IT was to be a complete holiday for the men as the women would take the responsibility of choosing the itinerary in conjunction with their local travel agent.
So it came to pass that Sue Marshall and Fay Burrows of Shepparton took their husbands David and Wayne to Vietnam.
Wayne had been there before but was looking forward to returning and seeing new locations in the company of good friends.
They flew into Hanoi, their hotel was in the old quarter, it was fascinating just to walk the streets and see the people going about their daily lives.
Wayne knew what to expect as the group decided to cross the road, it’s quite wide and there was traffic everywhere mainly motorbikes, scooters, and bicycles. Faye and Sue were not so sure as Wayne said you just step onto the road in front of the traffic, walk slowly and they will miss you.
Off they went and it worked, the motorbikes just swerve around you as you walk, after a few crossings it became easy.
Sue was amazed at what the motorbikes were carrying, a family of four, pigs and other animals and packages of all shapes piled high.
The next day they travelled to Ha Long Bay, it’s a beautiful waterway dotted with hundreds of islands. It was overcast and foggy but it gave the bay a mystical feel. They boarded their ‘junk’ which slept eight people for their overnight adventure.
Arriving at a pearling village, they took to canoes to paddle around the floating village. It is said that some villagers spend their whole life on the floating platforms never going on dry land.
The children are certainly born there and even attend a floating school, the adults busy themselves with farming pearls or fishing.
Back onboard their junk it was time for a cooking class, they were making Vietnamese spring rolls, Sue and Wayne found them very tasty and have tried to make them at their respective homes but there is one ingredient they just cannot match, it was a certain type of tree fungus.
The next day as they headed back to shore the fog had really set in. The captain was using his ships bell a lot to warn other vessels of their position, after the fog cleared you could see that there were junks everywhere.
Back in Hanoi they did a city tour that included the Ho Chi Min Mausoleum where they saw the preserved body of Uncle Ho as he is known locally.
They saw the Temple of Literature and the Museum Ethnology; but after all this walking it was time for lunch. Their guide took them to a local restaurant, it was a simple room with what looked like kiddies plastic tables and small stools.
The family running the restaurant all started cutting up meat and vegetables and finally when it was ready, Sue, Faye, David and Wayne all had to agree it was the best Vietnamese soup they had ever had.
That afternoon they took a plane to Hue, Wayne wasn’t feeling well and decided to spend the day at the hotel and that’s when he discovered the disco shower. It’s a round cylindrical glass case with sliding doors, you enter, close the door and there is this control panel, you can turn on the radio, TV and disco lights which are located around the top of the shower, there is also a DVD player and a spa.
Wayne finally found the water controls and all hell broke loose, jets of water started spraying in all directions from the floor up, the ceiling down, and from the walls, Wayne just loved his disco shower.
The others went on a motorbike tour of Hue, you sit pillion style as the driver takes you through small alleys, across roads and even through a cemetery before reaching the Citadel; ancient home of emperors.
From Hue to Hoi An, the city is known for its tailors, everyone bought something, Sue and Faye bought shoes about $11 for two pairs, David got some trousers made and for Wayne a tee shirt.
Food was inexpensive; they stopped at a small restaurant and had about six courses and drinks, all for $30.
They had a big day travelling by bus to Quy Nhon, 290kms on the No.1 highway all at 40kms an hour, but it was an experience, so much traffic including big trucks, their mini bus had to make way several times getting off the road onto the dirt at the side of the road.
After they arrived in Nha Trang, on the coast the sea looked inviting so they decided to go for a swim. On entering the water it became apparent that the sea was much rougher than expected, Wayne was caught by a wave, which picked him up and dumped him back down causing him to lose his bathers. Everyone found sand everywhere.
In Da Lat they did a tour on a steam train which took them up into the mountains to a small village, life was slow here and the children were very friendly.
Arriving in Saigon they took a tour to the Cu Chi tunnels, the Viet Cong had been able to hide in the tunnels with their narrow walls where the bigger Americans solders could not follow.
With man traps set at each entry point the Viet Cong could safely sit out the war with their own kitchens and even a hospital, all underground.
Next a tour of the Mekong Delta, their boat took them on the mighty river stopping at a small restaurant. Wayne saw a huge pool of elephant fish and they ordered some for lunch. They were served with salad and they were told it had been washed, as it turns out the salad was good, and those elephant fish were just wonderful.
Now back in Shepparton, Vietnam seems far away but the experience will remain with them for years to come.
Faye and Sue would like the thank Carl at Jetset in Shepparton for arranging everything.
Until next time,