Category Archives: Vietnam

Nonprofit Spotlight: Craft Link – Hanoi, Vietnam

With locations adjacent to both the Temple of Literature and the Museum of Ethnicity, this boutique is a fair-trade nonprofit organization that  sells the handicrafts of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities.  Silks, lacquers, batiks, wood work – clearly I couldn’t resist shopping for a good cause!

http://www.craftlink.com.vn/

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Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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 Conspicuously missing from the post title is “Halong Bay.”  Tuesday night, I boarded the overnight train from Sapa, scheduled to arrive in Hanoi at 4:00 am.  At 2:00 am, we discovered that the train had broken down.  Long story short, arrived in Hanoi 9 hours later than anticipated and missed the connection to Halong Bay. Getting there is half the fun, right?

The Old Quarter of Hanoi is comprised of 36 interwoven streets, many of which begin with the word  “hang,” which means “seller,”  and then the Vietnamese word for what that street sells: shoe streets, silk streets, spice streets.  I checked out the Temple of Literature, Museum of Ethnology, and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, where the former president is embalmed and on display in a glass case.  Hanoi is crammed with tourists and there seems to be an entire industry dedicated to scamming them.  Most notably is a majority of the “metered” taxis have fixed their meters to run at twice the approved rate-speed.  After witnessing this first hand, I stuck to cyclos (bike carriages) and my own two legs.

I’ve spent the past two days in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).  It is a city that is hot, humid, vibrant, and straight-out fun.  It is also a city in which I’ve taken to flanking my sides with backpacks, so that only my bags are hit as I circumnavigate the endless fleets of motorbikes in attempt to cross the street.  The War Remnants Museum is a must for visitors to Saigon; its 3 stories of exhibits in testament to the years of American-Vietnamese war stayed with me long after I had left the Museum.

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Nonprofit Spotlight: Baguette & Chocolat – Sapa, Vietnam

With a nod to the French influence on the area, this charming B&B and cafe is a culinary/hospitality school for local disadvantaged teens.  The culinary students have won distinction in international competitions and the program itself is world renowned for its work in the community.  When in Sapa, stop in for pain chocolat and Vietnamese coffee – a highlight of my trip.

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Sapa, Vietnam

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The past few days have been spent in the Northern former French hill station of Sapa, Vietnam.  Right along the Chinese border, the area is mountainous and populated by local ethnic minorities.

I took the overnight train from Hanoi and arrived in Sapa on Sunday at 4:45am.  The guest house had incredible views of the mountains and valleys below, particularly at sunrise.  I spent the morning exploring the covered market and in the afternoon, trekked down to the town of CatCat, which is a Black H’mong village, when I came back, the power was out in the entire village and remained that way overnight.

Yesterday, rain and fog rolled through Sapa.  I trekked for 6 hours through mudslides and rice terraces until I reached the Village of Lao Chai, also a H’mong village.  I stopped for lunch there and then continued to Ta Van village, where the Zay people live.  I stayed overnight there as a guest of a Zay grandmother – it was definitely an adventure but the food was delicious!  Today was the most treacherous of the treks, through the bamboo forest and back to Sapa, where I’ve taken a much needed hot shower and am repacking for the overnight train back to Hanoi.

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March schedule

March travel plans are nearly finished:

  • End of February – arrive in Israel to attend my cousin’s wedding on March 1st
  • March 3 /4 – fly to/arrive in Bangkok, Thailand
  • March 5 – Hanoi, Vietnam
  • March 6-8 – trekking through the hill villages of Sapa, Vietnam (Cat Cat, Ta Van, Cua May, Su Pan)
  • March 9 – Halong Bay, Vietnam
  • March 10-11 – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • March 12-13 – Phnom Penh, Cambodia
  • March 14-16 – Sieam Reap/Angkor Wat, Cambodia
  • March 17 – Battambang, Cambodia
  • March 18 – Bangkok, Thailand
  • March 19-20 – Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • March 21-23 – Yangon, Burma
  • March 24-27 – meet up with a childhood friend, location TBD

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