A Travellerspoint blog

November 2008

Hue (Way)

....too homesick!

overcast 63 °F
View My Exploration of Vietnam on Khandilee's travel map.

I'm sure that no one is going to understand this and I am not even sure that I understand it. I AM HOMESICK! Yes...ME! Believe it....

It's difficult for me to understand my emotions right now because I normally try to be such a strong person and keep myself under control, but homesick is the only way I can describe how i felt this morning. I was sad and feeling sorry for myself for being lonely. I spend 99% of my time without close friends and family around. Why now? The only explanation I can think of is that I am really alone here. No one really speaks my language. I have not yet met another American. I feel out of place with the locals (although they have been nothing but overly friendly) and I feel out of place with the other travelers (mostly because they are so well traveled and I'm not).

I guess taking this trip alone wasn't the best possible solution for me. I'm not scared nor have I felt intimidated any any of the places that I've been. I just cant stop thinking about being able to share everything that I've seen and done with someone else and it would be so wonderful to have someone beside me to share in all the new experiences. So...who wants to take the next trip with me?? There will be another and hopefully sooner than later. And...if I have to go alone, I will!

I guess if I've learned nothing else during this trip, I have learned what it is to truly be alone....

After I was finished feeling sorry for myself and pulled myself together, I visited the Citidal. All I can say is that it is amazing. It's certainly something that you must see. enjoyed a liesurly morning walk through the maze of palaces and pagoda's. It is truly beautiful. I can only imagine what it was like in it's day of splendor.

The remainder of my day was spent (yes again) on a moto-bike tour of some of the sites surrounding Hue. At least there wasn't any rain and the sky was mostly overcast so the sun wasn't too intense.

We visited a small Japanese Bridge that was donated to the people of this little village on the outskirts of Hue. It was as beautiful as the one viewed in Hoi An, only made more special due to it's location. The bridge is placed in the middle of a huge rice field between what looks to be two small villages. My guide was telling me that some rich emperors wife donated the bridge and it's still used today as it was when it was first constructed. The villagers don't have to walk across the mucky waters anymore and they also use the bridge as a shelter from the mid-day sun while working in the rice fields. It's not uncommon to find the workers napping here during the heat of the day.

We visited two separate pagoda's that were much like all the other pagoda's I've seen. Then we visited the 'tomb' of one of the emperors. This was an amazing complex of buildings, with a moated river flowing through it. I'm not sure how many acres of land the site encompasses but it's quite a large area. There is a theater, a complex (mostly debris) where the Emperor's concubines were housed, And very ornate staircases, statues, and tomb entrances for the Emperor and his wives. It is reported that the Emperor had no children of his own and I was surprised to see a tomb for his step-son!! Who would have thought that they recognized step-children way back then....wonder if he was red-headed?

Overall, it was a full day of walking around and exploring the local historical sites. I should really have read up on the history of Vietnam prior to coming here. I know that there was some Moroccan invasion near the time of the French war and wonder if these Emperor's were of Moroccan influence (they look more Chinese influenced than Vietnamese). Something to investigate....

Life is good....

Posted by Khandilee 06:57 Archived in Vietnam Comments (1)

Leaving Hoi An

...headed to Hue (pronounced 'way')

rain 76 °F
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So my last day in Hoi An included a two hour breakfast, wandering around, a two hour early afternoon snack, wandering around, a two hour lunch, a short nap at the hotel (I was just so tired after all that eating and walking). a two-hour dinner, and more wandering around...then early to bed. Sounds like a pretty difficult day, huh?

I did manage to go to the hospital also. Not as a patient...thank god!! It's quite 'old school' with the nurses in all white with caps! I took a couple of pics of empty rooms, trying not to be too intrusive. The ER was pretty full but nothing looked too serious. There was a couple sitting outside with a small baby that looked under a year old, and as I walked past them they called me over and showed me some pretty bad looking burn on the baby's legs...I couldn't talk with them because they didn't speak any english but I felt so very bad that I couldn't help them. Not sure why they were sitting outside, maybe they dont have money to pay and were hoping for some free assistance? I dont know but it broke my heart!

Still using glass IV bottles and I only saw two nurses and no Dr's the time that I was there....

I've arrived in Hue and it feels like more of the same as far as Vietnam cities go. Stopped into Thu Cafe for a bite to eat (nothing spectacular) and booked a tour tomorrow afternoon of the local tombs, Bunker Hill and some Pagoda's. It should be a good time. Hopefully the weather will cooperate. Right now it's raining (imagine that....rain in Vietnam)! Need to make a pit-stop somewhere for some necessities (deodorant, and soap as well as some snacks). Then it's feeling like a short afternoon nap, before I wander out and try to find a place for dinner.

The bus ride here was so much better than the last one. I got the sleeper bus this time and although I didn't sleep, it was so much more comfortable. Able to stretch out my legs and relax with a pillow and blanket included the trip was finished in no time. Although I did have an early morning wake-up in order to make the bus at 0700!

My skype still isn't working here and I am quite upset. The cell phone that I bought when I got here won't charge and I have no other way to contact anyone. So if you haven't hear from me, that's why! Miss everyone so very much!! feeling a bit homesick but not yet ready to go 'home'!!

Life is good....

Posted by Khandilee 02:00 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

What Vietnamese Diet??

....Hoi An continued.

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First off, I have to say that I am loving Hoi An. It's beautiful, I'm not getting hassled like in Saigon, and the food is WONDERFUL!

So....I'm off the Vietnamese diet for the time being. I guess if I lost any weight, I've certainly gained it back by now. I found a wonderful bakery today...the French influence here in Hoi An is certainly evident in the sweet treats! I had my first 'real' chocolate today and I was in heaven.... In addition to the bakery, there are several wonderful restaurants here in Hoi An. I should probably take note of the names of some and pass them along but I haven't had a bad meal since I've been here. I have spent two days of simply wandering around....stop for coffee....wander some more....stop for lunch....wander a little more and have a sweet....wander a bit and stop for coffee.... Sounds like a lot of hard work, huh? Oh, and of course I've had a couple of items of clothing tailored for me. Nothing spectacular, just a skirt and a top. I also purchased a couple of silk scarves today for about $5/each.

I am truly enjoying myself here, my only regret is that I don't have anyone to share it with. Although i have met some wonderful travelers, there doesn't seem to be many people traveling alone. Most are either very young (and wanting to drink all day) and in groups, or much older and traveling with a tour. Today's interactions included a German couple that were delightful and gave me all sorts of advice on Hanoi, a New Zealand tour guide for Intrepid Tours (she has been doing tours here for 2 years and is going to be starting tours in Western Europe next year...I decided upon talking to her that I WANT HER JOB!), and a Canadian here with a tour group. There was also a brief interaction with a very young group of French. What wonderful diversity!

So far, Hoi An is my favorite place here in Vietnam. I am sad that I am going to have to leave soon. I have certainly stayed longer than I had planned and if I am going to get through Vietnam I am going to have to get moving soon....although it feels so comfortable here that I think I could stay forever!

Plan is to leave here on Sunday morning to Hue via bus. I should arrive in Hue around noon-ish. Sun-Mon in Hue then Tuesday night bus to Hanoi and Halong Bay through the weekend. (Unless there is more flooding in Hanoi). I would still love to get to Cambodia on this trip but it doesn't look promising at this point. Instead, I am thinking of heading back to Saigon and taking a Mekong Delta tour prior to meeting my friend Kim again....I really should have done this at the beginning of my trip but you know what they say 'hindsight.....'.

Today I visited My Son Holy Land (which is mostly a pile of stone rubble). I have to say that I wasn't real impressed. I took some pictures and will share them as soon as I have an opportunity. It was hot, sweaty and way too packed with 60 y/o tourists! (not that I have anything against 60 y/o's)!! In fact, I think it's great to see them traveling....I wish that more people from home would/could travel, it's a wonderful experience!

I think tomorrow I am going to try to visit the hospital (If I can get the nerve) and see if someone there would be willing to let me tour around a bit. There is also the possibility of renting a bicycle and visiting China Beach and maybe taking an evening cooking class. There is a wonderful local dish here called the 'white rose', shrimp in rice paper and steamed! Yummy!! Then again, I might just wander around and eat all day too....time will tell!

Life is good.....

Posted by Khandilee 10:05 Archived in Vietnam Comments (1)

Hoi An

....feels like I am home.

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I had a wonderful day here in Hoi An. I slept in, for the first time on my trip I slept after 8am! Had a leisurely walk simply taking in the sights. I stopped for breakfast and coffee at a cafe facing the street and enjoyed about two hours just watching the people pass by and the workers open the shops across the street.

After breakfast, I wandered around some more. Not really knowing where I was going...just walking. I meandered into a local coffee shop where I watched the Vietnamese men and boys alike, play round after round of chinese checkers (i think). I picked up a book prior to this at one of the bookstores I passed along the way and read while I people watched (actually didn't get much reading done).

Wandering around some more, Hoi An is a beautiful town and has a wonderfully relaxing feel to it. I took some pics of the local fishing boats anchored at the dock and some young local boys took my picture with them (not sure why).

I made my way to a place to grab a bit to eat and started chatting with another lone diner. Brynt from England. He is traveling north to south and we shared recommendations, a few beers and great conversation. It seems that the topic of conversation, whether with the Vietnamese or the other travelers, always turns to politics. Obama, apparently is not only the American choice but also the choice of most of those that I have met. I find it interesting some of the comments regarding McCain and Palin. Most seem to agree with my opinion that Palin is much of a joke and they are equally glad that she is not going to be in office. My impression is that everyone seems to think that Obama will actually do some good for America. I guess that time will tell. I also found it interesting that Vietnamese, UK, and Australians that I have talked to have all followed the American presidential race. I dont know of any Americans that follow politics in other countries (although I am certain that there are some).

While chatting with my newly introduced UK friend, the table next to us joined in conversation. A very nice couple from Australia. I didn't catch their names but they too are traveling North from here only leaving tomorrow. I am planning to stay 2 more nights here as it is very relaxing and enjoyable.

I wandered around a bit more and found a place that stated it had wi-fi and wanting to try to connect with home, I stopped in and ordered dinner. As I was attempting to connect to the internet, one man from the table next to me walked over and invited me to join them for dinner. I joined them and had a wonderful conversation over dinner and drinks. Rob, and two others whose names I cant remember are from Holland. They have all traveled to many places. I felt very jealous and embarrassed that this is my first travel out of North America. It's sad how little emphasis Americans put on travel. So many other countries are much better traveled and in turn, better educated and (in my opinion) less prejudiced than American's.

Last night I spent some time reflecting on my trip (feeling very home-sick) and asked myself again, 'what am I doing and what do I hope to accomplish/prove by doing this'? I still dont know the answer to that question. I feel like I have seen so much yet so little in comparison to what is out there.

Vietnamese Diet:
Croissant with jam for breakfast
Vegetarian spring rolls for lunch. (remind me not to order vegetarian next time as they were LOADED with mushrooms and I hate mushrooms). Still made myself eat about 4 of them.
Spicy chicken and white rice for dinner (fabulous)!

Two days and no cheating but I can feel a craving for some potato chips!

Life is good.....

Posted by Khandilee 11:07 Archived in Vietnam Comments (1)

I've Arrived

....Day 6 with Easy Rider

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My final day on the road and I couldn't be happier. It's been a great trip in many instances and yet miserable at times. I have to say that I am glad that I decided to take the trip, although I dont know that I would recommend 7 days to anyone. I think in retrospect, 3-4 days would have been plenty.

Today was not so exciting and we really didn't see much as we were headed the 'not good' route to Hoi An. We did stop in several small towns/villages along the way and had some rewarding interactions with the local people. I still find it interesting that many of these people rarely see tourists. In one instance, we were only 12km from Hoi An and I still felt like I was a novelty. Surprising that many of these people haven't even traveled the 12km to the tourist area of Hoi An.

I received two more marriage proposals today, an offer to take one woman's children (she has three and I can choose any of them), and one offer to borrow another woman's husband!! I don't know how serious any of these offers are, but it's a little scary!!

I am happy to report that I am still single....only have two children...and have not 'borrowed' anyone's husband!!!

I've arrived in Hoi An safe and sound and soon to be done with my depressed driver. He is taking me to My Son on Friday and in the meantime wants me to recommend him to any travelers I meet.....I think you know my answer on that one!

Life is good.....

Vietnamese Diet:
- Bread (plain due to sick stomach) for breakfast.
- Noodle soup (for lunch), I only ate the broth.
- Crab soup (out of this world), and grilled fish in banana leaf for dinner. I am getting pretty good at eating fish that is cooked whole, and it's actually not that difficult once you know how to do it. I can even eat it with chopsticks!! ha ha !!

Posted by Khandilee 07:46 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

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