Early planning for 2016 trip

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Aug 10th, 2014, 08:20 AM
  #21
 
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Lombok is fantastiic I really like Qunci villas. It's a lovely place to stay and the food is terrific
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Aug 10th, 2014, 11:46 AM
  #22
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Thanks for the recommendation for Lombok -- the place looks beautiful. If we do go there, I'll definitely consider it.

Marmot - what would Lombok be like,during Ramadan?

And on another note, like Cattail, I'm curious, too -- Kathie, why is Vietnam your least favorite destination in SE Asia? I value your opinions and would genuinely like to hear why.

Re: Myanmar -- I would definitely like to travel there as well, but as a child of the 60s who marched against the Vietnam War, I feel drawn personally to a place that had so much emotional meaning for me and many I know; I do hear, tho, that culturally speaking, Myanmar is much closer to a traditional way of life. I really do hope someday to be able to travel for an extended period of time and to see all of these places.
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Aug 10th, 2014, 01:04 PM
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I loved our time on Lombok. I was the first Fodorite to stay at Qunci Villas and I have recommended it to many who have all been happy.

VN - I hesitate to say this, as I expect others may have had different experiences there, but here is my biased opinion:

One of the things I love about SE Asia is how warm and welcoming the peoples are. Hospitality is considered a high calling. I also love how Buddhism permeates the cultures. Neither of those things is true in VN. While I wouldn't say that Buddhism has been stamped out in VN, it is as if they have tried to stamp it out. This is a communist country, remember. Laos is also communist, but Buddhism is still thriving in places like Luang Prabang.

VN (like China) has no respect for intellectual property, so fakes of everything are everywhere. Take a look at the duty free shop in Hanoi or HCMC, you'll find various kinds of Scotch that read "Made in Scotchland" Books being sold on the streets are poor quality reprints. If the Prince Hotel gets good reviews, within a week there were be six more places called the Prince Hotel, none of which have anything to do with the original.

Our experience going to the Perfume Pagoda is similar to what many report. The two women rowing our boat separated us and tried to coerce us into paying them $50 each "for school." We did not pay them $50 each, but I have never felt as strong-armed as I did there. While you can run into scams anywhere, the level of collusion at the Perfume Pagoda was remarkable. In Bangkok once a guy approached me to say that the Grand Palace was closed. I burst out laughing - in all my visits to Bangkok, no one had ever tried that one on me. Another man ran up to me and apologized that the first man had tried to "trick me."

The street vendors in many places are verbally abusive if you don't buy from them - whatever made them think that was a good sales pitch? There is a young woman in Sapa who is also verbally abusive of those who don't buy. The story is that backpackers taught her the obscenities. I don't know if people have run into that recently, but it was everywhere when we were there 10 years ago. It makes strolling some of the streets unpleasant.

The people working at our hotel in Hanoi are lovely and very helpful. They told us which taxis to take - some meters run twice as fast as others - and were generally friendly and helpful. But so much else tipped the scales the other way.
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Aug 10th, 2014, 02:40 PM
  #24
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Kathie,
Thank you so much for that very clear explanation about your experiences in Vietnam -- I can understand why you have such mixed feelings about the country. Your perspective does give me something to think about, and I appreciate your honesty.

Paule
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Aug 10th, 2014, 03:14 PM
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I'm glad if my comments are helpful to you, Paule.
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Aug 10th, 2014, 04:35 PM
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Yes, thank you Kathie. I appreciate your opinion.
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Aug 10th, 2014, 04:37 PM
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I don't doubt K's experiences, but in 2 trips we experienced none of that..

we are less interested in all things religious, except the beauty of what it has produced.
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Aug 10th, 2014, 04:41 PM
  #28
 
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Yes, we are all looking for different things and all have different experiences.
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Aug 10th, 2014, 07:13 PM
  #29
 
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Re Ramadan in other parts of Indonesia: Lombok's population is predominately Muslim, but the beach focused tourism industry operates pretty much independently and will not be greatly impacted by Ramadan. Plus many of the hospitality workers are Balinese. If you venture to some of the villages inland you'll find restaurants closed down during the day, but along the coast it will be business as usual. Sulawesi is primarily animist in the central area and Christian in the north.

Sulawesi s a terrific destination both for culture and nature. The Toraja community in Central Sulawesi is a fascinating cultures -- for religious ceremony and in arts and architecture. The coral reefs of North Sulawesi are some of the best on the planet.

Re Bali vs Vietnam: I'd be curious to know why your friend advised you to choose Vietnam too.

I think you have to remember that Vietnam is a whole country of 90 million people and a wide geographic range while Bali is a small island with a population of about 4 million and an insular society.

Though I've been to Saigon many times and Hue for an extended visit, I've not traveled in the North which I understand is quite different in culture and topography from the South. I'm a fan of most Asian cities -- Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, Tokyo, even Jakarta -- but I really don't like Saigon! Just crossing the street is torture and the constant and aggressive hustling is exhausting. The food is wonderful, though.

I think any time an country transitions from an agricultural society to a world tourism destination, you get some unpleasant side effects. Bali is certainly not immune from scams, traffic and pollution issues that come with rapid development, but the Balinese commitment to village/family and religious tradition continues to assert profound influence on every day life. Everyone's trying to make a buck., but they do so respectfully lest they offend the Gods. I find that Vietnam -- at least in the South -- doesn't have this spiritual anchor, and ambition morphs into aggression faster and more frequently.
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Aug 10th, 2014, 07:46 PM
  #30
 
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Ah, marmot, I think you and I were responding to some of the same things in VN even though I visited the north and you visited the south.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 02:56 AM
  #31
 
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Planning 2 yrs ahead. Anything could happen in 2yrs. You might not want to even go anymore.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 03:25 AM
  #32
 
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All this ISIS propaganda reportedly creeping into Indonesia is slightly worrying...

http://www.antaranews.com/en/news/95...deo-propaganda

I'm glad we're in Bali and Java in a few weeks time, and not having it in the back of mind what might happen in the medium term.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 03:26 AM
  #33
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Marmot - many thanks for the info on Ramadan. Having an understanding will help me in making decisions.

I do recognize that comparing Bali to Vietnam is unfair, given its size, though perhaps that's because many of us think of Bali as the anchor of an Indonesian trip. It's hard to make a comparison with Indonesia - which Indonesia? I'm not justifying this tendency, just trying to understand where it may be coming from.

Interesting that both you (marmot) and Kathie feel similarly; my friend didn't find that sense of aggression notable in Vietnam, or at least found very warm and helpful people that left a stronger impression. As Bob (rhkkmk) wrote, they didn't experience this at all.

Prachuap, I'm well aware that it's 2 years away, but enjoy the planning process anyway. I've tended to be pretty committed to my travel plans, even far in advance, given the limited time to travel that I have; the primary obstacles would be health or problems with our aging parents - the latter being a bigger concern right now.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 05:41 AM
  #34
 
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I have to concur with bob - we found the Vietnamese people to be helpful and friendly. While religion does not dominate their lives, their culture and sense of entrepreneurship interested us greatly. Granted, the ethnic minority woman were very aggressive in sapa, but we found our interaction with them while hiking, very interesting. They helped us over difficult terrain and our purchase of a small trinket at the end of the hike was a small price to pay for their company. We loved the Vietnamese food. I would return to Vietnam in an instant. We personally enjoyed northern vn and central vn (hue & hoi an) more than the south.

Can't wait to get to bali and Central Java, especially after all the great reviews, but don't be dissuaded from a trip to Vietnam.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 06:27 AM
  #35
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dgunbug -
Not to worry, Vietnam is definitely on that long list of places I plan to get to! When I finally do go, I'll be prepared.

Truthfully, I've dealt with aggressive vendors in so many places that I just accept it as part of the experience -- Turkey comes to mind for some of the more aggressive vendors. We got used to it and just started to laugh at some of the more extreme attempts at sales pitches.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 06:52 AM
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<<>>

You only encounter aggressive vendors in Turkey where there are enough tourists to be taken advantage of. Get off the beaten track [even slightly] and the problem evaporates. Wonderful country, wonderful people.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 07:07 AM
  #37
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LL- I loved Turkey, and we had a fabulous time there. We did get to off-the-beaten paths but would you have missed Istanbul? Great city - but every one had a brother/sister/cousin/friend in the USA but they also happened to have a wonderful rug to sell me, too! Even in very out-of-the-way spots, we ran into vendors.

My point is simply that it is sometimes a part of the travel experience, and I deal with it and accept it as such. I'm not getting THAT off the beaten track just to avoid vendors.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 05:04 PM
  #38
 
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I would advise you to visit South India in 2016. Or else, the picture of India's cultural diversity on your mind will remain incomplete. Tamil Nadu in South India is a state of ancient temples. If you see the pictures of Vivekananda Rock in Kanyakumari, the southernmost tip of India, you won't be able to resist yourself from visiting South India. Kerala is famous for hill stations, sprawling tea plantations and backwaters. Watching the daily life of locals on backwaters is a life-enriching experience. I am sure, you would love taking a romantic ride on Nilgiri Toy Train from Ooty, a hill station in South India.
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Aug 12th, 2014, 03:25 AM
  #39
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MitchelAbin,
I haven't ruled anything out! Whether we go to South India next or not, it's definitely on the top of the list to visit, so we will get there eventually (as it's said, god willing).

Paule
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Aug 12th, 2014, 04:00 AM
  #40
 
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<<>>

One of greatest cities in the world. Our first trip was in 2009. Here's a report I started on TA, which still gets referred to almost 5 years later...

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTop...-Istanbul.html

Been several ties since, Ankara, Cappadocia, Antalya, Alanya, Fethiye, and Bodrum Peninsula.
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