Trip to Vietnam (December 2005)

After 30 years away from Vietnam, I went back to visit the country with my wife and my sibblings. We visit many relatives, some of whom we have not seen in 30 years, others in 50, and yet many never before - such is the price we paid for growing up in a war torn country. As I traveled the US, I often lamented the fact that I knew more about the US than I know of Vietnam. So on this trip, I made a point of traveling most of the length of the country by car so I can see cities and countryside that I never had the opportunity to see. I even got a chance to cross Hien Luong Bridge (the one that separated North and South Vietnam for some 20 years) on foot, and visit my childhood place for the first time in 50 years. During this driving tour, we got to see the many faces of Vietnam - from rich to poor, from crowded cities to thatch roofed villages, from peaceful small towns to resort cities. We saw beautiful sceneries rivaling those I saw at national parks in the US, as well as impressive artworks many centuries ago. We met all kinds of people - friendly and helpful at our hotels, honest and simple peasants at my childhood place, dishonest and aggressive sellers at historic places and Ha Long bay, to sincere and hospitable relatives. I talked with folks who had a difficult times making ends meet such as the couple who lived on a bamboo fishing boat, then shortly after dined with others at the 5-star Sheraton at their invitation. Our mood changed from place to place. While I had mixed feelings about my encounters, I am happy that we made the trip and promised my niece and nephew that I would return.

I took many thousands of pictures in an effort to document the trip. Unfortunately, most of the pictures were taken while inside the van. As such, the quality of those pictures is fair at best. In addition, it was raining or heavily overcast the whole time except for a couple of days of sunshine. The bulk of the pictures had a rather dull color scheme. Nevertheless, the pictures still describe life as it was with the many moods as mentioned above. I intentionally took more pictures than my usual excessive style, primarily to give Vietnamese who live in the neighborhood of a place to see how it has changed over time. Like me, they might not have been back to the country in many years.

Following are noteworthy places we visited. As I have time, pictures from various segments will be posted usually per level of interest from friends or family members.

Family pictures are posted separately. Send me a note if you a family member and can't see them. I need to add you to the group.