Vietnam
Đống Đa

Here you’ll find travel reports about Đống Đa. Discover travel destinations in Vietnam of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

7 travelers at this place:

  • Day258

    Vietnam

    October 15, 2016 in Vietnam

    Vietnam is different. I had pictures of beautiful landscapes in the head like the Halong Bay or countless terraces with rice fields and streets full of bicycles. I thought it would be very close to the former GDR from my past. It is not like that. I was taught wrong. The country is beautiful tough but full of surprises. Vietnam is home to over 53 ethnic groups. I expected a plan economy and found myself in an economically aspiring country with a socialist market economy. Everywhere are waving red flags with the yellow star of Vietnam but from on the display boards white, western faces smile at you and shops of Samsung and Huawei are available at every street corner. Western brands such as Starbucks or McDonalds are part off the street image. Scooter replaced the bicycles. Vietnam is on the rise and the people are consume-orientated. The country no longer offers the promised adventure, although many backpackers still want to ride a Honda Win through the country. However, the roads are mostly well developed especially between Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi. Only those who dare to take a detour may find an adventure on sandy slopes and secluded places.

    I experienced a negative climax in the tourist sellout in Sapa, a region in the north of Vietnam. Once a refuge of the French people from the summer heat, the former mountain station has become a popular destination due to its numerous rice terraces on the mountain slopes, the local ethnicities Hmong, Red Dao, and Tay and the mountain Fansipan, the highest mountain of Indochina with 3143m height. But this development is accompanied by a sale of land and people.

    The city suffers under the amount of hotels to accommodate the tourist streams. Unfortunately the infrastructure does lag behind in development. Regularly you find yourself in a traffic jam, because the roads are too narrow or broken. Construction sites and wild parking block the traffic flow. The lack of waste disposal compliments the overall picture.

    In this environment, I am finally beset by several groups of women of different ethnicities. They pursue me and sell me bracelets and bags. They are stubborn. Top seller in Sapa are hiking tours to the villages of the different ethnic groups – additionally sold with an overnight stay. The ethnic groups sell themselves or the image of what we, the tourists, like to see. This means that we want to experience people in colourful, authentic clothing, who live in rustic bamboo or wooden huts, so that we can experience the exotic touch (similar to Thailand with the Long-Neck Tribes). For the visit of the villages and photos of or with members of the ethnicity, of course, money is required too. The authenticity of the surrounding villages due to this profitable income I dare to doubt strongly. But it is reassuring to see that in these villages schools exist all-over so that I deeply hope that the number of children selling jewellery and photos of them with tourists in the streets of Sapa will decrease in the future.

    Another sad sell-out is currently happening on Mount Fansipani. Once reached only by a multi-day hiking tour, the summit can now easily be reached by cable car. The technical data is impressing and points to the future of the mountain. 2000 people can be transported per hour. It is the longest non-stop three-rope cable car that surpasses more than 6000m distance and over 1400m heights. But that does not stop the superlatives. On the mountain, two restaurants, a huge souvenir shop and a temple await me. Everything is newly built and other buildings for housing are under construction. To reach the summit I am climbing 600 polished steps that lead past a surreal landscape of cranes, temple, archways and scaffolding. It feels as if the mountain had been buried under concrete and has lost his soul. I am mourning for the mountain and am fascinated by the surreality at the same time. Sapa definitely gives me mixed feelings.

    For climbers Vietnam has quite a lot to offer too. The Halong Bay with its countless rocks offers plenty of opportunities for deep water soloing (climbing without rope and jumping into the water). Together with Christian, my climbing partner from Germany, we booked a guided tour and drove with a boat to the rocks. I needed some time to jump into the water and I realized my feel-good heights for jumping is around 6-7m. Our guide has also climbed his project. I estimated that his route was around 30m long. It was his first successful climb. But his jump was not without a bleeding nose. Such a scary moment.

    In Vietnam, I also had to deal with the fact that I would leave Asia. I would spend the next time in Europe. It felt like a lasting goodbye. But the future is not yet written. Next destination is London.

    +++

    Vietnam ist anders. Ich hatte Bilder von wunderschönen Landschaften im Kopf, wie der Halong Bay oder unzähligen Terrassen mit Reisfeldern und Straßen voller Fahrräder. Ich stellte mir vor, Vietnam würde der ehemaligen DDR aus meiner Vergangenheit ähneln. Es ist nicht so, wie in meinen Vorstellungen. Ich wurde eines Besseren belehrt. Das Land ist wunderschön aber voller Überraschungen. Das Land beherbergt über 53 Ethnien. Ich erwartete eine Planwirtschaft und befand mich in einem wirtschaftlich aufstrebenden Land der sozialistischen Marktwirtschaft wieder. Überall weht die rote Flagge mit gelbem Stern und von den Reklametafeln lächeln weiße, westliche Gesichter und Shops von Samsung und Huawei gibt es an jeder Straßenecke. Westliche Marken wie Starbucks oder McDonalds gehören zum alltäglichen Straßenbild. Motorroller haben die Fahrräder verdrängt. Vietnam ist im Aufbruch, die Menschen sind konsumorientiert. Das Land bietet nicht mehr das versprochene Abenteuer, obwohl noch viele Backpacker eine Motorradtour auf einer Honda Win als Abenteuer sehen. Doch die Straßen sind größtenteils gut ausgebaut, besonders zwischen Ho Chi Minh und Hanoi. Nur wer Abstecher wagt, findet vielleicht noch sein Abenteuer auf sandigen Pisten und abgelegenen Orten.

    Einen negativen Höhepunkt im touristischen Ausverkauf erlebte ich in Sapa, einer Region im Norden Vietnams. Einst war Dass Zufluchtsort der Franzosen vor der Hitze des Sommers. Nun hat sich die ehemalige Bergstation aufgrund ihrer unzähligen Reisterrassen an Berghängen, den dort lebenden Ethnien Hmong, Red Dao, und Tay und dem Fansipan, dem höchsten Berg Indochinas mit 3143m Höhe zu einem beliebten Ausflugsziel entwickelt. Doch diese Entwicklung ist begleitet mit dem Ausverkauf von Land und Leuten.

    Die Stadt quillt über vor Unterkünften, um die Touristenströme zu beherbergen. Leider kommt die Infrastruktur mit dieser Entwicklung nicht hinterher. Regelmäßig gibt es Stau, da die Straßen zu eng oder kaputt sind. Baustellen und wildes Parken blockieren den Verkehrsfluss. Die mangelhafte Müllentsorgung unterstützt das Gesamtbild.

    In diesem Umfeld werde ich schließlich von etlichen Gruppen von Frauen verschiedener Ethnien belagert. Sie verfolgen mich und wollen mir Armbänder und Taschen verkaufen. Sie sind hartnäckig. Verkaufsschlager in Sapa sind Hiking-Touren in die Dörfer der verschiedenen Ethnien – gerne auch mit Übernachtung zu buchen. Die ethnischen Gruppen verkaufen sich bzw. ein Bild von ihnen, das wir, die Touristen, gerne sehen wollen. Das heißt, wir erwarten Menschen in bunten, möglichst authentischen Kleidungsstücken, die in möglichst rustikalen Bambus- oder Holzhütten leben, damit wir den Hauch des Exotischen erleben können (ähnlich wie in Thailand mit den Long-Neck Tribes). Für den Besuch der Dörfer und Fotos von oder mit Angehörigen der Ethnie wird natürlich auch Geld verlangt. Wie authentisch die umliegenden Dörfer noch sind aufgrund dieses profitablen Einkommens, wage ich stark zu bezweifeln. Es ist allerdings beruhigend zu sehen, dass in diesen Dörfern flächendeckend Schulen existieren, so dass die Hoffnung bleibt, dass die Anzahl an Kindern, die Schmuck und Fotos an Touristen in den Straßen Sapas verkaufen, zukünftig zurückgeht.

    Ein weiterer trauriger Ausverkauf ereignet sich derzeit auf dem Berg Fansipani. Einst nur über eine mehrtätige Hiking-Tour zu erreichen, kann der Gipfel mittlerweile leicht mit einer Seilbahn besucht werden. Die technischen Daten beeindrucken und verweisen bereits auf die Zukunft des Bergs. 2000 Personen kann die Bahn pro Stunde transportieren. Sie legt über 6km an einem Stück zurück und überwindet mehr als 1400 Höhenmeter. Damit hören die Superlative aber noch nicht auf. Auf dem Berg erwarten mich zwei Restaurants, ein riesiger Souvenirshop und ein Tempel. Alles neu gebaut und weitere Gebäude für Unterkünfte sind in Bau. Zum Gipfel führen 600 polierte Stufen, die an einer surrealen Landschaft aus Baukränen, Tempelgebäuden, Torbögen und Baugerüsten vorbei führen. Es fühlt sich an, als hätte man den Berg unter Beton begraben und ihm seine Seele genommen. Ich trauere um den Berg und bin doch gleichzeitig fasziniert von der Surrealität. Sapa hinterlässt bei mir definitiv gemischte Gefühle.

    Für Kletterer hat Vietnam durchaus auch einiges zu bieten. Die Halong Bay mit ihren unzähligen Felsen bietet reichlich Möglichkeiten für Deep Water Soloing (Klettern ohne Seil und Absprung ins Wasser). Gemeinsam mit Christian, meinem Kletterpartner aus Deutschland, buchten wir eine geführte Tour und fuhren mit Boot an die Felsen. Ich brauchte einige Überwindung, um ins Wasser zu springen und ich habe meine Wohlfühlgrenze bei 6-7m ausgemacht. Unser Guide ist dann auch noch sein Projekt geklettert. Geschätzte 30m hoch war die Route hoch. Es war sein erster erfolgreicher Durchstieg. Der Sprung war furchteinflößend, aber außer Nasenbluten gab es keine Verletzungen.

    In Vietnam musste ich mich auch damit auseinander setzen, dass ich Asien vorerst verlassen würde. Ich würde die nächste Zeit in Europa verbringen. Es fühlte sich wie ein dauerhafter Abschied an, obwohl die Zukunft noch nicht geschrieben ist. Nächstes Ziel ist London.
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  • Day159

    My birthday, Hanoi

    October 8, 2015 in Vietnam

    With two friends I know from Leipzig, who are in Vietnam at the moment, too, I celebrated my 29th birthday :) We went to a nice Café with a Vietnamese - American concert.
    The next day I enjoyed my birthday present from Ali: All-you-can-eat Japanese, BBQ, Hot-Pot, European and dessert. I'm still full!

  • Day40

    Hanging in Humid Hanoi

    October 22, 2016 in Vietnam

    Our first morning in Hanoi started off like any good morning should, with a early morning run. We chose a nearby lake to run around, but had to negotiate the narrow streets within the old town which were already buzzing with millions of scooters. We set off from our hotel with the receptionists laughing that we were already too late at 7am, but we went anyway and when we finally got to a street that was wide enough for us to run down without being mowed down, we started a slow jog. 30 seconds later I had pulled my hamstring but not wanting to prove the receptionists right we decided to "walk it out". We got back to the hotel about 1 hour later and thanks to the humidity, it looked like we had just done a hard out work out. This is now my third injury of this holiday... travelling is hardcore or I am just an extreme gump.

    After a delicious buffet breakfast complete with rice noodles and papaya galore we headed towards Hoa Lo Prison (otherwise known as the Hanoi Hilton) and on the way made a quick stop at a local coffee shop where we tried Vietnamese coffee delicacies. Jamie had "Egg Coffee" which consisted of raw whipped eggs, coffee and condensed milk and I had a special coffee made with coconut milk, condensed milk and coffee. Both were absolutely delicious and we had the added bonus of making friends with the cutest cat ever, who I named Zeus. I wanted to steal him as much as I have wanted to steal Chinese and Vietnamese babies, but Jamie keeps ruining all my fun. At least I am moving in a more acceptable direction by wanting to steal pets instead of children.

    When we finally got to the Prison, I was disgustingly sweaty (im so sexy) so a beeline was made for the nearest fan while reading up about the Prison's history. It was incredibly sad learning about the atrocities that have been committed here by the Chinese, French and more recently and famously the Americans. Roaming around the city, you can certainly see the Chinese and French influences remaining from their respective occupations here but impressively the strength of the Vietnamese culture shines through and their hard fought resistance against the respective revolutions has certainly won out.

    After the Prison we decided to wander down to a big park and lake located south of the old town. The park was like a desolute creepy childrens themepark with old uninhabited rides dotted throughout. There was however, an outdoor gym with a few shirtless Vietnamese men working out. Oh la la. We decided to join them for a few minutes as running was now out of the question. After our brief workout we decided to reward ourselves with a lunch of champions - ice cream and beer, whilst discussing our plans of what to do when we are back in good ol NZ. Im not the biggest beer drinker but this weather makes me want to drink anything cold and the beer is so cheap.

    Our next stop was another bar, but more importantly - a bar with a view of the Hoam Kiem lake. So, we headed north until we reached the lake and made our way up the tallest building that we could find (about 6 stories) to have more beer and mojitos. Mojitos here are about 3 pounds so I am in Mojito heaven. After our stop we decided to go check out the Dong Xuan market near our hotel where they sold lots of cheap chinese merchandise, food and animals for pets or eating including big turtles. I wanted to buy one to set it free but couldnt think of anywhere that the turtle would actually be safe to live a carefree happy turtle life without being recaptured for culinary purposes.

    All this walking was making us hungry, so we decided to have a snack and went to a restaurant nearby our hotel. I ordered normal things like vegetarian rice noodle fresh spring rolls and Jamie decided to eat some locusts. Disgusted, I told him he wasn't getting a kiss for the rest of the night. I decided to put some distance between me and locust breath man and went for a 60 minute foot massage which only cost £10 pounds. The massage man had hands of a genius and it was bloody amazing.

    I didnt want to walk ever again because my feet now felt so amazing but we had made plans to meet up with Aisha and 1 hour later we were walking to her hostel to hit the beer street for a few drinks before heading for dinner. We found a bar that was having a happy hour where we could get two gin and tonics for just over £2 pounds, this was even more incredible when we got the drinks and discovered it was mainly gin with very little tonic. After two of these I was feeling incredibly drunk and hungry, so we went to a nearby restaurant for some bun cha. As we were eating our meal we overheard a group of Indian men behind us doing rounds of shots. It wasnt long until we were joined by two very drunk Vietnamese men who were with the group of Indian Men (doing "business") and who had the biggest bloody hipflask I have ever seen filled with Vietnamese Vodka. They took an instant liking to Jamie and offered all of us some shots. Jamie and Aisha were game but I was a little suspect so had already come up with my "Im Pregnant" excuse and discretly pushed my beer over to Jamie's side of the table. Aisha let me smell hers and it certainly had a strong smell and it apparently tasted as bad as it smelt. Jamie, forever polite, said how much he enjoyed it and they proceeded to pour him a few more. After telling us that they were now marble traders after being kicked out of the UK for the illict trading of weed, they left the table to return to their Indian friends who they were doing "business" with. We decided to try and make a quick get away before they came back, but they caught us and convinced Jamie to come and join the group for some more shots.

    My poor little Jam was now feeling a bit drunk, so we decided to walk it off and headed to the Friday night markets where the middle of town was shut down to sell everything from Street Food to Clothes. At 11pm or so, I started to feel incredibly tired so left Aisha and Jamie to head to another bar while I headed back to the hotel to get my beauty sleep and an Ice Cream (dont judge me its hot).
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Đống Đa, Dong Da

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