Life is what's happening while you're busy making other plans

12 août 2011

Hanoi

We've set our base in Hanoi for the past ten days. We spend a few days visiting with my dad (the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, the litterature palace, the ethnography museum, the old quarter...) We spend a day in Halong Bay.

My dad left on the 5th and on the same day we picked up Julia, a cousin of Thomas. She stayed with us for one week. We had a busy week with one day of visiting in Hanoi, two days and one night in Halong bay, two days and one night in Sapa.

Having done Halong Bay twice, once in a one-day tour and one in a two-day tour, I have to say the two-day tour is definitely more worth it. In one day, from Hanoi, is just too rushed and you spend most of your day in the bus driving to and from Halong Bay. In two days, you get much more time on the boat and the boat takes you much further away from the coast so that you can really take in all the beauty.
The quick trip to Sapa was good fun and the landscapes are definitely beautiful but what a shame about the absolute tourist trash it is! The traditional villagers have become money-hungry beggars. They follow tourists around shoving manufactured goods in their faces, when you walk to their village they follow you then ask you for money claiming they have been your guide, the children beg for candy and anything you might be carrying, some even blocked the path hoping we would give in! It's just awfully sad. The dark side of tourism.

Having spent more time in Vietnam I have to come back on some of the things I said in my previous post. We had been warned that vietnamese people were quite rough and rude and we had been really suprised to see that they were actually quite smily and nice when we arrived. However, this is obviously only in the area between the Lao border, Dien Bien Phu and Mai Chau. Indeed, this is an area where there a much much fewer tourists and people there are quite nice. But once you get to Sapa, Hanoi, Halong Bay there is a change. Already it is not in their culture to smile or to look at people when talking to them, which is already a culture shock for us europeans. But on top of that they are damn right rude when they don't get their way. In all of asia foreigners will pay a little more than locals, and I understand that, but here in Vietnam, prices will be tripled or quadrupled and when you try to negotiate they shut down completely and practically throw you out of their shop! It's very tiring after a while!

In any case, there are some of the most beautiful landscapes we have seen in Asia and there is some good food.
We are still musing over what we are going to do next but the idea is to make the most of the rest of our visa for Vietnam and to head down south to see Hue, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh city (aka Saigon)

Posté par wendorej à 05:39 - Vietnam - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#] Partager

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