Extraordinary Indochina, so much liked, so much song, for the wonders with which nature is endowed with generosity as for the heads with work of art that man was born to create. 

The timeless beauties of HaLong Bay and majestic banks of the Mekong River are decorated by the refinement of the Hue Mausoleums and the various temples of Angkor of the Khmer. 

On the way from Vietnam to Cambodia you will go from rapture to dazzling and have unforgettable memories about Indochina.  

Here's Chuck & Barbara in Istanbul in 2004. 

In 2005 we were in Costa Rica.  Little did we know we would be in Vietnam and Cambodia in 2007!

Check out my Visa for Vietnam, dated December 4th, 2006! I got it at the Vietnam Embassy in San Francisco!

   Preperations to go to Vietnam & Cambodia - 2007

   Flight from San Francisco to Taipei Taiwan - 2007

Wednesday - January 24th - 2007: My flight from San Francisco to Taipei started out at 12:15 AM and the couple next to me said I looked tall and as soon as the plane took off, they moved and let me have the entire row, three seats!

I was able to sleep about six hours.  The flight was over 13 hours long!  China Airlines was great.  

We took off and they came with hot wet towels and then a nice dinner.   Seven hours later a lunch and just a few hours before landing in Taipei, they served breakfast along with hot towels again.  

All in all, a great flight and good food.  What more could one ask for, plus a nice couple giving their seats to me so I could be comfortable!

   Flight from from Taipei to Hanoi - Walking Tour Around the Hotel

Thursday - January 25th - 2007: We got in around noon and went to the hotel and settled in.  First we went to the Hanoi Hilton, the infamous jail where Mc Cain was incarcerated.  Then we walked around the area and the lake.

The story there is a turtle came to shore and the Emperor gave the turtle his sword and prayed that the turtle would take the sword into the lake and then there would be harmony and peace on earth.

And the turtle did take the sword and people think the sword may still be at the bottom of the lake.  They built a temple in the lake with a stuffed turtle in a glass case.  Now the water is so polluted I doubt anything lives in it!

We had coffee by the lake and then got a cab and drove to Ho Chi Minh's Mosuleum and walked around as it is only opened a few hours a day.  We took a cab back and found a restaurant and had dinner and a beer and then time to go to bed as the next day was going to be busy!

This photo was taken on our last night as we tried our time exposure to capture the ruined Pagoda located in the center of the lake!

First Day in Hanoi and We Were All Over the Place!

Average Commute Day Spent Missing Motor Vehicles!

Shops and Apartments on Top of Each Other!


Lots of Everything!

Vietnam Coffee after a Hectic Shopping Day!

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum ~ French Prison

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Vietnamese Guards


Infamous French Jail ~ Mc Cain was a Prisoner There!

Memorial to Killings in the Prison

    Bich Dong Temples and a River Boating

Friday - January 26th - 2007: HoAlu Day Tour of Bich Dong Temples and a River Boating Trip in Tamcoc. We got up early and the bus picked us up and we sat by a couple from Australia and their daughter.

We rode for about two hours and had a nice talk.  Then we did two temples and finally we went to the river and spent an hour going down the river and another hour coming back.

The women rowing the boats eventually started using their feet!

I had complained that I never got a photo of a water buffalo and guess what, here there were buffalo in almost every field.  They were used to pull the old fashioned plows.  

1060 ~ Emperor's Temple

Entrance to Temple

Beautiful Grill Work


The Emperor

Close Up!

River North of Hanoi ~ Great Rowing ~ Gathering Water Plants

Beautiful Scenery

 Rowing with Feet Only!


Coming Through a Hollow Carved out of the Mountain!

Gathering Lichens

Zen ~ A Taste of Hanoi ~ Our Favorite Restaurant and Saigon Beer!

Zen Bar & Cafe - 23 Hang Can 0 Hoankiem - Hanoi - Tel: (84-4) 9.233 299 - zen.bar.cusine@gmail.com 

Our Waiter of course, had an Uncle in San Francisco.  The second time we went, he rushed to me and said, "Don't forget my uncle in San Francisco!"

   HaLong Bay & Junk Boat Trip in Bay

Saturday - January 27th - 2007: Another long bus ride, three hours and then we met the Junk and boarded around noon.

We sailed around the bay and took a small motor boat to a small bay and a cave carved out of the base of the mountain.  We then went to a hill with a look out about half way up with a great view.

That night we had a fantastic dinner.  The ship only has four cabins so only eight people were there.  The chef was great and made lots of sea food dishes plus special veggie decorations, one was a replica of the Junk with carrot sails!

Ha Long Bay Cruise!

Ship Only Had Four Cabins ~ Eight Guests!

Floating Village


Half Way Up a Mountain

Look Out!

Fabulous Dinner with Great Center Pieces Made of Veggies!

Great Group - Brits - Australians - Germans

Carrots and Watermelon and Be Be or Crawdads! 


Our Cabin was the Choicest!

We had Windows on Both Sides of the Room and Views!

   Sung Sot Caves and Return to Hanoi

Sunday - January 28th - 2007: Today we sailed to Sung Sot Caves and had to climb a high hill to get inside.  We had a great time but actually, the best was the fantastic view from the entrance to the cave. 

We then had lunch on the deck of the Junk and sailed into town around noon.   We disembarked and took another three hours bus ride back to Hanoi.  

Out to dinner again at our favorite restaurant, Zen.

Sung Sot Caves

Incredible Views

Very Large Cave


Cave Entrance

Always There for a Sale!

   Flight from Hanoi to HoiAn

Monday - January 29th - 2007: We flew to HoiAn and got to the hotel around noon.  A very nice hotel and our room looked over a rice paddy.

We took off and shopped around the town.  Hundreds of shops and the town now is mostly touristy.  Some wood carving and paintings and so on.

We did discover a place that served great fruit milk shakes that we decided we had to have all over Vietnam.  They are made with a fruit, yogart and ice, blended together to make a cool refreshing drink.

I took this photo and a man ran over and said, "Aren't you going to get in trouble photographing military personnel?"  Barbara came over and said the same thing.  I said, "I asked him if I could take his picture and he smiled and said "Yes!

Street Vendors

Great Baskets but Hard to Get Home!

Fresh Fruit


Mops and What Ever

Carvers in the Old Style

   Day Tour of a 400 CE Hindu Temple & River Ride

Tuesday - January 30th - 2007: We took a bus ride again to the World Reserve of a 400 CE Hindu Temple complex made out of bricks and stone.  

Then we took a boat ride back to the dock area in HoiAn.  Along the way we stopped and saw a herd of cattle being herded across the river, looked like an old western movie.

Stopped at an old workshop with wood carvers and I bought a small caving of an apple with a stem and leaf.  Then back to our hotel and later, dinner out on the town!

I did have a pair of sandals made for me, took five hours and cost - $10.00!  What a deal!

MySon World Heritage - Hindu Temples - 4th to the 13th

MySon World Heritage Management Board of Relics and Tourism - Duy Phu, Duy Xuyen - Quang Nam 

At My Son Valley, there is still the most important complex of Hindu Temple-Towers which is a symbol of Champa Art Continuously developed from the 4th Century to the 13th Century.  Temples were made of brick and perfected the art of caving on brick and stone, images of deities, priests, dances, plants, animals and sacrifices.  UNESCO listed My Son as a world cultural heritage in 1999.

   Visit Imperial Citadel - Pagoda - Mausoleums

Wednesday - January 31st - 2007: We took a bus to Hue over the mountains and there was a tunnel cut through that must have been at least four kilometers long!

We visited the Imperial Citadel but it actually is a complex for the Emperor to enjoy himself.  It is a huge complex designed somewhat like the Imperial Palace in Beijing!  

We also visited a Pagoda and two mausoleums.  One was fantastic, huge with a full scale statue of the Emperor covered in gold sitting on a golden throne.  He was the last of his line.

Imperial Citadel - Hue


Get Away to Compose Poetry

Throne Room

What a Ride!

Last Emperor and His Extraordinary Mausoleum - 1920s - Hue

Multiple Levels of the Building

Gilt Statue of the Emperor


Detail Works

Guardians of the Mausoleum 

   Flight to Ho Chi Minh and a Day Tour

Thursday - February 1st - 2007: We decided to play tourist and take the bike ride around town.  Scary as they just rode through traffic, even going against traffic.  

They took us to the Jade Temple but we didn't see any jade.  Then to the American Embassy but only a high wall and nothing to take a photo of!

We also went to the Unification Palace and toured the inside that now is used for meetings and various government functions

Then shopping at the huge bazaar!

Unification Palace

Grand Entrance

Originally Used by the President Backed by the U.S.A.


Meeting Rooms Ho Chi Minh Memorial

   Cruise on the Mekong Delta

Thursday - February 1st - 2007: Another long bus ride and then a long ride on a small boat to view people making different products.

Some women were making a coconut candy.  Another man was making puffed rice.

The large metal container had sand in it and the sand was boiling hot.  They threw in the rice and it puffed like popcorn.

They then scooped it all up and put it into a sieve and shook out the sand.  We also saw a woman making rice paper and we got to taste it.

Food Preperations

Making Popped Rice

Making Rice Paper

Dinner Time at the Saigon Bazaar. We had no problems eating at the local market along with the locals and tourists.  I complained about the soup and the waitress smiled and came back with a bowl of great broth to cover the meat and vegetables!

Mekong Delta Cruise

We then went up a channel and rode motor bikes to a restaurant where we created our own sandwiches made from rice paper and fish and veggies!

Off to the Delta

Houses Along the Inlets


Resting after Lunch

Fishing in the Delta

We took another long bus ride back to Saigon, getting in around eight PM.

   Tour the War Museum - Lunch - and Flight to Siem Reap Cambodia

Saturday - February 3rd - 2007: Today we decided to go to the War Museum and saw many tanks, planes, and a movie about the chemicals dropped on Vietnam by the U.S.

Lots of photos taken during the war and some from Look Magazine.

We did some more shopping and saw a Hindu Temple so we went in to check it out.

Then it was late and time to get a cab to go to the airport and fly to Siem Reap Cambodia!

War Remnants Museum - Opened in September 3, 1975

Small Attack Jets

Russian and American Tanks


Props as well as Jets

The French Dis-Connection!

   Hoi An 15th Century Ship Wreck

After I had gotten back from Vietnam, a volunteer at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum asked me if I had heard about the 1520 ship wreck off the coast of Hoi An.  I said I vaguely remembered something about it and wondered why she asked me.  She laughed and asked if I remembered that on the second floor of the museum was a piece of the wreck with limestone and coral and inside are pieces of pottery from the wreck.  Imagine my surprise!

So I took my camera and above, is a shot of the display case at the museum!    Yes, I remembered seeing it several years ago but she was nice enough to remind me that I was just in Hoi An and I could see an artifact from the wreck two blocks from where I live!  A small world!  Read on about the history of the wreck and how Butterfields in San Francisco auctioned off 90% of the relics!

The Hoi An Wreck lies 22 miles off the coast of central Vietnam in the South China Sea.  Discovered by fishermen in the early 1990s, the Vietnamese government made several attempts to organize an investigation of the site but were confounded by the water depth - 230 feet.

The ship was carrying a large cargo of Vietnamese ceramics from the mid- to late - 15th century.   The provenance of the pieces was known to be the kilns of the Red River Delta (such as Chu Dau) because excavations in the region had been ongoing since their discovery in 1983. The only pieces remaining at the kiln sites were wasters (pieces that had fused, collapsed or exploded in the firing process). Intact examples of the wares produced were rare, since all were exported. When the wreck was found there was excitement among collectors and archaeologists, for it promised the first cargo consisting solely of Vietnamese wares.

In 1996 Malaysian-Chinese businessman Ong Soo Hin teamed up with Oxford University archaeologist Mensun Bound to work with Vietnam's National History Museum in excavating the site. The project took four years and cost an estimated $14 million. Over 250,000 intact examples of Vietnamese ceramic were recovered.

According to the contract with the Vietnamese government, all pieces unique to the cargo were retained by Vietnam's museums for display along with 10% of the repetitive pieces. The remaining 90% was sold at auction in 2000 by Butterfields in San Francisco, with the Vietnamese Salvage Agency, Saga Horizon and the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture splitting any money made. The project partners were: Oxford University MARE, Saga Horizon, Vietnam National Salvage Agency (VISAL) and the National History Museum (Hanoi).

Return to Preperations Section

   Overview of Hoi an - A place to visit

The picturesque town of Hoi An was an important international trading port from the 16-18th century, connecting Asia and the rest of the world. Today Hoi An is a living architectural museum and one of the best-preserved ancient towns in Vietnam.

Visitors to this UNESCO World Heritage site can explore the quaint cobblestone streets, excellent handicrafts, and eccentric building styles that mix Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, and French influences.

If you want to go inside any of the historical buildings of Hoi An you must purchase a ticket ($3.5 per person) at the booth in the town centre. This entitles you to visit:

  • One of four old house
  • One of 3 museums
  • One of 3 assembly halls
  • A traditional music concert and handicraft workshop
  • Either the Japanese Bridge or the Quan Cong Temple

Old Houses

Tan Ky House: was built around 1800 for a well-to-do Vietnamese merchant. The back of the house which is a short distance from the river bank was used as a storage area for goods unloaded from the merchant ships that visited Hoi An. Wooden panels inlaid with mother of pearl are hung from many of the columns that support the roof of the house. A great deal of care has been taken to preserve this building and it is well worth a visit.

Diep Dong Nguyen House: is a former dispensary of Chinese medicine and is about 120 years old. The upstairs section houses the owners private collection of antiques.

Also open to the public are the Tran Duong House and the House at 77 Tran Phu

Japanese Covered Bridge

The original bridge was built in the late 16th century to link the Japanese and Chinese quarters of Hoi An. Each entrance to the bridge features stone carvings, a pair of monkeys on one side and a pair of dogs on the other side. On the north side of the bridge is small Chua Cau temple.

Quan Cong Temple

The temple was founded in the mid 17th century. A statue of Quan Cong sits in the central altar of this Chinese temple. The statues of General Chau Xuong and Quan Binh sits to the left and right of Quan Cong.

Assembly Halls

Fujian Chinese Hall: was originally used by the local community as a place to hold meetings. Later it became a temple dedicated to Thien Hau. The main hall has several murals depicting Thien Hau and heads of Fujian families who fled from China after the overthrow of the Ming Dynasty.

You can also visit the Cantonese Congregation Hall and the Chinese All Community Hall. Further afield is the ancient Champa Kingdom at My Son.

Hoi An town is small and peaceful, the kind of place where you may get stuck for a few days, whether it is intentional or not. Originally known as Faifo, this antique town is bordered on its southern side by the Thu Bon River, along which there's a number of small cafes.

In the past Hoi An has been used by the Japanese, Portuguese, Dutch, French and the large remaining Chinese community where all sorts of produce and wares were traded. Remnants of these past traders¢ influences can still be seen lining the streets of Hoi An. There are nine different types of historical sites in Hoi An with an average age of 200 years. They include private houses, family chapels, community halls, communal houses, temples, pagodas, bridges, wells and tombs. Many of these buildings have been maintained close to their original form, allowing you imagination to recreate a prosperous trading town. The houses are small and colorful with wooden doors and two round "wooden house's eyes" above, window shutters and ornamental furniture. A pleasant change from the iron bars and metal grates of other towns.

Hoi An is full of shops selling artwork, from lifelike memorial family portraits, to stylized images of Hoi An houses and streets. Next door to the art shops are places selling souvenir statues, ceramic plates, and ¡antique¢ bowls. At the market place beside the river, you can pick up almost anything you want. Tourists are often being lured into the markets to buy silk and to have quality garments tailor made. You can have anything from dresses and trousers to shirts and hats made for a cheap price.

Another noticeable quality of Hoi An is its relative silence. There are few cars and people do not feel the urge to use their horns every two seconds. The streets are filled with the hum of voices, motorbikes and the shuffling of thongs along the ground. Hoi An is small enough to get around on foot, and you will need a set of wheels if you are going to Cue Dai Beach, or on a day trip to the Marble Mountains or Da Nang.

A relaxing activity around sunset is to hire a boat from the waterside by the market place. Many of the locals will wait on the river and offer you this service throughout the day and night

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    Created on: 2007.02.10 Return to Chuck    Return to Chuck's Home Home Page   Buntjer's Home Page Updated on: 2022.12.01