Digging, trekking, and diving through S. Vietnam

Trip Start Feb 26, 2006
Trip End Nov 28, 2006

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

When we decided to visit Vietnam, we didn't know too much about it or how we would like it, but after spending three weeks there we wished we could stay just a little bit longer. The country's beautiful and there's so much to see and do. We started in the south in the Mekong River area and worked our way north to Hanoi.

Highlights of the south:

Cu Chi tunnels are located near the Cambodian border and were used by the Viet-Cong ("Vietnam Communists") /North Vietnamese army. This was our first history lesson on the Vietnam War (or American War as it's known locally). Living in south Vietnam were some people who supported and fought for the Viet-Cong, and the tunnels were used by them to hide from the American bombing. Ed and I decided we had to experience the tunnels from the inside. About 100 meters of the tunnels have been restored and 'widened' for tourists. I don't consider myself clausterphobic, but I just about had a panic attack - I went from crouching down at the beginning of the tunnel to literally crawling on my hands and knees by the end of it!!!

Dalat , the honeymoon capital of Vietnam. A romantic spot complete with a mini Eiffel tower, swan boats on the lake, many waterfalls, and a beautiful landscape of lush greenery. If that weren't enough, you can feel like royalty, or at least look like it, on a visit to the Last Emperor of Vietnam's summer palace (see first photo above). After spending the past few months in hot climates, we were so glad to be up in the cool mountains where we could finally wear the sweaters we lugged all the way from Canada (at night the locals wear parkas and fur hats, but the odd thing is the women still wear sandals)! This area is great for trekking and not as developed as northern Vietnam so we decided to go on an all day 20km trek. The scenery on the trek was spectacular, but I had what was probably the scariest moment of my life on that day. We had to cross two long suspension bridges with the first one being extremely old and rickety and swinging back and forth. In fact, as our guide crossed it, a plank broke from under his feet...he just turned and smiled and told us not to step on that one (gee, thanks)! I was petrified and held on for dear life. At one point, there were three consecutive boards missing, and all I could see was the water flowing underneath as I walked tight-rope style on the wire of the bridge.

Diving and snorkeling in the South China Sea followed by a mud bath and dip in thermal hot springs. Although Ed has dived some exotic destinations on this trip, funny enough, the diving off the coast of Nha Trang was one of his most memorable dives ever. Not because of the coral or crystal clear water, but because he had a National Geographic moment. As Ed puts it, "swimming through a cave, there were cracks above where you could see twinkling light from the surface which was silhouetted by hundreds of fish"...COOL!
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