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
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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

Award-winning travel expert Lisa Ellen Niver has explored 101 countries and talks travel on KTLA-TV and her website, We Said Go Travel, which is read in 212 countries. Her YouTube videos have nearly 900,000 views and she has more than 140,000 followers on social media (verified on Facebook and Twitter). She sailed on the high seas for seven years and she has been nominated for five Southern California Journalism Awards in the past two years and received 2nd place for her Jewish Journal article. Niver has written for publications including AARP, American Airways, Delta Sky, Luxury Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Robb Report, Sierra Club, Smithsonian, Saturday Evening Post, United Airlines (Hemispheres) and USA Today 10Best.

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We Said Go Travel

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