Adventures with Miss Scuba throughout Asia - Part 2: Vietnam
One month journey through Asia with destination Similan Islands. Start our trip in Hong Kong, where East meet West to ease into our Vietnam and Thailand trecking and diving trip spiced up with local markets, cooking classes, temple visits and massages.
Miss Scuba Experiences Chinese New Year in Vietnam
One feature that makes Hong Kong Airport my favorite hub is the fact that one can check in her luggage in Downtown and take the sky train to the airport without slapping dive gear and camera stuff behind.
Spending five days in Hong Kong as the first stop during our one month journey might have been a bit long, but it provided a nice chance to slow down from LA” go go go… lifestyle.
During the two hours flight I wanted to kill someone, namely the person who had an alarm clock in her bag that went off and was beeping for the whole flight. Just as we landed, Hilaire realized that the noisy thing was the alarm control for the flight attendant. ;)
When visiting Vietnam, travelers changing $100 become instant millionaires with the exchange rate. 1USD = 15.000 Vietnamese Dong (BTW: it is illegal to take their money out of the country)
We prearranged a pick up through our hotel. To my greatest surprise, an unexpectedly nice car took us to Hanoi ($25). The one hour trip provided a superb opportunity to watch the ways locals get ready for the Chinese New Year. An array of motorcycles passed by with 5-6 feet (2m) mini orange trees wrapped on the back of almost every other bike. Men were getting hair cuts at street corners. Women carried enormous size flower bouquets and gift baskets. The city was sizzling with anticipation and happiness.
The traffic was an insane chaos yet we only saw one small accident in a week. Cars, motorcycles and pedestrians were crossing the street junctions all at the same time from every directions. Most crossroads are not equipped with traffic lights. Those that actually had a light to control the flow of traffic were totally ignored. Red or green… people were crossing all at the same time, avoiding each other by inches.
The food and drinks are incredibly affordable. At a reasonably trendy restaurant with great view of the happenings freshly prepared local meals are $2-3, while most drinks are $3.
Hilaire and I were watching the traffic one night over dinner and discussed how amazing that we have not seen a crash yet when a tuk tuk bumped frontally into a nice red car. The dirty clothed delivery driver was just about to take off when a well dressed man jumped out of the red car and stopped the tuk tuk. The driver reached for a metal stick and got out. Hell broke loose. The tuk tuk driver hit the car several times ruining the perfect paint job while the man in a suit were trying to get a good hit land on the head of the other guy. The crowed surrounded the fight. The flow of traffic in this major cross road was disabled. The police showed up, separated them and left. Of course they were going to continue the fight, but the crowed separated them and made sure that they went in their separate ways.
There are an enormous number of markets. Whole streets are dedicated to different goods. One street is the “jeans market”, another is the “sun glasses market” while the street parallel running sells mainly kitchen accessories. I had to buy a jacket as I was not prepared for the cold. I expected hot and humid weather in Asia, but Vietnam was freezing. I scored a “designer” coat for $20.
One of the most touching thing during our stay was the visit to the Women’s Museum. Incredible and unbelievable the courage these often only 8-10 year old girls displayed during the French and American invasions. They were harvesting rice and corn, searched for explosives and fought in enemy front lines. Often they were tortured, imprisoned, killed or became highly decorated before age 14 and well before women fought for equal rights in other foreign countries. Man and woman are treated absolutely equally in Vietnam.
Vietnam reminds me more of Cambodia than Thailand. The country is tremendously poor, yet the natives are incredibly friendly to all visitors. I was somewhat surprised to experience this much hospitality despite the history of this country. It was hard to experience and witness poverty in such proximity.
I was stuck in our room for a few days due to the unhealthy condition of air in Hanoi. The pollution was so intolerable that my otherwise healthy lungs were burning as soon as I set foot outside. As soon as we reached Thailand I felt like a million bucks.
Next on the way to our final destination, getting on a liveaboard with friends to the Similan Islands in Thailand, camera operator Hilaire Brosio and Miss Scuba will stop inNorthern Thailand to ride elephants and pet tigers in Chiang Mai. Follow their adventures here