A Trip to Vietnam - Un voyage au Viêt Nam

During the month of October 2010, we went on a trip to Vietnam. The itinerary was organized by Vietnam Aventure, a Franco-Vietnamese company.
En octobre 2010, nous sommes allés au Viêt Nam. Le voyage a été organisé par Vietnam Aventure, un tour opérateur franco-vietnamien.


Day/Jour 1
Travel Victoria-Hà Nôi
Voyage Victoria-Hà Nôi


Day/Jour 2
Hà Noi to the Ferme du Colvert: Afternoon to discover the surroundings. The Ferme was featured on the Quebec TV program Partir Autrement (video, French only). We met An Tran Chassedieu, foundational director of Vietnam Aventure, and her husband Jean-Michel. They are the nicest kind of people and welcoming hosts at the Ferme.
De Hà Noi à la Ferme du Colvert: Après-midi pour découvrir les environs. La Ferme était le sujet de l'émission (Partir Autrement) diffusée sur TV5.

The first few nights we stayed in the Maison Fleurs de Lotus (Lotus Flower House), a traditional building on the Ferme du Colvert. The house was bult by the Kinh, the Vietnamese who inhabit the plains of the north.
Les 3 premières nuits dans une maison typique à la Ferme.

Everyday, the locals go to harvest a bit of rice and . . .
Recolte du riz, activité quotidienne . . .

bring it home to get it thrashed and . . .
puis extraction des grains . . .

then they dry it in their courtyard or the street. Each morning, they spread it out only to gather it again in the evening. It takes about 4 days.
enfin séchage dans la cour ou sur la route.

70 percent of the Vietnamese are rural, and many live in simple two-room houses. But they have mopeds/motor cycles, TV, and the inevitable cell phone.
70 % de la population vietnamienne est rurale et beaucoup vivent dans des maisons où ll n'y a que 2 pièces. Mais ils possèdent une télé, une mobylette ou un scooter et l'incontournable téléphone portable !

In addition to rice, vegetables are grown seemingly everywhere. The people are not hungry. We were amazed by the apparent happiness of the people and by their resilience.
Ils font aussi pousser des légumes et des fruits : ils manchent à leur faim. Ils nous ont donné l'impression d'être heureux et de ne pas se laisser abattre.


Day/Jour 3
The valley of Luong Son - Land of the Muòng. We rode our bicycles through villages and rice fields. In the afternoon, we rowed on the nearby lake and watched a fisherman at work.
La vallée de Luong Son - pays des Muòng. Balade en vélo pour voir des rizières et des villages. L'après-midi, détente à la ferme et balade en bateau à rames (sampan).

In the villages, dirt roads predominate. Here, a villager carries the tool for cultivating the field to be pulled by the cow. We have never seen a people as a whole work so hard - but also to be happy at the same time.
Sur une route en terre typique des villages, un habitant transporte l'équipement que le bœuf va tirer pour cultiver son champs.

This village shop carries everything from fuel for the motor bikes (left) to meat, drinks, and water.
Petit magasin typique où l'on trouve de tout : essence, viande, boissons, eau . . .

School children on the way home for lunch.
Des écoliers rentrent à la maison pour le déjeuner. Ils retourneront à l'école après.

Women do much of the hard work -- here roofing with dried palm leaves. Many protect their faces and hands. Tight jeans are de rigeur (we saw them at the market for about 60,000 dong or about $3).
Les femmes font toutes sortes de tâches difficiles comme ici, faire le toit d'une maison en utilisant des feuilles de palmiers séchées.

Some of the fish will end up on our tables at the Ferme, and, therefore, on our plates.
Certains de ces poisson finiront dans notre assiette !

Lotus flowers reflect the tranquility of life at the Ferme. We brought some lotus flower (green) tea home, which is delicious.
Fleurs de lotus à la Ferme.


Day/Jour 4
By foot and sampan to Chua Huong, the Pagoda of Perfum. Beautiful landscapes comparable to the terrestrial Ha Long Bay.
À pied et en sampan à Chua Hong, la Pagode des Parfums. Un paysage féérique comparable à la beauté de la Baie d’Halong terrestre.

Women generally row the boats.
Ce sont les femmes qui rament.

Men tend to fish.
Les hommes pêchent.

Vietnamese party, women row the boats even with many people aboard.
Peut importe le nombre de personnes à bord, ici un groupe de Vietnamiens, les femmes rament !

At the village market, the motor bikes, which function like the "pick ups" in North America and the "utes" in Australia, getting everything to the market . . .
Marché local. Transport des fruits et légumes en vélo et mobylette . . .

where people do not make much ado about displaying goods on tables . . .
pas vraiement besoin de tables pour vendre ses fruits et légumes !

even though they do exist at times. Eggs come in all sizes and from many different birds, which would be pretty unusual in the markets and stores where we are coming from where hen's eggs are all of the same size and color.
mais elles existent ! Ici on y trouve des œufs multicolores, de toutes tailles, provenant d'oiseaux différents.


Day/Jour 5
Land of Thai at the Black River. Night in the house of Quynh in a Muòng village.
Pays Thai au Fleuve Noir. Nuit chez Quynh, une habitante d'un village Muòng.

In the valley, there are rice fields on terraces. Rice is grown everywhere, smaller fields in the north, large fields in the Mekong delta.
Le riz est cultivé en terrasses.

On the dammed Black River, people live on boats that also serve to transpport goods.
Bateaux-maisons sur le Fleuve Noir.

A little hamlet on an island with a pagoda. From these houses, inhabitants sell cooked fish and other goods. Vietnamese pay up to $2000 to have a religious ceremony performed.
Marche à travers le hameau pour visiter une pagode située sur une petite île du Fleuve Noir.

This woman from the ethnic group pf the Muòng has eaten certain plants to blacken and thereby protect her teeth. It looks odd to us, coming from a part of the world where the teeth are admired when they are whiter than white -- or so the ads go.
Pour les vielles femmes de l'éthnie Muòng, se noircir les dents en mâchant une certain plante est un signe de beauté et en plus c'est bon pour les dents.

In Giang Mo Village (Hoa Binh Province), we stayed with Quynh (our hostess) in one of the one-room houses of this village, where people live off farming, animal husbandry, and the production of cloth and toothpicks.
Nuit chez l'habitant dans une maison à pièce unique. Les villageois vivent de l'élévage, de l'agriculture et de la fabrication de tissus et de cure-dents.

Quynh's father in law gets ready to sleep in the open area underneath the house on stilts.
Beau-père de notre hôtesse Quynh se préparant pour la nuit.


Day/Jour 6
Terrestrial Hà Long. After the night with Quynh, we drove south from the Land of Thai through endless back roads, rice fields, toward Ninh Binh, where we took another boat ride to see the karstic mountains of this area.
La Baie d'Halong Terrestre de Ninh Binh.

Quynh is preparing the beds for the driver and guide in one part of the room/house. There is electricity, a fridge and TV, some neon lamps -- while we were there, there was a power failure in which case candles and a little battery with a light attached are the only sources of light.
Quynh prépare les lits pour tout le monde dans l'unique pièce.

Quynh's daughter is collecting herbs for our breakfast. Her sister (#2) is going to be married (arranged wedding, her own choice) and her father is currently checking out the house of the son in law. Her oldest sister goes to college. Her little brother is about 6.
La fille de notre hôtesse ramassant les herbes pour le petit déjeuner.

A motorbike is racing to the market, loaded with fresh vegetables. it was amazing for us to see how much the farmers could load onto their motor bikes and to see them arrive in the markets to sell their stuff often merely spread out on some fabric.
Mobylette fortement chargée de légumes fonce vers le marché.

In a village on the way to Ninh Binh. This is the front room (reception, altar, men's bedroom), to the left the second room that makes this house.
Réunion de famille dans une maison plus moderne mais toujours à 2 pièces.

Terrestrial Hà Long Bay in the province of Ninh Binh.
Baie d'Halong terrestre dans la province de Ninh Binh.

On the river among karstic mountains. Again, the rowers are women. Just beyond the banks there are rice fields.
Promenade en sampan parmi les rizières de la Baie d'Halong terrestre.


Day/Jour 7
Hà Long Bay. It takes us 4 hours to drive past Hài Phòng to Bâi Chái, where we embark for a 24-hour trip through Halong Bay with overnight on a junk boat.
Baie d'Hà Long.

While embarking, we see Hà Long Bay under cloudy skies from our junk boat, which is one of about 500. It is as if we were among pirates.
Départ pour notre croisière dans la Baie d'Hà Long.

The weather is clearing up and Hà Long Bay exhibits its beauty.
Soleil sur les îles de la Baie d'Hà Long.

We were also provided with misty and mystical views.
Contre-jour sur les îles.

We are heading for some floating villages. We leave the junk boat and are carried about by these women rowers.
Balade en sampan dans un village flottant de pêcheurs de la Baie.

People live in floating houses or on their boats.
Maison flottante et bateau-maison.

The village elementary school had about 8 students learning that day to read some of their basic one-syllabic words.
École primaire du village flottant.


Day/Jour 8
Hà Long Bay and Hà Noi. We spend the morning including lunch in the Bay and on the junk boat and then transfer to Hà Noi.
Baie d'Hà Long et Hà Noi.

Although the sky was not blue all of the time, there was a nice scenery with clouds, very dramatic. At the time we were sitting with two other French couples on the top deck of our junk boat.
Fin de journée sur la Baie d'Hà Long.

We have anchored for the night. A few other junk boats also anchored in this place -- a safety measure to guard against pirates. Michael even went for a swim with the other two couples.
La nuit tombe sur la Baie d'Hà Long.

Next morning, we went to visit a cave with lots of stalagmites and stalactites. From the cave entry, we had a nice look back down onto a floating village and some junk boats.
Le lendemain matin visite d'une grotte.

The local market of Hà Noi. No tourists besides ourselves to be found here.
Marché local à Hà Noi.

No price tags, everything up to be haggled over. Even if we had been meat eaters, we would have bought only with a guide, because it might have been from dog or snake or other sources.
Chez la bouchère, étale de toutes sortes de viandes.

As in the villages, the Vietnamese grow their food in fields and gardens that come right up to their homes. We are only meters from Hà Noi market.
À la sortie de Hà Noi petit champs où l'on fait pousser tomates et haricots.


Day/Jour 9
Hà Noi. We spend all day in the city, visiting Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum, his simple home, the temple of literature, and some other sites. In the evening we get on the night train to Hué
La Baie d'Halong et Hà Noi

Boats bring pottery to the outskirts of Hà Noi . . . Apparently the pottery comes from Bát Tràng Pottery Village, about 13 km away . . .
Bateau de transport de la poterie provenant du village de Bát Tràng

where it is stored just on top of the river banks to be sold in the nearby markets.
entreposage de la poterie.

The streets of Hà Noi are busy . . . many might say chaotic.
Rue à Hà Noi.

Anything and everything is for sale and it is hard to get vendors of your back, from your arm, or out of your face.
Dans le vieux quartier de Hà Noi,

Whatever she sells from her ambulant store means cash.
on y vend de tout.

Lovers at the shore of the Hò Hoàn Kiêm Lake taking pictures of visitors to a small Den Ngoc Son temple.
Au bord du lac Hò Hoàn Kiêm à Hà Noi.


Day/Jour 10
Hué. We arrive 4 hours late, which changes our activities for this and the next day.

In the market of the locals of Hué.
Le marché local de Hué.

We visit some pagodas, the mausoleum of the king Minh Mang . . . and the weather noticeably changes announcing a rainstorm.
Mausolée du roi Minh Mang.

We have never seen so much water come down as here in Hué.
Vue de Hué de l'hôtel.

In the morning, the water in front of our hotel is knee deep. When we do get out, the people do as if nothing happened. We get some bicycles and head toward the emperors palace.
La vie continue sous la pluie.

That day, it rains off and on. We learn that it doesn't matter so much, because it is warm and when it does not rain we dry quickly. We visit Imperial City (Kinh thành Hué).
Visite de la cité impériale.

Decoration in the emperor's palace includes these designs made from shards of broken plates and dishes.
Exemple de mosaïque.


Day/Jour 11
Hué. A day with cloudy skies, bicycling, and rain off and on. This is, after all, the rainy city. More than 30 people were killed during the weeks before our arrival.
Hué à vélo sous une pluie diluvienne.

Gate in the imperial city.
Porte de la cité imperiale.

We visit some pagodas and the botanical garden of a mandarin's home . . . and the weather noticeably changes announcing a rainstorm.
Jardin botanique de la maison d'un mandarin.

It rains, we head back on a sampan on the Perfum River, and it rains. When we come ashore, the water is meeting us on the stairs.
Pluie torrentielle dans Hué.

In the streets, people continue as always, here riding the motor cycle in the water. Everyone here has a raincoat.
La pluie n'empêche pas les gens de circuler. Ici tout le monde est équipé !

The people don't even move from their places in the street bar, where the water comes right up to the seats.
Rue inondée . . .

Although the water comes almost up to their merchandise, the women continue as if nothing happened. A few minutes later, rats begin to emerge from the street gutters.
mais la vie continue.


Day/Jour 12
Hué to Da Nang and Hoi An. The morning sky contains some blue--in the evening, we are already gone--9 more people get killed because of the rain storms. We are driving across the Cloudy Pass, which, on this day, is true to its name.
Da Nang et Hoi An.

We visit the Cham museum in Da Nang.
Visite du musée Cham à Da Nang.

There are many artifacts that have come from an ancient city.
Des statues . . .

Artifacts are not unlike those tourists are familiar with from visits to Angkor Wat.
qui font penser à Angkor Wat.

Our guide takes us through Hoi An, an old merchant town with many buildings dating way back. Gift shops, tailor shops, and restaurants now offer everything they have to local and international tourists.
Hoi An, ville musée.

Late afternoon we strike out on our own walking parts of town that other tourists hardly get to. Life on the street is busy. Folks are happy; kids running and playing.
Scène de vie quotidienne.

Vietnamese are hard workers, getting the most amazing construction done--by hand and with what would in our country be the most rudimentary means, perhaps would be even against the building codes.
Construction d'une maison avec des moyens rudimentaires.


Day/Jour 13
A day in Hoi An--with evening flight to Ho Chi Minh City. We are on our own and take it easy.
Journée de plage à Hoi An.

We rented bicycles and rode the 4 km to the beach--only a little farther than we had walked the preceding night.
Bain de pieds à la plage.

We encountered fishermen in curious round boats. Apparently, in Da Nang, they were also used to unload American warships during the fight for decolonization.
Bateaux de pêches locaux.

A beach view typical for the tropics. It is Vietnam, not an island in the Pacific.
Repos sous les cocotiers.

In the fresh and brackish waters, people were fishing.
Pêche à la ligne.

After lunch, we head back to the city of Hoi An, with wonderful light conditions for photography later in the afternoon.
Balade dans la ville et au bord de la rivière.

We encounter this older women selling little whistles made from pottery, probably in the nearby village where we did not go fearing it would be as commercial as the city itself. She looks as old as Methusalem but moves like a youngster.
Vieille femme vendant des souvenirs.


Day/Jour 14
Mekong Delta to Can Tho. We only spent the night in Ho Chi Minh City (our wish), drove around for an hour, and then left for the Mekong
Delta du Mékong et Can Tho.

The posts of an old Chinese home had beautiful inlays from nacre (mother of pearl).
Décoration en nacre dans une vieille maison d'un riche Chinois.

Being completely build over the water, the houses are less expensive than houses of the same size with street frontage.
Habitations sur le Mékong.

All over Vietnam we saw people in the water harvesting vegetables and fishing . . . even though many houses here on the Mekong have their toilets empty directly into the river.
Récolte des liserons et des jacinthes d'eau.

In this sweatshop, the women made rice wrappers. They are paid by numbers. Some women can cook on up to 4 cook tops . . . with tremendous repercussions for her earnings.
Fabrique de galettes de riz au rendement.

Boats of all sizes and with all sorts of loads, many of them so sweat and delicious that they taste for more and more.
Transport des marchandises.

We went for a night walk to visit the river and night markets of Can Tho.
Au bord du Mékong à Can Tho.


Day/Jour 15
From floating markets to Rach Gia.
Marchés flottants à Rach Gia.

The entire way from Can Tho to the floating markets, we see the banks lined with houses on stilts. The waste waters go right into the Mekong to be picked up by others . . . as seen in the next photo.
Maisons typiques.

Other families live on boats. This woman gets water directly from the river . . . and we can't even take the water from the tap without the prospects of getting sick . . . Montezuma's revenge, tourista, or whatever they use here as the euphemism for tremendous diarrhea.

At the market, we see people dealing from boat to boat everything that can be grown in the rich delta.
Vente de produits au marché flottant.

Boats are floating, boats are tied to each other, boats are tied to the shore. There are boats everywhere.
Des bateaux partout !

On land, there is another market. We were most impressed by the rats (blue pan), which the people here find very tasty, as these animals feed on all the fruit they find in this part of the country.
Petit marché local sur le bord du Mékong où on y vend, entre autres, du rat (bassine bleue).

Upon leaving Can Tho, we went to see the house where some scenes were shot for the movie The Lover, after the novel written by Marguerite Duras (one of Michael's all-time favorite authors).
Maison où Jean-Jacques Annaud a tourné une scène de L'amant, d'après le roman célèbre de Marguerite Duras.


Day/Jour 16
Rach Giá to the beaches of Hon Chong.
Rach Giá et Hon Chong.

In Rach Giá (even our guide seems to pronounce this name differently from hour to hour, something like rakhia) we went for a walk in the afternoon along the fishing old harbor. But there were only a few boats and lots of garbage, and low-cost housing developments.
Bateaux de pêche maritime à Rach Giá.

Here, too, only meters from the ocean, women were peddling their goods from the boats they rowed while standing.
Marchande ambulante.

Just outside the mouth of the inlet, fishing vessels were anchoring. We know these are ocean-going vessels because they do not have the eyes that are painted on many boats on the Mekong.
Dans l'ancien port de Rach Giá.

In the morning before leaving, we visited the new fishing harbor, where we saw these men unloading a boat with gravel carrying it in baskets on their back.
Déchargement de gravier.

Others picked up ice that was crushed by the machine to the right and then brought it with the dolly to the trucks. The boats took the big ice chunks via an ingenious contraption which had two rails on which the ice was gliding.
Préparation de la glace pour les camions réfrigérés.

Hon Chong was not what Europeans or North Americans would call a typical resort. A poor fishing village and a *** resort used largely by the people from the nearby international cement company. A wonderful sunset from our villa.
Hon Chong : couché de soleil dans le golfe de Siam.


Day/Jour 17
Quiet day on the beaches of Hon Chong.
Plage de Hon Chong.

There is not much to Hon Chong, but it is quiet, especially during the period of the year when we were there. In the resort, there was only a group from the near-by international cement company besides ourselves. We had a nice "villa" on the cliffs above the ocean.
Plage de Hon Chong.

There are lots of fishermen. Lots. In the night, we see their lights on the ocean.
Départ pour la pêche en mer.

Boats anchored of the tiny village, where many houses where completely from palm leaves. They come in all sizes.
Village de Hon Chong.

Many boats were tiny and people were fishing day and night.
Pêcheur de Hon Chong.

A woman selling meat on a roadside stand, sitting on the table with her goods, and cell phone at her ear.
Habitante de Hon Chong vendant sa viande.

One of the many beachside restaurants . . . we were not daring enough to go there.
Restaurant au bord de la mer.


Day/Jour 18
Quiet morning at Hon Chong then departure for a 43-hour trip back home to Victoria.
Hon Chong.

We wandered through the village, where ambulant fruit salespeople were selling their stuff.
Marchande de bananes ambulante.

For those without boats, don't despair. One can fish with a net without having a boat. We saw this person repeatedly over the 48 hours placing and taking up his net.
Pêcheur ramassant son filet de pêche.

Kids come back from school to have their lunch before heading back to school for the afternoon.
Écoliers rentrant pour le déjeuner.