...MY JOURNEY IN VIETNAM ...
Vietnam is marked by tropical mountains, plains, and the wonderful Mekong river. Culturally, the country is unique combination of Vietnamese and French culture (part of the legacy of French colonialism in the 19th century).

... FROM SOUTH OF THE MAKONG TO THE NORTH OF HANOI...


"Women At Prayer In A Buddist Temple"

Our trip begins in the wee hours of the morning..for several flights from the East Coast to Calif,Korea, and we finally arrive at The TanSonNhat Airport in Saigon now known as Ho Chi Minh City However, the people living there prefer Saigon and so do I ..Some 30 hrs..later..
It took much research and planning...many hours on the internet to find guides and drivers... to each destination so that we were able to see all the places we chose to see..

Viola! we located a wonderful agent Mr. Coung in Hanoi..who helped make our trip throughout the country a wonderful experience..seeing all we hoped to see and much more....I will list the Agent and the guides who helped arrange everything for us..including flight and train within Vietnam..That's another funny story! will talk about later..
We wish to thank all of our guides! once again...
From The Co.(RAINBOW TOURS IN HANOI)..

It is now the next day 11:30 at night ..exhusted we finally arrive..In Saigon confusion..confusion.. a mob scene! when you get out of the TanSonNhat airport..yikes! had we not yet been met by our guide Mr. Hung and our driver Tuan..it would have been much more difficult to figure.. it all out with out them for sure...Mostly the heat and humididty..not to be believed!! it felt like you hit a brick wall..apparently wrong time of the year..HOT, HOT, HOT!!! almost could not breathe...I turned to someone standing near us and again said I cannot believe this heat! and traffic..his answer was well, this is Saigon..and so it was!
We loaded the car an proceded to drive downtown to the Hotel Oscar..the traffic is completely Insane..no lights..stop signs..NOTHING! completely chaotic!! I might add that the Oscar Hotel was just fine..and nicely located ..

... Small Street Lot's Of Bike Traffic!...<

After getting some much needed sleep..We had time to visit some interesting places in Saigon which is the largest city in Vietnam..off to the local markets named An Dong,Cho Lon, Ben Than...After a nice morning breakfast..we went to see the Re-Unification Palace.. I did not wish to see the War Crimes Museum..as I did not have to much interest in them..most of the peope are young and hardly remember those sad times..
We went to some of the bustling local markets Like Binh Tay., Cho Lon, And then off to the Chinese Pagoda which was lovely..I must tell you to dress very light AS COOL AS POSSIBLE!..as these places of interest are not air conditioned.
In the Evening We ate at a wonderful resturant called the Vietnamese House.. if you have a chance try the Mud fish in a clay pot.it is Fab..!! and the vietnamese spinach..My mouth is just watering talking about it! the food was just fantastic most everywhere..!!!and SOOOOOO Cheap! by our standards.. It was hard to spend over high end $10.00 anywere in Vietnam. and on an average of around $2.50-5.00 eating very well!!


lovely fruit-market yum!!Yum...

The Shop ping is Fab!! shoppers paradise really neat boutique and craft shops.. very reasonable..for most everything! some of the shops have fixed prices..no bargining.. some places you can.. At times the heat was just so overwhelming we could not see the items we wanted to buy ..as the perspiration ran down our faces into our eyes.. we had to somehow deal with it..So happy Our Driver had an a/c in car which made life much easier then using the cyclos, especially when we were looking for very special items and shops all over the place.....trying to walk there was just mad! and unbearable due to the intense heat...the cyclo drivers are crazy to! there are metered taxi's and cheap as well as a/c also ... just make sure you work out the price first!! ..for any means of transpertation. walking is almost an impossible fete till you sort of get used to it all..I learned to just walk into the traffic..and don't make sudden moves Ha!.. somehow, they just manage to drive around you! with out hitting you! HA! IF YOUR LUCKY!!!!
Our First day back I was saying to Hung our guide..about how many accidents are there like one every minute??.He responds..no, about every 5 minutes...WOW! no sooner had I shut my mouth BANG!! this was the first of 2 this trip...less then a minute later! ha! no harm..just a few side swipes. Accidents..no big deal..Who uses insurance..I did ask where are the seat belts..Hung say's! ohh
No we cut them off so people are not uncomfortable sitting on them! My friend and I just burst into laughter!!!! We looked at each other..Yep this is Saigon!!!!

We just keep going..fenders dented mirrors hanging off...and the arial looked pretty unhappy to... Ha! but this is Vietnam..Still not spoiled by us tourists..

We were told aprox..60% of the tourists are French, And Some German, Korean Japanese,ect... we did not see to many Americans..BUT! I bet in the next ten years..it will be teaming with Us.! As huge companys are comming in and building Big Fab.resorts.. what a shame there goes the country! ha!

Well, were off the first leg which was the ..Makong Delta ..My very Favorite! as I just loved the local untouched life. and the sights on the river , the floatng markets were fantastic!..and unspoiled. to date...! I will never forget! the Makong..It will always be one of my fondest memories ever.. The Delta Truly is a Photographers Paradise...I took nearly 700 photos total far to many to show..but the people and the sights will remain with me forever!! As Long as I can Remember!

One Of a Hundred's Floating Markets...

Tho and Ca B near Ho Chi Minh City, then, more to the heart of the region, Vi~nh Long, Sa ?c, and Ca^`n Tho+, from where it is possible to reach the remotest confines of the delta, South towards the mangroves and the South China Sea, North towards Chudoc or West towards the island of Ph Qodoc.

Along the river's edge is an ancient history shrouded in myth and legend the sanctuaries of religious meditation. To cope with the mysteries of nature, the Vietnamese have always prayed to their ancestors for guidance. Who knows what their prayersbwould be today if they knew that change is threatening their precious way of life and their beloved river. Aprox Fifteen million Vietnamese live in the wetlands of the Mekong Delta. Theirs is a water world. The canals are their avenues; the irrigation channels, their back alleys. Fed by the snows of the Himalayas, the Mekong is among the least developed of Asia's great rivers, yet it sustains people from six nations. it is truly a wonder to see!

Since ancient times, wetlands of theDelta have acted like huge sponges, storing and slowly releasing high water during the monsoons, making it ideal for growing rice. The river not only irrigates, it refreshes the land with rich soil. Along the river's edge is an ancient history shrouded in myth and legend the sanctuaries of religious meditation. To cope with the mysteries of nature, the Vietnamese have always prayed to their ancestors for guidance. Who knows what their prayersbwould be today if they knew that change is threatening their precious way of life and their beloved river. Every morning, thousands of people gather along the river to buy and sell the available goods that were once so scarce.

One Of a Hundred's Floating Markets...

The work is difficult the days very long and hot. But the land is so fertile that Vietnam has become one of the world's leading exporters of rice. Clearly, the delta is in the early stages of an economic boom, and Can Tho, the provincial capital, is bursting with a new vitality. this is where we stayed it was wonderful New pacts between Mekong River nations, each with a different economic and political agenda, have made all this possible.

We drove to Mytho(to Caibe Te Tie gian Province got a Boat to Vin Long took the car across the Ferry to Cantho..which was just wonderful to see all the many hundreds of floating markets.. filled with human life... your eyes and your camera lens are filled with wonder..

we stayed at the Lovely Victoria Cantho resort..which is simply a paradise in it's self .. somehow set in the middle of these unchanged wonderful sights that have remained there for years.. really quite beautiful.. nice pool.. great service..and neat things to see on the river out side of the hotel...


...Cantho Resort! Hotel...

Again, I must tell you the heat in May to June is very difficult!!! to deal with..mostly the humidity!! was the killer! but somehow you just try manange ..so Use the pool as much as possible..and of course your air-conditioned rooms..! which was truly pure comfort! and cool.

Well Now It would be un-true to say that this trip is a peice of cake to go and see the real people wonders of Vietnam....but sure worth every bit of effort~ and many hours of driving and boats which allowed us to see so many people and most unusual sights..along the roads and on the river ..just simply amazing eye candy! passing the beautiful colors of the rice paddy's and the folks working so very hard to finish a day's work..waist high in water..! the cows, water buffalo. chickens , and ducks were all doing there jobs as well..
But! plenty of times on the long 8 hr. drives only looking out of one eye as my hand was on the other ha! traffic is very scary..if only they had some rules of the road.. and realized that blowing the horn on the car every second..can cause road rage...Ha! in My country there would be dead folks laying all over the place I did wish I brought

... ELDER WOMEN ON THE RIVER...

So now began our drive South to the Makong Delta River . We arrive at the ferry..Lot to be desired..However, the easiest way to get there by car are the ferry boats..people are trying to sell you everything but I mean everything..! To Mytho on to Caibe Te Ie Gian Province to Vinlong to the ferry..
We drove along the small roads and villages seeing all our eyes could take in, photo after photo..Just amazing hard working people trying to to live there lives to the fullest.. WHAT A LESSON WE COULD TAKE FROM THEM...!!An realize how easy we As Americans have such Luxury..almost Shameful!
We stayed that night at the Cantho Resort see the above photos. just a couple of photos of this resort which does no justice at all much more impressive in person..with the river right out side the dock in the midst of the Makong .. So, it was very convienent to get boats to the floating markets from there....

... Life On the Makong!...

These markets are simply wonderful.. on the banks you see floating houses, ducks following there leaders like little school kids..amazing! to see. can't get my kitty k at's to do it..maybe I should have asked for a lesson! Ha! As you will see in my photos later many are of rural life and the floatig markets..
I must say for myself the markets were just my very favorite . The sweet folks and smells of fruit and food and oil~!So many boats selling everything to each other and to us and alway's smiling and waving hello .

Simply living the only life they grew to know it filled our eyes with wonder..

The floating markets I must say my photos do them no justice ...to realize how huge the size of this river is and the 100's of boats in it..every day work,work,work!

How do they do it!! Unique to anything I have ever seen so far in East Asia.. I Myself will never forget the sights, people, and smells and the beauty of this terrific country..!

The next day we leave Cantho as we continue our trip to Chau Doc. I thought it is was the best way to see the floating markets..although you must arrive very early am.. (TAKE LOADS OF FILM YOU WILL NEVER HAVE ENOUGH!
On the way we had lunch on the bank of the river at the most wonderful "GARDEN RESTURANT" THE FOOD EXQUISITE.!!!quite authentic..as it is remote...The grounds were beautifuly landscaped..Many Japanese Ming Trees ...all types and sizes.. An ..Hammocks too! that is if you wanted to take a Nap..But, who had time.. much to see and do!!
I might add! this is where I got my wish filled to hold this beautiful Boa snake..all of '80 LBS..! and seemed to be gentle that is until he began to constrict a bit..was not sure if he was just happy to see me OR NOT!....It was them I asked his owner

HAS THIS CUTE LITTLE GUY EATEN TODAY !Ha

...

...NORTH VIETNAM...

...HANOI...
Vietnam's capital and second largest city retains its French colonial ambiance and is dotted with lakes and lovely parks. West of Hanoi are the Son La mountains, known for their sanctuaries, grottos, and pagodas. The traditional cultures of Vietnam's ethnic minorities still survive in the northern province's mountains, but these regions might be inaccessible because of border disputes between Vietnam and China. If a visit to the northern mountains isn't possible, travellers should be sure to visit the montagnard regions of Central Vietnam. Also in the north is Halong Bay, which the Vietnamese consider a wonder of the world. This tranquil, magical bay is dotted with more than a thousand limestone islands, which rise from the water in dramatic rock formations and harbour extensive grottos and caves. The most notable of the caves of Halong is Dau Go, an extensive cavern filled with stalactites and stalagmites that resemble a menagerie of birds and beasts

My very favorite Botique Hotel in Hanoi is the....De Syloia Hotel... Small quaint and lovely!

The ground floor Cay Cau restaurant serves only Vietnamese cuisine.And the food is wonderful...This hotel is very hard to book so you must do this ahead of time or just stop in to have a super meal!...The staff is lovely ....

Central Vietnam
...HUE...
In the heart of the coastal provinces, between North and South Vietnam, is the imperial city of Hue, a non-westernized enclave of Vietnam's traditions and an important repository of its ancient past. Dominated by majestic temples, ancient tombs, and the imperial citadel, Hue is a place in which time seems to have stopped. In the inland highlands of Central Vietnam are found many of Vietnam's ethnic minority groups. You can get Clothing made in hrs here.
Central Vietnam also offers one of the country's most picturesque and uncrowded beaches at Nha Trang. Nearby Hon Yen island is home to the famous sea swallow nests, which are esteemed as culinary delicacies. The idyllic Central Vietnam coastline is also the locale of the Mui Le dunes, de rigeur for photographers.

Sapa is a wonderful! Hill Tribe Village that most of us tourists want to see.. Sapa is part of the province of Lao Cai..which really means Town of Sand it is aprox 90 or so minutes from Lao Cai..
Sapa gives us a glimpse of some of the most incredible Mountain Scenery and ethnic cultures in Vietnam.. The tribes are dressed in the most unusual dress

...SAPA HILL TRIBE VIDEO...By Jim and Shirley travels the Middle Road to Sapa through Nghia Lo and Than Uyen...


Wonderful indigo dyed embroidered cotton and elaborate silver adorned headdresses..

...LOVELY HILL HMONG GIRL!...

The children are adorable and all very friendly! Don't be shocked if your followed And constantly asked for money Ha That is everywhere now is it not! The Sapa Market is on Saturday..Hmong and Red Dao come in town with the rising sun.. They are usually dressed well in black and aqua cotton shirts decorated I silver.. There are walking tours and hiking if your up to it!

...HMONG WOMEN SI MAI KAI...LAO KAI PROVENCE...VIETNAM

... BEAUTIFUL ANCIENT DOORWAY...VIETNAM...

Vietnamese Culture

The richness of Vietnam's origins is evident throughout its culture. Spiritual life in Vietnam is a grand panoply of belief systems, including Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Tam Giao (literally 'triple religion'), which is a blend of Taoism, popular Chinese beliefs, and ancient Vietnamese animism. The most important festival of the year is Tet, a week-long event in late January or early February that heralds the new lunar year and the advent of spring. Celebration consists of both raucous festivity (fireworks, drums, gongs) and quiet meditation. In addition to Tet, there are about twenty other traditional and religious festivals each year. Vietnamese architecture expresses a most graceful aesthetic of natural balance and harmony that is evident in any of the country's many numbers of historic temples and monasteries... The pre-eminent architectural form is the pagoda, a tower comprised of a series of stepped pyramidal structures and frequently adorned with lavish carvings and painted ornamentation. Generally speaking, the pagoda form symbolizes the human desire to bridge the gap between the constraints of earthly existence and the perfection of heavenly forces. Pagodas are found in every province of Vietnam.


One of the most treasured is the Thien Mu Pagoda in Hue, Thien Mu Pagoda is situated on Ha Khe hill, on the north bank of the Perfume River a few miles southwest of central Hue. The temple complex stretches north from the river banks in seven successive tiers,

Thien Mu Pagoda...
founded in 1601 and completed more than two hundred years later. In North Vietnam, the pagodas that serve as the shrines and temples of the Son La mountains are especially worth visiting. In South Vietnam, the Giac Lam Pagoda of Ho Chi Minh City is considered to be the city's oldest and is notable as well for its many richly-carved jackwood statues.

Legend has it that Vietnam's origin lay in the harmonious union of lac Long Quan, King of the Sea, and Au Co, Princess of the Mountains. Real life was not so paradisical, as Vietnam's early history--like its recent history--is characterized by a nearly continuous struggle for autonomy. First came an entire millenium of Chinese domination, which was finally thrown off in the 9th century. External control was imposed once again in the 19th century, when Vietnam was occupied by the French.

....CAN THO THE CAPITAL OF THE MEKONG DELTA....VIETNAM Being the capital of the Mekong delta Vietnam, Can Tho is a thriving metropolis with huge streets, little action and loads of mosquitoes. Although Can Tho has its own market by the riverside, where you can get excellent ice-cream, the principal attraction would have to be the nearby floating markets. Being rather industrious, the centre of Can Tho is quite busy and noisy with motorised cyclos roaring up and down the streets combined with throngs of people going about their lives. The riverside can have its quiet moments, but Can Tho is also a burgeoning are a number of pagodas worth visiting, and for the trivia fans, Can Tho is the home to much of Vietnams fish sauce.

Cai Rang floating market is situated about 8 km from Can Tho by road or a 20 km loop by boat. This market is quite nice and sells a variety of fruit and vegetables and operates from 5 am to 11 am, though the markets are better the earlier you can get there. A cyclo from Can Tho will take about 15 minutes to get to Cai Rang Market. Another market, Phung Hiep market, is 31 km from Can Tho. This is the snake market, selling a plethora of living, wriggling and often poisonous snakes. Pythons and Cobras are sold here by people from the countryside who have caught them by hand, whilst others have come to purchase snakes for restaurants, medicinal reasons or personal consumption. This market is open from 5 am to 5 pm. If travelling by boat, you can add a dimension to your day by stopping and visiting some of the fruit gardens, which sell pineapple, rambutan and papaya amongst many other fruits



... FISHNETS IN HANOI ... CUTE YOUNG GIRLS ... YOUNG CHILD WITH HIS BULL WORKING ON ROAD...

... POTTERY ON THE STEPS...

January & February The weather in north and along the coast of Vietnam in Jan and Feb is very comfortable, and among best months to travel of the year...Summer Months are Extremely Hot!

DO COME BACK AND VISIT AND HOPEFULLY I WILL HAVE MUCH MORE OF OUR ADVENTURES IN VIETNAM UP AND RUNNING WITH MANY,MANY LOVELY PHOTOS TO SEE..!AND SO MUCH MORE TO TELL!


... Cute Little Girls Making Hats...



Later I will list some of the hotels and resturants..ect..that we found to be very nice..and quite reasonable..


... Dock at the Hotel ...

Southeast Asia, and its food is possibly the most delicious you might ever find. Two or More decades have passed since Vietnam was officially united, and in that time it has done a wonderful job of healing .

Today, this gracious and graceful country is an outstanding travel destination.

...H'mong Girls in Bac Ha, Lao Kai Province...

YOU MUST SEE THE WATER PUPPET SHOW HANOI...IT'S TRULY AMAZING!...
...

...THESE PUPPETS ARE REAL PEOPLE WAIST DEEP IN THE WATER....

...FAN DANCERS...
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Weather Map


The weather in north and along the coast of Vietnam in JAN. and FEB. is very comfortable, and among best months to travel of the year.

Wet season runs from around May to October in the north, August to December in the centre and May to November in the south.
Dry season runs from November to April in the north. January to July in the centre and December to April in the south.
Cool season Only the north has a cool season, running from December to March.

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...The most surprising thing about the topic of the Vietnam War ...
I myself felt odd about meeting the older generation..However,
(the American or reunification war, as it is called in Vietnam) is that the Vietnamese do not bear any animosity against visitors from the countries that participated. Two-thirds of the population were born after the war and are quite fond of the west. That said, there are some attractions which present a very anti-American viewpoint on the war's legacy, which may make some feel uncomfortable.
Be sensitive if you must discuss past conflicts. Well over 3 million Vietnamese died, and it is best to avoid any conversations that could be taken as an insult to the sacrifices made by both sides during the wars. Do not assume that all Vietnamese think alike as many Vietnamese in the South are still bitter about having lost against the North

provided assistance to refugee and other poor children since 1988. In recent years, the organization has been focusing on preventing young people from being drawn into the sex trade. It has funded the renovation of schools and completed a community center; created a culinary school in the central Vietnam city of Hue to give at-risk young women skills; and built schools in Cambodia for poor Vietnamese communities in that country. U.S. address: 134 Martinvale Lane, San Jose, CA 95119. Phone: 408-225-0405; 408-225-8302. Vietnam address: 14 Nguyen Cong Tru, Hue. Web site: www.acwp.org The Asia Foundation Sponsors discussions between Vietnam and its neighbors, Cambodia and China, on preventing human trafficking. Also works with partners to create a number of programs to provide economic opportunities for poor women, access to credit and vocational training. Works with National Legal Aid Agency to offer victims of trafficking legal services. U.S. address: 465 California St., 9th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94104. Phone: 415-982-4640. Vietnam address: 10-03 Prime Centre, 53 Quang Trung St., Hanoi. Phone: 84 43 9433263. Web site: asiafoundation.org Catalyst Foundation Provides an array of educational programs, from vocational training to a primary school, to poor residents of the South Vietnam city of Rach Gia. It also works to raise awareness about the dangers of sex traffickers. The nonprofit assists the poor in Dong Thap Province along the Cambodian border with scholarships and life-skills training. U.S. address: 710 St. Olaf Ave., Suite 100, Northfield, MN 55057. Phone: 507-664-9558. Vietnam address: 231/10 Bui Thi Xuan St, Ward 1, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Phone: 84 83 8476293. Web site: www.catalystfoundation.org Pacific Links Foundation (An giang/Dong thap Alliance for the Prevention of Trafficking ADAPT) It works in partnership with two other Bay Area-based nonprofits, Oakland-based East Meets West Foundation and International Children Assistance Network in San Jose. The alliance provides an array of programs " from scholarships to vocational training to job placement to grass-roots advocacy " along the Vietnamese-Cambodian border to prevent young women from becoming entangled in human trafficking. It operates a reintegration shelter for women who have been victims of human trafficking. U.S. address: 534 Valley Way, Milpitas, CA 95035. Phone: 510-435-3035. Vietnam address: 163/A9 Huynh Thuc Khang, TP Long Xuyen, An Giang. Phone: 84 76 3853888. Web site: pacificlinks.org

VIETNAM COUNTRY SPECIFIC INFORMATION

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