November 17th, 2015 / posted by paularath
College grads in Hanoi visit a temple where they celbrate and throw their mortar boards into the clear blue sky.

College grads in Hanoi visit a temple where they celebrate and throw their mortar boards into the clear blue sky.

This blog is a brief overview of where Jerry and I went during our time in Indochina. We spent five days in Hanoi, followed by two weeks traveling in Vietnam, Cambodia and a couple of days in Bangkok.

In the days to come, I will share more photos and stories about our trip. We traveled with a group of 11 people from all over the U.S. and we really lucked out, as everyone in the group was bright, enthusiastic and well-traveled. No wimps or whiners!

As mentioned in my previous blog, I have been to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos during war times. Jerry, on the other hand, had never visited Indochina. He was, however, deeply involved with the war effort. As an Army orthopedist, he spent three years in Japan, which was where the wounded were taken to from Vietnam. He is all too familiar with the devastation the war caused to so many of our young men.

At first we both felt a bit strange as tourists in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Our group rode Cyclos one evening through the historic old town of Hanoi. A bit scary - but not as scary as crossing the street on our own!

Our group rode Cyclos one evening through the historic old town of Hanoi. A bit scary – but not as scary as crossing the street on our own! There are no traffic rules in Hanoi.

I must say Hanoi really surprised me. It’s a thriving metropolis of around 6.5 million people, and about 5 million motor scooters!

Tons of bombs fell on Hanoi during the Vietnam War but the historic city center was not bombed. Now the entire city rises up in splendor and there are no signs of war remaining in the bustling, motor-scooter-crazed metropolis.

What we found there were warm, genuine hospitality, passion and enthusiasm for the city and the nation.

Sunrise at Ha Long Bay.

Sunrise at Ha Long Bay.

HA LONG BAY

We spent overnight on a junk in Ha Long Bay, considered one of the most beautiful and dramatic landscapes in the world. There are 2,000 islands in Ha Long Bay and you can visit a few of them and climb in the caves or kayak around them.

Jerry had his ups and downs with this monkey! At one point he had to fend him off with a stool. Photo by Jerry Mayfield

Jerry had his ups and downs with this monkey. At one point he had to fend him off with a stool! Then I gave him a banana and we were befriended.
Photo by Jerry Mayfield

DANANG

OK. So here’s my confession: The most fun I had in Danang was fooling around with the monkeys on our lanai. We stayed in a spectacular hotel (actually, every hotel we stayed in was pretty spectacular, but this one was over the top) that is surrounded by tropical jungle and the monkeys have figured out that guests like us will sometimes have a banana or mango for them.

 

Between Danang and Hoi An we stopped to see how  a small truck farm is run. There were lots of water buffalo in some fields, but this farm was not prosperous enough to have any.

We stopped to see how a small truck farm is run. There were lots of water buffalo in some fields, but this farm was not prosperous enough to have any.

HOI AN

Hoi An is a silk village and I was quite excited to visit it. It was fun to make a silk lantern and see how they grow silk worms there, but it was just too commercialized to be exciting.

ANGKOR WAT, SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA

My parents and sister, Berta, had the great fortune to visit Angkor Wat  in 1967. I was always jealous of that.

Of course it must have been tremendous seeing the temple with virtually no one else around. (Now it’s hard to avoid the crowds.) And I would have loved it when there was only one hotel. (Now there are hundreds). But I was fortunate because today there are so many temples to explore and archaeologists have uncovered many more secrets of this amazing place and the people who built it.

Buddhist monks head to Angkor Thom Temple for prayers.

Buddhist monks head to Angkor Thom Temple for prayers.

– Paula Rath

 

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