From Baht to Dong

Monsieur and I are currently on a two-week tour of Vietnam. It’s pretty thrilling, considering we just arrived in Hanoi today and so far the fascination is huge, the public is not necessarily a fan of European faces unless they bring money into their lives, the food is great and crossing the road is frankly suicidal. Speaking of money, I barely had time to work out the Thai currency (roughly 60 Baht to the pound) before we hopped across to Vietnam where it’s a great many thousands of Dong to the pound. My brain is barely keeping up.

I have a few posts on their way (pending access to the internet) concerning Vietnamese cuisine. ‘If you can catch it, you can eat it’ is one motto I’ve come across during research for this trip. Luckily I haven’t seen any roasting dogs yet because I would probably have an Epic Moment if I did, but we have already come across quite a few people with handicaps, none of whom have time to sit back and feel sorry for themselves; they’re all out there working in different ways, mostly selling souvenirs. One was blind with a seamless patch of healed skin where one eye should have been. The poor chap was playing music for small change. Another was completely legless, dressed in the popular army green fatigues and selling postcards from his cyclo, which he must have had to pedal with his hands. A misshapen woman spoke to us in perfect English as she tried to lure us into her shop. Those are just a few of the faces we’ve come across so far. You have to be incredibly tough not to bankrupt yourself by not handing out all your cash to these folk. We have no idea of how lucky we are.

Will write more soon. Monsieur and I are off to Halong Bay tomorrow morning (early!!). If you haven’t watched it recently, rent a copy of Indochine starring Catherine Deneuve. Halong Bay is where the slaves are sent for auction. Hopefully, we’ll escape without being E-bayed to the highest bidder/s!

Will write more soon…

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9 Comments Add yours

  1. razzbuffnik says:

    The trick to crossing the road in Hanoi is the stand down-stream from a local who is crossing the road and cross when they do. If there is an errant vehicle (probably a motor scooter) it will hit the local first.

    Have fun in Ha Long it’s a beautiful place.

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  2. WW of W says:

    Remember – she who hesitates…is lost (or squished!!). Sounds fantabulous and can’t wait for the stories when you return – and hope you get to grips with the Ding Dong!

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  3. dils says:

    razzbuffnik is right. I watched the locals first, then I crossed.

    Never in my life had I seen so much motorcycles.

    I went to Ho Chi Minh though. Love Vietnam. One of the places I love to visit again.

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  4. planetross says:

    Have fun. I haven’t visited yet, but it is high on my places to go list.

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  5. epicurienne says:

    Hi Everyone, thanks for all your comments. I’ll keep this brief as we need to go and practice crossing the road again. So far so good. Made it to Halong Bay yesterday although it was a really long day with hours and hours getting there and back. Worth it for the surreal beauty of all those islands, though. It’s a bit rainy at times but not as bad as the weather forecast indicates. Today we’re going to take in a couple of temples and a visit to Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum here in Hanoi. Tomorrow we’re off to Hoi An which will hopefully be a bit less buzzy. I can’t tell you how much traffic there is here. You think it’s possible to walk somewhere quickly but it takes so long crossing each street that a short distance can take a very long time. We might just try a cyclo today but our guide yesterday said that last year traffic accidents in Vietnam claimed more lives than have been lost in Iraq during the past few years.

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  6. razzbuffnik says:

    Say hi to Uncle Ho for me.

    I hope you like Hoi An, it was our favourite place over there.

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  7. epicurienne says:

    Thanks Razz. Everywhere we go reminds me of your tales/ photos of Vietnam. Looking forward to Hoi An!

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  8. You are doing it AGAIN!!! Don’t you ever work, ma petite slacker? Every time I turn my back, you are on another vacation!
    Please send such a monsieur my way, will ya?

    Heard many fabulousness stories about Nam. Seems like the new hot ex-pat place to be!

    hưởng thụ!

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  9. epicurienne says:

    Hi Nat,
    the only way I CAN work doing what I do is to be spending spare time planning the next adventure. I have friends who live for the next pair of shoes. I live for the next adventure with Monsieur. I’ll see if we can find you a Monsieur for Xmas.
    As for Nam, it’s definitely up-and-coming. There are semi-built resorts all over the coastline so within 5-10 yrs I reckon it’ll be completely different. For the moment the feeling of transition is palpable. Still a lot of poverty and disability about the place with a good dose of suspicion of westerners at times. I just hope the tourist influx will help out the currently disadvantaged with new opportunities.
    Thanks for the greeting!

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