Before starting with tales about the trip I want to share something that I have been thinking during the whole week, related to the coronavirus. It crossed my mind that I could be kind of shallow if I spent my time writing about trips and seemed not to be concerned about this big topic (I’m still in the real world).
In my case (and probably yours, as reader) I have been feeling the need for something different than news, which sometimes is not helpful. And because of that I decided to write my weekly post, which is therapeutic for me.
We are living in uncertain times right now, when we are supposed to be at home, so why don’t we take advantage of doing things in our homes that we never find time to do? Besides we are in a time when we need to open our minds and souls; we are all human, and any of us could get this virus, or any sickness; there are no frontiers more dangerous than the mental ones. Let’s have more solidarity; let’s be more empathic. Let’s take care of ourselves to take care of others.
Now after this comment, come with me to continue exploring Vietnam.
The next day out of the boat we chose an excursion to go to a silk factory. Vietnam produces a big quantity for export. Most of the production of the family that we visited went to a French designer.
It made an impact to see those noisy and old-fashioned machines where people manually chose patterns, combined the threads, and everything else to make the cloth, besides the all the previous manual work collecting cocoons and dyeing the silk.
To get to the factory we had the choice of going in a van or a rickshaw. If you know me just a little you will guess that I chose the latter for my transportation 🙂 . So much fun going in this little box behind the bicycle! I was a little scared at the beginning because bigger vehicles drove very close to us, but soon I relaxed and enjoyed the experience. That was the first of many times in strange transport; I will tell you more in other posts.
When we finished the silk factory visit we went to Evergreen Island: hot and humid weather but worth the experience. We walked through lands where the majority of people are farmers: rice and chiles are the main crops. They have two very well defined seasons: wet in summer and dry in winter. Our visit took place in dry season, so we had the opportunity to see the crops drying in the sun like the picture shows.A little piece of information: Vietnam is the second largest exporter of rice behind Thailand.
The kids we saw were very cute—I need to say that I like kids a lot—they were excited to see us and always said “hello, hello” when we were walking by. There was also a mobile shopkeeper that had whatever you might imagine on his motorcycle. Look at the picture to see if I’m telling the truth 🙂
That evening there was a show on the boat performed by the Traditional Vietnamese Lion Dance Show, which was very entertaining, and at the end they invited people to join them dancing Gamgam Style from Psy (a big hit some years ago). I went to dance like crazy, and I was very lucky that my new friend Ilona from Sydney danced with me: the picture shows us tired but happy.
At some point in the trip we crossed the border by water into Cambodia, actually called Kampuchea. That morning Immigration came to check our passports and visas on the boat, something so easy and quick, a very different experience from the usual to enter a country.
The boat crew was Cambodian. Their language is called Khmer and they have a special way of greeting called Sompiah. People don’t shake hands or kiss, they make a little show of respect by putting their palms together and bowing slightly. If they are saying hi to equals, the hands are close to the chest, and closer to the chin if they are greeting parents or older people. It was very disappointing that everyone put their hands in the chin position to greet Barnaby and me: clearly we are old :D. Here’s a video to learn a little more about this topic.
It was expected that we greet people in the same way which was difficult to get used to…. I am talking about the greeting, not the being older 🙂
After immigration the boat docked in Phnom Penh, which is the capital of Cambodia. Here we could choose different excursions; some people picked Tuol Sleng which is known as the Killing Fields, where there is a museum about the Cambodian genocide that took place from 1975 to 1979. Around two million people were killed: very, very sad. There was a movie with the same name released in 1984 that told the horrible story; one of the advantages of being older is that I watched it when it came out. Being serious, we didn’t have the spirit to go there, so we chose to visit the capital city by tuk tuk. It was a fantastic way to travel in the city; here’s a shot of us.
Thanks for coming with me on this very educational trip, with a lot of beautiful things and with lots of questions about the reasons that life has been and continues being so hard in some parts of the world.