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Ray and Cynthia's (shortened) Viet Nam holiday

It was to be 3 weeks but because Cynth's Diverticulosis flared she wanted to get home so that she could rely on any treatment and not have the language problem. So we were only away for 11 days.

It was a disappointment, more for me, because I really liked Viet Nam from the moment we settled in. Cynth's opinion was different.

However, from the start in Darwin we had a problem. Our flight was QF259 with QANTAS. We were at the Airport in plenty of time and waited for QANTAS to open. When they hadn't and it was close to the 2 hour time to be booked in, I went to the JetStar counter and was told I needed to book us in there!

What a trap for the unwary. We were totally unprepared to fly with JetStar. An Airline that is basically a bus service. You have buy or hire everything including blankets and pillows. Buy a cup of tea and it's only half full and cold! Etc., etc. If we had known beforehand about this co-share thing where you can be dumped onto JetStar by QANTAS we at least would have been better prepared.

So this didn't help the start of the trip. At least I was able to buy a few Dong (Viet Nam currency) in the Airport Lounge but I ended up doing what I was told not to when I looked for a Taxi at Ho Chi Minh Airport. "Get a metered taxi" I was told but I took the offer of a trip straight to our Hotel the Pink 3 in District 1. US$15 (VND300,000) and then the bugger picked up another fare!

The staff at the Pink 3 were most courteous and friendly but we noticed that whenever we used the lift it smelled like sewage. We later learned that there is no sewerage (deep drainage) in a City of 9million people!!

DAY 1

We were to stay 2 nights there but in the morning about 7:30am we wandered up the street and found a place to have breakfast the looked fairly European. We each had Noodle soup which was salty and Cynth reckoned it was MSG. We left and wandered on down the street and were approached by a bloke called Binh. He spotted us as lost souls and Australian, I think. He spoke broken English but we soon learned to understand him. He talked us into a half day trip that took us to The American War Museum. I had forgotten the camera and when I told Binh he said "No problem. We go get it."

On the way he said "I have Australia fren" (That's how he said it). He then passed me his mobile and said "You talk". It was indeed an Aussie. I can't remember his name, but he lives in Rosebud, Victoria. Every September he goes to Saigon and watches the AFL Grand Final with Binh!

On the way back I said I wasn't interested in the American Museum, so after collecting the camera we went to the Vietnam War Museum. That was, to me, very interesting. To see what they had to use and then re-use like unexploded Americam bombs and M16 mines back on the Yanks (and Aussies) made me realise how resourceful these people are. Before the Yanks, they had to fight the French, who just quit Viet Nam in 1955 and then the Yanks (and our boys). And the equipment for just living and producing propaganda was archaic to say the least. But they battled on and eventually won. I reckon you have to admire people as resourceful as that?

We then toured a Lacquer Factory. Beautiful plates, bowls and larger gear that takes 3 months to finish. They start with several different types of wood, apply a lacquer and the sandpapering process begins for the first time, decorate the article with pearl shell, or Duck Egg shell or paint a picture etc., wait for it to dry, sandpaper, lacquer etc. The fininshed article is very smooth. So if you see a lacquered article in the shops and it isn't smooth it's not a genuine lacquer product.

In the meantime Binh had convinced us to change Hotels to his friends place. Only US$5 a night dearer but it included breakfast. It was indeed a much better Hotel. Hai Long 1 Hotel in District 1. There's actually 3 of them but our part was the cheapest I believe. Free internet as well although I think that is fairly universal.

Just driving around with Binh is informative. Point to a building and he tells us what it is. Some he says "Communist" He never says so, and I never asked him, but the way he says "Communist" each time on all the days he's with us gave me the impression he wasn't too impressed with the Communist Party. I asked him his age later in the trip. He said 47 so that means he was born in Saigon (What he still calls it instead of Ho Chi Minh City) about 1963 and therefore saw a lot of the American phase of the War.

We arranged to go to the Mekong Delta next day.
From here I'll add comments to the photos and stop "talking".

Throughout this story click on the thumbnails to see a full sized picture.
(800pixels X 600pixels)
I noticed all the wires while walking to Ben Thanh Markets
Wires at BenThanh Market
What a nightmare. Find the wire to your house!
Wires at BenThanh Market
The road to Long Tan Cross water dirt. Here's the Water Truck to dampen the dust!
Water truck at Long Tan Cross
State of the art Water Truck. I could walk faster than he drove!
Not the most modern truck!
At the Ferry at Dragon Island to cross to the various Islands
At the Ferry base Dragon Island
Our Ferry awaits!
Our Ferry
From left; Cynth, Keao and Binh. Skipper at the tiller.
On our Ferry
Is every body HAPPY? Crossing to first Island
Happy Travellers
No Photoshopping needed. Perfect without it!!
On our Ferry
Loaded OVER the gunwales! This boat would be above the water like the one in the background normally. They load them up to nearly sinking and tackle the Mekong!
Loaded ship
You see hundreds of these carting dredged sand for construction.
Sand Ferry
Typical Kitchen of the people living in these Islands.
kitchen
This is a main road on the Island. Some larger Islands have cars, but on this one the largest vehicles are motorbikes.
Main road
Blocking the Main Road!
Blocking road
Here's the Electric meter box. Check the exposed wiring. Naturally, when it rains they lose power!
Main road
A local Traditional music group entertained us.
Blocking road
The instruments are traditional to the Island.
Main road
Keao said this was a beautiful sad song about unrequited love.
Blocking road
Our Sampan for travelling the Island waterways
Main road
Cynth boards
Blocking road
And I thought that traffic jams only happened on the road?
Main road
Finally, clear of the jam.
Blocking road
These waterways are used for transporting goods to market on the mainland, not just for tourists but we help pay bills.
Main road
The flower and fruit of the Water Coconut that line the waterways.
Blocking road
Packaging Coconut sweets a popular item.
Main road
The machine for dessicating fresh coconuts.
Blocking road
The press that squeezes the milk out of the dessicated cocnut that becomes the actual sweet.
Main road
Relaxing in our Sampan.
Blocking road
Time for lunch.
Main road
Lunch. Deep Fried Elephant Ear fish. Scales and all!
Blocking road
Reunification building. School kids getting a history lesson.
Main road
A spot on the roof where 1 of 2 bombs rained down on the Yanks and South Vietnamese Army.
Blocking road
A UH1 Helicopter model, made in the U.S.A. A copy of the one the President of the Republic of Vietnam Nguyen Van Thieu used on tours of inspection before 1975.
Main road
A call for HELP!
Blocking road
A Chinese Temple that's open to tourists but still used by parishoners.
Main road
The elaborate main shrine.
Blocking road
There are many shrines in the temple and this woman is praying to one of them.
Main road
And a different one is asked for help. Burning incense sticks apparently helps.
Blocking road
Binh called this the One Eye Temple so it was appropriate for me to close one eye when he took my photo.
Main road
It's actually the Cao Dai Temple. It's a hotch-potch of all religions and Buddhism. Some bloke received a vision of the Divine Eye. Hence it's the One Eye Temple!
Blocking road
Cynth relaxing by the pool at Little Mui Ne.
Main road
The Pool. I forgot to take my glasses off before diving in. TWICE. Had to dive to retrieve them.
Blocking road
Beautiful Gardens at Little Mui Ne.
Main road
And some more.
Blocking road
Off to the right on the beach a fishing village.
Main road
Around boat. Called a Coracle I think.
Blocking road
Bringing the round boat on the beach.
Main road
Out of sequence photo of the fish caught by netting from the beach. More pics later.
Blocking road
Outdoor dining next door.
Main road
Viet Nam is popular with Russians. They were here during the War and Little Mui Ne is a popular holiday destination for them.
Blocking road
Here's the blokes dragging in the net that caught the fish in the previous photo.
Main road
The kids join in.
Blocking road
Next day I visited a larger Fishing Village and Market.
Main road
Off to Market with the geese.
Blocking road
A basket of fish ready to sell at a raodside stall.
Main road
Off to her stall.
Blocking road
In charge of the Titanic.
Main road
A stack of drying racks just waiting for the fish to go on them and dry in the sun for 3 days.
Blocking road
Ship repairs are always needed.
Main road
Cham Temples. The Cham people occupied Central Vietnam. The French thought it a good site to build bunkers and fight the Viet Minh.
Blocking road
A shrine to Vietnamese heroes.
Main road
A French bunker on the same hill
Blocking road
A view from the same hill of Phan Thiet.
Main road
More of Phan Thiet.
Blocking road
The Vietnamese way of making Fish sauce. Start with an empty drum, layer of dried fish, layer of salt and so on until filled. Leave to bake in the Sun for up to 12 months.
Main road
Binh reckons it's delicious! He tasted several tubs saying which was too young until the old ones that were best. I didn't join the tasting. Vietnames use fish sauce in all their cooking.
Blocking road
This says "Viet Nam" for me! 6 Goats on this motorbike. 5 at the back and one across the front.
Vietnamese! Ya Gotta Love 'Em!
Blocking road