Sunday, October 12, 2008

Good Morning, Vietnam

After Bangkok, Pam and I hopped on a quick 2 hour flight to Danang, Vietnam--a city located in the center portion of Vietnam. Will had been up in Hanoi and Paul down in Ho Chi Min City (Saigon) while we were in Thailand, so it was time to rendezvous in the middle. Luckily, Pam and I were prepared to enter Vietnam--in fact, we had to apply for visas weeks in advance, pay for them online, have the visas emailed to us, print and sign them, and then bring the approved documents giving us permission to enter the country on that specific day, passport photos, and our second part of payment in USD, the only currency they would accept for the application. Even though the Socialist Republic of Vietnam may be quite strict about who enters their country, once you're through the gate it's a beautiful and peaceful place.

We got through the entry process, got a car, and headed up to the city of Hue (pronouned "Hway") where we were to meet up with Paul & Will. I couldn't help but notice all of the bikes, motorcycles and scooters everywhere--hardly any cars! And so many people wore face masks for the pollution, but I gotta tell ya--they don't know what real pollution is like compared to some of the other places I've visited this year... I thought the air smelled clean! Plus, the landscape up the coast looks just like Hawaii--green and lush. Vietnam is absolutely beautiful.

Hue has a lot of history from the Vietnam war, especially an hour or so north in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) where former North and South Vietnam were separated. During our two days we visited the area including the Khe Sanh Combat Base, historic landmarks, and the famous tunnels at Vinh Moc where an entire village hid beneath the ground during the war. Very powerful and moving for all of us (and hot in the tunnels!)

After Hue we headed back down to Danang for a couple of days, one of which was spend in Hoi An--an amazing city known for its markets and renowned tailors... and let me tell you about how we didn't let that pass us by! Within 15 minutes of being in the city center and heart of the shopping district all four of us were in one of the many tailor shops selecting suit styles, picking out materials, and ordering clothes. We each had suits and shirts custom made--Pam even had skirts, blouses, and a dress custom made--and all the clothes were delivered to our hotel the next morning!! And talk about price? Custom made clothing for about 1/4 the price that we would pay in the U.S.--we all went to town (I had a blue nero suit with a fantastic orange asian silk print lining made for $70!)

After staying in Danang that night, we all packed up and made way to the airport to embark on chapter three of the East Asian journey--Cambodia. More about that later this week, so stay tuned...

(Countdown: 18 days to departure)



Rob Holloway said...

I can't believe that the year has flown by already!! I've loved reading your blog and catching up on your adventures. Color me jealous! You're awesome. Miss you!

Mike and Mike said...

I agree with Lovey...color me jealous. You have been so fortunate to have been able to travel to all these places!

We'll be back in India near the end of April. Hope we'll get to do some sightseeing then. But we'll never get to travel like you did. I hate

Mike A.

Anonymous said...

You went to a lot of cool places. Thanks are coming to our school. We enjoyed your presentation.