Well, Ive been away for various reasons for four weeks and Id love to think you,ve missed me. (wishful thinking) Anyway Ive a sttory to tell. I went to Vietnam for a fortnights holiday. I would recommend the country to everyone. It is simply stunning. I tavelled from Hanoi in the North taking in the coast at Halong Bay then down to Danang, Hoi An and Hue then south to Ho Chi Min City (Saigon) and the Mekong Delta.
Hanoi is the capital, 10 million people, 5 million motor bikes and scooters and you cant see the sun for the pollution. Still a very interesting place to visit. Kalong Bay is nothing like Ive ever seen. Hundred of stand alone limestone islands . It was very misty when we sailed through them and it made for an even greater sense of mystery. It was beautiful.
Then into the middle of Vietnam flying about 700 miles to Danang a modern thriving young city and probably my favourite place Hoi An and the historical Hue, the old capital.
Then another 700 mile flight down to Ho Chi Min. By the way the weather in Hanoi was jeans, jumpers and coats and then Hoi An shorts and shirts and in the south flip flops , shorts and T shirts. Inother words cool, warm and pleasant then hot and uncomfortably humid. Saigon is a much more pleasant city than Hanoi, More French influence more affluence but with similar pollution problems. The Mekong Delta is a step back in time where the poor people are still poor.
All in all varied and beautiful country. But the people are just the kindest, happy attractive people i have ever come across. They are just so friendly. And the food is delicious. Fresh and appetising.
There were however two down sides to the visit. Firstly ive just told you how friendly the people are. And this is despite what has happened to them in the last 40-odd years.
They were invaded by the French, then the Japanese, then the French again, the Americans then had a 3 year civil war. The Americans in particular sprayed 12,000 sq miles of forest with chemicals such as napalm and the infamous Agent Orange. As they found it difficult to kill an enemy who hid underground they decided to kill all the vegatation so they had nothing to live on. Eventually the Americans realised this was a war they couldnt win they they packed up and went home. Unfortunately they left 200,000 Vietnamese maimed disfigured or producing deformed children due to the effects of these chemicals ,mainly Agent Orange. It will affect them for another two generations.
The vietnamese sued the Americans but lost as the Geneva Disarmament Convention states that if an opposing army uses foliage to conceal or camouflage combatants or conceal military objectives the attacking army can use what ever it wants to destroy the foliage.
The Americans however compensated thier own War Veterans who handled the stuff!!!!!!
Sad really, but the amazing thing is the Vietnamese do not seem bitter about it.
The other down side i found was that it is a typical Communist country in that it is totally corrupt. If you are a member of the party you can become rich but if not you will be held back
And finally my own little story. Half way through the holiday I became ill as it turned out later, campylobacter causing food poisoning. But as we were travelling around a lot all I could do was use Immodium, Dyoralite and indigestion remedies to keep me going. Ad it turned out my diarrhoea lasted nearly two weeks and i lost 8/9 pounds in weight. To make matters worse because my resistance was low I contracted an ear and chest infection . It is only in the last few days Im recovering.
So an evenful trip. Ok I was ill for some of the time but if you ever get the chance visit Vietnam. It is just a stunning experience.
Poem attached time-stood-still