Me and my cousin sister, Parvati spent a heady 20 days in Vietnam last year which included a few days on a small yatch in Halong Bay. I came back with a ton of lovely pictures (as always), some wonderful memories (always) and having gained a few pounds because of the fabulous food (sigh almost always the story at the end of every holiday :-p) More on this weight gain and loss later 🙂
This time Lonely Planet was my guide to Vietnam. In fact, Lonely Planet describes Vietnam so perfectly, I have used extracts from Lonely Planet (duly credited) interspersed with my own experiences and photographs.
Lonely Planet-(text in Italics)
“Astonishingly exotic and utterly compelling, Vietnam is a country of breathtaking natural beauty with an incredible heritage.
If you want visual dramatics, Vietnam delivers. Cruise an azure ocean pierced by surreal-looking limestone islands in Halong Bay and explore tribal villages near Sapa and Bac Ha. Then witness the spectacular sandy bays of the central coastline and experience the energy of big-city life in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.”
Sampada-My Experience-Halong Bay, which is also incidentally where the Bond movie, “Tomorrow never Dies” was shot is every bit as beautiful as its reputation claims it is. The stunning yatch, the blue seas and the stunning underwater life (It was also the first time I went snorkelling) made me want to stay there for ever. I must also mention Hoi An-the coastal town which to our pleasant surprise is the bespoke capital of Vietnam. We found tourists there from all over the world-getting gowns (including wedding gowns) and all sorts of other clothes stitched which were ready within 24 hours. The shops at Hoi An can also make any kind of shoes or the fanciest of clothes purely by seeing pictures. Though I can feel a collective gasp from the fashion houses :-)) I saw tons and tons of absolutely perfect Jimmy Choo replicas and Gautier and Versace gowns 🙂 There was also some amazing shopping in Vietnam since a lot of brands including Mango and Gap are manufactured there.
I must also mention the stunning Vietnamese paintings and handicraft which include among other things lac work and paintings with eggshells. Apart from this, a must watch is another art unique to Vietnam-water puppetry. It’s essentially what the name implies-puppet performances which are done in waist deep water where the puppets appear to be moving over the water. This is the traditional art form that villagers used to entertain each other, when the rice fields would flood. (Pictures below)
Vietnam and my wanderings through Vietnam continues into next week 🙂 Stay tuned for more….