Will and Mayang's Travels - Vietnam, August 2004

We arrived in Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon).  Even more than elsewhere in Vietnam, it's a city of motorbikes.  Although there are lots of motorbike accidents, there are no real traffic jams to speak of (traffic can be heavy but keeps flowing), nobody has difficulty parking and you only have to wait a few seconds for the traffic lights to change (good for pedestrians in the hot sun).  Let's hope they can keep it this way, and just encourage more people to wear helmets.  It may not be a rich country, but it seems very fair - few very rich people, and few very poor either.  Communism at work?

The houses and guesthouses are all tall and thin (really thin!).  We had a good view from our top-floor balcony.

We went on a tour to the Mekong delta, which included a trip down narrow rivers where we were lent traditional Vietnamese hats to keep off the sun.

Speaking of the hats, they are widely worn especially by those who work outside, like these gardeners in an urban park.

We also went to see some tunnels that had help the Vietnamese communists defeat the Americans - partly because the Americans were too fat and couldn't chase the Vietnamese into the tunnels!  I just about managed to get in this entrance hole, and I am quite thin!

Then, we took the long (very long, 1500km, 40 hour) train journey to the Hanoi in the north.

After taking out some money, I was pleased to find myself a multi-millionnaire.  I think it went to my head!

In Hanoi, we took a cyclo (bicycle rickshaw) ride ...

...to see the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh (affectionately called 'Uncle Ho' by the Vietnamese people).  He lies bathed in rose-coloured light and surrounded by guards wearing all white and staring straight ahead.  Cameras are cameras are forbidden inside, so you'll have to make do with a picture from the outside.

One other expedition was an early morning trip for Mayang to do some running in Lenin park in Hanoi.  There were hundreds of people doing aerobics, tai-chi and other traditional exercises.  Here, old people do a form of tai-chi with bright red traditional fans as Mayang runs past.  Later they put down their fans and moved to traditional swords!

For some panoramic photos of Vietnam, see http://www.willsmith.org/pano/vietnam/

All pictures and other media are Copyright ©2004 William Owen Smith and Mayang Adnin.