Our first clients recently returned from WildChina’s inaugural cross-border journey to China and Vietnam. Here are some highlights from Max Stein, a Princeton in Asia fellow at WildChina, and his parents Richard Stein and Eva Zuckerkandel. In addition to the geologic wonders – the limestone islands of Halong Bay, the villages of Sapa and the Great Wall, their encounters with the people of the two countries left quite the impression…
Max: In Vietnam, a visit to Dong Ngac cultural village in Hanoi was particularly memorable. An elderly man took us to his family’s altar that dates back several hundred years. He originally fought for the Viet Cong, and here he was, welcoming Americans into his home many decades later.
Richard: The hikes that we did with our guide, Mr. Thuan, were a bit more challenging for us. I am in good physical condition and the hikes were strenuous. They should be described as such. Also the Vietnam leg of the trip is much warmer and much more humid than that of China. When hiking in a very hot and humid climate, specific attention needs to be paid to the amount of water that is carried for the hike. We found ourselves consuming a lot of water and did in fact run out at mid-day on the second day of a hike. Also, showers were by bucket in one of the homestays. The Dzao and Tay homestays were good.
In China, Richard and Eva visited Guizhou. Two experiences stand out. During their first full day, they stumbled on a family baby-naming ceremony for their newborn son. The family saw these foreigners and described it as a destined meeting. Out of respect, they chose to name their son Richard.
Richard: While on a hike we came upon a 400 year-old home. We then had a spectacular time speaking with the owner, a sweet 80 year-old woman that lives alone in the house. She was beautiful with perfect skin and teeth. I had my iPhone, so I took a video of her and played it back. She lit up. Her home looked like it was last renovated about 400 years ago yet she was proud and happy with her life. She told us stories about her children, her husband…It was a great experience that I cannot ever forget.
Eva: We had a wonderful time in both Vietnam and China. Mr. Nang from Journeys Within guided us on a portion of the Vietnam side. He was professional and courteous. While in China our guide was Xiao. We cannot say enough good things about him. He was wonderful. He is very passionate about what he does. This gives the trip much greater historical perspective. His great ability to connect with local residents in the area gave us an up close and personal view. That really made the trip amazing. Xiao is a true asset to WildChina.