Blog by Betsy Carstairs

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Vietnam in February

Bike bogenvilliaVietnam by boat
Vancouver's winter grey skies can be easily replaced with warm blue skies with a quick trip to Vietnam. This year I went to visit some friends in this beautiful country. I flew into Saigone & we spent 3 days in this city. The 1950's French architecture & gorgeous garden parks were truely stunning. I felt very safe here even if the traffic really is daunting. I opted for a pedicab & even that was quite the ride with the 100's of mopeds navigating through the streets.
Day 3 we travelled for just over 4 hours to arrive at a very rural area very different from the sophistication of Saigone. Most homes here were of thatched palms & walking or pedal biking on narrow raised paths  was the main mode of transportation. The people were very welcoming although no one spoke English. The food was so fresh & tasty & the coffee very rich. The coffee was so good I brought a suitcase full home with me. The weather was very comfortable. We went out biking through the rice fields in the mornings & came back to the house by noon to be served a beautiful lunch then have a siesta in the hammock in the afternoon when the wind picked up.
What was very interesting here is how little land they use to build their homes. In the more citified areas they build on a 2 meter  lot front!!!! Yes this is very small & there are no set backs to the neighbour's lot line. They just build right beside the neighbour's house. These homes are 3-4 stories tall so there woud be enough room to accomodate a family but even at 4 stories the spaces would be tight.
It was such a facinating trip & I am so fortunate to have had Vietnamese friends who showed me a Vietnam I am sure most tourists to this country would never see. A beautiful country with a charm that felt insulated from our technologica,l fast paced Western society. Hopefully I will soon return to Vietnam & this time head up to the beaches which I understand are lovely. Another adventure awaits