VIETNAM: A PHOTO ESSAY
I started my trip in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and motorcycled up the Ho Chi Minh Trail. In order to get to the trail, you need to cross a river on a small boat made for a few motorbikes and foot passengers.
Did you know rubber grew on trees???? They do and there’s a neat process with how they extract the sap from the trees. They make cuts into them then collect the sap in tins and let harden before sending to manufacturing to make your rubber bands.
Riding along the Ho Chi Minh Trail I stopped at a bridge that was bombed in 1972. This bridge was an important route to transport goods during the Vietnam War. It was never reconstructed.
Motorbiking through Central Highlands, I was able to interact with many of the farmers, including stopping at a cashew plantation.
The women peel cashews one by one, then transfer them to another room where they’re sorted and get prepped for packaging.
Vietnam has beautiful waterfalls and lakes. One of the days, I stopped at fairy pool which is a natural spring pool. The one in blue, was so refreshing to swim in after a steep climb down.
Dray Nu Falls is called the Niagara Falls of Vietnam. Attracted by locals and tourists alike, is a popular spot for selfies and weddings.
Peppercorns are one of the many crops grown in Vietnam. They harvest the plants once a year.
Vinh Son Orphanage in Kum Tum is an organization that helps children find homes. There are 200 children there ranging from one to eighteen years old. They are funded by donations and a few organizations, including HALO (Helping And Loving Orphans) from my hometown of Seattle.
Getting across rivers in the mountain region one has to cross these wobbly bridges made for motorbikes and foot traffic. Yes, I crossed this, slowly with my feet out!
Riding through Central Highlands is just gorgeous! The green rolling hills are beautiful and go for days. It’s also much cooler in the mountains than it is in the city. Was so nice to get away from the traffic and experience the mountains for a week.
The people in the hills are very friendly. They don’t see too many foreigners in these parts so are very welcoming and love to talk and share their home with you.
I had a chance to see some kids in a small village. These children are refugees from Laos. Their families are supported by the Vietnam government and goto school for free.
There are pineapple farms everywhere! These small, palm sized pineapples are sweet and taste great dipped in chili salt to bring out the sweet flavor. Try it!
Rice paper is a staple at most meals and if it’s not rice paper, it’s rice noodles. I had the chance to see how they are made. There’s 40 different kinds!
After riding through Central Highlands, I stopped in Hoi An for a week to relax and enjoy this quaint town.
Women wait for customers to take a ride on the small river through Hoi An.
Central Market is where it’s at! Fruits, vegetables, souvenirs, street food, you’ll find it all here open early morning to late evening.
A lady selling her goods at Central Market.
After Hoi An, I flew up to Hanoi where the traffic is just as ridiculous as Saigon. Pedal bikes and motorbikes share the same road.
Long Bien bridge is the only bridge in Vietnam where cars aren’t allowed and motorbikes drive on the right side of the road.
There is also a running train that uses the bridge to cross daily.
You will find street vendors on nearly every corner selling goods or food. They even provide stools for you to sit on while you eat.
And if they’re not selling goods, they’re sitting on the street catching up with friends and taking in the view around them.
Some vendors are mobile and will walk around with their goods on their shoulder, stopping for customers along their path.
Some vendors sell goods from their bicycle and park on the side of a road so that motorbikes can pull up and grab items to go.
Another happy vendor in Vietnam, selling fresh coconut water.
I took a day to go visit Ninh Binh where my tour stopped at a temple and this guy was dressed up in traditional clothing for the tourists to take pictures. Not one for organized tours, but I do love this picture!
I took a ride down Ngo Dac River and all the boat women row the boats with their feet!
The view riding down Ngo Dac River. They call this river Halong Bay on land.
Riding through trees and greenery.
Halfway through the ride we stopped at a floating market, where vendors sell good from their boat.
Riding through the limestone caves on Ngo Duc River.
Many locals live on the river and do boat rides as their job.
This looks like an abandoned train track, but it’s not. A train runs through here twice a day. The locals are used to the train coming through and sometimes position their bikes only inches from the train when it passes through.
Passing through Halong Bay on my way to Bai Tu Long Bay by junk (boat) I saw many fish boats, which I learned and soon saw there is a community of fishing villages in these bays.
One of the fisherman out for the day.
I took a 3-day cruise through Bai Tu Long Bay and had the chance to kayak to a private beach and have a BBQ lunch.
This was my junk. The sails are distinctive of all Vietnam’s junks. Bai Tu Long Bay is only visted by 5% of tourists because they only allow a limited amount of boats to have permits.
Sunset in Bai Tu Long Bay.
These boat men and women live in the fishing village and give rides to anyone who wants to see their village up close.
A happy boatman.
The garbage man. He rides around all day and picks up trash from the bay to keep it clean.
A woman from the fishing village rides on man-made raft to get her around.
Locals from the fishing village live on their boat or in floating homes.
The sails on a junk are raised when there’s a wedding. The family gives the new couple a boat as their wedding gift.
A great way to end 23 days in Vietnam was to cruise Bai Tu Long Bay. If you’re thinking of doing a cruise, I highly recommend it, but get there soon. Vietnam is closing all overnight cruises in both Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay in 2020.