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Waiting for My (Wo)Man

Sunday, December 10th, 2006

vn.jpgWith 126,000 dong in my hand…

(All apologies to Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground)

Most all of the towns I have visited so far cater to tourists of course. The average wage for most Vietnamese is about $5 a day, and that is if he/she is working a job, rather than laboring in the fields.

So, many people sell trinkets and other assorted items and services to us. It’s a way to make a dong, especially if the mark doesn’t barter.

Here in Sapa, the nearby Hmong and Dzao hill tribes come in and sell local handicrafts (and chinese-made items that resemble these goods). Most are women. The grannies are a hard sell – even tougher than the little kids. Bartering is good fun.

Come dark, the Hmong have other items to sell: marijuana, hashhish, and opium. In other parts of Viet Nam it’s the moto-taxi drivers or the cigarette vendors who offer a connection. [read on]

Sapa by Motor Bike

Saturday, December 9th, 2006

sapa.jpgAdventure changed to trouble when I rounded the bend of a narrow road that had long ago turned to a sloppy single track of red mud.

Down in the valley below and barely visible through the mist was Sapa. I had taken my rented motorbike down a dirt road some 4 hours ago and was tired, hungry and thirsty. Having Sapa, in my sights was temptation with a capital ‘T’.

And as the song goes, that stands for trouble.

The town is in the most hilly/mountainous section of northern Viet Nam and the trail I took hugged the side of a steep valley of terraced rice paddies and vegetable gardens.

There is one paved road that runs through Sapa, and on my first day here, Dave, Jonna and I headed west towards Fansipan, a nearby 3143 meter mountain.

The very narrow road was twisty and turn-y with lots of ascents and descents – perfect fun for a motorcycle. Part of the experience was dodging potholes, goats, pigs, water buffalo, and on-coming trucks. [read on]

Ha Long Bay/Ca Ba Island

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006
halong.jpgI've just returned from a 3 day visit to one of the more spectacular places I've seen so far - Ha Long Bay. On the first day, I boarded a boat (a junk-style house boat) and ... [Continue reading this entry]

Suitable Hoi An

Sunday, November 26th, 2006
suit.jpgSometimes I do wonder just what in the hell I am doing. I've been in Hoi An in Central Vietnam for just over 24 hours and I just came from the final fitting for 2 suits I had ... [Continue reading this entry]