|Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). We exchange money at the airport and they bring us a briefcase full of loot. Stepping foot outside the airport, we are mobbed by multiple moto-drivers, all eager to take us to their hotel. I have a spot in mind and we negotiate a fair price for the ride. Saigon appears to be the bicycle/moped capital of the world. Arriving in central Saigon, at the Pham Ngu Lao district, we are again mobbed by multiple hotel clerks eager for our business. Again we negotiate a fair price and drop our bags. On the menu for dinner is wild boar, dove, frogs, and field mice. We settle for the relatively tame river-crab. Vietnam is notorious for its piracy of music CD's, videos, computer games, and masterpiece art...Picasso, Van Gogh, Dali, Monet, ect. It is amazing and scary, the detail and skill with which they work.
A couple of days in Saigon is plenty, so we head north. The mountain village of Dalat is a 7 hour bus ride away. We have purchased $23, open-ended tickets to Hanoi (42 hours away). The travel is very slow and bumpy (we average 40 kph). The main highway through the country is part cement and part dirt. We avoid the numerous potholes like a rally-sport racer. We also must avoid the corn and rice that is placed on the road to dry. In Vietnam, drivers honk their horns to alert other drivers of their presence, to say "hello", and also (it seems) just for fun. They honk so much that you have to get used to it. In the U.S., we supe-up our car engines, we supe-up car stereos. Here, they supe-up their horns. There are multiple tones and styles, similar to the cell phones in the U.S.
In Dalat, Carrie and I roam the village market. Mostly veggies, meat, seafood, and flowers on display. Goods are weighed on medival scales. The villagers stare long and hard at Carrie. Her tank-top t-shirt seems to attract a lot of attention. They see her as partially naked. Some men approach and the touch the tattoo she has on her back. They recoil as though it gives off heat. We hire moto-drivers for a local tour. We visit the largest waterfall in southern Vietnam, a Buddhist monastery, and an ethnic minority village. Dalat would be a fairly nice place were it not for the exhaust/air pollution. Carrie buys a surgical mask to wear as we walk the streets. Most of the women wear them, so she blends in. Being the macho man that I am, I lose 15 years of my life.
|Continue to Nha Trang
People of Vietnam
Black & White Photos