An ethereal view

23 Jul

First Emperor Palace stone engraving

Vietnam is such a photogenic country.  Even after its history of colonization, wars, visits from foreigners, exploitation by others, and a government that is trying to fulfill its “doi moi/renovation” vision; it continues to stand firm, beautiful and resilient through all its trials.  Its scenic views are captivating, and the mixture of people residing here, from business men/women to the indigenous residing in the central highlands, one can’t help but  attempt to swallow the colorful abundance coming from each view.

Entrance into the King's Palace, passing creepy-demon looking guard carvings

Within the past two weeks, I had the opportunity to go sight seeing and view the landscapes Vietnam has to offer.  One of my co-workers took me to the first emperor’s palace in her “hue”/hometown known as Phu Tho, and also to celebrate the Vietnamese tradition of families coming together because of a relatives death, in this case her grandma’s death (1 year anniversary), known as “dam gio.”

 

Sacred pagoda/temple for worship at each part of the Emperor's palace (@ each level: lower, middle, upper)

I met my co-worker’s family and relatives and to my surprise, they were not only eating the usual meats (beef, pork, and chicken) but they were also enjoying dog.  I couldn’t stomach any of the food mainly because I couldn’t imagine bits of dog meat on my food.  Furthermore, I had to deal with the regular questions:  How old are you? Are you married?  Where are you from?  America? Korea?  How come you’re so dark?, while being stared at and observed by the villagers.

After the trip, I discovered 10 bites from some sort of insect (I got it from the emperor’s palace) and an inflammatory response ensued; causing puffiness, swelling, itchiness and pain.  I was overwhelmed!

This is why I cannot be a mosquito hunter like Steph and Tad, I would totally lose.

Can you tell which hand is inflammed? Image 1 OR

Can you tell which hand is inflammed? Image 2.

Then the following weekend I took a day trip to check out UNESCO’s World Heritage Site, Ha Long Bay; known as one of the world’s must-see/visit places when visiting Vietnam.

History of Ha Long Bay (source Wikipedia):

Ha Long Bay: Descending Dragon Bay

According to local legend, when the Vietnamese were fighting Chinese invaders, the gods sent a family of dragons to help defend the land. This family of dragons began spitting out jewels and jade. These jewels turned into the islands and islets dotting the bay, linking together to form a great wall against the invaders. The people kept their land safe and formed what later became the country of Vietnam.

View from Ha Long 30 Junk/Boat

Once this happened, all dragons were interested in peaceful sightseeing (hmmm, interesting) of the earth, and then decided to live here. The place where the mother dragon descended was named Hạ Long, the place where the dragon’s children attended upon their mother was called Bái Tử Long island (Bái: attend upon, Tử: children, Long: dragon), and the place where the dragon’s children wriggled their tails violently was called Bạch Long Vỹ island (Bạch: white- colour of the foam made when Dragon’s children wriggled, Long: dragon, Vỹ: tail).

I found this to be an entertaining story/folktale.

A travelling fruit seller

Sho and I off on our kayaking adventure through Ha Long Bay

Famous boat community in Ha Long Bay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having the opportunity to ride on the Ha Long 30, I met some friends and also coerced one of them, Sho to kayak with me through the bay. It was her first time and she was really scared.  Unfortunately, after 30 minutes of kayaking, it started to rain cats and dogs, so we had to head back to our “junk/boat”.

Hang Dong/Cave in Ha Long Bay

Following the boat ride, we were then herded into a famous cave in Ha Long Bay where the government displayed so many colors of light, removing the natural feel to the cave.

When asked why it was necessary, each tour guide stated “It is to improve the visitors experience and help bring out the beauty of the caves more.”  All along the tour guides continued to show shadow figures of turtles, snakes, serpents, kissing couples, children created by the limestone rocks that made up the cave.

View of Dakbla River in Kon Tum, Kon Tum Province-Central Highlands, Vietnam

Now, I am here in Kon Tum, Province where I am stationed to work.  I will update in my next blog about Kon Tum.  Till next time!!

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