• River cruise
  • Northern Vietnam
  • Central Vietnam
  • Southern Vietnam
  • Day Trip
  • Beach Destination
  • Ecotourist Destination
  • Vietnam Discovery
  • Cambodia Wonders
  • Laos Highlights
4 Reviews
Noellef889
Noellef889 16:16 2014/09/06
Our Trip in Vietnam

Have you ever thought about going to the other side of the earth? I hadn’t until Noelle E. and David asked me to travel with them to Vietnam. After traveling 10,000 miles, flying 20 hours with 6 hours of layovers, we arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, which is 12 hours different than Florida time. In our travels we lost one day.

Vietnam is a very different place than where we live. The traffic consists of many motorbikes; the cars that are on the streets are taxis; and a few trucks. To walk across the street David took my elbow and said “let’s go” weaving in and around the motor bikes.

We spent our first week in HCMC with our private guide Cam. She was the first guide Noelle E and David had on their first trip to Vietnam in 2003. Cam is well versed in Vietnamese history, customs, folktales, and homeopathic remedies. Our second week was in the central highlands with Mr. Canh as our guide.

During our two weeks of travel we traveled by plane, mini-van, train (wooden railroad car), traditional wooden boat, dug out canoe (rowed by a woman), Russian army jeep, and even an elephant.

We visited several pagodas – the most unusual was the One Pillar Pagoda built in 1954; the oldest was built in 1744 resembling a Chinese pagoda; and the most colorful was Linh Phuoc. The Buddhist monks live and worship in the pagodas. Vietnam is 80% Buddhist.

We visited 2 Catholic Churches in HCMC built in 1890 and 1924. In the central highlands we saw 2 wooden Catholic Churches. The churches were very plain inside, quite different from what we saw in Mexico. Vietnamese are 10% Catholic.

Traveling west of HCMC we arrived in time to observe a religious service at Holy See of the Cao Dai. It is a large building with bright colors of pink, blue, yellow and green.

During our travels, we went to several market places. In HCMC the market place was a very large closed in building while the other market places were open. One could buy clothing; produce; fresh meat; fresh, dried, or salted fish; fresh fruits; flowers; plants; household items; and souvenirs.

We enjoyed many kinds of music performed by the local ethnic or hill tribal people – folk music, gong music with singing and dancing (we were asked to join them);

I enjoyed strolling through the local ethnic villages seeing the long houses made of wood with thatched roofs; they’re built on stilts because of flooding. The long house is narrow and divided in 2 parts: one side for public entertaining and the other for private living. Under the houses are their other belongs, livestock and motorbikes.

We visited 2 orphanages. The one in the southern part of Vietnam was run by 10 Catholic sisters housing 68 people. It was started in 2004. The orphanage in the central highlands was run by the Catholic Church. It housed 193 people. The children attended public schools. The children in both orphanages sang songs to us in English. Hearing and watching the children sing brought tears to my eyes, knowing they had a safe, secure, and loving place to live.

There is a Chinatown in HCMC. The Chinese came to this area in the 1700s from south China. The Chinese communal house built at that time is still in use today. Nearby was a large Chinese temple filled with smoke from the burning of incense by the worshipers at the many altars throughout the temple.

We traveled by boat on the Mekong Delta viewing the floating market where one can buy produce, clothes, plants, meat and fish. We stopped at a candy factory where they were making by hand coconut candy, rice crispy cakes and rice paper. We also stopped at a brick and pottery factory. Both of these factories are run by family members.

Our first home stay was a large wooden building with thatched roof divided into a number of rooms with sliding wooden doors with dormitory style wooden beds. Upon our arrival they served us a delicious lunch. We walked with Cam our guide in the village to another house where we had a tea ceremony and listened to folk music. We were served tea and fruit. Later we went to a bonsai garden. It is their custom to serve tea and fruit after your visit. Upon our return to our host house Noelle E was invited to make spring rolls which we had at dinner. In the morning after breakfast and saying farewell to our host we continued traveling by boat stopping at a nursery which reminded us of my father’s yard with all the fruit trees.

While in HCMC we visited Noelle E’s friend Nicky and her husband. They were staying with Nicky’s mother in law who had cooked us a delicious dinner. In the Highlands we visited Nicky’s parents at their home in a small hamlet called Eatoh. Their plantation is about 5 acres and they grow coffee and pepper as well as fruits and vegetables. Her mother had prepared a chicken stew and coconut bread for lunch. After lunch we gathered to drink beer and give them gifts we brought. Mr. Canh our guide did a wonderful job translating for us.

On our last night we stayed in another home stay in the KonKtu village. It was a long house on stilts, and we had to sleep on mats on the floor. Our one reward for sleeping on the floor was the night sky!!!! Living in a light polluted area, we aren’t able to see all the beautiful stars, planets and constellations. This is a sight I will never forget.

In the central highlands we saw large green houses on the hillsides filled with vegetables or flowers. We also saw huge rice fields; coffee, pepper and tea growing. We drove by rubber trees where they were extracting the latex like we’ve seen them do with the maple trees. As we rode along in the villages we saw rice and coffee beans drying in their yards.

While in a park, a group of university students came up to us to speak English, as did some 11 and 12 year old students. They all spoke very good English. I found the people in Vietnam to be so gracious and friendly. Our guide Cam had told us how they respect the elderly. The younger people seek the wisdom of them. People would reach out to touch my arm. I would smile, nod and say hello and they would do the same.

Christmas 2012

David Pena
David Pena 16:37 2014/09/05
Dear CAM,
I will soon check out of the hotel and go to the airport for a late flight to Tokyo and then on to the US. I had a wonderful time in Vietnam. Besides 2 full days at a conference at the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, I went to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the stilt house, museum, etc. Then the Ethnology Museum, Temple of Literature, Fine Arts Museum, and the Old City. I took many photos to show to people back home. Some of these things I saw for the first time, and others I haven't seen since you were our guide on our first trip to Vietnam in 2003. Cam, I grateful to you for your help with this trip and all of our other trips, and for giving us our first experience in Vietnam all those years ago. I hope to return to Vietnam soon.
Best wishes,
David Pena
Noelle
Noelle 16:36 2014/09/05
Dear Cam,

Hope this note finds you well. We are back home now and back at work, and we are still remembering fondly everything we did, saw, and learned with you in Vietnam. Thank you again for organizing such a wonderful trip and for the expert guidance you provided along the way.

We are also enjoying the delicious Vietnamese coffee made with the filters you gave us.

We send you our best regards until we meet again.

Sincerely,
David
Noelle
Mama Noelle
David and Lenie Nassau
David and Lenie Nassau 16:31 2014/09/05
Greetings Mrs Cam and please accept our belated wishes for a Happy New Year,

Just a small note to inform you of our impressions of the holiday that you organized for us.

My wife and I had a lovely time in both Cambodia and Vietnam.

Everything seemed to work well and the assistance we were given by the people you engaged on our behalf was much appreciated.

We thought that Cambodia, and in particular Siem Reap and all of the Khmer temples, was just fantastic. We have been to China and I have been to Egypt and Jordan and these monuments were on par with anything else we have seen. Our guide, Ra, was an extremely patient and knowledgeable guide. The speedboat trip down to Phnom Penh was an experience. The terrible events of 1975 to 1979 in Cambodia were already known to us but to see it at the genocide museum first hand was very saddening. I wish the global community had acted more quickly to help the poor Cambodians.
Ho Chi Minh City was a little humid for our liking but the pace of life there was a real eye opener for us, particularly trying to cross the road with all of the motor cycles. The war museum highlighted the plight of your people during the battle with the US and to some extent the Australians. I was at university at the time and was part of the large demonstrations in Melbourne to stop the Australian involvement in the war so I have a clear conscience. The Meekong Delta cruise was interesting although the bus trip to and from on the congested roads was not so pleasant. We loved Nha Trang where I went snorkeling, my wife had three dresses made for her in Hoi An, the day on the communal farm in Hue was very interesting, Hanoi with its tree lined streets and lovely lakes was very nice and the staff at the Eternity Hotel were most helpful and friendly and the restaurant they suggested was a great place to eat. The train from Hanoi to Lao Chai was truly lovely as were the people and scenery in Sapa. The Bamboo Sapa was in the best part of Sapa as the views from our balcony were spectacular. Dining at the Red Geko restaurant was also very nice. The Halong bay cruise was nice but a little pompus for our taste. The large Frenchman who ran the Victory Star was too formal. May I suggest that a lesser star boat would perhaps be more fun?

Our overall impression was that the whole holiday was very exhausting at the pace we moved but we were up to it and enjoyed the experience very much.

Please accept our heartiest thanks for your attention to our requirements and could you pass on to your staff our thanks also.

It was a pleasure to meet with you in Ho Chi Minh City. A pity we didn’t catch up with Kevin but I will write to him separately.

Once again thank you for a wonderful look at our South East Asian neighbours ways of life.

Warmest Regards

David and Lenie Nassau


David Nassau
Robert Bosch (Australia) Pty. Ltd.
Tailor made tours
Tailor made tours
Traveler's feedback

Our Trip in Vietnam

Have you ever thought about going to the other side of the earth? I hadn’t until Noelle E. and David asked me to travel with them to Vietnam. After traveling 10,000 miles,...

Noellef889, 2014/09/06

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