Thursday, 25 August 2011

Annoyed with Hanoi? Sometimes.

Tuesday August 23, 2011; 23:36
Location: Hanoi, Vietnam
Why: Vietnam: Mixed emotions....

I have been in Vietnam for 2 weeks and only today started to feel like the people are....nice. But that'll be my Hoi An post.

Hanoi, Hanoi....I crawled into your Old Quarters after a cranky 14hr bus ride that saw me cramped in the middle seat at the back of the sleeper bus with foam bits chafing my ass because the seat cover was torn to shit. I came into your capital forewarned about the dangers of your hustling style. Mama Poc and Papa Poc both said that you were "gwai ma". Daytyme said you Asians "be hustlin' all the time". True that on both counts.

What they didn't tell me was what an unfriendly son of a bunch you were. It wouldn't kill you to curl up your lips for a smile, even if it's fake.

August 26, 2011

Did I mention how much I hate Vietnam's firewall? It just wiped out 2/3 of this post! Grrrr. It was a good post but that was three days ago. I can't even remember what I did this morning so I've given up on writing about Hanoi. And Hue. Aside from the touristy Ha Long Bay excursion, Hanoi wasn't anything to write home about. Same same with Hue. These two cities are just commercial gutters with grumpy and condescending people. And traffic that made my heart jump every time I tried crossing it.

Okay, maybe your pho is freaking amazing....
And Ha Long Bay is bloody spectacular, despite it's touristy nature:

Now let's see if this proxy I'm subscribing to will let me post some photos on facebook...

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Lao: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Saturday August 13, 2011; 16:33
Location: Luang Praband, Vang Vieng, Laos
Why: A long overdue post. The last of Lao....for now.

I'ts been two weeks since my last post. During that time, things good, bad and ugly happened. And as I am writing this in Hanoi, I don't know when I can even post this baby - seems like blogspot, facebook and various other sites are blocked in this city.....but that's another story.

Okay left me in a state of mixed emotions. You were good. You were bad. And you were ugly.

I will start with the Good.

Ock Pop Tok in Luang Prabang:
By far the best experience I had in LP. This Lao Textile Design center allowed me the opportunity of a marvelous 3 day weaving course. Here, I learned to weave my very own ikat silk scarf from dyeing the yarn to the last finishing tassle. I have a new found appreciation for hand made.

Samples of colours to choose for dyeing. I chose indigo (far left) and gold (5th from left):

Dyeing Indigo from the indigo plant:

 Crushing the seeds from the Annatto tree for dyeing Orange:

Me and Sa hand dyeing the silk yarns the old fashioned way - with paint brushes:

Beautiful, naturally dyed silk yarns:

Thursday August 18, 2011
3:16pm, Vietnam's firewall is so annoying....

The Cycling Monk of Phou Si Mountain:
L'Etranger Tea and Books, you gave me a wonderful time with a cute, conscientious vegetarian from Australia but I was not quick enough to see the signs. Perhaps we will meet again in the future and I will get to kiss him again. Now I long to cycle the world like him.

Okay, the Bad and the Ugly:

Vang Vieng:
There is nothing good about you except for Mr. T and his Organic Farm. Your tubing industry is deteriorating the Lao culture in this town, killing unsuspecting travelers as you pour on the bucket drinks and crank up the floating bar tunes. Why did 5 people have to die in the week I was there?

And why must the tubing mayhem start right across from the farm?

Also, why did you steal my netbook?!?

Your roads are horrendous:

Your only consolation is the Vang Vieng Organic Farm. I got to enjoy milking her goats, sampling her delicious homemade goat cheese, famous mulberry shakes and tasty veggie Laap. Her mulberry trees make legendary teas, pancakes, shakes and omeletes.

And then I left you for Vietnam via Vientiane. Laos. At least you afforded me the ability to buy another netbook in your capital city but no credit cards for computer purchases?! What's up with that? No Falang enjoys withdrawing 2, 390, 000Kip to buy a netbook. Sheesh....

After three weeks in Laos, still I am thankful for the good, the bad and the ugly.

This firewall and connection speed is driving me crazy....Hanoi, you are my next post.