Thursday, February 18, 2010

Vietnam Photos

We started our trip in Vietnam. Before going, we heard from family and friends who had traveled there about the incredible warmth and friendliness of the people and, once we arrived, we quickly understood what they meant. That alone would have made the trip worth it, but the sights and food weren't too shabby either.

We spent the first day exploring Ho Chi Minh City (still "Saigon" to some of the people who live there.) Sights included the Ben Thanh Market, where you could buy anything you can imagine, the Reunification Palace, which was once the government seat for South Vietnam, and the War Remnants Museum, which painted a critical and painful picture of the "American War of Aggression." A short walk from those sights took us to the main post office (my personal favorite) and the Notre Dame Cathedral. We broke up sightseeing with lots of food (pho and baguettes), Saigon beer, and Vietnamese coffee. Walking around the city, we also thought often of my cousin Kate, who was adopted there.

The next day, we took a trip out to the Cu Chi Tunnels, where the Viet Cong hid underground for most of the war. The trip included a lot of education about the area and the tunnels themselves, which acted as small cities, complete with hospital areas, kitchens, and long stretches of tunnels to get from one place to another (over 200 km worth!) We were able to see the original tunnels, which have openings of about 14 cm, but went into replica tunnels, which have been made larger to accommodate tourists. Still, we had to crawl through on our hands and knees in total darkness. Amazing to imagine living like that! Lunch there consisted of raw strips of tapioca dipped in ground peanuts. That night, we sought out the Black Cat Cafe for "mind-blowingly good sandwiches" (per Lonely Planet) and were not disappointed. I had a lemongrass tofu sandwich that did, in fact, blow my mind.

The next day, we took a more-exciting-than-we'd-planned-on bus ride through the MeKong Delta and on to Chau Doc, on the border of Cambodia. (Exciting because it turned out that the bus we'd bought tickets for didn't exist. We finally got there after riding along with a tour group for half the trip - the tour guide would narrate what they'd be doing that day and then turn to us and shake his head "no" - and then being driven to a series of bus stops until our driver found a driver to pawn us off to - for a fee.) We made it, though, and found a perfect respite in Chau Doc. We wandered the temples, markets, restaurants, riverfront, and streets of what was a fairly sleepy little town (by Shanghai standards at least.) We saw boys practicing to be the lion for Lunar New Year and were greeted by lots of friendly kids (two of them pictured here.)

Vietnam left me with memories of colorful bike helmets, seas of Vespas, strong - and delicious - coffee, and a warm, welcoming attitude. More pictures here:

1 comment:

  1. Fabulous! Your pictures bring back memories - and wow do those sandwiches look good :). Can't get over how THIN you both look!!