The Land of Uncle Ho

Trip Start Sep 22, 2010
Trip End May 17, 2011

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Sunday, December 26, 2010

Our entry into Vietnam was utter hell, and not because we´re American (which did not seemingly impact the locals´ disposition towards us at all).  22 hours on the smallest bus ever built, with tiny seats that did not recline one inch, with our knees up to our chins due to the enormous bags of rice where our feet should have been, and a 4 hour stop at a border hotel where we would have worn hazmat suits to bed had we had them!  But hey, we guess it beats working ;)  

Hanoi was our first stop and we fell in love with it almost immediately.  The city is centered around a small lake surrounded by French era buildings on one side and the magnificent old quarter on the other, which has existed for over a thousand years.  Though Saigon is now called Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi is where the former North Vietnamese leader is revered and his embalmed corpse is laid to rest.  Through the Potters, our landlords/family in Hawaii, we met Nina and John who have lived in Hanoi for almost two decades, who invited us to their home for a delicious post-Christmas Christmas dinner.  There were decorations, music, and stocking treats for us, all of which made us feel a lot closer to home for the holidays.  We also got to meet a local couple, Quan and Anh, who had spent the last 5 years studying in Oregon and had been missing Christmas themselves.  When we asked Quan and Anh about the crazy traffic in their city, Quan gave us the best advice: the best way to cross the street is to pretend like you´re blind and just go!  

Ha Long Bay was our next stop.  The unique waterscape consisted of thousands of mountain islands with floating villages scattered throughout the sea.  We took a boat tour that gave us a close up view of the floating lifestyle of the fishermen and their families, which surprisingly included many dogs.  We kayaked, visited a cave and an island, and met a hilariously great English couple, Matt and Cara.  We were based out of Cat Ba Island, where there were nice beaches, a picturesque harbor, and floating restaurants, some where you could pick your dinner out of the nets below the restaurant.  We made sure to be back in Hanoi for NYE and our first anniversary celebration, which turned out to be a perfect place for both.

Thankfully, we flew from Hanoi to Saigon (prompted by hell bus flashbacks) and arrived just in time to catch the last night of an international food festival.  We had a very sobering experience at the War Remnants Museum, which although very one-sided, was shocking.  We cranked up our Canadian accents for that visit ;)

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Quan Nguyen on

Your trip is very inspirational to me and Anh!
We hope we can make such a trip in a near future.
Congratulation you are gonna complete the amazing trip very soon.

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