Tuesday, April 4, 2017

World walk blog Vietnam 1

Mar 31

13,352 my world walk kilometres walked in 339 road days. I am walking for cancer awareness.
What joy it was to start my walk through Vietnam, the tenth foreign country of this global ramble. I have been walking in communist or former socialist republics for a year now; my seventh consecutive such state. After the restrictions and hassles in China I was walking with a spring in my step. As I caught people's eyes, they usually smiled. Some shouted out to me. "What's your name?" When there is a group of people I usually have to answer the same questions several times as people are eager to show off the few words of English they know. "Where you from! Where are you going?" And it goes on. Finding my way is much easier now that I have the Latin script back. No more will I have to look at Chinese place names and remember them as collections of pictures of picnic tables, tents, ladders, springs or Christmas decorations! Ah! Yes soon in Australia I will probably have more interesting place names, like Snake Valley, Crocodile Cross or Alligator Alley!
That first night in Vietnam I made it to a town near Lang Son and enjoyed a nice hotel and two donner kebabs with lashings of coffee for breakfast. Traffic was heavy on route one towards Hanoi, the capital which was about 150 kilometres away. I had no hard shoulder to walk on and had to pay extra attention to traffic coming from the rear. For overtaking drivers at the rear is the biggest danger on such a journey. More dangerous or likely to happen than an attack from a wild animal, or even a wild human.
My plan is to just touch the coast of the South China Sea. That would be the end of Asia for me. I feel like I am in party mood. A bit lazy, like its Christmas week, going on holidays soon! I will be ending Asia near the port city called Hai Phong where French forces invaded the country in an effort to put down a colonial revolt. That was just after World War Two. The French took a bit of a pasting from the Vietnamese but stubbornly didn't want to pull out after their embarrassment in the world war. For them it was all about saving face. Eventually, they were saved when an international agreement was called in Geneva. It was decided to divide Vietnam up into two countries, north and south. The communist Viet Cong soon took hold down south and America didn't like that and sent in troops. As we all know they got bogged down there for many years until Nixon finally yielded to public pressure and eventually withdrew the troops. So, another big victory, these bug***s know a thing or two about guerrilla warfare!
Next two days on the road for me  I walked 28 and 32 kilometre days and camped at grocery stores. The people as in China are so friendly. On the second night I was even given a shower. Earlier that day I was starting to stress a bit when the minor road I had turned onto began to deteriorate. Soon it was a single lane potholed and muddy track. Not a problem when walking with a backpack but with a cart there is always a danger the road could become impassable or a steep climb up a mountainside.
As it turned out I had an enjoyable snack stop at a shop an gathered up a large welcoming party. Many of which escorted me out of the village and thankfully onto a paved road.
Thanks to everyone for your great messages of support and no I haven't forgotten about the final warts and all China wrap up blog, I just don't want to get behind on Vietnam either. In addition to that I will also be penning a post that I didn't want to write there for fear of having my visa revoked. It's about China's former one child policy (recently relaxed to two) In many cases the policy was abused by city officials who collected taxes imposed on couples that had more than one child. How they collected them is jaw-dropping but also sad. Often these ' taxes ' were obtained by heavy handed means and used as a revenue source to fund many town and city budgets. However, that's a story for another day.