Vietnam, in my family’s footsteps

5 MN

Vietnam, in my family’s footsteps

The night is short on this train taking us from Nanning to Hanoi. Repeated exits at border posts with our luggage, whistles blowing, waiting… A mix of excitement, curiosity and apprehension for me. How many times have I imagined this trip to Vietnam? To walk in my family’s footsteps…

The most striking thing when you cross over to Vietnam from China is the omnipresence of Westerners. We bid farewell to our isolation with slight regret. We hear English being spoken everywhere, and we go back to our good old habits of aimless surfing on social networks, drinking our coffee with half a baguette topped with jam for breakfast …

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Hanoi, where my grandfather Léon was born, is a small, pleasant town. There are pretty places here, colonial buildings, streets lined with trees, French cafés, youngsters playing badminton on the pavements… We feel transported into old school Vietnam, with its tuk-tuks, its beautiful cathedral, its swarms of scooters that make pedestrians’ lives hard, the effervescence of its 36 corporations neighbourhood…

To get to Lao Cai up north, I try out a night bus for the first time, but in broad daylight. It’s quite funny lying down in a bed at midday with Vietnamese people sitting underneath you.

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We hop on a motorbike to discover our first terraced rice fields. Decked out in our fluorescent windbreakers, we drive down winding roads, roam around Can Cau’s out of the way market, in the middle of buffalos, floral Hmongs and their superb colours… We devour incredibly fragrant Pho soups cooked in somewhat shady hygiene conditions… Not too far off, a couple of miles away, lies Bac Ha. We try corn liquor shots. The men next to us are completely drunk and stumbling all over the place. Animals are bawling, we shut our eyes; their living conditions and treatment upset us.

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Early in the morning, and after having caught a man red-handed, one hand in Cécile’s bag, we take the bus to Sapa, a noisy little town slightly higher up. The journey hits our stomachs hard. We go round, and round. I discreetly take a plastic bag out, just in case, and swallow a lot of saliva during the last few miles. A bit of hiking, a bit of motorbike, and there we are crossing lost Black Hmong villages in the middle of yet again incredible rice fields. It’s hilly, there are huts, people living in total darkness, dishevelled children alone on the side of the road, pigs yelling… We head home each night in the midst of intense fog, with those “hellos” resonating in our heads and those sincere smiles. It’s a drastic change from the attitude we’ve been getting from Vietnamese people, who barely look at us with their haughty and unpleasant attitude…

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We’re now at Halong Bay, which my father has so often told me about. There are mountains of all shapes and sizes and floating villages. We even see schools. We stop at a beach. Have a dip. Monkeys… It’s crazy, I really didn’t imagine this place like this. On the island of Cat Ba nearby, we overlook an expansive forest and imagine ourselves transported to the Amazon… On the way back, two men in tank tops are taking out a dog’s intestines.

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We hit the road South. First stop: Tam Coc, or the inland Halong Bay. It’s absolutely breathtaking. The mountains are reflected in the rice fields. Green, green everywhere! Vietnamese people wearing pointy hats cultivate the land. It’s peaceful, there are temples, cows with a divine look to them. We’re truly in the world we had imagined. A bit of biking, a bit of hiking… Dogs guard the fields and show us their fangs. We come face to face with an army of them, it’s quite frightening… As for the sky, it’s still grey and gloomy. We’ve barely seen the sun these last few weeks, it’s getting quite depressing.

A seventeen hour bus ride later, Hoi An! There are lanterns everywhere! A thousand colours… And sun, at last! Despite the crowds of tourists, we enjoy strolling through the streets and the docks lined with colourful colonial buildings. Life is extremely relaxed here. The cafés and restaurants are tastefully decorated and we’re seduced by a good glass of wine… Vietnamese food is exquisite and we gorge ourselves on dozens of harmoniously spiced dishes for next to nothing… I notice the moon crescent up in the sky one night, and realise it’s horizontal. It’s crazy, we really are on the other side of the world. It looks like a massive grin!

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Some more cycling, we have a swim in the sea, we relax. Our days become slower, our main activities consist in watching the kids climbing the coconut trees in order to pick their fruits, reading books, helping a fisherman… As we head back under the setting sun, we sometimes take a shortcut through the rice fields and face clouds of mosquitoes. One day, I pedalled with my mouth slightly open, and I swallowed one… Yum, yum!

We land at Saigon airport (OCMV) in the overwhelming heat. It’s weird to be here. My father, and nearly all my family, fled the country to France during the 60’s. We search for my father’s house, in vain. Nothing left. Replaced by a luxurious hotel. Sadness overcomes me; they destroyed a part of my family history. We do find some addresses of cafés he gave us though, and his school. We enter the schoolyard. Another twinge of sadness. We have lunch with his only half-brother who stayed there. A bowl of soup in front of him, and with tears in his eyes, he recounts the family’s history with a lot of nostalgia.

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We then visit the war museum, with its photos and stories, all so profoundly atrocious. We feel the weight of History. How could a country ever know such tragedy?! In the streets of the backpacking district, disabled Vietnamese people, disabled Americans still smoking their cigarettes in memory of bygone days, loud music, loud-mouthed Westerners, hookers, young girls with old bulging men, fire-eaters… It looks like the gates to hell.

The day before we leave for the Mekong delta, we do a little sport session in a park. One, two! One, two! And again… Kids copy our every move; it’s funny… We rest and watch the people live their lives, play badminton, volleyball, do martial arts, sing, laugh. It feels good to see such things. This bus is rocking me to sleep; I’m exhausted. Every time I open my eyes I’m on a bridge, crossing a different part of the river… It’s everywhere! Its channels spreading out like tentacles. It looks like its very own country. Brown water, thick and milky, soaks up everything. Invades everywhere.

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And tropical orchards, floating markets, also children of the jungle as they have been nicknamed. Here, the houses are on stilts. We’re basically in the bush! The landscapes resemble those of Africa, but also the tropics. The roads are orange. And there’s that mangrove, so beautiful yet so frightening. Rats and snakes on the menu… People with unbeknown physiques. That skin colour, so dark. Cambodia is a cable’s length from here. We could apparently get there in a few steps. Tomorrow, we will go down the Mekong by boat, and, if all goes to plan, have a beer in front of the setting sun in Phnom Penh.

Interview réalisée par Valentin Porcher
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After you have submitted an order, the Customer receives by email and without delay a confirmation of his approval of the Order.

The Customer also receives by email and without delay, a receipt of the order sent electronically, regarding as a confirmation of the order (“Order Confirmation”).

The Customer receives electronically, the confirmation that the Goods have been dispatched.

The delivery shall take place at the location indicated by the Customer at the time of the Order.

Additionally, by undertaking these different steps to Order, the Customer accepts to strictly comply with this Agreement, in accordance with section 1316-1 of the French Civil Code.

The Vendor undertakes to deliver the Goods and Services subject of the Order Confirmation. In the event that a Good ordered is unavailable, the Vendor will promptly inform the Customer about this.

However, under section L.122-1 of the French Consumer Code, the Vendor reserves the right to cancel your Order if the Order is abnormal, involves bad faith or for any other reason that is under the sole discretion of the Vendor. The Vendor also reserves the right to reject orders from any customer with whom the Vendor have an ongoing legal dispute regarding a prior order.

Place of Delivery

The place of Delivery shall be determined by the Customer within the Territory, under sanction to refuse the Order.

The Customer is exclusively responsible for any error in the Delivery due to a lack of indication contained in the Order.

Amount of Delivery Charges

The amount of Delivery Charges depends upon the amount of the Order and upon the Method of Delivery the Customer chooses. In any case, the amount of Delivery Charges shall be indicated to you before the Order Confirmation.

The Delivery Charges are free if the amount exceeds EUR 200,00.

Delivery Term

Delivery Terms are available for review on the Website. They may change depending on the availability of the Goods subject of the Order.

Delivery Terms are expressed in working days and correspond to an average time for preparing and shipping the Order to the Customer.

Delivery Terms shall begin to run at the Order Confirmation date.

Delays

In the event of delays in the Delivery, the Order is not cancelled. The Vendor shall inform the Customer by electronic mail that the delivery will take place later than what was contemplated by the Parties. You will be then entitled to decide whether to confirm or cancel your order and shall send to the Vendor a cancellation notice of the Order at service-client@olow.fr.

If the Order has not been shipped yet at the time the Vendor receives the cancellation notice, the Delivery is effectively cancelled and the Customer is reimbursed of the payment he/she made, within fifteen (15) days from the receipt of the cancellation notice.

If the Order has been shipped at the time the Vendor receives cancellation notice, the Customer is still entitled to cancel the order by refusing the Delivery. The Vendor shall then reimburse the Customer of the payment he/she made, within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the returned products in the same condition as they were sent and must have their original label. The return expenses remain at the cost of the Customer.

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Prix et délais de livraison précis

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> 1 kg1 > 2 kg2 > 4kg
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Delivery time

3-5 working days

Allemagne, Autriche, Belgique, Bulgarie, Chypre, Danemark, Espagne, Finlande, Grèce, Hongrie, Italie, Malte, Pays-Bas, Pologne, Portugal, République Tchèque, Suède, Ukraine

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Bahamas, Canada, États-Unis, Mexique

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Delivery time

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Argentine, Brésil, Chili

Shipping cost

€27

Delivery time

6-9 working days

Arabie Saoudite, Bahreïn, Chine, Corée du Sud, Émirats Arabes Unis, Hong-Kong, Indonésie, Israël, Japon, Malaisie, Qatar, Singapour, Taiwan

Shipping cost

€24

Delivery time

4-7 working days

Australie, Nouvelle-Zélande

Shipping cost

€27

Delivery time

6-10 working days

Returns

You have received your order but the product does not suit you?

You can return your products within 15 days of receiving your package, for any order.

The items must not have been worn, washed or damaged and must be returned in their original packaging, in perfect condition for resale.

How do I return my package from France?

To return your parcel, it is very simple :

  1. Go to “My account”, in the “My purchases” section,

  2. In the list of your orders, select your order,

  3. If your order is eligible for return, please tick each product you wish to return. If a product has been ordered in several copies, you can indicate the quantity to be returned.

  4. Indicate the reason for the return at the bottom of the order details and click on “Request a return”. You can track your return request in the “Returns” section of the “My purchases” section.

  5. Once your return request has been validated by our team, simply download the return form and place it in your package.

  6. Send your package to the address indicated on the return form.

Want to make a return request with a guest account?

It's very easy : contact us by email at service-client@olow.fr indicating your order number, the items you wish to return and whether you wish to request a refund, a credit note or an exchange.

The return costs are at the customer's expense (cost of shipping by the transporter chosen by the customer and any other related costs: customs duties, taxes, etc.).

How long does it take to get my money back once my package has been sent?

Refunds will be made within 10 days of receipt of your items and automatically to the account associated with the credit card used for payment or to the Paypal account used for payment.

Is it possible to return my item in the shop?

No, for all internet orders, returns can only be made to the address mentioned above.

What can I do if my item has a defect?

We take great care in the manufacture and finishing of our products. However, if you wish to report a manufacturing defect on a product, we invite you to contact our customer service by e-mail: service-client@olow.fr.

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