Merry Christmas & Spring Rolls...
Xin Chao from Vietnam!
December 6th, we flew into the bustling Northern city of Hanoi, Vietnam and were welcomed by a multitude of scooters, people and shops of all kinds. Here we learned how to negotiate a street crossing with non-stop traffic zipping around us and refuse a purchase by the most persistent shop vendors. Calls of "you buy!", "where you from?", "special price", "lovely boys!", "cyclo ride-one hour!" echoed constantly. We had some fabulous Vietnamese foods like Pho Ga (chicken noodle soup) and Seafood in a Clay Pot with Green Banana and Silver (rice) Paper and took in the famous Water Puppet Theatre show. We then took a 3 day trip to Halong Bay ("Halong" translates into "where the dragon descends into the sea") and toured around a few of the 3000 islands in a Vietnamese Junk. Touring Monkey Island by kayak was a highlight until one of the monkeys nearly attacked us for a Pringle. By night train, bus, airplane and taxi we've travelled down Eastern coast through Hue, Hoi An, Nha Trang and finally to Mui Ne where we will spend Christmas. Highlights include exploring the many cultures of Vietnam at the Museum of Ethnography, Oliver steering our boat in Halong Bay (much to our surprise), bicycling through the rain (a bit of our good old Portland weather caught up with us), watching a Water Buffalo plow a rice field, hiking through the ancient city My Son with still visible signs of damage from the war in the 70s, and negotiating a fair price for a small rosewood sword for Emmett. Travel in Vietnam has not been without its challenges. The fact that it is a bit less travelled is both a blessing and source of frustration. It IS great for our budget: good hotel for 4 people with breakfast included: $25, dinner and dessert: $10, 5 hour bus trip: $3.
We are reminded every day of how lucky we are and so grateful for this experience and for our friends and family who've been so supportive. We are thinking of you all this holiday - and YES, there have been numerous Santa sightings on this side of the world -we hope he knows how to negotiate a thatched roof! We wish you a blessed season and a fabulous 2007!