Through My Eyes

Timing was everything.

Northern Vietnam

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No longer waking up to loud speakers spewing political propaganda outside my window at 7am, we have left big city Hanoi for the slower-paced mountainside village of Sapa. From every angle, the steep hills and wet rice paddies look straight off of a postcard. With what seems to be endless valleys and rows upon rows of vegetation, you can’t take a bad photograph here.

It was unfortunate that our nine hour train ride was during the night, thus we weren’t able to see much of the northern countryside. While I enjoyed lively Hanoi, it’s plethora of street-side smoky bowls of Bun Cha, and watching the activity around the large serene lake in the middle of the Old Quarter, I’m glad to be leaving behind the chaos for a few days. My friend Luan, who was just here a few weeks ago, warned me that it might be raining in Sapa, but it’s absolutely gorgeous today. It’s about 21 degrees Celsius with a light cool breeze, and the air smells crisp with notes of grilled meats on bamboo sticks coming from the vendors up and down the street.

Sapa is infamous for it’s villages of ethnic minorities. We just visited the H’mong Cat Cat village this morning, but I was disappointed (although not surprised) that the main thing the children were encouraged to do was walk around selling handicrafts and ask for money after pictures were taken. They are put to work to help their families earn a living at a very young age. I wonder how many are actually enrolled at the primary school we saw down at the edge of the village.

Vietnam has been…interesting. The disobedience of traffic laws is even more terrifying than Cambodia and Thailand combined, access to Facebook has been disabled (on occasion – though probably a good thing), and if you are on the Atkins diet – this is not the country for you. I don’t think I have yet to have one meal that has not consisted mainly of rice or noodles and a lot of protein. Last night, Nate asked me what I missed most about food in the States. I couldn’t name one thing, not even burritos. I just feel all “eaten out.” (No, not like that – get your mind out of the gutter.) The last few countries I have stayed in, I have not held back. Everyone is gaining weight from the holiday eating. Why shouldn’t I be allowed to participate?

Written by winniewongsf

December 15, 2009 at 4:31 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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