Hello to you fine people. It is about time that I catch up on my travel reports (as I was reminded by some of you). Today is December 21st and I am back in Atlanta for a few weeks until my suitcase and I head back to Singapore. I will finish the Vietnam and Philippines blog and maybe I will finish the Maldive blog as well.. we shall see. But first the Vietnam blog and my encounter with a 48 kg heavy Python. ( As always, click on the pictures for larger view.)
Andre and I have spent only a long weekend in Ho Chi Minh City and one of our activities was a trip up the Mekong River with a few stops at a local market, an orphanage (where we ate local lunch) and a temple. The guide of our small group spoke English quite well and he was willing answering any questions that came his way. Driving up the river, the picture before your eyes is that of extreme poverty. The very poor made their homes right along the river. I asked why that would be and the guide stated that the people living in those shags do not have any tax burden living right there by the river. Move further in (at times just across the street) and you have to pay taxes. He also explains that only about 30 percent of Vietnamese pay taxes.
Here the view along the Mekong River:
Our first stop Tuong Van Temple:
Next stop, local market. The guide tells us that only women come here to sell and buy foodstuffs; however we have seen a man or two while perusing the local meet, fish and poultry stands:
Stop number 3... visiting a local home belonging to friends of our friendly guide :
Another stop at a local house and farm:
|This was not a pleasant refreshment... but to not offend the host we drank super warm coconut water|
Back in Ho Chi Minh, we ventured out at night.. looking at the local markets and stores to learn more about the Vietnamese culture. You know me.... the culture is in the midst of markets and little stores... the side streets... the 'off-the-beaten-path'... so in we go:
Last Day... a quick run around the city once more:
We tried to go into the war museum, however, time ran out and we had to leave without having been to the museum. Before I we went to Vietnam, I read and saw a documentary about "Agent Orange" and it made me feel sad and sick seeing all the people in Vietnam at the orphanage, the disabled and sickly people. Perhaps, from an emotional point of view, it is for the better that there wasn't any time left to go into the war museum, although I am sure, from the historical and cultural point of view, I have missed out.
Our next stop: Manila, Philippines ... stay tuned!!