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Curious what backpackers do in Vietnam? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • As we do, we went for a morning coffee and a run around the Hoán Kiêm lake in the heart of Hanoi this morning.

    Isabel did 10km and I did 5.5km. The distance around the lake is about 1.6km. We had to go around a couple times, but running in the streets is virtually impossible without a death wish.

    Everywhere along the lake there are beautiful gardens and little ladies making new gardens.

    Not the easiest run ever as the humidity coupled with the heavy polluted air made it very hard to breath. It almost felt like running at a very high altitude.

    As I was running everyone around looked at me and whispered to their friends. Some even tried taking a selfie with me in the background. Kids were screaming and waving when I passed by.
    I am not sure if this reaction was due to the fact that I had shocking green trainers and matching running shorts on, or if it was because I am about 4 ft taller than everyone, or because of my curly brown hair compared to everyones straight dark hair, or is it that I am the only one who does not have a "Mr. Miyagi" beard.

    Be as it may I am certainly considered a freak in this country. One guys actually called me "King Kong", not sure if thats a complement. Haha

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  • Happiness is...having a noodle free night. After 4 days of Vietnamese food I was desperate for something a bit familiar. I never appreciated a glass of wine so much. I really craved meat as I have pretty much been on a vegetarian diet the past few days...due to a lack of trust in the local meat concoctions in the countryside.

    Our airbnb host, Chris, manages backstage fusion so we went there as he recommended it. The food was delicious. We ended up having a few drinks with them later the evening which was really fun, they have been in the city for about a month, I think they appreciated the English company just as much as we did.

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  • This tour just get more interesting by the minute, the communication is very limited wherever we arrive the guide just say lets go. Me and Roedolf realized we are the only people in our group of about 20 that actually have an itinerary (which is a hot commodity as everyone wants to get it from us).

    Well the boat docked we got the traditional LETS GO and moments after we had an option to rent bikes. We don't need much convincing for any sort of biking and for 50,000 it's a bargain . My first bike's front break didn't work, initially I thought I would be ok but then I turned around and got a "new" one. Thank goodness I did because we had to dodge several scooters, dogs and crossed a few shaky bridges. I just focused to not fall into the water as I am carrying our passports.

    We cycled for about an hour, into a remote area. It was amazing to see how these families operate. Everyone leave their shoes outside and it looks pretty standard for a house to have a hammock or two, chairs are tiny or people just simply sit on the floor.

    This was fun and definitely the highlight of our day so far.

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  • We walked to the wharf and got on a boat for a 30 minute drive to the market, it is an impressive site. A stretch of boats selling all variety of goods lines the river. Not really a place for souvenirs, people come here to buy large quantities of goods, mostly foodstuffs, and you will get an idea of what water commerce in the Delta looks like. The large boats get products from local farmers and resell it to retailers with smaller boats, which then distribute to shops in town. We weaved through the hordes with our smaller boat, a small boat that sellsVietnamese coffee and drinks dock next to our boat, it was tempting to try till I saw the filthy river water splash onto the boats and into the cups, buying a local Saignon beer in a can is definitely a better option. The peoples whole being and existence is dependent on the river. There are more tourist boats than I expected, thats definitely a huge income for them too.You can identify what the large boats are selling by hanging a sample off the top of a long pole. It is one of those can't put it in words mornings. Between the spectating life on the river, its struggles, the pollution and happiness of people..I challenge our western ways and my own ideas of a decent living.

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  • The Cai Rang floating market is the biggest floating market in Vietnam. The market is mostly for wholesale purposes. The traders go and buy fruit and vegetables from the farmers and then transport the good on their boat via the river to the market.

    Once at the market they have to try and sell everything within a week before it goes bad. They sell minimum quality of 100kg in any transaction. Main land restaurants and shops will come and buy their fruits and vegetables here.

    As our guide explained: "big boat seller, small boat buyer". He probably repeated this phrase a dozen times along with: "chicken on boat", "dog on boat" (some boats actually have chickens and dogs on the boat, for pets or to eat I guess), "on bamboo pole what they sell" (one can identify what each boat sales by what they hang on the bamboo poles on the front of the boat) and "family of 5 live on boat" (yeah they actually have whole families on those boats). All great information but as we are use to the US, Aus and Europe where the basically bombard you with information, this tour is quite different.

    I can't even imagine this lifestyle!

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  • There are some small vendors at the market, no doubt aimed more at the tourists.

    From the lady in the first photo who sells bread for breakfast, to the coffee and fruit vendors.

    We bought a pineapple 🍍 which is basically left on the branch, then peeled and all the prickly bits removed for you to eat it like an ice cream. It was yummy!

    We even saw some poor chap trying to stop his boat from taking on to much water. Cup after cup he tossed out the water, but did not seem like he was winning.

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  • Isabel volunteered to make some Rice vermicelli now all I need to do is buy the equipment and we never have to buy rice vermicelli again. 😂

    Very interesting process, they take 20% tapioca flour and 80% rice powder and add some water to make a paste like mixture.

    Then they steam the mixture for 30 seconds and dry for 3 hours to create a large rice paper which they then shred into thin strips of pasta. One sheet of rice paper makes enough noodles for 3 servings of noodle soup.

    Interestingly they don't have any waste product from this process. They use the rice cap to burn, the heat creates steam which is used to cook the mixture and then they utilize the burnt rice caps as fertilizer in the rice fields. If only they did not stop here with conservation of the earth.

    Then they showed us how to make fried noodles, basically they deep-fry noodles in a pan, it comes out looking like a pizza base of noodles, they sprinkle some herbs on it and a hot sauce. We both actually loved this, in fact Isabel said and I quote: "this is the first fried food I love".

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  • Isabel finally gave in to drinking beer. She has been looking for a glass of wine ever since the first night where she kicked off with a bottle of vodka the first night in Vietnam.

    When we sat down she saw wine on the menu and asked if she could see the bottle. The waiter first called someone who can speak english and then the new waiter said; "I am sorry no wine".
    At that point she realized its either beer or coke and since beer is cheaper she gave in to drinking beer.

    Bizarrely they brought Isabel's food about 20 minutes before mine so she was completely finished eating by the time mine came. Further they didn't bring my rice and fish together so my rice was cold by the time the fish came.

    The fish was really good but the experience was average because I first had to watch Isabel eat and then she had to watch me eat.

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  • Crocs and bonsais what a weird combination for a farm.

    On the way to our overnight spot we stopped at a alligator farm. I am still not sure if this was just a convenient restroom stop or if its actually part of the planned itinerary, but it was kinda cool to see.

    I must be honest the crocs did not impress me too much as I have been to plenty croc farms in SA, however there are way more crocs in one enclosure here than what I am used too.

    I really enjoyed the bonsais, it reminded me of the small bonsai collection I had at university and makes me what to pick that hobby back up.

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  • Then we hopped on a Vietnam "gondola" with the friendliest tiny "guide", within moments we got lost in romantic little water alleyways. This was absolutely breathtaking scenery and I am so happy that we made this trek out here, its worth it!!! Birdlife was in abundance in this lush green environment of Acacia trees. This is untouched beauty beyond imagination and to not share this secludedness with millions of tourists is fabulous. The water has a mystical presence and who knows what lies beneath. We docked somewhere and climbed the Vietnam jungle version of a skyscrape tower, with beautiful views over the valley.

    To put my trek comment in perspective the roads are in a bad condition (no potholes just uneven) and traffic is horrendous as everyone do whatever they please, hence 200km's takes a lifetime. The amount of hoots I have heard the past few days is probably more than I have even heard in my entire life.

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You might also know this place by the following names:

Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Vietnam, Viëtnam, Viɛtnam, ቬትናም, Bietnam, فيتنام, Vyetnam, В'етнам, Виетнам, Wiyɛtinamu, ভিয়েতনাম, བི་དི་ནམ།, Viêt Nam, Vijetnam, Fietnam, བེཊ་ནཱམ, Vietnam nutome, Βιετνάμ, Vjetnamio, ویتنام, Wiyetnaam, Fjetnam, Vít Neam, Bhiet-Nam, વિયેતનામ, Biyetinam, וייטנאם, वियतनाम, Վիետնամ, Víetnam, ベトナム, ვიეტნამი, Vietinamu, វៀតណាម, ವಿಯೇಟ್ನಾಮ್, 베트남, ڤیەتنام, Vietnamia, Vyetinaamu, Viyetinamɛ, ຫວຽດນາມ, Vietnamas, Viyetiname, Vjetnama, Whitināmu, വിയറ്റ്നാം, व्हिएतनाम, Vjetnam, ဗီယက်နမ်, भिएतनाम, ଭିଏତନାମ୍, Вьетнам, Wietnam, Vietname, Witnam, Viyetinamu, चम्पादेश, Vietnäm, වියට්නාමය, Fiyetnaam, Vietnami, Вијетнам, வியட்நாம், వియట్నాం, Ветнам, เวียดนาม, Wýetnam, Vietinemi, ۋيېتنام, Вʼєтнам, Công Hòa Xã Hội Chủ Nghĩa Việt Nam, Vietnamän, Orílẹ́ède Fẹtinami, 越南, i-Vietnam