Vietnam: separate ways but not for long

Cat Ba Travel Blog

 › entry 21 of 24 › view all entries

yo! r` u` donig folks? last monday when back from wonderful cat ba island me and my brother heiko were faced with a dilemma. basically , it was that i didn`t like to spend more days in hanoi. i just don`t like the place at all. pollution is rampant (most people go around with masks covering their mounths and noses). the traffic on the streets, as heiko mentioned in his last entry, is unbeliavble chaotic. it just took too much energy staying allert all the time for fear of our ass being run down by some uncosiderate centaurous. no monuments to see, no whorthy souvenir hunting available, no massagge; plus the temperature: only 20 something degrees. no thatks, by now i`m used to my 30 degrees :-) . problem was sara was arriving the day after and we surely didn`t want the poor girl suffering from jet lag taking an unconfortable 15 hours bus ride through the night.

we decided i`d go ahead and meet with my wildfriends in some town down in the south of the country. one last word on hanoi is that i think the memory of the war is still alive in the capital or, maybe they "proudly" want to keep it alive; anyway, that was my impression. fact is most of the old generation, i mean people in their 50s, go around with a hat which is a riproduction of the one used by the vietcong soldiers during the vietnam war. only instead of being made of metal is fabric. how wierd!!!

one day while we were eating at an outside caffee reastaurant an old man all of a sudden started glaring at us for no apparent reason. after a few interminable minutes the old chap, in an angry voice asked us if we were americans. our NO answer reassured him and he gingerly walked away.

anyway, this was an isolated incident. for the rest people here seems genuinely interested to meet you. what`s you name?, where are you from?, and would you like to marry me? are the tipical questions.

moving down south i`ve found the hot temperature i`d been caving for a while. i stopped at hue, hoi an and just this morning arrived in nha trang where in a couple of days i`ll be joined by heiko and sara. i haven`t been doing much activity recently. i`ve read the da vinci code book, which i find full of bullshits; i`ve done lots of sunbathing on the beach, plus i`ve been cycling a lot around the spectacular countryside and visited few UNESCO sites, like pagodas and tombs.

a funny thing happened to me in hoi an. basically, while i was on my rented bike cycling under the hot sun i decided to get rid of my t-shirt and uncover my hairy chest.

only after an hour or so i became aware of the stares i was attracting. i even whistled and waved hallo to a few young women who immediately turned away with a shy look on their faces. in the evening while reading some vietnamese litterature in the lonely planet i came across a shocking paragraph. it said that people visiting hoi an are strongly reccommended to behave themselves and dress appropiately in respect of the local townpeople who only recently have opened up to tourists and foriners. it went on saying: wear long sleeves and trousers and try keep your head down. ah... and to think that i was going around nearly naked. what a shame!!! :-)

yesterday evening i left hoi an at 6pm. this morning at 5am the bus driver shouted that we had arrived in nha trang.

waking up and looking out of the window i thought i was dreaming. it was barely dawn and at the huge beach (5km long) we stopped there was an amazing crowd (thousand and thousand of people) doing all sort of sports and swimming in the ocean. i`m telling you!... that was a surreal scene!!! in my opinion when it comes to cultural shock so far vietnam comes number one. when i whent back at midday the beach was deserted.

tomorrow i`m going on a boat tour to check out 4 inhabited islands . i`ve been told that snorkeling out there is quite good. hopefully i`ll be spotting a shark or some other beautiful marine creature.

that`s it for now

take care


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Cat Ba
photo by: ulysses