This impressive archway leads the way to Tu Duc’s tomb just outside of Hue Vietnam. His mausoleum is actually more like a large park. There’s a number of similar mausoleums dotted about the countryside in this area.
When we arrived in the Mekong Delta it was late evening. There was an old lady sat in our lobby who offered to arrange a guide for us in the morning. I was a little suspicious of this seemingly too convenient option, particularly as a guy who had been on our bus repeatedly tried to direct us to the wrong hotel just before our arrival.
But, it was late and we knew we needed an early start to get to the markets so we decided to go for it. She didn’t let us down as she escorted us to meet our guide who would take us out for the day. She picked up a load of reeds on the way and spent most of the day making little handicrafts for us as she meandered through the markets and streams that make up the Mekong.
We took a packaged tour to My Son and wound up on a big bus tour. I’m not very good at sticking with big groups of people and wandered off pretty quickly. A lot of this Hindu temple complex was ruined in the Vietnam war and the remaining bomb craters were a clear reminder of this – some were huge.
There were a number of tours moving around so once I had this photo set up I had to wait quite a while for them all to move on. I have a version with no people in it but decided I liked this one with a backpacker looking up at one of the temples.
While on a boat tour of the Mekong delta, we stopped for a coffee in a small waterside guesthouse before visiting a rice paper factory. Upon returning to our boat, we came across another boat guide deftly dissecting a pineapple with a big knife. After exchanging what seemed like some cheeky comments with our guide, he finished removing every ounce of skin from the pineapple, while seeming to preserve 99% of the fruit. Then he handed us half, which we gladly accepted.
On our first day in Phong Nha, we rented a scooter to take ourselves on a tour of the area and were given a total lemon with butterfly stickers all over it. The brakes barely worked so when we were going down steep hills my friend Shannon had to hop off and walk. Even with the brakes on full lock, I still had to use my feet to control the speed! All the while we were surrounded by thick Vietnamese jungle.
Half way around our loop we reached Paradise Cave. We parked the rusty steed and discovered there was quite a long hike up stairs to the mouth of the cave. As soon as we entered, it was clear that the climb was worth it. The photo you see below was taken just at the entrance, looking down into the first of numerous giant caverns. Unfortunately, it was at this point that I realized that I’d failed to pack any batteries for my camera. I rented another bike to return the next day (stipulating I needed a decent one this time).
My Vietnam trip was capped off by two nights in Sa Pa. We took an overnight bus to get here, which provided me with a “bed” about 1 foot too short for me to be comfortable. The first day we spent there it was so foggy you couldn’t see more than five feet in front of you. As a result we found a small bar that was occupied by other travelers in a similar predicament. We spent the whole day there.
The next day we decided to go for a hike regardless and, thankfully, the fog lifted a bit. We were accompanied on our walk by two Red Dao women and one Black Hmong lady. They were members of the ethnic tribal minorities that live in the area.
At the end of our walk we bought a few trinkets from the ladies and I asked to take a picture. One of the red Tsao ladies was happy to pose. Here she is below:
Hoi An, in Vietnam, is known for its tailors. Everywhere you look there are shops offering custom made suits. I decided I wanted to get a couple and proceeded to struggle to pick a place. Eventually I gave up and walked into the one I was closest to. Before I knew it I was measured up and had picked out a blue pinstripe material and a light grey. I was only in town for two more days so they’d have to work fast.
I went back for a fitting the next morning and once I was marked up for further adjustments I went to the beach. I returned the next night for the final fitting. There were still a couple of issues so the girl in the store grabbed me by the hand and guided me to a shop full of sewing machines.
There, I met the tailor who quickly marked the suit up in chalk and set to work. While I waited for him to finish I asked one of his assistants if I could take a picture of him working. He agreed and here’s the result.