Realy interesting. Our problem is that we like to escape our winter in Jan/Feb and north Vietnam is cold then.
We went to Khao Sok Park in Thailand. They dammed a river and the lake how has those karst islands. We really enjoyed our boat ride round them. Almost no other tourists. When we saw another boat we waved.
Re the girls, see above. I posted nearly simultaneously with you.
And thanks for reminding me that they are young women and not girls. I seem to be hanging out too much with people who call all local women 'girls'...
Hey -- no sneaky reminder in my choice of words. Strange that our posts are 19 minutes apart, but I swear yours wasn't there when I wrote! (or maybe I write really, really slowly?)
wot-evah ...................... this just gets more and more interesting. When you say the "Vietnamese destroyed what was left of Cham culture in Vietnam", and that there are many more in Cambodia -- are there entire communities of them, with preservation of their traditions? And of the Cham left in Vietanam, are they pretty much assimilated into the rest of the population?
How bizarre that the dancing is fake and the clothing not specific to the dancing in an area where many people would recognize the inconsistencies.
The old Champa kingdom was in Central to South Vietnam (though not into the Mekong Delta, that was Khmer). After many campaigns the Champa kingdom was finally overrun by the Khmers. When they in turn got overrun by the Thais, they lost their hold on Champa and the Vietnamese took over that part of the country. By then the Cham (namechange!) had become Muslim, their culture was neglected and when they tried to resurrect their culture (and of course claim back their country) they were more or less anihilated. Some came to Cambodia, a small but culturally strong group sailed to Hainan Island (Chinese island opposite Halong Bay, BTW). Both groups managed to preserve their language, their religious beliefs and to a certain extent their cultural trappings. The last Cham in Vietnam got destroyed by the advancing North Vietnamese. In Hainan they're a thriving little community and in Cambodia there are still around 300 000 of them, in spite of having been targeted by the Khmer Rouge for extermination. That's about 4 times as many as there are in Vietnam.
The women (quite a sight if you knew they are Muslims) were acompanied by a couple of old male musicians. They were dressed exactly like village Malays. They didn't even bother putting on any show of being Cham.
Baz, it was 19C in Hanoi. Much warmer than on my previous visit the year before when it was 13C. Of course the mountains of the northeast will be much colder. I heard it had actually snowed on Mount Fansipan a couple of years before.
Thanks so much, HW -- it is so great that we can get this kind of history from you, as I wouldn't know where to start looking it up. Did you ever live in Vietnam? You've obviously visited there a lot. If you don't mind my asking, you lived in Thailand first, then Cambodia, correct? Were you planning to stay in that part of the world, or was it initially just because of your job? Hope I am not being too nosy!
Their reactions have been from outright hostile to flirting with the ladies we saw!
Me, I welcome the change in work ethics. Appointments are practically always kept, if not I get email notification a day in advance with the offer of postponing, taxi drivers actually can read and know the addresses I show them on printouts, my hosts insist on inviting me for meals (and then actually pay for them too!), the meetings are true work meetings (and don't get hijacked by superiors who ask me what I think of the Thais, the border conflict or the latest karaoke bar). Yessir, I like it.
I have always wondered if the Vietnamese remain reputedly communist because it gives a useful structure to their lives, or if communism has held on in Vietnam because the Vietnamese character corresponded to the necessary discipline of communist doctrine.
HW, in your own office, have you been able to introduce more efficiency, or at least the concept of respecting other people's time? That appointment thing sounds so similar to the way business is conducted (or not conducted) around here.