Jack MAINGUY -F6BUM -
AS-157 & AS-162
It's been during a trip to Saints Islands (Guadalupe), in 1996, when we saw the beauty of Terre De Bas bay, that I promised my XYL to take her to Ha-Long Bay to compare!
This year (2002), I finally kept my promise. And while incomparable because so much different from one another, Ha-Long was worth the trip.
Vietnam is a surprising country!
When arriving in Saïgon or Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) the first impression is being caught into a hive, or anthill, so crowded, noisy these towns are, and furthermore keeping in mind that all the vehicle flow in the streets is ruled by horns being hooted. The noise keeps on raging from 5am till 10:30pm! The temperature was 27°C (80.6°F), hot and muggy.
Visual Qso with XV2A, the om's president, who gives me my radio Licence, and warns me I can't use the 30M frequency(forbidden) nor operate from Cat-Ba (North Vietnam) because my license is for the South.... Hi! Then he advised me to go to Hanoi in the DGT's office.... , gives me two people's names that I'll have to contact.... What follows will prove it wrong!
On the other hand, landscapes are strange, most of all, the Ha-Long bay, Earth side one, and Sea side one, rice plantations everywhere! Towns are taken over by "motorbikes" and traffic is dense. Architecture is strange, shaped with high and narrow houses without cachet; except "Pagodas" and their characteristic coverings which style is well known.
But we were there also to activate 3 IOTA!
-AS-157: TAM Island, located 20min away (via boat) from Nha-Trang. Little sunny island, with no one living on it, serving as a vacation place for some of the "big town" inhabitants, and furthermore there is now a great motel compound with lots of bungalows (for 5 month now). This is the place we were living in, the two of us only in this complex! We should have been 10 in order to have power all the time. To bad, power was on only from 6pm to 6am, and not during daytime! At lease, propagation was best to Europe around 7pm. I did 1367 qso's in 2 days.
Short plane trip to Da-Nang and we are ready to visit Cham's state! Well, almost ready, because we had to talk, via our French speaking guide, with a ghost police lieutenant during an hour and a half before he accepts speaking with us directly. Eventually we find some understanding, a 1 million Dongs tax for the grants, $2.5 per hour for power, and departure at 8am next day. The great surprise was the beautiful boat! One hour sailing Thu's river up. Well, police check at the arrival to sea and then 1 hour and a half in high sea to get to:
- AS-162 Cu Lao Cham, archipelago composed of 7 islands. Visit of the main village, inhabited by 2000 people, and then the crew leads us to a deserted beach! At least all was okay about food, drink and sleeping under a tent! Directly on the sand. Hi. A building serving as a Shack, one more as a dining room, and a third as restroom. All well planned, this will suit during 3 days.
Too bad miss "propa" wasn't there, whereas the R7 has never been so close of water! Yet the mountain blocks all the north side, which isn't really good in order to contact JA and EU. In this situation 634 contacts is a little score, but I really had low quantity of tools! Moreover "W" didn't want to sponsor me because I hadn't any amplifier with me, no comment, and neither will I comment the acts of our "friends" XV and JA in order to be the firsts to activate this new spot.
- It's been two great living place, wild, calm; we visited the second village of the isle: Cu Lao Cham, 1000 inhabitants, great welcome, and a man climb a tree in order to get us coconuts! Everybody there is living from fishing and from picking up bird's nest, those famous swallow nests for making soup.
Departure for Hué, visit of the stronghold, Perfume River (awful), pagodas. Then QSY to Hanoi, aimed at Ha-long bay and Cat Ba.
We arrive in a rainy Hanoi where the temperature is 24°C. With my XYL, I rush to the DGT's office, but it's Friday, 3:30pm (I don't want to criticise civil servants again!hi). Around 4pm, a Vietnamese woman arrives in order to meet us (in English of course!hi), both people we were advised to talk to are already gone for the week end, the Chief is in holidays for this week. Bad luck! We are leaving tomorrow.
I decide to take my hardware with me all the same. The visit of the bay is Sunny, Grandiose.
Arrival in Cat Ba the police comes across me. hi, negotiations.but the birthday festivities for uncle HO are running, and the republic's president is there, so no way I can unpack my radio hardware. We'll be simple tourists sorry.
Vietnam is a strange country, ready to put up with "modern" way of life, but still anchored to its fabulous legends.
What I regret most is Vietnamese are taking us for walking Dollars.
This text is made up with my personal tastes and criteria. Nobody has to take it "as it" go and see by yourselves. hi.
73's,see you soon from....?
QSL via QRZ.com or Buckmaster.
spécial Thank's to XV9TH for assistance.**
** Thanks to the Cliperton DXclub for Assistance.