From Asia with Love

(NB: click on the title of this post to see the full text and gallery)

After a beautiful Christmas time in Buenos Aires, walking through picturesque San Telmo, looking at street tango shows and enjoying some amazing Argentinian malbec and meat (as tender as butter!) we left Latin America, flying over the North Cap all the way to Seoul in South Korea, where our journey through Asia started.

In Seoul, we faced a few changes: temperature dropped by 35 degrees from +25°C to -10°C, time shifted by 12 hours, malbec and meat were replaced by kimchi, rice and soju. But the warm welcome in Seoul helped us to adapt: We were very happy to meet the family and to be part of Chary and Joon’s traditional Korean wedding, where we were dressed in magnificent ‘Hanbok’ given to us as presents by Joon’s welcoming and warm hearted family. We enjoyed two beautiful weeks in South Korea visiting impressive temples decorated with lanterns and a stone-carved buddha statue around Gyeongju, enjoying Korean cuisine and practicing in Korea’s “national sport” Karaoke. We also met our dear friends Wiwe and Ryuji and had a great time together as they showed us the sweetest streets and cakes of Seoul.

A few days in busy and stormy Singapore allowed us to see some of the archtecturally impressive buildings and luxuriant gardens of the town, to visit the modern chinatown and to get our Visas ready for Vietnam. A few days later we flew into Ho Chi Minh City, former Saigon, and soon were surrounded by horning moped drivers all around us while we were in taxis or trying to cross the streets. We very much liked the atmosphere of this city. Food is served anytime and everywhere and people are eating while seated on mini plastic stools in the streets. In parks, people are playing games and are open for interesting conversations with us. We were touched by people smiling at us everywhere and by their apparent ease to cope with their relative poverty. We had to laugh when we saw many groups of young people flirting on their mopeds at night (all about seeing and being seen), but we also had bad luck when we got robbed one day by some rikksha drivers. We liked the many little and big markets, the narrow streets with hanging green plants and the colourful pagodas and their internal courtyards decorated with incense. Eventually, we almost got used to all the people wanting to sell us anything and the countless horning moped drivers all around us… Saigon’s impressive war remnant museum also reminded us about the country’s terrible past (not such a long time ago!), but we were impressed by how little this difficult past is seen in people’s faces.

Having visited four big cities around the globe in a few weeks, we were quite happy to leave the busy city lives in order to discover the beautiful and calm Mekong Delta. Giang, our local guide and friend, who was recommended to us by Anne and Olivier, showed us many special places in the Mekong Delta region: We visited the market of Vinh Long where everything from snakes to rats and chicken embryos can be bought, we tried (sometimes were forced to try) the many exotic fruits, we visited local manufacturers of clay pots and rice galets, we drove by boat through the narrow arms of the Mekong, we biked along the channels through little villages of open houses (no door but television, hammock and some mosquito nets inside) and we immersed into the famous and busy floating markets.

We recently arrived in Mui Ne, a village North East of Saigon, where one meets many Russian tourists. We are here as it is an excellent windsurfing spot with beautiful beaches which allow us to recharge our batteries and to prepare the next part of our trip!

We hope you enjoy some of our pictures and we are sending you sunny warm greetings from beautiful Vietnam!

C&D

Restaurant Recommendations:
– Buenos Aires: La Cabrera Norte: incredible meat, wine and ambiance
– Saigon: Pho Hoa: authentic and excellent pho bo restaurant full of locals
– Saigon: Cuc Gach Quan: authentic and delicious Vietnamese cuisine

Tour Recommendations:
– Buenos Aires: San Telmo and street tango at Plaza Dorrego
– Mekong Delta tour with Giang (French speaking)

Book recommendations:
– Andrew X. Pham: The Catfish and the Mandala
– Bill Hayton: Vietnam: Rising Dragon
– Kim Fay: From Asia with Love

 

 

 

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