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Her Vietnam Travel Tips...


Woman-friendly best Hanoi hotel...

Heading to Hanoi? When I was there I stayed in the old quarter across from the Red River Cafe at the Fortuan Hotel (68 Hang Bo Street). I found this spot relatively quiet and cheaper than most others in the area. There's lots of good places to eat along that street, as well as good shopping and close proximity to the lake, post office, Internet places, etc. Expect to pay in the vicinity of $US15-20 per night -- some rooms even have a balcony for the price. Ed. note: While a balcony sounds wonderful, be very careful. Make sure that your room is on a high enough floor so that an intruder can't break-in via your spiffy veranda. Contact: Contact: Tel: 84.4.8281324 Fax: 84.4.8281323
Beth, Toronto, Canada

She talks Vietnamese...

The Vietnamese language is both very difficult and very easy. It has six different tones, each indicated by an accent mark. "MO" spoken from low to high means something completely different from "mO" spoken from high to low. In fact, depending on which of the six tones used, "ma" can mean ghost, mother, which, tomb, horse, and rice seedling. As you might imagine, there are some very funny (and some not-so-funny) travellers' tales of pronunciation miscommunications. But once you get the tones, you'll find the grammar is very simple. Plus, the language is not written using Chinese characters but the Western Roman characters.

(Source-Lonely Planet Vietnamese Phrasebook, by Nguyen Xuan Thu )

Beware begging children in Vietnam...

I recently spent 5 weeks in Vietnam and learned that begging is an industry that often benefits abusers and their many "Oliver Twist"-like scams. Women carry sleeping infants plaintively telling tourists that the babies are starving or sick. Yet, this is most often not the truth. I found out that these infants are usually not their own children, and they might be drugged with sleeping pills or alcohol so they will appear weak and unresponsive. If you want to do something about child poverty in Vietnam, I recommend Saigon Children's Charity, a group that sends impoverished children to school by providing tuition, 10 kg. of rice/month, and useful school supplies. At least by donating to this organization I know that the money will be used to benefit children; I believe this group is honest and above board. Their website is at:
Linh Lam, Los Angeles, USA

She shops Vietnam...

Almost as soon as you enter any of the big cities in Vietnam, you'll be faced with a bevy of street hawkers vying for your attention and American dollars. Like in any city in Southeast Asia, haggling is the name of the game. Make sure you compare prices. For me, I couldn't resist buying a domed straw hat-something I never used, paid too much for, and ended up throwing out before I got on the plane out of Hanoi. It was too awkward to carry and was not a collector's item by any stretch of the imagination. Live and learn! However, I did end up buying some gorgeous stuff in Hanoi. I left laden down with beautiful handicrafts and fabrics and I now count among my prized possessions the following items...

  • A tailor-made Chinese silk dress in the most beautiful purple-brown and gold pattern. $10 USD.
  • A foot-long hand-crafted Chinese water-puppet--yellow, green, and gold wooden fish in three sections. I love my fish! $3 USD.
  • A hand-embroidered white cotton Queen-sized sheet and pillowcase set. A classic for $5 USD.
  • A hand-painted wooden compass, seen in all the souvenir shops. I paid $5 USD on my first day, but I later saw them sold for less.
  • An embroidered shirt handmade by hill tribe women. $2 USD.

( Source: Karen Dougherty, Toronto, Canada)


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