As Stu and I walked off the plane into the craziness of Saigon we just could not believe how incredibly lucky we both are to have a month of ‘off season’ and be able to spend it in the gorgeous, enigma that is Vietnam.
And what a place it is… the people are so honest and friendly, with easy laughter and a wicked sense of humour, the food, oh god the food, it is fresh and delicious and complex yet simple and oh so… did I mention delicious, the landscape is dramatic with so many little hidden gems (did someone say lets go caving), the culture is interesting and intriguing and we only scratched at the surface… I want to know more.
I had spend some time in the country about ten years ago and had fallen in love with it then so I just couldn’t wait to show it off to Stu. We have both travelled quite abit so we were determined to keep ‘off the beaten track’ as much as we could…for me it is the only way to travel. I will pick an overgrown, barely recognisable, ‘not on the map’ path over a piece of concrete any day.
And I think we did quite well – we both carried a ‘school bag sized’ backpack and that was it. We had a couple of changes of clothes, a couple of cameras and a laptop It is such a fantastically free way to get around and in and out of places quickly.
I was asked the other day what was the highlight… and I found it difficult it answer, there really were so many…
Drinking weasel (poo) coffee on a plantation in Dalat, caving in Phoung Nha, kayaking amongst the karsts in Lan Ha Bay, hiking through the mountains around Sapa, drinking home made rice wine in a local hill tribes house in Ta Phin, motorbiking through the spectacular scenery, the photo exhibition celebrating the photographers who lost their lives during the war in Saigon, sitting on the side of the road eating freshly barbequed octopus and drinking 80 cent beers, playing dominoes with the local barkeeper on Cat Ba Island, eating the best.pho.ever at a rickety old table next to where the cows are being sold at marketplace in Can Cau and as I write this so many other things are popping into my head but I think the very coolest thing we did was in the mountains in the north, fourteen kilometers into a hike we stumbled across a local hill tribe wedding.
It is a two day event where the whole villiage turns out to drink the homemade wine, eat the pigs which have been gifted to the bride, play cards and of course sing karaoke. We were absolutely delighted to be invited in to enjoy the day, chatting to the ladies and sampling everything on offer… including perhaps a couple too many of the strong local spirits. It certainly made the last hours walk interesting.
So here are a couple of images from the adventure. Thank you Vietnam, we will see you next time.