As I sit and reflect on our holiday I remember mostly the people I met. Next it would be the food. Lastly the sights and the history but they are all ultimately linked with the people I met…
I would like to take this moment…a long moment…a six hours in transit moment over a number of G&T’s…to contemplate and to thank the people I have met…
Ms Yang from Ms Yang’s Homestay in District 2 Saigon where we stayed for 3 + 1 nights would have to be the most generous and gorgeous host ever. On our last day, tired and a bit grumpy from our train trip, we arrived at about 7am to the No.1 home to be told the room wouldn’t be ready for several hours. Ms Yang found us in the coffee shop where we were killing time and informed us she had a room ready and waiting in No.2. And she didn’t charge for it. What a gem!
Ms Yang‘s nephew, who is a university student and who was so helpful on our first few days in Saigon.
The random lady from Cardiff who was visiting her local brother who lived several hours from Saigon. What a pleasure it was to sit and chat with her. She had discovered Ms Yang’ s and always stayed there on her visits to Vietnam. She was there both at the beginning and end of our trips to Vietnam and enthralled us with her tales of travelling to the Cambodian border to renew her incorrect Visa.
The random man at the Saigon bus station who, when we asked about our bus, indicated that we wait here. But we went and had a Ca Pha. He then tracked us down when our bus arrived and showed us where it was…what a great piece of humanity!
Martin and Luan of Cai Be who entrusted us with the care of their homestay, the Durian Lodge, while they went and partyied in Saigon for the weekend. Martin explained many things about what it was to be Vietnamese and how to have a good time!
Luan‘s mother, who was able to prepare the most stunning meals with just the point of a finger and no oral communication and understood quite clearly the miming of “cold beer please”. She proved a great but silent partner in running the homestay for the weekend with the constant and unexpected guests.
The old Mekong Boatman who got more than he bargained for with a white, grumpy tourist who refused to get off the boat and me, who was just happy to do whatever. He tried to do his best and in the end charged a very reasonable price for his services.
The two Basque Motorbike Men who provided some much needed entertainment in the quiet Mekong. I do hope they made it safely to Hanoi!
Luan and his family, mainly his niece Huy and his father, who made our stay on Hanoi so enjoyable, at the Old Quarter Homestay. Father cooked Pho Ga for my breakfast and educated me in how to eat it with true Vietnamese etiquette. He also made the best Vietnamese coffee and was so particular about the process…I have no problem with this…being a coffee snob myself! The whole family helped out with hints on where to eat and getting taxis.
Siang, our student guide in Hanoi. She was a great storyteller and shared many stories of the myths, stories and legends that guide the Vietnamese people. We have lost the art of storytelling in Australia. In fact, we can’t even agree on our National Story!
The most random stranger, a man in a park, who stopped and chatted and had so much to share about his views on the current state of Vietnam. He was so open and honest, something we felt was kept more hidden in this Communist regime. He was actually after a job with us, as a guide, but was so humble and understanding when we turned him down. A truly learned and intelligent human being.
Our French room mates on the train to Hue…they were very easy going and accommodating and great travel partners. It goes to show you do not need to share a language to be able to be understood and appreciate the shared situation you are in.
The oversized Swiss man with his oversized suitcase who offered us a lift in the equally oversized mini van with 12 seats he had hired for himself to travel from Danang train station to Hoi An. What a man!
The two ladies from the Netherlands with the ultra flouro suitcases, who the Swiss man had picked up and was travelling with for a while. We banged into the ladies again on the train to Saigon. The younger one was roaming the corridors, she said they had accidently booked two upper bunks and the people on the lower ones would not let them sit there during the day light hours so she had to hoik up her 70 year old mother to the top bunk. What a woman…train travel in Vietnam at 70…yah her!
The family at the homestay in Hoi An, in particular the young man/boy and his girl friend from Hue, who I sat and chatted the night away with and learnt so much about the fears and aspirations of the young generation of Vietnam…not so much different from the young in Australia. The whole lie that is told about going to university and getting a good degree and then there will be work for you…haha, if you’re lucky! They were amazed at my knowledge and ability to retell the Vietnamese folklore back to them…all about Le Loi and the magic sword. But they didn’t know much about the other aspects of Vietnamese history…they said why would they? They are young… and in the modern world, as much as any other trendy young thing!
Smiriti, from Amsterdam, who shared the experience of the slightly strange, slightly hysterical, definitely accidental tour of My Son Sanctuary that we were on. On the bus trip back it turns out we have much in common. A shared world view and I felt by the time we were back in Hoi An we were best buddies. I was sad to see her go!
All the ladies, and one young man, who gave me massages. Regardless of the fact that the only difference between a Vietnamese Massage and a Shiatsu Massage was a 100,000 Dong and a pair of cotton underpants…and a Strong, Sports Massage meant that you got a young man instead of a lady…the massages, and there were many…were enjoyable and relaxing.