Mekong Delta and Ho Chi Minh (Saigon)

Our last stop in Vietnam was in the south.  First we stopped in Ho Chi Minh for the day and then spent three days on the Mekong delta in a Sampan (small boat) that we rented for three days and two nights.  And Finally we returned to Ho Chi Minh for three days to terminate our trip.

Ho Chi Minh, contrary to the other parts of Vietnam we visited, was a very busy metropolitain city with all the exclusive brand stores and state of the art buildings, restaurants and stores that cater mostly to tourists and then there is the other part of the town that is more geared to what the vietnamese can afford.

On our first day we explored the city and visited the War Museum, the Post Office, the Cathedral and the city in general.  Then we headed to the Mekong Delta where we sent off on our sampan.  This is a private little boat that includes an english tour guide, a captain and two helpers.  They all catered to only David and I.  We spent three days and two nights visting the Delta, taking in the beautiful scenery and stopping periodically to visit a market, a brick making factory, a candy factory, a temple,  we also had supper at the house of a wealthy local, etc.  All very interesting and eye opening.

On our return to Ho Chi Minh, we took a day to go and visit the Cu Chi tunnels where the Viet Cong hid and fought the americans during the Vietnam War.  We were given a history lesson from the perspective of the Vietnamese and NOT what we’ve always heard from the  American version and movies it was very unsettling to see how these people managed to live for years in these tiny tunnels with all that entailed.  Bugs, scorpions, bombs exploding overhead, tunnels being flooded by the americans to ‘flush out’ the Viet Cong, etc.  I walked about 40 meters (walking is a generous term, more like scuttled along bent over, and I’m only 5’3”) and was very anxious to get out, so I definately, could not image living full time in these tunnels.

On our last day, we visited some museums and did a little last minute souvenir shopping.

The Vietnamese are an amazing, accepting, resilient people who still manage to be happy with the little they have and who have learned to put the past behind them and live for the future.

The Rex Hotel at night.

The Rex Hotel at night.

View from our room at the Rex.  The Rex is where the foreign correspondants would meet and exchange stories during the Vietnam war.  This gathering of correspondants was called the Five O'Clock Follies.

View from our room at the Rex. The Rex is where the foreign correspondants would meet and exchange stories during the Vietnam war. This gathering of correspondants was called the Five O’Clock Follies.

View from the Rex Hotel Bar

View from the Rex Hotel Bar

View from the Rex Hotel bar

View from the Rex Hotel bar

Ho Chi Minh at sunset

Ho Chi Minh at sunset

Inside the Post Office

Inside the Post Office

Inside the Notre Dame Cathedral build by the French during their occupation

Inside the Notre Dame Cathedral built by the French during their occupation

Traffic outside Ho Chi Minh

Traffic outside Ho Chi Minh

More Traffic

More Traffic

On our way to the Cu Chi Tunnels

On our way to the Cu Chi Tunnels

Washing the laundry

Washing laundry On the Delta

Brick Transporter

Brick Transporter

Water marketplace

Water marketplace

Would you like some pineapples?

Would you like some pineapples?

Each boat posts on a long mast what they are selling.

Each boat posts on a long mast what they are selling.

Bargaining on the river

Bargaining on the river

Water marketplace

Water marketplace

Another Village at sunset

Village at sunset

Activity outside the temple

Activity outside the temple

Inside the temple, where people are getting ready to worship.

Inside the temple, where people are getting ready to worship.

Marketplace garb.

Marketplace garb.

The village

The village

Brick Making Factory

Brick Making Factory

Workers in the factory

Workers in the factory

Shoveling in the rice shucks to fuel the fire to cook the bricks.

Shoveling in the rice shucks to fuel the fire to cook the bricks.

Carrying out the cooked bricks.

Carrying out the cooked bricks.

Young boy in the brick factory

Young boy in the brick factory

Brick factory angles, running around the factory with no shoes or safety gear.  Supervision you say?  None whatsoever.

Brick factory angles, running around the factory with no shoes or safety gear. Supervision you say? None whatsoever.

My little angles

My little angles

Once the bricks are made, they are shipped off by boat to other villages.

Once the bricks are made, they are shipped off by boat to other villages.

Fishermen

Fishermen

Fishing at sunrise

Fishing at sunrise

Work on the river at sunrise

Work on the river at sunrise

Landscape at sunrise

Landscape at sunrise

Internet cafe where young village boys congregate.

Internet cafe where young village boys congregate.

Marketplace in the small village

Marketplace in the small village

Young boy doing homework in the boat.

Young boy doing homework in the boat.

Housing and people working

Housing and people working

More Village Activity

More Village Activity

Activity at the village

Activity at the village

Small village at sunset

Small village at sunset

Landscape with reflection.

Landscape with reflection.

Temple, I loved the reflection in the water

Temple, I loved the reflection in the water

Bridges are very active and often have people, walking, biking or using their Vespas on them.

Bridges are very active and often have people, walking, biking or using their Vespas on them.

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Housing on the Mekong

Fishermen, this photo was taken at sunrise.  They are hard working and get to the task at hand very early.

Fishermen, this photo was taken at sunrise. They are hard working and get to the task at hand very early.

Fishermen

Fishermen with his traps

Fishermen on the river.

Fishermen on the river.

Washing clothes, a regular activity on the river.

Washing clothes, a regular activity on the river.

Banana salesboat

Banana salesboat

Women working in the Candy factory.

Women working in the Candy factory.

Process of making popped rice.

Process of making popped rice.

Making Coconut Canady, Delicious

Making Coconut Canady, Delicious

Woman showing us the making of rice paper

Woman showing us the making of rice paper

Spreading the rice paper around

Spreading the rice paper around

Checking if the rice paper is ready to take off to dry.

Checking if the rice paper is ready to take off to dry.

Dock to the candy factory

Dock to the candy factory

Building along the Mekong Waterway

Building along the Mekong Waterway

Young woman waiting to escort us to our table at a french restaurant in the middle of nowhere.

Young woman waiting to escort us to our table at a french restaurant in the middle of nowhere.

Typical bridge over one of the many small waterways off of the Mekong Delta

Typical bridge over one of the many small waterways off of the Mekong Delta

Fighting Cocks, this is still a widly accepted sport in Vietnam.

Fighting Cocks, this is still a widly accepted sport in Vietnam.

Sapa – North Vietnam

During our travels to Vietnam, Sapa was probably the most eye opening, beautiful and destabilizing of all.  However, in the three weeks that I was in Vietnam, I will remember the people of Sapa the most and I was only there for two days.  I could have spent weeks here and never gotten sick of the place or the amazingly nice people.  The children were cute as buttons, the women so hard working and strong in both mind, body and spirt it was humbling, the men, kinda scarce.

On our first day in Sapa we travelled to the Bac Ha Market to see how the locals traded and lived.  It was a feast for the eyes. The colors, the smiles, the bartering and bargaining was enjoyable.  It always amazes me that some tourist will squable for a buck when these hard working people have so much less then we do.  Share the love people.  Very enjoyable to see how they lived, work and socialized.

Our second day was spent trekking with the Sapa Sisters.  This is a very small organization of a few women who are trying to empower women in their country.  They give trekking tours in the rice fields and villages and are absolutely charming, entertaining and knowledgeable.  They are also very good with the english language and are pretty easy to understand.  When we went I was disappointed at first because it was raining and misting and we debated on cancelling the trek.  But we had taken an overnight train from Hanoi to see Sapa and I didn’t want a little rain to deter us.  So we I rented some mud boots (they had none in my husbands size) and we bought cheap rain coats and off we were.  Our Guide Pen was absolutely awesome.  We were also followed by two other young women who one day aspired to be tour guides and followed us for 7 hours in order to sell us some of their goods but also to try and learn english.   In the end they saved both my husband and I from slipping and falling in the mud quite a few times and deserved the big tip we gave them.    I had also brought along some warm clothing for the children and this were handed out by our guide to everyone she knew.  She only kept one item for her daughter.  Quite different from our culture.  So when we said our goodbyes to Pen, I gave her my fur lined hoody.  She was so taken aback that she tood a bracelet off her arm and very gently put it on mine.  Needless to say, I still wear it today.  So if you are ever in Vietnam, don’t miss a trek with the Sapa Sisters, you will not be disappointed.

Check out my post on the Children of Vietnam to get a better insight into these amazing little ones.

Tribes women

Tribes women

Rice fields,  These are all done by hand.  No heavy machinery here.

Rice fields, These are all done by hand. No heavy machinery here.

Young woman selling bags to tourist at the Bac Ha Market

Young woman selling bags to tourist at the Bac Ha Market

Shoes

Shoes

Woman selling yams

Woman selling yams

Woman watching the men negotiate the sale of a water buffalo

Woman watching the men negotiate the sale of a water buffalo

Water buffalo, they run wild on the farms and are used to work the fields.

Water buffalo, they run wild on the farms and are used to work the fields.

Wise old woman in Bac Ha

Wise old woman in Bac Ha

Woman selling their vegetables at the market

Woman selling their vegetables at the market

Young woman of Bac Ha

Young woman of Bac Ha

Wise old woman of Bac Ha Market

Wise old woman of Bac Ha Market

Eating lunch in a village house in Bac Ha

Eating lunch in a village house in Bac Ha

Elder of the family

Elder of the family

Woman and child

Woman and child

Sapa, this was one of the recipients of clothes that I had brought.

Sapa, this was one of the recipients of clothes that I had brought.

This was a woman from the Red Dao village tribe

This was a woman from the Red Dao village tribe

One of the young women who followed us and aspired to one day be a guide.  She was trying to learn english.

One of the young women who followed us and aspired to one day be a guide. She was trying to learn english.

Trekking with Sapa Sisters

Trekking with Sapa Sisters

Trekking

Trekking

Trekking

Trekking

When we stopped for lunch, our Guide Pen was giving out the childrens clothes I had brought.  This woman was a happy recipient.

When we stopped for lunch, our Guide Pen was giving out the childrens clothes I had brought. This woman was a happy recipient.

Another happy Sapa Woman

Another happy Sapa Woman

On the left our Guide Pen with our two 'followers' and another young recipient of children's clothing and accessories.

On the left our Guide Pen with our two ‘followers’ and another young recipient of children’s clothing and accessories.

View from our lunch cafeteria

View from our lunch cafeteria

Our guide Pen's aunt in her home.

Our guide Pen’s aunt in her home.

Woman working at her sewing machine.  It was really dark in the house and all she had was a little light on top of her head with lots of smoke coming from the fire on the ground.

Woman working at her sewing machine. It was really dark in the house and all she had was a little light on top of her head with lots of smoke coming from the fire on the ground.

Woman at work in Sapa

Woman at work in Sapa

Getting a helping hand from Pen.

Getting a helping hand from Pen.

Just a 'little' muddy

Just a ‘little’ muddy