but this trip is too fun to be always sitting behind a computer, and seemingly everytime I go to upload photos, the power goes it, and takes my internet with it, or my adobe plug-ins crash.. so photos are being uploaded very slowly and very painfully.
I am alive, and I am currently in Hoi' An, which is a city on the South China Sea. The sea is gorgeous, it's the first time I've ever seen any non-Atlantic saltwater, and I got to go swimming in it with Tom yesterday. It was very hard, you see, the water is freezing.. only 75-80 degrees (Just kidding about it being freezing, obviously)!!! We are here with John, Tom's friend from the war and now lives in Thailand, who is all sorts of awesome and full of stories. We met up in John in Hue, where we stopped a few days to see the Citadel, or, alternatively, the Purple Forbidden City.
Before that.. I'm going backwards now, because I sort of lost track of the days... we road the train 11 hours on hard seats to get back to Hanoi, which is like sitting on a wooden bench for 11 hours, but with awesome company. Tom met some Vietnamese War veterans, and watching them talk and genuinely get along was nothing short of incredible. There was also a young entertainer on the train, who had the whole car in stitches with his singing, although he'd been put up to it by some dubious older men who were then sternly lectured by one of the Vietnamese War veterans.
Before that we were in Sapa, which is this really gorgeous town in the mountains, high up in the clouds, and full of Black Hmong (Tribal) people. The woman are pushy and try to sell you stuff; they get you by asking your name, asking if you have any brothers or sisters, and then trying to get you to buy stuff for said siblings. While we were there, Tom decided we should go on a hike down a mountain to the tribal villages of the Black Hmong and Red Zui (Sp?) people.
It was raining that day, but I was excited to go. It was a 12 km (8 mi) hike. Tom thought it was all down pavement.. but it turned out we would be hiking through streams and down the mountain in slippery red clay. It was really awesome, but one of the most straining hikes I have ever encountered, my legs were SORE the next few days. I took a few falls, despite having a Black Hmong woman who helped me in hopes that I would buy something from her at the arrival of the village 3 hours later.. I didn't buy her something, but I gave her 100,000 VND ($5), which is a ton of money to them. She was really grateful and seemed genuinely surprised, and she gave me a woven bracelet in return, which I really treasure since it was given freely.
We also went, the day before the hike in SaPa, to the market in Lao Cai. In the market, they were mostly selling tourist junk.. it used to be all the stuff that the Flower Hmong and other tribes would buy from one another, but as they started bringing more tourist buses to the market, this changed. In my opinion, there were two things of note here: 1) They have this gross soup Tom pointed out that was every part of a horse but a meat. If you ever encounter this, proceed with caution! 2) I saw puppies and got very upset by the way they were being handled.. lifted by the leash and things like that. Tom noted that they were still used for food in the tribal villages, and this became evident when we went to the villages outside of Sapa. It was the first time I was shocked, since I was under the impression that this practice only really still existed in North Korea and small pockets of Asia. Well, I guess we found one of those small pockets.
But it was a really nice little town, the air was very fresh and the hike was really cool.
The power keeps cutting out here, so I will keep this short, but I am alive and well, and Tom and John are also great. I will keep trying to post pictures, but I promise no success; I only have 20 out of about 900 that need to be posted uploaded, and I can't seem to manage to get an entire album up at once, so I'm going to keep trying.
I hope you are all well!