way.
That evening our guest host owner had a Christmas Eve party for his staff and guests. We enjoyed some local delicacies including kebobs, grilled pigs intestine, and home made rice wine.
On Christmas day we enjoyed breakfast at the guest house before heading off with local guides for the day.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
The trip from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to Hanoi is not a short trip, but is a great way to see Vietnam. We had two nights, and one day to enjoy the scenery. The accommodations include a small room with 4 beds, so we got to share our space with some Vietnamese travel companions. We were just happy not to be in the room with the people who were traveling with their rather noisy rooster.
The accomodations were mediocre at best, but the scenery was fantastic.
We arrived in Hanoi around sunrise and were happy to step off the train and feel cool air for a change. Not cold, but the kind of cool that deserves a sweatshirt and jeans. After checking in to our hotel we got right to work exploring Hanoi. We found the architecture and atmosphere of Hanoi to be far more enjoyable than Saigon.
The streets of Hanoi were crowded and narrow. We enjoyed walking around the old part of the city looking at all the food and goods you could buy for remarkably low prices.We took time in the afternoon to go the the local water puppet theater. This is a traditional form of theater that used to be conducted in rural rivers and rice paddies.
Mary claims this fish dish was the best food she ate in Vietnam. I was happy for $1 beers.
Ho Chi Minh's will stated that he was to be cremated and have his ashes spread across the united north and south of Vietnam. However, "in the supreme interest of the nation" his request was ignored. His body is preserved to this day inside this massive memorial "so that people from the north and south of Vietnam as well as the other nations of the world can express their deep feelings of gratitude." It was closed for maintenance to his body while we were there.
We also visited the "Hanoi Hilton" which was the name given to the prison where American POWs were kept during the Vietnam war. It is now a museum.
The next morning we got up early to catch our bus to Saigon, Vietnam. A few hours into the trip we realized we had misread the bus schedule, as what we thought was a 6 hour trip all too slowly turned into a 14 hour marathon. There was plenty of time for pictures along the way.
Leaving Siem Reap
The next day Mary and I ventured out to explore Saigon. If you think Bangkok traffic is crazy, come to Vietnam! Every step was an adrenaline rush. Saigon was formally renamed Ho Chi Minh City after the Vietnam War (or the American was as it's known in Vietnam), but the locals still call the city Saigon. Today the city is a rapidly developing industrial center.
Venturing out from our hotel.
We stopped by the Saigon Notre-Dame Basillica and the post office, both architectural icons of Saigon.
The War Remnants Museum (former known as the "Museum of American War Crimes") was interesting. It offered some distinctly different views on the war than what is taught in American schools.