Sometimes, being the wife of the owner of http://nomadstent.co.uk/ includes such duties as Itinerary Organiser, Packer of all Electronic Chargers, Photographer and, best of all, Travelling Companion. This time it was Vietnam.
We were based mainly in the bustling old quarter of the city of Hanoi, in Hotel Charming 2, which lived up to its name. We broke up city life with one weekend in the mountains of Sapa, and then an overnight boat trip around Ha Long Bay from Cat Ba island.
We quickly learned to negotiate the mad, yet extraordinarily smooth and beautiful dance of the traffic in the streets of old Hanoi. A phenomenon which seems to characterise many developing countries, I feel it reflects their essential attitude to life: “There’s no time for traffic lights and road rage. Take responsibility for yourself, keep your eyes open, be respectful and then GO!”
We also survived the five hour trip on the “Sleeper Bus” (i.e. the coffin bus) up into the mountains, when vomiting was done in stereo, (not by us, thank goodness). We opted for the train on subsequent journeys out of Hanoi.
We discovered that the reason the tribal women in the mountains of Sapa speak good English from girlhood is basic economic survival: they need to charm the tourists into buying their textile crafts to help feed the family. Sadly, this also means they often have to leave school at a very young age.
I was wary of the fixed tours for Ha Long Bay which go from Hanoi, not least because they were beyond our budget. Luckily, I stumbled across the idea a tour from Cat Ba island in the Bay. With three days notice, I managed to book a wee boat with a guide and a captain, for two full days and one overnight in a private cabin, all meals and wine included, etc. etc., for £100 each. Our two ever-obliging hosts even managed to connect our mini ipod to the boat’s stereo, so we floated about listening to Ali Farka Toure, Dinah Washington, Sting, and various classical pieces such as Alfred Brendel playing Chopin. Peaceful. Magical. Bliss.
Throughout our three weeks, I often wished I was a painter with oils, rather than a tourist relying on a camera to capture the sublime sights. Andrew will tell you that I didn’t even try to limit my ever-itchy trigger finger. ( N.B. SD memory cards are the one item NOT cheaper in Vietnam.)
Please note, we experienced just a small corner of Vietnam for a very short time. It is a dynamic, diverse place with over 200 different tribes, who are all incredibly hard working, devoted to their children and very welcoming to foreigners, even those carrying an American passport and a camera.
In a (likely vain) attempt to avoid overwhelming any viewers, I’ve categorised the collections mainly according to location, rather than subject or event.
So there are three new galleries on the website: Hanoi street, Sapa Vietnam, Ha Long Bay Vietnam
I hope you enjoy them even half as much as I did creating them.