South east of Asia


In January 1996 we made a trip with guide, driver and accommodation to visit Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.

We spent 3 weeks in Vietnam, six days to visit Vientiane and Luang Prabang and just over 10 days for



Countries visited





places visited

Hanoi and the north

the region of Hue

Nha Trang and ethnic minorities

the region of Ho Chi Minh city




We landed in Hanoi, Vietnam's capital after an eventful landing: the aircraft began its descent.

When touching the ground, it was restarted. This little game was repeated several times but we finally finished

by land. We slept at the hotel Dong Loi, an old colonial renovated hotel.



the old French governor's palace is now

the presidential palace

the temple of One Pillar whose top is shaped like a
lotus flower


a busy street of Hanoi



a other busy street of Hanoi


Hoan Kiem lake said of the Restored Sword


the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh that we visit from December

to September


We left Hanoi to the south east towards two villages of ethnic minorities: the White Thai and Dong.

On the road, we stopped in a market.





a busy street in the countryside

the market place with a man and his helmet Bo Doi


the countryside before arriving at the White Thai Village


the White Thai Village


the Mong village



the Mong village


the Mong lady

work in rice fields around the village Mong




After visiting the minorities, we went to Hoa Lu where we slept. This place with its peaks and caves

is often called the Ha Long Bay on land. Before and after the visit, we were assailed by very young aggressive

 sellers. Do not promise them especially to buy something in return because you will end up with

packets of incense sticks.



the temple of the kings

boat trip on the river in Hoa Lu


fishermen with electrodes


Hua Lu




a funny way to use the oars and reach
the tourists boats to sell them drinks.


we have been victims of this charming smile and

have bought drinks including her. She did not open the bottle!


Early morning we traveled to Halong Bay. Our driver drove fast enough to arrive in early afternoon

on the site. The guide and driver had the idea to make us an extra paid trip to our program.

So we have seen of Halong Bay in the late afternoon, then the next day with a lunch on board. The two times we were alone

on the boat with our guide and crew. The price we paid was not commensurate with the size of the boat and did

not even cover the cost of fuel.


Anny and our charming guide

landscape of Halong Bay


Vietnamese lives aboard their sampan


merchant boat


a Chinese junk

Unfortunately we did not discover the

Halong Bay under the sun.





From Ha Long Bay, we went to the Hanoi railway station where we took the night train

to Hue. After giving a tip to our guide and our driver, we felt a huge

happiness when our driver came back with two meals for the night. Then they accompanied us in our car.

but we had to fight hard to be alone and we called a controller. Tour guides

were alarmist for thieves on trains but at no time we felt insecure. We were impressed

 with the dirt of toilets without door. Before arriving in Hue, we had a Vietnamese breakfast

with pasta. Surprisingly, the train arrived two hours in advance to Hue, the opposite could have happened.

Hue and its region


Hue was the capital of Vietnam from 1802 to 1945. She was sadly famous in 1968 by the fighting of the Tet

who were the bloodiest in the country. The Viet Cong flag floated over the city for 25 days and nearly 3,000 civilians

were executed during this period, some were even buried alive!. It is estimated that 10,000, the number of deaths

killed in Hue during the Tet offensive and as always it is in the civilian population that counted the most losses.

But today the city revives.



Citadel, home of the Emperor has suffered
of the Tet Offensive

Thien Mu Pagoda. It is in Vietnam that Notre Dame of
Paris is for French. Each floor is dedicated to a Buddha


perfume river


sampans anchorage on the Perfume River
frequented by families


a hat factory


making a conical hat


Hue that is to be made the most beautiful
conical hats in Vietnam


incense sticks drying in the sun


making of  incense sticks

if you want to bring a conical hat as a souvenir,

purchase it at Hue and take a "poetic hat" which exposed to

cons days reveals a landscape.


From Hue, we joined Da-Nang via the pass of the clouds


preparation of the rice field

planting rice



The hard work of Vietnamese peasants on the road to Da-Nang.

Here, they have only two rice crops per year against 3 in the



view from the pass of clouds (496 m)


view from the pass of clouds (496 m)


At Da-Nang, we visited the temple Caodai dating from 1956 and six priests live there. The province has 50,000 Cao Dai including

20,000 for the city of Da-nang. Cao Dai doctrine is based predominantly Mahayana Buddhist with elements of

Taoism and Confucianism, but also of Christianity, Zionism and Islam. This sect was founded around 1920 by

Ngo Minh Chieu, a French government official, an expert on Eastern and Western religions.

The sect now has two million followers in Vietnam



The Caodai temple of Da-Nang

the altar is always topped by "divine eye"


a priest Caodaist

Among the spirits came into contact with the Cao Dai

include Joan of Arc, Descartes, Victor Hugo, Pasteur ....

Our guide told us that some priests were mutilated

an eye to teach the religion of the sect.



This beach is called "China Beach" or beach of Americans.

During the Vietnam War, helicopters brought back of

front the GI's for a few hours to relax before

go back into battle.



Buddhist temple on the mountain of marble

Statue of Goddess on the mountain of marble


Great Buddha on Marble Mountain






From Da-Nang, we took an Air Vietnam flight to Pleiku. We have always had an eye on our luggage because they were

all crowded in the back of the plane. We were the only two Westerners to this destination. Pleiku is a town

of 35,000 inhabitants made up of different ethnic groups.


Nha Trang and ethnic minorities


Ethnic minorities were called the Highlanders by the French and would cooperate with colonization. This was

true for France and for the United States. The Vietnamese call them the "Moi" which means "wild"



In the streets of Pleiku, this man asked us to film him.

The boy has a baguette, a relic of the occupation

of Vietnam by the French.


From Pleiku, we went to a village "Jarai" accompanied by our guide and a guide requisitioned by the

Government for the visit of minorities.


 Jaraï house

aged Jaraï with his "langouti"


Jaraï cimetery

The house "Jarai" is built on stilts. At the entrance of

 the village, we met an old "Jarai" with its cache sex called

"langouti". The "Jarai" use a communal grave to bury their

dieds. The "Jarai" follow a matriarchal system. children

bear the name of the mother. All property belongs to the

woman. Their language belongs to the Malayo-Polynesian




 Bahnar village

 Bahnar village




grave Bahnar


communal house

in the same day, we visited a village Bahnar with

the communal house where met men old enough to

fight. It is a matriarchal society with a cult of the dead

different from the Jarai. Each deceased had his grave. in

Bahnar religion, the trees are divinities. Language Bahnar

belongs to the Austro-Asiatic family.


Then we stayed in Buon Ma Thuot city of 65,000 inhabitants. The city had only one hotel for Western

which was mostly occupied by humanitarian agencies.


street scenes in Buon Ma Thuot

street scenes in Buon Ma Thuot


street scenes in Buon Ma Thuot


street scenes in Buon Ma Thuot


street scenes in Buon Ma Thuot

Hotel Buon Ma Thuot was not the standard Western

and the breakfast was served in a small restaurant in

the city. We ate the baguette and cheese

"The Laughing Cow" in place of butter.


rubber tree plantation


harvesting of latex


After Buon Ma Thuot, we visited a minority village E De


E De woman with her rattan basket



stilt house E De


the house of notable E De


inside the house of notable E De

the visited village seemed to us richer because he was

 specialized in coffee cultivation. Today we could perhaps

not visit because the events of "mountaineers"

near Pleiku and Buon Ma Thuot in 2001.

we visited the home of a prominent E De who had

adopted the religion Catholic while maintaining

 the cult of ancestors.


At lunchtime, we saw a wedding and we were warmly welcomed. We were sitting at the table of the father

 of the bridegroom as guests of honor and had the right to drink rice alcohol.


the married aged 20

the ancestor who had worked with the French


marriage with all the friends of the groom's family

We were told that the Vietnamese wedding included

Two ceremonies, one on the groom's family and the other

for the bride's family. Our unexpected presence

was interpreted as a presage of happiness for the

future couple and to please us, the family was

search the elder of the village who remembered a

few words learned with French. The few dollars offered

in appreciation of the meal was appreciated because we

were treated with a delegation to take us back to our car.


After we made our way to Nha Trang, a city of 200,000. The city has an Pasteur institute established by

Alexandre Yersin, the discoverer of the vaccine in bubonic plague transmitted by rats and which is still the

French most popular. Yersin introduced the quinine and rubber trees.

 He was nicknamed Mr. "Nam" and he died here in 1943 where he is buried not far from Nha Trang.

 Yersin was also interested in meteorology and one evening he had invited an entire fishing village

 for a film screening during a typhoon annihilated the village.

Yersin recommended Dalat as a cure center for Europeans living in Vietnam.



the Cham tower of Po Nagar

landscape at the arrival on Nha Trang


fishing village on the island of Nha Trang


boats "baskets" to move from one boat to another


We then took the road to Dalat, the end of our stay in the Central Highlands.


the entry of Dalat

station of Dalat, a replica of that of Deauville, France


motorcycle taxis outside the market

the market of Dalat


Yersin high school where our guide studied

Dalat, located at 1475m altitude, prided himself on being

 the best city of Vietnam, just a little Paris.

 The city is located in a region of lakes and forests

and is now 125,000 inhabitants.


 Bao Daï house at Dalat

Bao Dai, "one who protects the greatness" was inducted

January 8, 1926. In 1945, he abdicated under pressure

Ho Chi Minh. He is head of government restored by the French

in 1948. He remained chairman until 1954 but the Geneva

 Accords attribute the north to the Vietminh. South to

 17th parallel remains pro-Western. He is defeated by the

 referendum of 1955 and took refuge in Cannes. He remains

the spiritual leader of the Vietnamese, the son of heaven. He

 died July 31, 1997 at the hospital of Val de Grâce at Paris.





From Dalat, we flew to Ho Chi Minh City, 4 million inhabitants, capital of the south and is still called Saigon.


The South of Vietnam


the cathedral Notre Dame

the Saigon post office


the canopy of the post was built by Gustave Eiffel


Work of lacquered objects


Professors of Fine Arts in the workshop of lacquer

In Saigon, we visited Notre Dame Cathedral built with

bricks imported from Marseilles and Central Post Office

located in the same neighborhood. today the interior of

the post is dominated by a portrait of Ho Chi Minh.

We were impressed by the craftsmanship lacquer,

and the sight of water puppetry.


 water puppetry

Cholon Market


We spent a day to visit the Mekong Delta. by observing the work in rice fields. Here we have three harvests a year.

We went near Mytho and have been in the island the Unicorn by boat and have tasted tropical fruits.





rice harvest in the Mekong Delta

temple of Khmer inspiration near Mytho


boat trip around the island of the unicorn







From Saigon, we flew to Vientiane, the Laotian capital.


the Laos flag

Dam of Nan-gu




after visiting the dam Nan-gu and returning to

Vientiane, we found the monks carved in the rock.


Luang Prabang


Luang Prabang

young monks


impérial Palace


King's chapel


monk King's chapel




japanese style chapel


chapel wall details


paradise according to buddha


Hell according to buddha


the caves of Pacu


with its hundreds of thousands


Bouddha statues




our guide, Professor of Physics


his daughter in his village along the Mekong


representation of the Buddha died and his son