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Vietnam

Cu Chi tunnel, VIetnam

Cu Chi Tunnels: The super human Viet Congs

By | Vietnam | 2 Comments

The Cu Chi tunnels are one of the most depressing yet super human constructions I have ever seen. An immense network of 250 km of tunnels of 60 cm width and 80 cm height of three levels underlying much of the Vietnamese country.

Starting in the 1948 the Viet Cong guerrillas dug these tunnels by hand to protect themselves, their families and to fight against their enemies. During the Vietnam War the tunnel systems were enlarged to fight against the American invaders. The constructions were built very smartly to ensure protection, communication and supply of weapons and nutrition. The network provided everything they needed. Camouflaged entrances, traps, hospitals, schools, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous guerrilla fighters.

Thanks to these smart constructions and the superhuman strengths of the Viet Cong to live without daylight in the tiny, warm and sweaty tunnels, they did eventually win. But the destruction of the country and the people was massive. I took two days of my trip to visit the tunnels and several museums and I was shocked once again how brutal humans can be.

As a tourist you can also walk through a tunnel, which is actually bigger than the original tunnels. I could not make the 60 meters distance, since I was too afraid of the other tourists or myself panicking without being able to exit.

Halong Bay

Sailing Halong Bay

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Although Halong Bay is the spot nearly every Vietnam tourist goes to, it is still a very beautiful place. It is a peaceful and quiet experience, since at least for a couple of days there is no internet access and hardly any telephone connection. Instead you get in touch with the local people or at least you see how they live on your way through the bay. It is a special area and it changes a bit after every corner. I loved it.

Old lady, Vietnam

Life’s lines

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I met this beautiful old lady in Hoi An, Vietnam. A lovely city you should definitely go to if you love to have clothes designed  and fitted just for you. The smiling face of this lady seems to show all her life in a “wrinkle language”. I cannot say how old she is and I am sure she cannot tell either.

This photograph makes me think about my own lifelines… Which story are they going to tell? Will others write them or will I manage to write them myself?

Pigs on motorbike, Vietnam

Romance stops with the appearance of truth…

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05 Sapa (179)

I feel there is no better food, than the Vietnamese cuisine. The many different tastes a single Pho (typical Vietnamese soup) has, is overwhelming. You have to try it. The food is fresh, simple and very tasty.

Even Anthony Bourdain, one of the best chefs on earth (at least one of the funniest), says “a good bowl of Pho would always makes me happy”.

One morning though, when we came back to town from a three day trip, we passed by this guy. OMG! It took a while, until I realized, what he carried on his motorbike. I was begging to be wrong, but my eyes did not fool me. Indeed, he had five dead pigs on his bike. Damn, that’s where the romance about the pure Vietnamese food ended.

Back home in Germany though, I thought the situation is far worse. Pigs might not be packed on a bike to get a ride to the market, but their life until then is far worse.

To us – usually sausage and pig do not really feel related to each other. Apart from my veggi-friends (please forgive me posting this photo), very few people grasp where their everyday food is coming from. What is the story behind it?

It is not about being a vegetarian or not. I love meat, but I think it is worth ensuring, it comes from a farm instead of a mass production. Same story with vegetables and many other things.

Considering that, last night’s pain – due to a 48 EUR payment at the organic store for a half empty basket – dissolves.  Standing at the cashier, I told myself to never go there again. But now I feel much better about the quality purchase and the good food inside my fridge…

Well worth watching if you have not seen it yet:

We feed the world, an amazing yet shocking Austrian documentary from Erwin Wagenhover

Jamie Oliver – Food Revolution and the pink slime

luck along my way

Luck along my way….

By | Vietnam | 2 Comments

I was standing in the midst of a Vietnamese rice field after a long day walk. Looking down to the ground I saw an area where only four-leaved clover grew. I could hardly believe what I had discovered.

This moment seemed metaphoric to me. Luck is about the tiny things, which happen to us unexpectedly. Realizing them is key and can leave us with a memorable moment for a long time. However we have to keep our eyes, mind and heart open to be able to see the beauty around us, to be aware of the luck we come across – not only when we travel…

The chance to find a four-leaved clover between all the three-leaved ones is one in 10.000. Very rare you might think. But I guess most people have found a four-leaved clover in their lives. That’s because there are so many of them in most parts of the world. There are so many options to find luck every day.

We should be cautious though to not try to increase luck. I guess this guy, Shigeo Obara, who found a 56-leaved clover in 2009 in Japan, was not much happier than I. Compared to the chances of finding this he could impossibly be proportionally more happy than I was.

According to legend the first leave represents faith, the second hope, the third leave stands for love and the fourth for luck.
Does that mean that there is more faith, hope and love in this world than luck?
What would the 52 other leaves bring to the finder?

Maybe Shigeo can tell…

 

Girl in the corn fields of Sapa

Kids of Sa Pa: Northern Vietnam

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Ronja – the robber’s daughter

That’s exactly what I thought, when I saw this little girl standing in a crop field in SaPa-Northern Vietnam. SaPais located 350 km north of Ha Noi. I was thinking back and forth, whether I should travel to this area. First of all you have to take a 12 hour night train and share your 2 m² room with 4 people, secondly the weather changes really quickly and it can easily happen that all you see are clouds and rain. Apart from the night train I was really lucky and spent 3 sunny days hiking through the terraced rice fields from one village to the other (really exhausting, yet absolutely recommendable).

More than the beautiful rice fields I remember the kids in this area. Since their parents worked in the rice fields, they spend all day on their own. Some played around with other kids, some took care of their family’s cows and buffalos.

I felt this was so far away from my own culture. No way that we would we leave our 3-7 year old kids on their own all day. We feel at times even weird if a nanny looks after the kids all day. The kids seemed to cope very differently with their loneliness and responsibility to take care of themselves. Some seemed very self-assured and even offended us. Others were curious about us strangers and were excited about us taking pictures of them. Some of them were extremely shy, standing around silent – daydreaming.

Whenever I look at these pictures, I can feel the heat of these days; hear the silence of the area and the kids. They were born directly into an adult life. What a luxury I thought that back home we usually have the money and social support to ensure some childlike and playful years for our kids.