Monday, August 23, 2010

about halfway there

I was hoping to post a few recent photos this evening, but for an unexplained reason the computer is not even recognizing my camera. Oh well....

I'm blogging from Hue, a coastal city almost midway between Hanoi in the north and Ho Chi Minh City in the south. It's famous for its impressive citadel complex and the various pagodas that surround it in the outlying areas. I arrived here at about 8:30 this morning after traveling 12 hours by train from Hanoi. Despite the almost constant heavy rain (September marks the official start of the rainy season in Hue), today I explored the citadel and three pagodas, all of which are very impressive. Like Hanoi, you can hire a motorbike owner to drive your destination. So, that's what I did except that I hired him for the entire afternoon. The cost: 250,000 dong (a little over 20 bucks). Riding through the city streets is a blast. Undoubtably, it's one of the highlights of Vietnam. Today's torrential downpour added a bit of drama to an already thrilling experience.

Another highlight of my stay has been Sapa. Before hopping on an overnight train here, I spent 2 days trekking through the countryside of mountainous Sapa. Famous for its lovely mountains and its minority population, Sapa is situated northwest of the capital. Although Halong Bay is touted as the country's premium can't miss destination, for me Sapa was it (so far). Laid back, not crowded, and just drop-dead breathtaking. Terraced rice paddies for as long as the eye can see amidst a truly spectacular setting. And then, there are beautifully attired people of the small villages around Sapa. Their women are famous for creating beautiful handcrafts and articles of clothing.

My travels have consisted of cities mostly. Yangshou, China and Sapa have been the most notable exceptions. The stark difference of Sapa from the densely packed metropolises of Asia is, I'm sure, partly why I was so taken. It was such a welcomed relief.

In two days, I'll take the bus to Hoi An, a city about 4 hours south of here. I've heard very enthusiastic reviews from travelers who have been there.

Well, this is it for now. I hope to be able to post some photographs next time.

2 Comments:

Comment Anonymous Anonymous said...

Duane,
So excited to hear of your travels and will save the real exchange for when you return. But since you may be reading this in Hoi An, just wanted to tell you of the wonderful artist we met while in NY and then 2 years later, when we were in Hoi An. His name is Vingh Nguyen. You may remember seeing some of his paintings at our house. I would love for you to meet him, he is warm and welcoming. We hear he now owns a restaurant/bar with his studio attached. Ask around. I hope you can connect! By the way, we adored Sapa too.
Luann & Jeff

12:28 AM  
Comment Blogger Duane said...

Hey guys! I asked an attendant at my hotel, but he didn't know him. I will try to ask around tomorrow. Thanks for the suggestion. Yeah, there are lots of galleries in town but nowhere of course near as many tailor shops. You will have to tell me about your time in Vietnam when I'm home.
Much love to you and the fam!

10:05 AM  

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