7.6.06

I haven't been able to get to my blog for several days, and now I feel like I have far to much to write about to do anything any justice. The bottom line is that we are have an incredible time. This country is absolutly amazing.

The first trip outside of Saigon that we made was to Ben Tre, which is the town where J conducted a lot of her research. Ben Tre is pretty small and you can't get to it by road (you have to take a ferry across the Mekong) so they don't see a lot of tourists. Everyone just kind of stares at you. Some of the braver little kids would yell Hello and then laugh when you replied. Our time in Ben Tre consisted mostly of walking from house to house of people J met during her research. They would sit us down and feed us, in a lot of cases with the fruit that was growing outside. I think we had about 5 full meals in about a day and a half. Everybody was so generous and kind.

From there, we travelled to Hue, which is the old Imperial (oh, sorry, that's Feudalistic in Commiespeak) Capital of the Nguyen dynasty in Central Viet Nam. The old city is about 200 years old and is based on Beijing. There are three giant square walls, the center is the Forbidden Purple City, which is just for the emperor, then the imperial city, which is for the mandarins who served the emperor and then the citidel, which is the regular city. Unfortunatly, the Forbidden Purple City was destroyed during the 1st and 2nd Indochinese wars.

The most interesting thing for me in Hue were the tombs of the emperors. We visited three. The older two were based on Chinese art and architecture while the newer one seemed very southeast asian (in recalled Angkor Wat for me) and seemed to be designed to be seen as a ruin. It reminded me of the way the opulance of Neue Schwanstein was built during the final decline of the Bavarian monarchy. It's seems like monarchs can be very aware that thier time is coming to an end and build extravagently to try and establish a place in history.

The last couple days, we've been relaxing in Hoi An, which is a UNESCO world heritage site. The wars never really came here, so the center of the city is full of preserved 2 and 3 hundred year old homes. It's beautiful, but also a major tourist trap. It's also the center of Vietnam's tailoring industry. The tailors are pretty great. You can just bring in a picture from a magazine and they'll be able to reproduce what you want. I'm getting suit made right now.

Well, that pretty much brings me up to date. We are staying here a couple more days and then we head back to Saigon before J's parents fly out and J and I move on to Bangkok.

Cheers.

2 comments:

Rad 7:41 AM  

Dude, you're getting a suit made? Wild!! When you get back home, watch the Quiet American. It's a movie set in Vietnam during (forgive my lack of Vietnamese history) some sort of war that is not the American vietnamese war. I think it may be some kind of French uprising or something. Good movie though.

Glad you're having a blast dude. It's busy as heck here. Matt's moving to Aman next week for a few months. I'm totally jealous. I'm getting a free cannon digital camera :)

onetenchelsea 6:51 AM  

I love Grahme Greene. Actually, I read the book while I was here. It's like my third read. You should check it out.

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