Colorful memories of Vietnam

It was with a sense of great anticipation and adventure that we started our 3-week tour of Vietnam in December ’03. We experienced a country where the people are a delight, the scenery is exceptional and history and religion resulted in other wonderful sightseeing opportunities. Here are a few of the highlights of our trip.

After touring the city of Hanoi, we went into the nearby countryside where small sampans rowed by young women took us out into the Red River Delta to view rugged hillsides and limestone formations jutting out of the water — very dramatic scenery.

The next day found us again being rowed to view the ancient Perfume Pagoda. This time, the young lady plied the oars with her feet, plus we had an added passenger, the rower’s mother. During our return sail, the mother took over the rowing while her daughter displayed embroidered linens for sale. What could we do but succumb to the sales pitch and buy an embroidered tablecloth and napkins? We were captive customers!

The city of Hoi An, a major silk and trading port during the 17th and 18th centuries, retains the atmosphere and architecture of bygone days. Now it has many art galleries and custom silk shops where the quality, selection and low prices are among the best in Asia. We stopped in a cultural center to watch artisans create silk lanterns, pottery, jewelry, etc., and enjoyed an informal show by costumed actors and talented musicians playing their unique instruments. This quaint, picturesque city is well worth a visit.

Our crowning Vietnamese experience, however, was the famous Cai Be floating market, where the delta people come to do their trading. Buyers and sellers meet and trade while floating in a gathering, where one can almost literally walk from boat to boat. What a photo opportunity for our group!

We returned home much the richer for having experienced these most interesting parts of Southeast Asia.

Newport Beach, CA