Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Amazing Race In Vietnam

Vietnam Rice FieldI’ve been watching The Amazing Race since about season 3. I love the exotic places they travel to and the occasional complete ineptness of the contestants. My wife has drifted away from the show, but this week I made her watch since they traveled to Hanoi.

My family visited Hanoi last year as part of our whirlwind vacation through Vietnam. I have an entire separate blog about that trip called Asia Trip 2005. The blog is pretty much on hiatus right now since I have covered most of the pictures of Vietnam from my Flickr account. I have a lot of video footage from the trip and I will post some short clips if I ever find the time.

The traffic in Hanoi was as bad as the show made it out to be. There are very few traffic signals and most vehicles don’t stop for anything. Like one team observed, crossing a street is an enormous game of Frogger. You just start crossing and dodge scooters until you get to the other side. If anything, the footage in the Old Quarter didn't quite capture the crowded chaos of the markets.

We did not go to the “Hanoi Hilton” prison like the Amazing Racers did. My father was an F-4 pilot during Vietnam and knows people that spent time as prisoners of war. We were wanting to see Vietnam as it is today, not relive the horrors of the war. Based on the footage from the show, I’m glad we made the decision we did. The prison looked very gruesome and inhumane and I feel horrible that anyone had to live in those conditions.

We did take a trip through the countryside past many villages that look just like the one where they had the detour challenge. The weather is incredibly hot just like a few of the contestants noticed.

We were traveling through the rice fields during the harvest season and saw a lot of activity in the paddies. Most of the work is still either human or animal power, although industrial farm equipment is starting to become more common. I will vouch for the authenticity of the location. Compare my picture for this post to the official picture from the Amazing Race website.

From the previews, it looks like next week they will move on to Halong Bay, which is a geological unique area of stunning beauty. Most of my blog posts for the Hanoi area date back to last August, but feel free to read the whole blog from the start.


Anonymous said...

I watch The Amazing Race too, although I'm not sure why. They do go to interesting places, and do things I would never be able to do (scale the Great Wall of China). This season they started in Seattle, and it was so perfect that they wound up stuck in traffic! I like the couple from Kentucky - not the most endearing personalities, but I'm glad they're hanging in there - and they like the gay couple and the African-American gals! Too cool.


Jeff and Charli Lee said...

I traveled around Asia in the 80s when I toured with the USO. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. My goal now is to try find a way to go back.

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