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Candace Williams
New Zealand View articles by Candace Williams

A Great Vietnamese Adventure

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The hustle and bustle of cars, trucks, taxis, and scooters squeezing together on the road looked like a sea of jellyfish. Imagine the constant sound of car horns tooting and the flashing of car lights as drivers calmly cut one another off, magically keeping the traffic moving forward. Amongst all of this is an old one-handed man, riding a motor scooter with four bulging bunches of green leaves waving around in the wind. Another motor scooter passes with a mother, three children and a dog riding on the back!

If you’re searching for an invigorating taste of Asia, Hanoi, Vietnam is a great place to start! From the surface it appears to be hectic and unorganised, yet within a couple of hours you’ll find yourself crossing the roads like a local, and sitting in a little Vietnamese restaurant eating pho bo, a delicious beef noodle soup that comes with a glass of refreshingly sweet lemon juice.

Tours depart daily to many astonishing places that northern Vietnam has on offer, including the world famous Ha Long Bay. With a four hour bus ride, you arrive at the port to board a cruise through the tranquil bay, filled with over 2000 little islands. Experience serenity from the rooftop of the boat as you take in the astonishing surroundings, including the floating villages and the enormous Dau Go cave. Waking up to a view of the tall green islands from your cabin window is enough to make you grateful to be alive. To truly understand why Ha Long Bay is one of Vietnam’s calmest places, stay a night on one of the private islands. On a kayak, paddle across the still water to explore the bay and watch the sunset.

Lau cai, six hours north of Hanoi is the home of Sapa village and Black H’mong and Red Dzao tribes. Many tourists travel to this wonderful destination but only the adventurous will go deeper into the mountains to see the unfathomable beauty of the steep mountainsides and rice terraces. Be prepared to have your eyes opened as you experience firsthand how hard these tribes cultivate the land and dedicate their lives to every grain of rice and cob of corn. Trips vary in length and distance but 12 kilometers is best, two days of hiking with traditionally dressed women by your side. Trek through the valleys and across bamboo bridges until you see mountaintops peeking through the cloud layer, looking over the rice terraces below. With no tractors in sight, expect to see women in bare feet plowing the muddy terraces with hand tools in preparation for rice seeds. Young boys steer the buffalo, pulling plows through the grassy terraces.

After you have exerted yourself physically and feel ready for a change from the bustling city, take a trip to Hoian.  There’s no better place to put your feet up and relax than on the shores of An Bang, the local beach in the cute little coastal town. Hoian is a small, quiet and very heartwarming place offering anything you could ask for.

Ride push-bikes from your hotel to the beach and lie back on a sun chair with a pina colada as you soak up the 34C sunshine. The water is warm and clear with small waves for swimming, blue sky and a light breeze - read a book or close your eyes and experience utter happiness!

Famous for it’s tailors, take photos and designs to the local shops to create your dream shoes through to suits at a fraction of the normal cost.

Hong Kong is easily accessible with flights landing daily with Air newzealand and Vietnam is located only two hours from Hong Kong. Vietnam is waiting for you to arrive and create unforgettable memories!

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