Pale skin? Not me.
We are 1,500 kms through Vietnam now, and we have a week left until we cross into Cambodia. Today is our second day off, and our bodies and bikes need it. Our bikes are filthy, and my wheels need trueing from my crash I had 5 days ago. Our bodies need a break from the constant sun and heat, and from getting sunburnt. And we need to give our bodies some decent food. We have lost weight, well size anyway, and have foregone any lunch since our first day out of Hanoi, only eating ice creams and / or yogurt when we can find it. If we can find both Coca Cola and ice cream, then we make ‘spiders’ by mixing them and they go down a treat.
|Cooling off after arriving at our hotel each afternoon.|
The women here are obsessed with being as pale as possible. They cover themselves from head to toe in hoodies, with hats on top, and sunglasses, long sleeved tops, with woollen gloves ( no matter how hot it is), longs, with socks under their jandles. I am constantly told to cover my arms and they shake their heads at my burnt arms. I saw the ‘Miss Vietnam’ programme on TV, they were all very white. I know it is healthy to be white, but I like having a tan, as most white people do. It has nothing to do with being Muslim and everything to do with cultural norms.
|Drying fiber on the road side. I guessing it is for weaving into mats.|
There are some things that really annoy me about this country, the mistreatment of animals and the constantly being tooted and blasted at by trucks and buses, for no reason, all day; but there are some things I really like about Vietnam. I like the way the women are all treated as equals with the men. They definitely are not subservient. They are hard workers. I saw an old lady using a pneumatic bolt remover of truck wheels the other day.
The other thing I really like is their prowess at growing food. They are the best Horticulturalists I have seen, I suppose it comes from years of providing food for their families in tough times, but I bow down to their skill. I think every rural house has a rice field, as they are drying their rice on the sides of the road and in every driveway and even the intersections of roads.
|using the interections to dry rice.|
And, as a flower lover, the Vietnamese also love flowers. There are Florists in every village and they are skilled flower arrangers, something I totally approve of. I often see scooters laden down with enough flowers to fill several shops. Actually the laden down scooters are a constant source of amazement.
|This load was particualrly amusing as we cycled by, do you see Niel?|
We saw our first other cycle tourists a couple of days ago. They were Dutch, and had a child with them. Now the ladies here - would have been horrified at how brown they were. They really would have attracted attention skimpily clad, brown as berries and white blond hair. Whenever things were not up to their standards though, they just put all of their stuff on a bus, and went somewhere else. Never the less it was great to see them and to compare notes.
|A bit of coastline for the first time.|