Interesting cultural history and museum visits.
Incredible traffic flow and joining in on the rickshaws.
Watching life on the streets, amazing scenery all around.
Staying in country areas, relaxed traditional homestay, green and lush.
People are friendly and have a beautiful calm energy, whether in the city or country, wealthy or poor are all mixed together with only some newer developments seeming more separate.
The hoards of bikes on the streets are like giant school of fish that gracefully part and swarm in different directions as needed. I saw no agression,impatience or anger on the roads. It appears crazy and all over the place, though there is obviously calm method to the madness.
Crossing the street is an art to be developed and even when doing as the locals do, should not be attempted lightly or without full attention.
With high levels of humidity, the days begin early with a midday lunch break followed by a siesta. Hammocks are popular or you can just recline on your bike in the street! I loved all the hammock cafes along the highway.
Total sensory immersion; sights, sounds, smells, tastes, textures - like a surround sound experience!
Riding bicycles in laneways around the Mekong Delta, visiting local produce workshops - the diversity of lifestyles and livelihoods.
Boat and canoe rides on the Mekong River and the floating markets.
Saigon’s night markets were more enjoyable than the day markets. Outside, more space, less overwhelming and still plenty to see.
Reflexology and ginger essence massage. A little indulgence in a spa near the hotel with tea, sorbet and ginger treats included!
Philosophy. So much thought, healthy energy and symbolism behind daily life. Simple living, high thinking and much less stress. The Vietnamese do not seem stressed at all. I imagine that 70-80% of the population being Buddhist contributes largely to the flow of life and general well-being of the people.
History demonstrates plenty of political unrest, upheaval, war, invasions and human atrocities, yet also incredible human spirit and a quiet steadfastness.
There is philosophy behind everything from family life, building and architecture, ancestor worship, food, protest, tradition, names of people and places, health...
No one looks or seems sad, unhappy or unsatisfied.
70% of Vietnamese are Buddhist (Tri, Tao and Confucianism), they believe in the transmigration of the soul.
Shrines are scattered throughout the fields, where families honour and worship their ancestors. We are the fruit of our ancestors, they were the flowers.
Snakes are farmed and used to control rats in the rice fields, also used for medicine and to eat.
Mice eat the coconuts, people eat the coconut mice.
As big as rats and tastes like coconut!
Yellow star on the flag represents the unification of the 5 social groups: scholar, farmer, worker, merchants, military.
Farmers highly respected.
Haggling in the marketplace is overwhelming. There are too many zeros on this currency!
Goddess of compassion and mercy
My vegetarian meals were tasty and copious, sometimes leaning towards vegan. I ate more tofu in 9 days than I ever have! The Vietnamese don’t eat much bread or dairy, plenty of rice, noodles, green leafy veg and mushrooms. The best meal was the first lunch. The restaurants were quite swish and we didn’t really do much street food except for some snacks. You can get just about anything on the street. It is a colourful and relaxed display of life - iced tea, coffee and all kinds of interesting food. Pull up a plastic stool and sit in the street or alleyway with the locals. Big serves for small change.
The homestay eating experience was wonderful, under traditional water palm leaf buildings, simple and laid back. The pho soup was yummy and I loved the sticky rice balls.
I have been dozing off a lot lately, usually right in the middle of reading or writing, which leaves me attempting to fill in the gaps.
My birthday was quietly lovely, with pre-day roaming in Tamworth, a little op shopping, a cafe brunch and a good dose of forest bathing.
On the day itself, Artemis organised some surprise visits and I chatted with Armand about accepted birthday celebration etiquette, (especially your mum’s). Not sure what the teenage boy standard is but I had to let him know that weird, grumpy, dismissive and slack is NOT acceptable! (He eventually caught up and found me a stunning gift while in Vietnam), wonder how he’ll go on Mother’s Day!
And yes, it does make me feel like a boring, nag of a mum, though the hope is that he will remember to celebrate special people and moments thoughtfully in the future. #parentingbliss
Though I have been writing, I haven’t been blogging as such. I also unfortunately, lost all my iPad notes which simply decided to disappear from one day to the next for no apparent reason. No luck in retrieving them and it’s probably best that I don’t remember exactly what I had. Very annoying.
Chances are the gaps won’t be filled till later with Vietnam almost upon us!
For me, it seems there is not much difference between wondering and wandering. It has always helped me find inspiration. Creative dabbling is good for the soul, I couldn't imagine life without it and often surprise myself by what I come up with.