Phayo, Franche-Compte, Elounda, Jum

Vietnam and the Benefit of Doubt

It took a heck of a lot of coffee time

-and strong spirits (in every sense of the word haha)

to find the love

for the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. But we did it. We fine-tuned our attitude, learned to navigate the impossible waves of completely lawless traffic
Lawless traffic

and to turn a blind eye
Blind walk

to unrelenting touts and sneaky scammers

We savoured the novelty
Round boats

beauty and deliciousness
Food glorious food

Vietnam had to offer, and came to terms with its sometimes confusing

or disappointing, and erstwhile tragic aspects
War memories

The Flower Hmong, Black Hmong, Giay, Dao, Nung- magical names, discovered in a blog many months ago, fired up my imagination
Flower Hmong

and were actually the reason we decided to visit Vietnam in the first place. And it was worth every hard won local-bus kilometre and every motor scooter jolt to find the people behind the labels

The Saturday market at Can Cau, where these ethnic groups- not minorities for once- gather

for shopping and weekend fun, isn’t that hard to get to- It’s just a nine hour train, two hour bus and a beautiful one hour motorcycle hop, skip and jump from Hanoi!

Our Escape-Mass-Tourism-Strategy dictates early starts for all excursions, so we took up a strategically ideal position in Bac Ha City on a Friday afternoon and tracked down a motorcycle for the ride higher up into the hills the next day.
Pretty quiet place Bac Ha….
Bac Ha

(except on Sundays when a huge market draws crowds from near and far..)

Saturday morning- water buffalo and locals as far as the eye could see

We were entranced. There is nothing staged about Can Cau, little that caters to touristic expectations. These ethnic communities seem to be thriving- and willing to embrace modernity, while holding on to what makes them unique and special in a world of rapidly spreading conformity. The Sunday market in Bac Ha confirmed this impression.  Though noticeably more touristic (tour vans started to pull up when we left at 10am), we were pleasantly ignored while browsing the market…..

Speaking of magical names- the Perfume River was another Vietnamese destination my imagination wanted to set sail to
Perfume River

The river meanders through the Imperial City of Hué

and invites cruising to a handful of not so ancient,  but monumental, tombs and a few unexpected riverside gems

No dreamy sweet scents wafted across the Perfume River though-
No perfume

Vietnam doesn’t exactly flaunt its charms. But we did eat flower rice
Flower Rice

from a banana leaf on a cool mountain morning. In the end, we wouldn’t trade our Vietnamese experience for the warm and fuzzy comforts* of anywhere. (*Yep, Laos here we come….)

5 Responses to Vietnam and the Benefit of Doubt

  1. Looks like quite an adventure! Great text and photos! Next time, please don’t forget the food pix, Vietnam surely has a lot to offer in that regard.

    Greetings from chilly Zuerich, Hans

  2. December 9, 2015 at 18:54
    Brigitte Fischer says:

    Reading your reports from Cambodia and Vietnam one thing is clear to me: Getting up early is at any rate worth the strain. The early bird is catching the worm – as we say in Switzerland!

    Greetings from Switzerland.

  3. Hi, Regina –
    Just checking in after a long time. Looks like you’re staying off the beaten path. Let me hear from you – no big news here, though I did go to both Australia and Greece in 2015 (in very tame ways!)
    Love, Ardis

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