Viet Nam


March 2009
People and Culture
There are 54 different ethnic groups in Viet Nam. We went to Sapa (by train from Hanoi to Lao Cai) and saw the market in Sapa and in Bac Ha. It was like traveling through time, at the market they sell pigs, water buffalo and you can visit the blacksmith to sharpen your farm tools. We saw the Flower Hmong, Dzao, Giay, Black Thai, White Thai, Han and Thulao. We were invited into several homes and saw women weaving on looms, dying cloth and cooking over wood burning stoves.
In Nha Trang, we saw the Temple of Ponagar which was made by the Champa people. Their brick buildings were made without mortar and scientists today are still trying to understand how did they do it!
The Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi helped us understand about many of the different ethnic groups. I also recommend “Guns, Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond which talks about so many different cultures and how the haves and have nots got that way. We also went to the Temple of Literature. After 1000 years occupation of Viet Nam by China, when the Chinese left the Vietnamese started this University of Confuscian school of thought.

The Sights
View our Photos
We were able to sail in HA LONG BAY which is an UNESCO site. The karst formations are beautiful and we took so many photos. Walking through a cave of stalagtites and stalagmites which was only discovered 12 years ago was fantastic. It was lit up with many different beautiful colors. In Da Nang, we went to relax on the 10 mile long China Beach. We climbed Marble Mountain and saw caves and grottos used as hospitals during the war.
In Nha Trang we snorkeled in the Coral Sea (but we did not see any fish). From there we drove to Da Lat which is a French created Hill Station known as the “Paris of Viet Nam.” My favorite thing there was dressing up as the King and Queen. I also liked Truc Lam Pagoda with many monks and taking the train to Linh Phouc Pagoda.

We also saw many sites related to many of the wars that have happened in Viet Nam. In Dien Bien Phu, we saw the bunker used by the French in 1954 at the end of almost 100 years of French occupation. We also saw where the Vietnamese carried canons up the hill to attack the French.

In Hanoi, we saw Hao Lo Prison where John McCain and the American pilots were held (they called it the Hanoi Hilton). The French used this site to imprison the Vietnamese. We went to the War Museum in Ho Chi Minh. This museum is about the American war in Vietam (the second Indochina war.)
Interesting guides Song told us how he was fighting with S. Vietnam and the Americans. After the war, he was placed in a Communist reeducation camp for 2 1/2 years.He taught us about Red and Blue music.
Long who was born in the 80s told us that the people of Viet Nam are not upset with the invadeders of Viet Nam. They are not looking to the past but only to the future. Long said to tell everyone to come and visit to see VIET NAM! I agree!!

Traveling with my Parents
We met my mom and dad in Hanoi on February 12. It was so great to see them after being away for seven months AND we got to celebrate MANY times about our engagement!! It was also amazing to stay at 5 star hotels after our many months of guest houses some with hot water and towels most without.

We took an amazing cooking class in Hoi An. The Vietnamese food we made was the best we had on the trip. It was GREAT!
Dad, George and I took our first tai chi class at the AnaMandara hotel. It was outside and the teacher was sorta patient with us….it was a private class.
My favorite hotel was the Metropole in Hanoi. I LOVED it there!!! If you are planning to go to Cambodia or Viet Nam, I have lots of great ideas for you!

Traffic in Hanoi is UNBELIEVEABLE! There are cars, bikes, motorcycles, tuk-tuks, and so many of every kind of transport…you have to close your eyes and believe you can cross the street.
We were so happy to have dinner with our friends, the Ruby’s, in Hanoi.
CONGRATS to Dad…his NASTAR gold medal makes him eligible for NATIONALS!

Happy Women’s History Month!
Lisa and George

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Ellen Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries and six continents. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she worked on cruise ships for seven years and backpacked for three years in Asia. She is the founder of the website WeSaidGoTravel which is read in 235 countries and was named #3 on Rise Global’s top 1,000 Travel Blogs. Niver is a speaker at the Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Dallas Travel and Adventure Shows for 2023. Her podcast, “Make Your Own Map,” has been watched in more than 11 countries on 4 continents. Niver is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, Inc. Look for her memoir in Fall 2023 from Post Hill Press/Simon and Schuster. You can find Lisa Niver talking travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, Satellite Media Tours, The Jet Set TV and Orbitz travel webisodes as well as her YouTube channel, where her WeSaidGoTravel videos have nearly 2 million views. With more than 150,000 followers across social media, she has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best, is verified on Twitter and listed on IMDb, and is the Social Media Manager for the Los Angeles Press Club. As a journalist, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors and been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. She has been a judge for the Gracie Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media, and has run 15 travel competitions on her website, publishing over 2,500 writers and photographers from 75 countries. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty times.   Niver has published more than 2000 articles, in more than three dozen magazines and journals including National Geographic, Wired, Teen Vogue, HuffPost Personal, POPSUGAR, Ms. Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Saturday Evening Post, AARP, AAA Explorer Magazine, American Airways, Delta Sky, enRoute (Air Canada), Hemispheres, Jewish Journal, Myanmar Times, BuzzFeed, Robb Report, Scuba Diver Life, Ski Utah, Trivago, Undomesticated, USA Today, TODAY, Wharton Magazine, and Yahoo. Awards National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards 2021 Winner: Book Critic: Ms. Magazine “Untamed: Brave Means Living From the Inside Out” 2019 Winner: Soft News Feature for Film/TV: KTLA TV “Oscars Countdown to Gold with Lisa Niver” 2019 Finalist for: Soft News, Business/Music/Tech/Art Southern California Journalism Awards 2022 Finalist: Book Criticism 2021 Winner: Technology Reporting 2021 Finalist: Book Criticism 2020 Winner: Print Magazine Feature: Hemispheres Magazine, “Painter by the Numbers, Rembrandt” 2020 Finalist: Online Journalist of the Year, Activism Journalism, Educational Reporting, Broadcast Lifestyle Feature 2019 Finalist: Broadcast Television Lifestyle Segment for “Ogden Ski Getaway” 2018 Finalist: Science/Technology Reporting, Travel Reporting, Personality Profile 2017 Winner: Print Column “A Journey to Freedom over Three Passovers” Social Media Presence YouTube Channel: We Said Go Travel (1.7 million views) Short form video:TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels, YouTube Shorts Twitter: lisaniver (90,000 followers) Instagram: lisaniver (24,000 followers) Pinterest: We Said Go Travel (20,000 followers and over 70,000 monthly views) Facebook: lisa.niver (5,000 followers); We Said Go Travel (3,000 followers) LinkedIn: lisaellenniver (9000 contacts)

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