Thursday, June 15, 2006

Summer in Viet Nam

Well it is all happening here in Viet Nam...Summer Festivals in Hue and Hoi An.

But let me start at the beginning of our Vn experience. One of the pax asked me to find a place where she could take a photo of the rice paddies and the workers with their conical hats. After a day I remembered (oops) so when I spotted some I asked the driver to stop. Off we piled (all 7 of us, remember this is the ladies trip) and started taking pics. The ladies in the paddies were about 50m away and waved us over to them. They are very friendly in rural Vn - not trying to get money off you every 5 seconds. So off we trot, over the bridge, down the path on top off the wall separating the paddies and into the paddy which is muddy, that wet type, but not sloshy, and no sooner did we get there when we were handed the sickles and told to get to work cutting the rice! This was very funny, one lady donned the conical hat and we took turns in cutting the rice and taking photos. It was pretty easy, I got the hang of it quickly, but can't imagine it as a career move, I would have a bad back after 30 mins. So I cut and piled the rice stalks and when I stopped, got chastised and told to keep working. I must have cut for about 15 mins when we decided it was time to escape before we became rice harvesting labourers. They also gave us some refreshing lemon water to drink, so if I die of dysentry or something, you'll know where I got it.

Then we had some time laying around on a boat on Halong Bay, I told you this was a hard job right? Finally to Hanoi to see the sleeping Ho Chi Minh - but I skipped him this time. The train to Hue was better this time, the aircon worked, pity about the 8 yo kid who decided that Vn pop music is great and you don't need headphones!

In Hue they had a Festival on, so we were there for the closing ceremony. We saw a concert on the big screen because I refused to mosh pit with these people who have no sense of personal space and in this heat, everyone needs a shower! The end of concert fireworks were great, nothing on Sydney, but the highlight was the laterns. They set off all these huge lanterns that are made of paper with a flame in the ring at the bottom and they floated off effortlessly in the breeze. It looked awesome, esp with the full moon behind. There was of course a few that imitated the Hindenberg, but on the whole it was excellent.

We are now in Hoi An, (and while there is no McD here, they have still managed to eat mostly western food of hamburgers and pasta. Why are they here again?) Anyway, I digress. There is a Summer Festival on here too. Apparently the first one that they have had, though I would probably have saved it until Autumn as it is hideously hot here and very few tourists. Actually it is only about 38-40 and I hear it is 50 in Qatar, (so you win Stu).

I digress again...last night 3 of us went to the beach for a concert. It was a Fire Rites and dancing performed by the Central Highlands people. Really good. A bit embarrassing though as they clearly wanted the western tourists to be prominent, so they conjured up some seats for us in the front row with the sponsors (felt like I should make a donation) and then invited us to participate in some rice wine drinking ceremony, don't know what it represents, but hell, can't say no and offend the locals! I think we will be on TV tto, but luckily you guys won't see it.

This afternoon (Thursday 15 June) we are going back to the beach to watch some elephant racing. that should be funny! I think I might have a swim while I am there.

Tomorrow I head off to HCM City again and then we go to Cambodia. This trip finishes on 24 June.

Bye then


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