If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this is a very long blog. This weeks offering is mostly photos with some brief commentary where necessary. All of the pictures were taken between early October and December 2018.
After an exhausting twenty-two-hour travel time , our first meal in Vietnam had to be pho.
Faces of Vietnam
Faces of Vietnam
Hoi An is perhaps the most trendy city in Vietnam. A number of expats make their home there. The beach is a five minute bicycle ride from the center of town, and it is truly a lovely town.
Near Hoi An is the city of Danang, which is more of a business and commerce center. I wanted to visit Danang, primarily to see the “Dragon Bridge.” This bridge spans the Han River, and every weekend it sprays fire from the dragon’s mouth. I just had to see that!
Hue is the imperial city. Hue was the seat of the Nguyen Dynasty and the national capital until 1945. The Dai Noi Citadel is surrounded by a moat and was once the emperor’s home.
Today, it also has a more modern side. We attended a Hao Dai fashion show and found a very cool jazz band in the center of town
A couple of hours by tour bus from Hanoi is Halong bay, a James Bondish kind of place with many karst formations jutting out of the sea. We spent two days and one night on a boat cruising the area. The food was good and the sights spectacular, including kayaking in a hidden lagoon where large families of monkeys clambered over the rock cliffs. Longer tours are offered, but there were so many other boats in the area that it detracted from the enchantment. Two days was enough.
Returning to Hanoi we took a sleeping car on a night train north to an area near the Chinese border where we explored the mountain region near Sapa and Bac Ha. All the mountain tribes come to Bac Ha to trade on the weekend. You can buy all manner of strange things from a water buffalo to ducks and dogs to eat.
Vietnam is a long narrow country, so most of it is near the sea. Dalat is an exception. Dalat is in the south-central part of the country and is nestled in the mountains. The temperatures are milder and it is known as the “flower capital” of Vietnam. Also located in Dalat is the “crazy house”, one of the ten most unusual architectural structures in the world. Coffee and tea plantations also take advantage of the milder climate in this area.
While in the Dalat area, we also took another motorcycle tour with Easy Rider ( see our previous blog about touring the Ho Chi Minh trail with this group at https://boomerbobtravels.com/motorcycling-on-the-Ho-Chi-Minh-trail/ ). The tour included stops at a cricket farm to taste garlic-fried crickets with rice wine. Also, as part of the trip, we stopped at a coffee plantation where a type of weasel eats the coffee bean and then excretes it. It is subsequently ground to make the most expensive coffee in the world. We tried the crickets but passed on the coffee.
From Dalat we took the bus ride from hell through winding mountain roads mostly under construction for six hours to Nha Trang on the coast. Nha Trang is one of the prime wind surfing spots in the world. There are also direct flights from Russia to there, so it is full of Russians. Store signs are usually in Vietnamese and Russian.
Another sleeping bus transported us to Saigon, today known as Ho Chi Minh City. Saigon, the Mekong Delta area including Can Tho and Vietnam’s best kept secret, the island of Phu Quoc, will be covered in a separate blog.