Vietnam and Cambodia (Last chapter)

Here I go with the last part of this unforgettable trip that we were lucky to do in February of this so unusual 2020. When the cruise ended, we were taken by minibus to Siem Reap, a city which is in itself interesting but also the closest place to the ruins of Angkor Wat, the most famous ruins in the area, although not the only ones.

On the way there we made a stop at what they called the “happy room” which was nothing more or less than the bathroom 🙂 . There we took the opportunity to take a photo with our guides during the days that we were on the ship, Mr. Huyh from Vietnam and Mr. Smiley from Cambodia, two fantastic guys on all the excursions we took during the trip. I also don’t want to forget Mirko (who I don’t have a photo of) a super fun German who was the host during the cruise. Thanks for making our trip amazing.

These were our wonderful guides on the cruise:  Huyh from Vietnam and Smiley from Cambodia

Once in Siem Reap we separated from the group with whom we had spent the week and continued the journey on our own.
The experience on land was good; we settled in a hotel on the outskirts of the city whose rooms had a certain uniqueness… all the bathrooms were outdoors, not only the part of the shower but also the toilet … a different experience to be sitting “to meditate” and be surrounded by nature 🙂

Another interesting thing was that all the trips we took to the city center were in tuk tuk, so that was very fun and exotic, in fact even our suitcases traveled that way as you see in the photo.

On many turns I seriously thought that we would lose them 🙂

Those who visit the city of Siem Reap probably do so to see the temples such as Angkor Wat and the ones nearby such as Ta Prohm, Preah Khan, Neak Poan, and Banteay Srei, among others.
The history of their construction (like their destruction) is very interesting and, as they were abandoned for many years until their reconstruction came, what struck me powerfully were the trees, as they made their way into the middle of the ruins. The force of nature, really impressive.

I was amazed with the trees

Maybe many years ago you saw the movie Tomb Raider (if you didn’t watch it, don’t waste your time, it’s really bad) but one of these famous trees appears in it … obviously I’m not the only one that caught your attention 😉

One of the must-do visits is to go see the sunrise at Angkor Wat; there we met again with the folks from the cruise, and unfortunately, perhaps because I was half asleep, I did not take any pictures with Eloise, Leyla or Sandie, but we gave each other many hugs, something that seems like a fiction now, since it’s no longer normal to do… How I miss hugs!!

And here are photos of the temples, of the sunrise and us with our guide whose name we can’t quite remember; what I can say is that he did a super professional job, he showed us hidden things inside the temples, he told us the history of the them and also some things about  the Cambodian culture.

Everyone waiting for the sunrise

And a little more of the temples. I loved this image, as I imagined it was a mom sharing a book with her daughter 🙂

And here I show you again the drawings of the temples made by Robyn Diener. Great, right? I’m still in love with her collection :). I also made a collage with one of her drawings and my photo. Yes, I am a big fan.

I see these drawings and I still get emotional
And here I put together the drawing of Robyn with my photo … beautiful, right?

After a few days in Siem Reap we took a plane back to Vietnam to visit the cities of Hoi An (which I loved) and Hue.
Many people told us that Hoi An was super touristy and that perhaps its authenticity has been diluted. For me it was one of my favorite cities: decorated with fabric lanterns of different colors that gave life to the streets, with a huge and chaotic market and with exquisite food.

What do you see? Chaos or a motorcycle and bicycle dance? 😉

Another of the fun things we did was go get custom-made clothes within a day, it was a different experience, very strange, but it is one of the typical things to do in the town.
After two days we decided to go to Hue, a city that I did not like at all. We arrived, and I don’t know if due to the contrast with Hoi An, but I felt overwhelmed and sad. We had a hard time finding a place to have a drink, and I also realized the importance of karaoke in Vietnam. I never thought that I would find karaoke spaces open to the street, side by side, competing for who can play the “music” louder and who could shout more while “singing”. If when reading this you think that I am an old lady because of this comment, you are absolutely right 🙂 . It was a painful experience for the ears.
Having traveled so much with Barnaby made us know just by looking at us that something was not right and that it was time to set course for a new plan. And so we did, we changed plane tickets and went a few more days to Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, and it was thanks to that that we had the culinary experiences that I told you of in another of my posts.

The trip from Hoi An to Hue, nice, isn’t it?

Our trip to Hanoi in the original plan was to be able to visit Ha Long Bay, where it is recommended to take a boat and spend a few days near those monumental rocks. This allowed us to do some activities such as kayaking, spending a day at the beach, visiting the interior of one of the rocks, which was an amazing experience, and enjoying a few days of relaxation. There we met Barbara and David, a very funny American couple that I hope we can see again when everything improves.

Back in the capital, we started to settle down for a long trip back home. In the taxi on the way to the airport, I took these photos of the traffic, which is still a curiosity for me.

Some photos are blurry but I wanted to show the city in full activity

This was a trip that I enjoyed doubly, as I had told you when I started writing about it, it was not a place that was on my list of favorite destinations, and I am still happy about Barnaby’s insistence to do so. It was very different from a cultural point of view and therefore of enormous learning, the greatest of all is that we should be more grateful for what we have. Remembering the kindness and smiles we had from Vietnamese and Cambodians make my heart happy. As well as the new friends we made around the world (Ilona, Alan, Brian, Sandie, Eloise, Leyla, Ed, Leeanne, David, Peree, Robyn, Chris, Barbara, Sue with whom I keep in virtual contact and who I hope we see again when the pandemic is over).

Returning home

Thank you for joining me once again on this wonderful adventure and again thanks to Barnaby for helping me in the English version.

See you soon

Flavors of Southeast Asia

I have been and still am a fan of Anthony Bourdain and his programs, in which he travels the world trying out different foods, some of which had never crossed my mind to try.  His program was really entertaining because, in addition to the food, he talked about the history of each place he visited.  Bourdain was a great admirer of Vietnam and its food, and having been there I agree that some flavors are unique to Vietnam, as well as to Cambodia.  It’s a shame I can’t share my opinion with him on Instagram 😦

When we arrived at Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) we first stayed in the Hotel Sofitel for one night.  That next morning we went for breakfast in the hotel, and I can assure you that never in my life have I seen a hotel with so many options for breakfast.  There were sections devoted to different cuisines, such as Asian, in which my favorite was the dim sum.  Also there was a French pastry section, Italian (were they’d make you a pizza to order), and American with bagels, french toast, and omelettes.  Really impressive!  If I had thought at that time to go on a diet, it would have been an impossible mission.

The breakfast at the Sofitel

During the eight days that we were on the cruise, we had a variety of meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  The chef tried to keep the menu varied so that it was never monotonous.  One day he made a special meal dedicated to the street food of Cambodia, which as a trip highlight, but of course I did not try it.  Luckily there were many other nice foods to try instead.

Impressive, right¨?

Our last day on the boat we were at port where we needed to get to an ATM, and we were tempted to get a little snack, but looking at the signs we were a little discouraged (look at the photo) 🙂

I invite you to try to pronounce the food names, let alone know what they contain 🙂

Once off the boat, our itinerary took us to Siem Reap in Cambodia, where we needed to find some good eating, and of course we did.
One was the restaurant Cuisine Wat Damnak run by the French chef Joannes Riviere who uses mostly products from Cambodian farms.  His menu is therefore ever changing as he prepares his dishes with seasonal produce.  He offers two tasting menus (I think we had one with 12 dishes) with small portions and impressive flavors.  In addition, the place was lovely:  a large house decorated in a minimalist style, with a large terrace and impeccable service.  At the end of the dinner Joannes stopped by our table and asked us what we thought of dinner.

Upon returning to Vietnam we went to Hoi An, a place that really fascinated me.  We arrived in the afternoon, and later went on a walk in the town (I’ll tell you more in another post), looking for a place for dinner, when we happened on Le Fe, a really pretty place that had a pond of koi in the middle of the restaurant, which you could feed if you dared.  Here’s my video of it.

Koi always get my attention;  they are delightful and I love it when I see them in the Japanese Garden in Buenos Aires.

The service in the restaurant was incredible.  Our waitress asked us if we knew how to eat each dish that we were served, and when we answered in the negative, we were given a mini-course on how to eat … of which we really took advantage.

I’ll tell you one thing that I learned.  In the following photo, you’ll see some leaves that seemed to me to be decoration (evidently I didn’t understand anything).  You take one of these leaves, add a little sauce and then one of the little round bites which were made of shrimp, wrap it up and into the mouth … it was incredibly delicious and I learned that no part of the meal was to be wasted.

Crab and chicken, which we ate with chopsticks

The next day we signed up for a food tour, in which we were to visit various places for food so that we could try different dishes.  Me met two very enthusiastic young women at 3:00 PM, figuring we would not eat lunch beforehand because we would be eating too much.  A big mistake!!
We started with a visit to the rice fields which are only 10 minutes outside of the city.  Then we went to a kind of factory where a guy was in charge of cleaning the rice and getting it ready for sale:  I cannot describe odor of shit, yes shit, excrement (whatever you want to call it) in that place.  It almost killed me, and our guide telling us things that were absolutely inconsequential to me because my focus was on not breathing through my nose.  That’s when my bad mood started, which when it starts is very difficult to stop.  Anyway, I bring this up because in every trip there is always a side of great enjoyment and a B side, which I also want to share because that is what my posts are about: what I liked very much and what I would rather forget, but that today makes me laugh because, ultimately, it was not so serious.

So that you can see I’m not exaggerating 🙂  What an “ass-face”!!!

As you may have noticed, this tour started poorly and the worst thing is that it continued to go downhill.  Our first food stop was a little cart in the street, with low chairs for seating, the specialty of which was a soup so dark that it looked like tar … I didn’t even try it.  My “asshole face” (this is the direct translation of the Argentine expression “cara de orto”, which is a ruder version of the more common Spanish expression “cara de culo”, or “butt face”, meaning a very displeased face) was even more evident because the soup worsened my mood even more… Now I look back and laugh, although at the time it was not in the least funny. 

The soup is called black sesame;  I love sesame but in this color, no :-).  The unusual thing is that people stopped by on their scooters, buying a little soup in a plastic bag to heat and eat at home.

Continuing with the tour things began to improve and there was a change of attitude on my part … well, I started to smell good things and my hunger passed, that easily 🙂
I am a bread fanatic and in Vietnam, due to the influence of the French, they make baguettes which, just in thinking about them right now, makes me drool like Pavlov’s dog, and no bell is ringing…

The place chosen by our guides was Madam Khahn Bahn My Queen.  It was a little stand on the street with a separate room to sit and enjoy your baguette.  Impressive!!  You can add pork, chicken or vegetables.  That warm bread and its ingredients evidently cooked slowly over open flame makes the bahn mi an unforgettable dish.

Our tour then stopped at a place where we ate bahn cuon, which is like a roll of a very thin rice pancake filled with different vegetables and pork or chicken, if you don’t want to be only a vegetarian.  Very delicious.

The end of the tour was in a really pretty place to have an egg coffee, which is coffee, sweetened condensed milk, and egg … although this seems a strange combination, it’s a delight. 

Thanks once again for coming with me on this adventure. And thanks to Barnaby for helping me with my travels (travails?) in English :).

In my next post I will tell you about my experiences with the food of Hanoi, this time without a B side 🙂

A little more from Cambodia

Before coming back to my trip I want to say that last week was a little hard for me, maybe because we had tickets to go to Buenos Aires at the beginning of April, and of course we couldn’t go; maybe because April 2nd is the anniversary of the Malvinas war, and this is a very sad day remembering that a crazy man sent into an absurd war (like all wars are) very young men with no military preparation. And among all those mixed emotions I received a letter with a pendrive of 36 drawings that recapped the Vietnam and Cambodia trip Robyn Diener, the artist, was on the cruise traveling with us. You can’t imagine how much I cried with that letter in my hands:  it symbolized all my pain and gratitude and it was a relief to let all my emotions out.
I saw Robyn drawing in her sketchbook during our excursions and with Chris’s help (her husband) she converted all her work to jpg format and had the generosity to send them from Australia to the United States. I have lot of gratitude for that.

This couple is Robyn and Chris 🙂

Here are some of her postcards 🙂

Now after all this emotion I can continue telling more about the trip. If you had thought that traveling by tuk tuk or rickshaw was exotic, you have no idea how exciting is to travel by ox cart. Something very unusual.
We disembarked and lots of carts were ready to take us to visit a local temple. As you are going to see in the pictures we travelled two in each cart and a person with some expertise drove, or rather, guided the oxen. It seemed that it wasn’t a usual way to travel because people in the streets were taking pictures of us. We were the attraction. Anyway, the experience was fun and, besides, pretty uncomfortable 🙂

This is my video of the ride

We arrived at a local temple and we participated in a ceremony and received a blessing by a Buddhist monk. I’m not a religious person but I felt touched, especially by the petals that they were throwing at us.  We had to take into account was the dress code to visit religious places. Women and men must cover their shoulders and knees. And to voice a potentially controversial opinion, I don’t like when men wear shirts where their shoulders are visible… this could be generational but I don’t like guys in tank tops no matter how buff their bodies are.

You are right 🙂
Here are the pictures at the ceremony

That night there was a pool party on the boat with music, and some enthusiastic people (me included) danced.  The best part was when one of the passengers took off her dress (she was wearing her swimsuit underneath) and got into the pool. Her name is Peree and she‘s Australian and I know all this because even though I wasn’t wearing a swimsuit I got into the pool with my dress… on 🙂 We had lot of fun. Next time I will be more prepared.

The next day we went to the temples of Phnom Srey and Phnom Pros which had lots of wild monkeys; some were big and followed us for food.  They were a little scary, even though you were not supposed to be feeding them. We saw also a photography session for a wedding. The couple didn’t look very happy but I understood that with almost 40 degrees (Celsius), one hundred percent humidity, lots of uncomfortable clothes and the photographer asking for more poses…  I would have had this face too in that situation.

Back on the boat our countdown started:  the cruise was almost over. We had dinner with our new Australian friends Ilona, Alan, Sandie and Brian, people who made us laugh a lot.  Barnaby and I hope to see them again to have more fun.

And here I am in a picture with some of the people who worked on the cruise, serving food and making our lives very easy there. Such a nice and kind group who always tried to make me laugh. “Arkoun,” which means thank you in Khmer, to all of them.

And thanks to Barnaby again for helping me correct this text and thanks to all of you for coming with me on this trip.

Here we go again

Hi my friends, during the last week I have wanted to come back to my blog to continue with the trip in Asia. I opened a section called Misceláneas but it’s only in Rioplatense Spanish, with some expressions that are only understood in Argentina. Here’s a video from an American guy called Dustin Luke who used to live in Buenos Aires and explained something of the culture from there. By the way I have to say that his accent is impeccable.

So in the last post we were about to disembark in the port of Phnom Penh.  Then we took an excursion around the city by tuk tuk. This is a motor bike with a cart in the back with no windows or doors, it’s like traveling in a bike but more comfortable, but you still have the sensation that the cars, bikes, other tuk tuks are going to hit you. Trust me, there is a lot of fun involved.  Here are some pictures where you can see some of our traveling friends.

Brian and Sandie saying hi

One of the stops was at Sihanouk Memorial dedicated to the King Norodom Sihanouk who left his crown to his son Norodom Sihamoni in 2003. Big bronze statue at the Independence Monument.
Here are some pictures and to my own surprise… I’m becoming more and more used to technological tools… Look at me!! I have a Youtube channel and I posted a great video that Barnaby filmed during our drive.

Barnaby filmed this video during the ride

Another stop was at the Central Market, a place where you can find watches, clothes, bags from very well known and expensive brands but they were fake. Kind of bizarre. I liked the places where they sold flowers and the small stands for exchanging money with windows making the bills very visible.

Are you a football (soccer) fan? If the answer is NO you can go to the next paragraph but if it’s YES, you probably saw Agüero (Kun) in the picture. I found that they have football players in beer cans, in this case from Manchester City. Something funny that happened was that we were asked all the time from where we came, and when I said Argentina, they said “Messi”: they knew that the guy plays in Barcelona but he is Argentinian.

We went to have tea at the Raffles Le Royal Hotel, a very luxurious place which was visited by Jacqueline Kennedy once upon a time;  they kept the cocktail glass with her lipstick mark on it.  Besides they dedicated a cocktail in her honor named Femme Fatale… beautiful name and even though we were supposed to be having tea, I asked for one, I felt that I couldn’t miss the opportunity to try it. It was a shame that I wasn’t wearing lipstick 😉

At night we went around the city in the tuk tuk again. It was an unforgettable excursion, seeing all the very bright city lights and feeling free in those vehicles on such a refreshing night. We had lost all the fear of the crazy traffic. Amazing!!

Another video from Barnaby

After that we had our dinner in our “normal” schedule around nine and two great members of the ship’s crew were waiting for us with everything arranged.  It’s funny that in United States we start barbecuing at 9pm when everyone else is getting ready to go to bed.

The next day we went to the Royal Palace where the King lives, and the gardens are beautiful and very well cared for. All the buildings were beautiful—my pictures not so much—so I have a video that will show you the place in a better way.

That day we finished by visiting families who produce silver handcrafted objects and jewelry.  Walking around there the kids were smiling and shouting, giving joy to the place.

Thanks for coming with me again.  Stay home, take care and we will continue this trip together and special thanks to Barnaby, my husband, who helped me correcting my English 🙂

See you soon

The Asia trip continues

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.

Here is my space to read, write and learn new things

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. 

The family asked that all the visitor wore masks

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.

Kids were very excited when we passed in the rickshaw, so cute 🙂

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.

Ilona and me, dancing queens 🙂

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.

We had a great time on the tuk tuk

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.

Descubriendo Asia

Ha Long Bay – Vietnam

Este fue un viaje de esos que me van a dejar una enseñanza para toda la vida, un viaje que disfruté de una manera muy especial principalmente porque no quería hacerlo y es que si bien me llamaba la atención esa parte del continente asiático no estaba primero en mi lista. Pero en una pareja las decisiones se toman de a dos y este era un destino al que Barnaby quería viajar y por suerte y gracias a su insistencia (porque en el medio apareció el tema del corona virus como para darle una nota de color al asunto) nos fuimos.  Viajé con muchísimas dudas, hasta te diría que sin ganas (cambié el chip una vez que subí al avión y me puse en modo disfrute) y hoy puedo decir que no me arrepiento de nada y que me enriquecí con la experiencia porque principalmente cambié mi percepción sobre la vida en ambos países ….de eso se trata viajar.
Es un lugar bastante lejano nosotros elegimos visitar sólo Vietnam y Camboya o Kampuchea  កម្ពុជាប្រជាធិបតេយ្យ, como realmente se llama y te digo que dieciocho días no fueron suficientes. Primero que nada, como ya sabes que me gusta hacer quiero mostrarte dónde están ubicados estos países. Encontré en casa un globo terráqueo (los cuales amo profundamente) y le tomé una foto para mostrarte.

A modo de confesión te digo que si bien siempre me gustó la geografía, no tenía muy en claro dónde se encontraban exactamente y con quiénes limitaban. Sabía que lejos, pero hasta no haber pasado montones de horas en los aviones no había notado que tan lejos era 🙂 . Como en cada país nuevo que visitas debes chequear que necesitas para ingresar. En este caso, para ambos fue necesario gestionar visas de ingreso, la de Camboya duraba solo un mes y la de Vietnam (la cual puede hacerse online) requiere una nueva si ingresaras mas de una vez al país o una con múltiples ingresos que es bastante cara. Lo menciono simplemente como curiosidad y también por si estás interesado en viajar.
Mi primer pie en Asia, porque fue un debut en materia de continente, fue Seúl la capital de Corea del Sur, primer detalle viajamos via Korean Airlines, la cual es muy cool, empezando por el video de seguridad para el avión grabado por el grupo SúperM. Lo adoré. Decime si no tiene toda la onda.

La llegada al aeropuerto también fue un flash, es muy iluminado con una estética muy particular la de sus negocios, no se si fue la emoción de tocar tierra después de más de 12 horas de avión pero todo me pareció excitante. Sobre todo esos muñecos que son una ternura absoluta. Esos colores pastel son una debilidad. Además ese día nos enteramos que Parasite (película coreana) había ganado el Oscar, si no la viste te la recomiendo, así que Corea del Sur ya está en mi lista para un futuro viaje.

Ese Arturito se mueve por el aeropuerto ofreciendo su ayuda

De allí luego de unas 4 horas más de vuelo llegamos a Ho Chi Minh City la ciudad que hasta 1975 se llamó Saigon y la más poblada del país. La capital es Hanoi, ciudad mucho más al norte y de la que ya te contaré un poco más porque la visitamos hacia el final del viaje.
Nuestro paso por la ciudad fue muy fugaz, hicimos una recorrida por la mañana a dos de los lugares que las guías de turismo dicen que tenes que visitar que son:  la Catedral de Notre Dame (si, como la de Paris) construída por los franceses en 1863 y que cuando fuimos estaba en refacción 😦 y la Oficina de Correos construida por Gustave Eiffel, si el mismo de la Torre 🙂 a finales del siglo XIX. También pasamos por una cuadra con solo librerías, preciosa y creo que me gustó  más porque era peatonal y no podía pasar ninguna moto, vehículo muy usado en el país y que realmente hacía que cruzar una calle fuera una gran aventura, no te miento, las motos van esquivando a las personas y si se te ocurriera pensar en esperar a que te cedan el paso no cruzarías nunca una calle. Ser peatón tiene sus riesgos. Las veredas se utilizan tanto para estacionar las motos como para puestos donde cocinaban y podías sentarte en bancos plásticos bajos y ahi almorzar como en el caso de la foto. Muy diferente.

No te pierdas el detalle de las motos cargadas a tope

Te quiero contar algunas curiosidades de Vietnam como por ejemplo que es el segundo productor de café del mundo después de Brasil y que además preparan unos estilos de café súper particulares como el “egg coffee” (con yema de huevo y leche condensada.. no pongas esa cara, es riquísimo, es como un postre bien dulce) el “coconut coffee” que se toma frío con mucho hielo y es muy refrescante y también preparan “avocado coffee”, a ese no me animé , me pareció que palta y café no iban muy de la mano. Obviamente son grandes productores de arroz y también la pimienta tiene su capítulo aparte, exportan una enorme cantidad y es de muy alta calidad. Ya hablaremos más sobre la comida que es súper exquisita, no por nada Anthony Bourdain era su fan.

Nuestro viaje comenzó con un recorrido por el rio Mekong, el cual hicimos en un crucero para alrededor de 60 personas y que durante una semana nos llevó por diferentes partes de Vietnam y también Camboya. No somos amantes de los cruceros pero la experiencia en Scenic, que fue la empresa que contratamos y donde no hubo intercambio comercial alguno para mencionarla

Si, Gerardo, esta chequeado, no hay canje

fue de un nivel increíble. Allí conocimos gente de Australia, Estados Unidos, Inglaterra y Canadá (era la única Argentina a bordo) con muchos de ellos pasamos momentos muy divertidos y espero que sigamos en contacto. La tripulación del barco también merece una mención especial, gracias a ellos todo se hizo ameno y agradable, gente muy colaboradora, siempre sonriente y muy eficiente.
La llegada al barco y el comienzo del recorrido nos recibió con este maravilloso atardecer y una calidez inmensa, además era nuestro aniversario de bodas!! Un golazo. Aprendimos algunas palabras básicas como Xin Chao (Hola) Mot, hai, Ba, Yo (Salud) y Tam biet (Adios) y otra de las fundamentales como Cam o´n (Gracias)

Al día siguiente elegimos la excursion a Cai Be que es un mercado flotante donde preparaban de diferentes formas el arroz y nos mostraron en un mini taller como lo hacían y también conocimos el vino de serpiente que ellos dicen que es su Viagra, que bueno ser mujer 🙂
Aclaro ademàs que no hubo degustación del mismo 🙂

Por la tarde fuimos a Sa Dec, un lugar bastante particular, con muchos edificios que por su arquitectura te recuerdan el paso de los franceses por esa zona y además el atractivo hoy es otro: su mercado el Wet Market donde venden toda clase de alimentos, cosas que uno no se imaginaría comer y decidí no sacar fotos pero también me hizo reflexionar…. esta gente pasó por muchísimas guerras y entre otras cat`ástrofes el hambre fue una de sus consecuencias, ellos comen todo, no desaprovechan nada y quien soy yo para juzgar su alimentación, sus costumbres, si nada sé de lo vivido. Esa fue mi primera bofetada para despabilarme y pensar en lo agradecidos que tenemos que estar cada uno con las cosas que tenemos y además no juzgar. Puedo no compartir la idea de comer algo pero eso no quiere decir que tengo el derecho de opinar sobre lo que otros hacen.

La gente que compraba pasaba en sus motos por los puestos para llevarse lo que necesitaban algunos indiferentes a los turistas otros algo molestos, ya que todos estábamos en el medio sacando fotos o hipnotizados mirando algún producto.

Te acordas de la pelicula El amante? se estrenó en los 90 y estuvo basada en la novela autobiográfica de Marguerite Duras quien vivió en Vietnam y tuvo un romance con un acaudalado empresario chino cuando ella era una adolescente. La casa que está en Sa Dec y que visitamos era de la familia de Huynh Thuy Le. Viendo las fotos del muchacho me di cuenta que fue muy favorecido en el casting de la pelicula 🙂

Durante las excursiones noté que Robyn, una de las pasajeras australianas llevaba un cuadernito donde dibujaba los lugares que íbamos visitando, yo que no puedo con mi curiosidad y tengo debilidad por la gente que dibuja o pinta me acerqué a mirarlos y ella me los mostró con mucho orgullo (no era para menos). Pero lo verdaderamente conmovedor fue que a unos días de volver a casa, recibí un email donde me regalaba parte de su arte y aquí se los comparto La casa de los amantes en la versión de Robyn Diener. Adorable, como dije en un principio un viaje lleno de emociones.

El dibujo de Robyn Diener 🙂

Gracias nuevamente por acompañarme a revivir este maravilloso viaje, hay mucho más por compartir. Nos vemos pronto.