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Untitled!

I've been too uninspied to post. Being home is nice and cosy, but that's about the only plus involved. I told myself, well i'll pick up where I left off. But I quickly realised that I wasn't doing anything. I had nothing to pick up. Why did I come home again? Oh, I remember, my Visa expired and I had to go to work on Monday. I need a hobby.

Here is a photo. I am still in the process of retrieving them all from my infected iPod, so it will be a while before our photo page is up and running.


Anyway photo. This was at the PLAN kindergarten. I assure you all the other children were much happier to be there. I think this little tacker had just woken up. I tried to ask her permission to take the photo, but she didn't blink, so I had a good minute or two to line this one up. Colour adjustment was done very skillfully by Claire. Go Claire!

the pickled corpse of unky ho

We weren't allowed to bring cameras in to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum so in respect, I've done a doodle of him instead. Well, I guess it's no less respectful than turning his body into a Madame Tussauds exhibit. Like Lenin, Unky Ho's body was preserved against his will. It's a pity he can't turn over in his grave because if he did, he'd have those four armed guards on duty to put him back. And if he dislikes the way his body has been treated, I guarantee he'd be upset about the souvenir shop just outside.

- Paul

back in time

Yes, so we've been back home now for almost a week. But that doesn't mean the blog is dead. Remembering that I shot over 15 hours of video, I've been going through it slowly looking for stuff to upload. Here are the first nuggets of goodness.

I can't believe I used up almost half a tape before we even got to Vietnam. Here's part of our flight from Hong Kong to Ho Chi Minh City.



Vidblog - Hong Kong to Saigon on Vimeo

And here... from tape 7 or 8. Fun at a truck stop.



Hoang Long Hotel, Hotel on Vimeo

Also, I'll be heading back over to Vietnam about the same time next year - but with about 10 relatives. We're going to be the same giant group of tourists that gave us the shits this time. Looking forward to it.

- Paul,
Melbourne

Home Again

Why didn't anyone tell me that i'm going to be totally out of sync with my life?
Coming home has been a bit of a shock for me, I have gone from having a routine of no routine to 'Damn what is my routine, what should i be doing with myself'?
Vietnam has been an amazing experience, I have definatly been bitten by the travel bug and i don't want a cure, I am going to start saving asap to get my ass back there and hopefully to travel the rest of S E Asia. I have heard Laos is an amazing place and of course all about the parties in Thailand (I will be careful not to get a real 'Thailand Tattoo') If anyone has any advice of S E A or anywhere else to travel let me know! I would like to get one of those around the world tickets that have a years validity and have a stop almost everywhere.
Here are some random pics of our trip

These are the beautiful jarrasic parkesque islands off the northern coast of Vietnam, near Cat Ba Island



This is Paul in DVD heaven in Hanoi



This …

farewell

So...
it will be goodbye Vietnam, i am feeling quite sad.
It has been very easy to be in this country, everything is so simple, yet the difference in culture is enough to make it a slight challenge. The change in weather from Viet to Aus will be hard i think, i will have to crank up my portable heater and try and simulate intense humidity to make the transition a little easier.
Right now we are in our little cheap internet cafe, which had been the best internet connection we have had the whole trip and only costs us 2,500 dong per hour (around 15 cents) which is much better than 15,000 dong in cat ba (BAH!!) that wouldn't even open hotmail without a struggle.
It just so happens only a few days before we leave we found the best grocery store, we found chocolate milk, sunnyboys, fruit juice. we stashed a heap of sunnyboys and froghurt in our hotel freezer for snacks! There has been nothing i have missed here in vietnam, the place has everything, i can't wait to return!
Our flight hom…

Home James

This will be our last post from overseas. Unless we get upgraded to business class and find ourselves with some air-borne internet. I am very tentatively charging my tainted iPod. If no-one touches it and no-one speaks to it, I think the computer I am on will remain safe. I carry no guilt about stuffing up the computer at our hotel, but this place is fantastic (2.5 thousand an hour) with top speed and friendly customer service, so I don't want to stuff them about.

My Lonely Planet book has certainly served us well here in Vietnam. It was pretty much new when I left Australia, but now we have to carry it around in a plastic bag for fear of losing pages. Last night it slept in a puddle of water (we got caught in a killer storm by the way. Everything flooded!) and this morning the entire cover peeled off. I'll post a photo of it when I get home.

I almost managed to rid myself of dong just in time to leave the country, but I realised I would like to eat some lunch today (and maybe b…

sorry about the swears

I promise I won't swear anymore.
We're flying back today. This is your official reminder to pick us up from the airport at 10am. If you are not there when we walk out the gate, then NO PRESENTS FOR ANYONE!
I kind of went spend-crazy in the last day or two. I mean, I still only spent about $150, but it's a lot. I still have about 350,000 VND to get rid of before we fly out. It's gonna be a struggle, but I think I'll be able to rid myself of it. We're heading over to a propaganda art gallery to get something later on today. Really, I haven't bought much of anything while I've been here. My pack is about as full as it was when we left. We've lost a few things though: my hat, my sunglasses, Bec's travel pillow... so it all evens out.
When in Hanoi be sure to look for the Bodha Cafe near DVD lane (the name we gave to the street with all the DVD shops)... um, sorry I can't give you less vague directions but I can't remember the proper name of the…

thrifty traveller, happy traveller

Cheap internet is not neccessarily CHEAP internet, I guess. I mean, we are upstairs in a cramped corner of the cafe; the roof too low for us to stand. It's hot, and I'm sweating and I'm really worried about being electrocuted (ed: Bec is more worried about falling through the floor), but at least it works.
I haven't blogged properly for a while now, the girls have really been picking up the slack for me. Really, I've run out of things to say about the country. For a while I was having a really shit time. Many local people out to make money off us have left me somewhat jaded. I can't count the times I've been lied to, ripped off, or just been left with the feeling that something is a bit dodgy. The place we are staying at is a little off. The room is okay, but they tried to charge us $25 a night for it. It's not even as nice as Sa Pa, and that was $12 with breakfast. Anyway, just a warning that when you come to Vietnam you WILL BE RIPPED OFF. This is not …

Sick as an iPod

Goddamned Cat Ba Island has ruined my life. I think i'm going to coin a new word in its honour. Cat Ba: Disaster. Usage: What a Cat Ba! This whole thing has been nothing but a bloody Cat Ba. Anyway, my moaning is almost over, I just have to break the news that Yakumoto has contracted a virus. It happened at that piece of crap place with the overpriced dial up. I don't know how a computer that crap could even support a virus. Suddenly my iPod is riddled with applications disguising themselves as Folders. They double up every folder, put the new one of the same name inside the original and give it a folder icon. But you double click on it and all of a sudden the computer you're on has the same applications all over everything. It also disable's the computer's ability to view hidden files. You can't do it via the tools menu anymore. Maybe some round about course of commands might help but what the hell do i know about computers anyway!? It doesn't seem very ma…

shop till we drop

Hey there peeps!

Right now we are in a fantastic restaurant in Hanoi with free internet and an amazing decor, kinda chinese style, loads of polished wood and mood lighting.
We are having a great time shopping in hanoi, it has worked out quite well travelling from the south to the north as the shopping is much better here. Yesterday We visited Bich in her village, it was fantastic. She was a little shy, though it was great to see the facilites plan has given to the community, i really appreciate Ian and Dee (Pauls grandparents) for their generosity as i have now seen first hand how important a their assistance is to the community. The village have now got a kindergarten, schools, community health centre, and healthy drinking water. Plan also supply the sponsor children and families with animals to raise like chickens, cows and buffalo. Visiting the Kindergarten was great, the kids were a bit confused at the start but opened up and had a great time. They loved our digtal cameras, they we…

Fuck the Cat Ba!

Back in Hanoi, and we're having trouble contacting Plan. We've tried calling them with all the numbers we've been given, but they are either the wrong numbers or we're doing something wrong. Anyway, we're going to head over to the office today and see them in person. Hopefully it won't all fall through. At worst we might have to postpone the visit for a couple of days, but that wouldn't be such a problem because we'll be in Hanoi until we fly out anyway.

Anyway, Hanoi is a big relief after the Cat Ba travesty. We are finally paying reasonable prices for internet (2,500 VND per hour), and it actually works. I can finally access my email. Plus the best thing about Hanoi is that less people stare at us as we walk down the street. In planning next years trip, please do me the courtesy of avoiding Cat Ba Island! Halong Bay may sound nice, but it's more trouble than it's worth.

Once again... Sa Pa is the place to go. Do not book a tour without including…

iuhefO*^7*($djiygs!

Man why is everything so difficult? We can't get onto Plan in Hanoi and we're meant to be going tomorrow. The telephone numbers we were given didn't work from Cat Ba but hopefully a local call will srve us better. We gots to get on over to the post office quick smart. Hopefully the whole thing won't fall through or I do'nt know what we'll do.

We managed to find a room last night and got a 10 dollar discount because we're a trio of cheap bastards. The guy wouldn't let us leave and eventually dropped the price far enough to justify sleeping next to the train tracks. That's no small thing, by the way. We caught the train back from Hai Phing yesterday and still have trouble hearing each other speak. I didn't know anything could be that loud. Really! I won't get over it.

Anyway, we can't dilly daddle. We'll keep you posted on the PLAN disaster.

So long,
Bec,
Hanoi.

Hannoying?...only in Cat Ba!

Well don't be sitting there thinking we have neglected our blog duties. We have just returned to Hanoi after our short stint in Cat Ba (island) town. We encountered a sprawl of vietnamese tourists (imagine rosebud at it's peak) and skyrocketing internet prices, and dial up to boot! We were used to paying 3,000 dong in Sa Pa per hour and in Cat Ba they were asking 15,000 ...stuff that (did i mention it was dial up!?) so we went on strike, and rightly so!

We are currently abusing free internet as the hotel we want to stay at finds us alternate accommodation for the night as they are full. Poor Paul is waiting for us at a cafe with all our luggage whilst we scout.
Though he had a flowing supply of vanilla icecream that i hear is amazing. I have however tried the coconut wich is amazing....also.
so enough of my ramble, i don't want to get to involved in a topic just in case we are whisked off on a moped to our other hotel room.
we have just heard news that the hotel room that was …

HelloMoto

Claire made friends with some aussie guys last night. They're from WA I think. Claire had organised to go with WA#1 on his moto to the Silver Falls today. But he "fell ill" with a mysterious illness called Veronica. So his two mates (or maybe brothers) took us up there. Paul and i squished on with WA #2 (shannon) and claire went with #3. The roads were apparently the worst they'd encountered out this way. Pretty muddy and very pot holed. But no one died so it was fun fun. The waterfalls were huge!

We've gone the way of the lazy and booked the bus to Lao Cai from our hotel (15000 extra) just so we don't have to carry our bags all the way to the church. (it's not that far)

Today I feel not so bad, still hot but no need to puke my guts up in the street. I have had half a banana and half a baguette with jam. That is all since Tuesday. All I kept in anyway. I think i'll risk some Pho tonight. Broth will be good for me.

And mum, don't say i didn't warn…

beware the spring roll!

Well we are still in Sa Pa having a great time.
last night we got a little food poisoning from some vegetarian spring rolls, bec and i were vomiting all night, yukky!
i am here now with two of the local girls, They live in lao chai, near-by Sa Pa, they are very good sales girls. They are very cheeky and are alot of fun! even though they are very traditional they all have email and to my surprise are amazing at pool.
Tomorrow night we will be leaving Sa Pa i wish i could stay here forever, it is such a warm hearted place and absolutley stunning.
i don't have much time to write now but i'll make up for it tomorrow or tonight.

-claire
Sa Pa

Sick as a Bec

At least it happened in Sapa. Where I don't have to worry about the heat. I think Claire and I ate some bad spring rolls (not to mention the pork one that they told me was vegetarian). I have never puked so badly in my life. Did you want to know that? Too bad. Claire was sick all night too and is sleeping now. But wait there's more! I have had a sore throat for about a week, which just yesterday developed further and here I am with flu-like symptoms. Then this morning I wake up with a fever but i'm bloody cold. Everyone is staring at me wondering what the hell i'm doing in my coat. So of course it's a unanimous decision that I have contracted Malaria and will die very shortly. We mosy downstairs and ask about a doctor in Sapa. The nice girl says the doctor can't come to us for reasons too complicated to try and translate. So she hails us two motorbike taxis and says hospital. We say great! At an emergency crawl of 30km an hour we head for the hospital and arriv…

Sapa-rty time!!

Well we arrived in Sa Pa this morning via the surprisingly comportable train from Hanoi to Lao Cai. We purchased the hard sleeper this time and were lucky to stumble apon our irish buddies at the station so we all shared a cabin. Even though the beds were hard, it is amazing the difference between being sitting in a cramped bus and being able to lie down. We all had a sound nights sleep.
Sa Pa has blown me away it is absolutley amazing, we are surrounded by mountains that are dotted with rice paddies and villages. The mountains are so high that you can't see the top through the clouds. We were greeted by some children from a hill tribe 7 km away who walk to Sa Pa every day to sell their handy crafts. They are all dressed up in their traditional costume and speak english very well. They are cheeky and playful and have a great sense of humor.
The first thing we did when we got here was wound our way on foot through the hills to the waterfall. It was a fair hike on the dirt road and up…

Chillin in Sapa

We made it to Sapa in one piece. Our sleeping quarters on the train were brilliant fun. It was two narrow beds and an aisle wide, and three bunks high. You could sit up straight on the lowest level, lean back to save your head on the middle one, and on the top you could barely rest on your elbows. Our train buddies were the two Irish guys we met in Hoi An and a nice Vietnamese girl who taught us all a card game. We stretched a sleeping mat between the two middle bunks and managed to play alright. Once you had your bags away it was prettty comfy. I got to use my sleeping bag so yay! We were, however, invaded by a drunk Vietnamese guy who didn't speak enough english for him to clearly communicate that he wanted one of us to give up our beds. I was topping and tailing with paul on the bottom bunk. After about twenty minutes on the top one I actually felt like i was going to puke. The rocking is amplified the further you are from the ground. So this strange guy (technically he had alr…

I'm a multi multi millionaire here.

The clothing on the back of my neck is damp and stuck to my skin, and it's old sweat too, so it's cold - which isn't a nice sensation like it should be, it's actually quite gross.
In an hour or two we catch a 9 hour train to Sapa(ish). We've decided to splurge on a sleeper, since busses are terrifying and the last train ride (in which he only had a seat) was horribly uncomfortable. We didn't get a 'soft' sleeper though, so we have to bring our pillows (I'm going to use my laundry bag - it's only got clean stuff in it), and maybe use our sleeping bags as mattresses. We'll have to get our bags soon, they're in the 'lobby' of the guest house we stayed in. The people there don't speak any English, so it's always awkward trying to communicate, but I think they understand we'll be back to pick them up later.
Apparently there are no ATMs in Sapa. This isn't a problem for me, but the girls are freaking out. They definately …

Hansel loses Gretel

I realise now that trying navigating Hanoi using a map is just silly. It doesn't work. All you have to do is leave a trail of bread crumbs. There are a lot of one way roads here with a constant stream of traffic so crossing the one wayers is tricky tricky. And the general direction rule doesn't work either. We know the lake is off too our right somewhere, let's head in that general direction and get some ice-cream. But we end up at the train station and find ourselves buying a baugette from a lady with a basket on her head.

It's really weird but we can't access our blog anymore (again). The overpriced, slow running travel office internet got us there no worries. But from here we can't find the server. So rather than walk all that way and pay all that dollar, I'll reply to comments via this post.

MUM: learn to use the keyboard already and say hi or i'll think you don't love me. I have so much cool stuff to buy (gonna wait till last minute in the countr…

pho (minus the accents and pronounced fer)

Well i Have found my favorite (common) vietnamese dish, i am quite excited! It is called pho (pronounced fer)and is a rice noodle soup. you can have it with beef chicken, shrimp pork but usually i just get it with veg. (cheaper that way) They bring it out with a green salad little dishes with soy and fish sauce and lemon to squeeze in. YUM!
The bus trip to hanoi was a litte horrific but i did get the window seat so at least i had somewhere to lean.We were one of the last to get on the bus, well we thought we were when we took the last seats, but there must have been an over booking because one guy ended up sitting on a tiny stool in the isle. I was sat at the back of the bus with bec and paul (with the bad suspention) with a young vienamese boy sat between us. Half way through the trip he must have got out for something to eat and came back with a little yoghrt drink for me, It was really lovely because he didn't speak much english and i have no idea with vietnamese but we manage…

Sapa tonight

So we found an internet cafe that is three times cheaper than the travel angency ones! Yay! And it has better computers. Still no dvd burner. I have already used 14Gb of space for photos alone. I have 7.5Gb and two weeks left. I'll have to start deleting music! This can't be the most thrilling news about my overseas adventure, but it is the most pressing.

Why don't I update you on the weather? Boy is it hot. Still. However it's a lot wetter up here! We were walking in squares looking for this internet cafe we could have sworn we saw last night when it started raining really lightly. But there's still bright sunlight but everything is wet. We're loving it! We feel right at home and are more than happy to use our ponchos to cover our bags and just soak in some water ourselves.

I'm really looking foreward to Sapa. We're not sure Halong we'll stay because we are hoping to get a bungalow set up for a few nights on the bay. I'm so funny.

Bec,
Hanoi.

Not Least

Hanoi is just like Hoi An if it had been picked up and dumped in Saigon. Nice to look at but difficult to see. We're not exploring too much yet as we're catching a train to Sapa tomorrow evening anyway. We got a cheap room just for the night. $8 (between us) gets us quite a large room with tv and a really great fridge. We're currently trying to use this to make Froghurt but it's slow going. Our bathroom however is not so much of a bargain. There's a shower nozzle but no shower so you just treat the whole bathroom as your oversized novelty shower room and wipe down the toilet seat when you're done. It's great fun getting even the cieling wet!

My main concern right now is charging my iPod but I can't find a decent internet cafe. This really blows me away because we're in the capital city of Vietnam for god's sake. The only two places we've found after lots of asking and walking, are two rival travel agencies of the same name, boasting equally c…

Meh..?

Greetings all,
Well we have spent a few days in Hue...it isn't all that and a bag of potato chips but has it's interesting parts all the same. There is alot of ancient chinese history in this city which is fascinating. We visited the citadel in which stands the emperors forbidden palace. We though we were special for a minute when we were let in, but apon seeing other tourists inside, we realised the name was all for effect....what a sham! We have been on a couple of tours in the last few days; the DMZ (demilitarised zone tour) and today the perfume river tour. The DMZ wa interesting, we visited 'the rockpile' a group of mountains stripped bare from agent orange, Khe sanh, (i couldn't get the song out of my head for at least 3 hours) which was the largest naval base in southern Vietnam, then onto the vin moc tunnels which were built by villagers during the war to shelter from bombs. The tunnels housed hundreds of people and buried as far as 35 metres underground. Th…

Hue are outta here!

Sorry, once we leave Hue the puns will stop. Because puns are very Hanoiing. Get it?? That's where we're going next!! We're only crashing there one night then we're training to Lao Cai and bussing to Sapa. We are told it will be cooler. Yay!

We went pagoda-ing today and it rained heaps which was great! Big fat drops. We got a motorbike to some incense maker people stalls (they called this a village but i didn't see any villagers villaging) and it was great riding in the rain. Air conditioning at it's best. We purchased plastic ponchos to keep us dry, but in the end we just used them to cover our bags. Getting wet is much more fun.

My iPod is misbehaving and crashing everytime I do a transfer. It also periodically forgets that there are any photos on it at all, which is disconcerting. Ten gig and two weeks of photography are very precious to me. I have been unsucessful at finding anyone with a dvd burner, so backing up would require hours of cd burning and reshuff…

Hooray for Hue!!

Yes that title does rhyme when pronounced correctly.
We arrived here yesterday afternoon after a 3 hour bus ride. The ride wasn't too bad, we got to see alot of the countryside which is covered with rice fields, pagodas and the occasional catholic curch. The people here are always working from the crack of dawn (around 5am) and all day till around 10pm, we often stumble into a restaurant or shop where people are having a deserving nap and have to wake up to serve us.
Hue is built on an a river with the city on both sides of the bank, the beach is around 14km away. This afternoon we are going to visit a citadel which was built for the emporer and have a wander around, i would like to go to the beach at some point and bathe my wounds it is looking awful!
Anyway back to the bus ride; We were quite annoyed at the service here as the bus keeps dropping us off at hotels that pay the bus company commissions. There is always a long line of scouts waiting where the bus stops to get us to go…

Hue to go!

Hue isn't that hot, well its bloody hot, but it's not that great. We're officially shitty with our bus company for dropping us off outside a hotel that pays commisions instead of their ticket office like they said. We're also officially shitty with guys also collecting commisions by following you down the street and recommending a hotel. Literally following. One guy got on his bike and met us again three blocks away. They drop you off at reception, disappear and come back later for a reward. If we got the room that is, which we won't, on principle alone. One guy said six dollars for a triple room, and we're all, hey man that worth checking out even if it is a load of crap. So we get to reception and the woman says 12 dollars so we don't say anything and just turn around and walk out. Hopefully when the guy goes back to collect, she'll crack the shits at him and they'll both have learnt a lesson.

We eventually found an okay place, but its more hotel t…

Blah... Hue

Blah. Hue. I'm bored. Don't care.
This place is fairly uninspiring. There's the Citadel, which sounds big and scary but is probably just a wire fence. There the DMZ (Demilitarised Zone) pretty close by, I'm gonna go into those tunnel things, fire an AK-47 and jump on some mines. Or maybe I'll just visit Khe Sahn and make a silly video to put to some awful pub-rock music.
Whatever. It's hot. I fell asleep after lunch. I've started eating western food again, because 2 weeks of nothing but noodles and rice and spring rolls actually gets old. I'm sick of Cyclos, and motorbikes and being hassled to buy something. We should have stayed longer in Saigon. Next trip I suggest we try to head south as quickly as possible.

- Paul
Hue (yawn)

It Burns!!

Hello!

Well the last few days have been very hot here in Hoi An, We can hardly bare it, bec and i have had a few item of clothing made, i have had some shoes made and two jackets, soo cheap!!we have made some friends here, Paul and Ed from Ireland, i went to watch the football with them the other night then went to a few bars, we went to this great one out in the middle of nowhere where they played the beatles and henrix and had thousands of names written on the wall from past visitors, good fun.
Yesterday i visited marble mountain, a group of temples and pagodas built on top of a mountain overlooking the beach. We had to climb up hundreds of barble steps and scale cliffs and treck through caves to get to the top but it was all worth it for the view.
We have another ailment to add, i burned my leg on the motorbike 'Thailand tattoo' they call it...OUCH!
today we are off to hue, I hope it is as quiet and friendly as hoi an, i hear it is hotter which isn't too good but i'm s…

Trouble in iPod

Whew, for a gut-wrenching hour I thought my iPod had upped and died on me. You're not meant to let it overheat, right? 35 degrees c is the little tacker's limit, then it just conks out. Well in Hoi An it's about 30 something. So if i even turn my iPod on, just to look at it, it probably hits 35 without any effort. I've had to start taking it out of its black Yakumoto suit everytime i use it, cause overheating is really easy here. Even for me. We're about to check out of our hotel and we've left about 13 empty water bottles, 1.5 litres each, in the bathroom. If they even fit into the bin provided, we still feel they should be recycled . . . somehow.

So we're catching the 2pm bus to Hue, which only takes around 2 hours. We're skipping Denang because who can be bothered.

Claire came back after a 24 hour absence with a bad hangover, a scrape to the knee and a great big burn on her lower leg. We're all excited about this as we can finally crack open paul&#…

vague?

We're leaving in 3 hours, so I don't really have anything to say. It's hot, but that's nothing new. I'm sweating. I guess Australia are out of the world cup now, but who cares? I'm only really sitting in the internet cafe because Bec needs to charge her iPod. (Note to self: next time, bring power adaptor).
We have to check out of our hotel in about 40 minutes. Claire burned her leg on a scooter's exhaust. (Who's scooter, you ask?)
The good news is, we are leaving Hoi An behind, and probably leaving the weirdness here too.

Hmmm. Vague? Yes.

- Paul

Bolted Down by the Back Wheel

We did end up hiring bikes yesterday and we made it to the beach in one piece! Everyone except this poor girl I crashed into. I apologised profusely but she just stared at me, horrified by this crazy white person who can't ride a bike.

... So the beach was really great and i took a killer photo of this toddler with no pants on. I Don't think he minded though, because he stood there posing for about five mintues. We purchased some peanut brittle from a girl named sun-sun. It is the best and i need some more. Paul drew her picture and she was very pleased.

Today we went out to My Son where some really cool Cham Ruins are. I took heaps of photos- almost 2 Gig's worth.

Paul might have mentioned Claire's absence today. We aren't supposed to talk about it, but we're putting together a short film, from snippets of interviews with witnesses, which will be released on DVD in early August.

Ha, i think about three girls have spoken to me in the last day or two and after a few…

Trouble in paradise... or, in the third world. Whatev!

So Claire has disappeared. She went off to watch the soccer yesterday and we haven't seen her since. She missed the tour bus so Bec and I went to My Son by ourselves. There are some spectacular Cham ruins there. Much better than the ones we saw in Nha Trang.
I've decided to put off buying anything until we get to Hanoi, and even then I don't think I'll really buy anything. It's okay for the girls, they can get good clothing made for them in a day for a pittance, but the offering they have for men is rather limited. Anything you get from a market is just utter trash, there's no reason to buy anything. You end up seeing the same t-shirt in every single stall and eventually you start to wonder whether someone else might have bought the same shirt. It would get embarrassing bumping into someone with the same Tin Tin shirt, right? I did however buy a pair of sunglasses and a hat, but this is only because I lost my sunglasses and my hat somewhere. Other than that I ha…

Ugh, more shopping.

Hoi An is basically just a bunch of stalls lining the streets. There are some heritage buildings dotted throughout but it's pretty rural, without a whole lot to do except shop. The girls are on some kind of spending spree. Like, I know $7 isn't really a lot to pay for a fitted skirt, but they're stopping at every single shop and stall that we pass. The people there, they give out business cards like it's the newest big thing and the girls just keep taking them. They stop and point at a dress casually and suddenly there's an attendant taking it down and offering to let them try it on. 'Come in, try, no worries'. They clearly know not to bother with me, although I still have to wave away about twenty motorbikes a day.

Today I have been promised a frozen yoghurt if I put up with all the shopping. They wouldn't let me get it on credit, so I have to wait until I am exhausted and sweating like The Hulk after a showdown with an Apache Helicopter or something. I…

I think I'll live HERE

Hoi An is so photogenic it's making me look like a talented photographer. I think i'll live here and sell postcards of my photos. It's hot-hot-hotter during the day here but cooler at nights.

Everything closes at nine, though. In Nha Trang everything except the bars closed at ten. But we're almost half way up the country now so we can expect some later nights further north.

My sunburn isn't quite so hideous today. Yesterday Paul kept saying, geez bec your back is covered in beads of sweat. So I eventually told him to get a towel already, and he dabbed away but only took off skin! I am bubbled through with blisters yay super happy fun!

Every other shop here is a cloth shop with all these really funky designs on display. Every other-other shop is a shoe shop where they make shoes to fit. Claire already has some red sandles, two different sizes to fit her strange feet. We both got skirts made yesterday and mine is so cool but warm also so i can't wear it until i get …

Me Again

I've been given Claire's camera to upload some piccas. My photography is off limits until I find some Photoshop CS2 action. Not likely. So please enjoy the following, brought to you by Claire. In no particular order . . .

This is us all happy and smiling before the sunburn set in.
This is a strange thing we keep seeing. It says 'Happiness to Everybody'. Paul insisted we post it.
This is Claire drinking our favourite water, Festi.
This is us about to have the best pancakes ever!
This is our rediculous hotel.Over and Out.

...Next Stop, Hoi An!

Hello!

So the last day in Nha Trang was a lazy one, we seem to have lost momentum after being fried by the sun.
The Bus ride to Hoi An was a long and trecherous one. The though of being killed did cross my mind a few times, especially after the driver, whilst driving around a sharp bend,(those who have driven up to Kinglake will have an idea of the kind of road i am talkng about) drove into the on coming lane in front of another bus and screeched on the brakes narrowly avoiding a collision, which woke us all up! We also witnessed an overturned truck that had landed half sunken in a rice paddi with the driver asleep on top, i was a bit worried as they don't wear seatbelts in Vietnam that he may be a little dead, but i think i'll just keep telling myself 'the little man is just sleeping'
The bus dropped us off at 6 am at a hotel 'recommended' by the bus tour, we weren't sure at first but it costs the same as all the other hotels and is mich nicer, the only issu…

Oh the Pain

That's right, I'm still on about my sunburn! Even in beautiful Hoi An. The bus ride was harrowing. We're meant to stick to the right side of the road, yeah? Well, not according to this bus driver. He seemed to enjoy taking every completely blind or hairpin corner on the left. Not just crossing the line with one wheel for a moment, just absolutely on the WRONG side of the road. We were all going to die. This went on for eleven (hey maybe it was only nine! who would have thought?) hours or more. Eventually i stopped watching the road for oncoming traffic, and stopped lifting my head every time we ground to a shuddering halt all too quickly. I guess you get used to it? Claire made friends with two Irish boys who shared the back seat of the bus with us and ended up using one of them as a pillow. And a foot rest. Poor boy never had a chance. Another guy's chair completely broke about an hour into the trip. We all felt thankful that it wasn't us.

So when I'm almost so…

some stuff we did

Cham Towers on Vimeo

Another clip. I can't hear the audio, but this is at the Cham Towers. The girls each had an ice-cream here, and they both smelled like feet. Apparently they tasted like green capsicum and powdery banana (and feet . . . and pepper). Yum!
The inside of the towers were really smokey because of all the incense, but we figured out that they are actually ventilated; there is an exhaust at the back that pumps out the smoke.

more photos

If anyone wants me to buy them some movies, please list what you would like and I'll see if I can find it. If I can't find it, then you're out of luck. Dad, if you're reading this - I lost the list of movies you already gave me, could you remind me what you wanted?

I'm uploading a movie from Claire's camera. I don't know what it is because this computer doesn't have quicktime so I can't preview it. Anyway. It probably contains material not suitable to children, so discretion is advised. Who knows what it might be?



Our hotel room in the Phu Quy on Vimeo

- Paul

PS. Here are some random photos:





What a RIP!

Greetings family and friends and others!

Today we had a lovely day on our boat cruise. On the way there we must have been running late as the bus driver had his hand perminantly on the horn...the cars/mini busses here even have a second, more intense horn to warn people, as the horn behaviour here is more of a precautionary one rather than a reactionary one like in Oz and the people are desensitised to it. Anyway, back to the boat cruise, we were rushed to the boat and got there just as it was leaving so they had to haul back into dock to get us annoying westerners. Our first stop was snorkelling, The water was amazing with colourful fish and coral but it was all fun and games until the jelly fish came out to play. We started to get these little stings then stings turned into lashings and lashing turned into sheer agony. Paul still has the battle wounds, we'll have a image up soon.

And or the unknowing people around the world...DONT BUY SUNSCREEN FROM VIETNAM...we did,smothered ours…

Fried Bec, Please

I am so unbelievably sunburnt. Try not to think of the words 'searing' or 'flesh'. And i was attacked by jellyfish,just to add to my wardrobe of pain. GArjhsefh;diufhAJhf!@^%@$%^#. I have about ten minute intervals between drawing everyone's attention to my hurt. They are becoming used to my scheduale and saying 'poor bec' before i can get in there with my complaints.

So yeah, the glowing embers of my skin and the patterned welts all over my legs are the results of today' boat tour and yesterdays tragic sunblock purchase.

Paul got jellyfished the worst and he's very proud of his little red dotted lines. They are quite impressive.

Anyway, booking lady told me no trains to denang and she was too scary to argue with so we have three tickets to Hoi An via an air-conditioned tour bus. TOUR bus. That means we wont get to have amusing misunderstandings with the locals. Just dangerous ones with the germans. ...Anyway, we leave thursday at 7pm, ride all night a…

ankles not so sw anymore!

hello!

Well i must start with saying that i am having an awesome time here in Vietnam. We have spent our first whole day in Nha Trang. It is a beautiful city and the people are lovely. It is great to be visiting a country where we are the minority. As far as tourists go there it is nothing like thailand or bali, there are a handful, though few enough to get pointed at by children and giggled at by teenagers. It makes the holiday more of a unique experience.
Today the swelling of my ankles has reduced substabtially, i think it is a combination of the cooler ocean breeze in Nha Trang and that i purchased some flowy pants that allow my legs to breathe in the heat. My next hurdle is to overcome the tummy bug that we have all caught, we seem to be handling it well.
Today we started off our day at the beach, we hired out beach chairs seated under umberellas made out of grass. The water was warm and deep. we then set out on foot across town to a pagoda with a giant buddah seated on top a maunta…

Spotty McSpot Spot

I have spots all over. Claire thinks it's measles, Paul has diagnosed me with meningococcal meningitis but i think it's heat rash. We three are doing google searches on spots right now.

We have made it safely to Nha Trang but have only just found an internet cafe that isn't dodgy. Technically it's a Flight Centre but who cares. The beach here is really great and it's cooler at night. Mum, you can head straight to Nha Trang while Dad goes exploring. Our hotel isn't too enormous and it has a great rooftop terrace. We opted out on the air-con, saving us $3 a night. We figured we'd have to aclimatise eventually. All the brochures of the hotels around here have been heavily photoshopped and we find this very amusing. Neon signs of tall hotel buildings have been cloned away, and replaced with flat out text. At least they tried to match the perspective on that front. The nice looking sedan out the front is 3 times the size of the truck down the road. The exterio…

Traffic negotiation 101

Another night another post. Bec has a rash we are optimistically attributing to the heat, apparently it isn't itchy. I've stubbed my toe and it's bleeding a bit. Claire still has swankles, but they've started to settle a bit and we have all had traveller's diarrhea; Rebecca is in denial.

When some of you guys come over here next year, you're all going to learn some of the lessons we've learnt. We can tell you, but you're only going to learn the hard way like us. So here are a few examples.

#54 - Never say 'maybe later', they will come back later.

#15 - Just say NO.

#32 - Don't glance at goods, unless you actually want to buy them.

#05 - Bottles of coke cost less than cans, because they keep the bottles and recycle them. This is more of a nice thing, so support the bottle industry.

#01 - Cross the road slowly slowly. No sudden movement. Keep looking both ways as you walk, you will probably forget which direction traffic is coming from. A good rule …

cheap internet is CHEAP internet

We made it to Nha Trang, after an arduous 7 hour train ride. I very nearly threw up just before we arrive (not sure why... I'd been on the train 6 and a half hours), but the toilet was gross so I decided to hold it in.

Nha Trang is a little quieter than Saigon, but right now (8.50pm) it's fairly loud outside. There is some kind of Scooter Festival going on. There's a big Honda showroom on the beach, and about 20 million kids on their scooters riding around. We're currently deciding what to have for dinner before we go to one of the bars to watch the world cup and cheer as Australia loses to Brazil.
The beach here is really nice at night, although we haven't been swimming yet (maybe tomorrow). The hotel we are staying at, 'Phu Quy' is pretty nice, the staff are friendly, and the rooftop terrace is worth three times what we are paying (nice and cool, with a great view).

Just a little advice for those of you wanting to use internet cafes while over here. Do not g…

Swankles!

Hello!

Well i am sad to say that we will be leaving the wonderful city of ho chi minh tonight and venture off north to the beach town of Nha Trang. Today we spent visiting the meekong delta, it was amazing. We canoed through mangrove canals, held a python and listened to some traditional vietnamese music. The Delta is so big that is has over 4 islands 3 of which we visited. i am having writing block at the moment so i will have to cut my entry short but i see over my shoulder that bec and paul have both written extensively so i am probably just repeating anyway.

oh yeah, my ankles and feet have swolen up to twice their size, if anyone knows of a cure please help as it is very uncomfortable, i hope it is because of the heat and humidity and not because i have caught some deadly tropical disease, though i am on the look out for and further symptoms.

bye for now
Claire
- saigon

Nha Trang Tomorrow

We have successfully organised train tickets to Nha Trang, which we have been pronouncing SO incorrectly that Paul's family member Ngân, whose name we can barely pronounce either, laughed at us for about five minutes. She is lovely and treated us to a fantastic dinner with all the extras: coconut jelly drink stuff and wine drinken sticky rice for dessert. We are disappointed we only met her the night before we are leaving Saigon, and would love to see her again, but we have to keep moving etc.

Our tickets are for the night train, which leaves at 11pm. We went for the air-con soft seat as it was cheaper than the hard and/or soft sleeper. Our ticket tells us we will arrive at 6am in Nha Trang, but we won't count on it. We already checked out of our Saigon guesthouse so as not to pay for the day, and they are kindly holding our packs for us so we didn't have to cart them too and from the Meekong.

Which was fabulous! $7 got us an air/con bus there and back, about eight boats to …

Our last night in Saigon

We're all at the internet cafe killing time before we go back to pick up our bags and get a taxi over to the train station. This is our last night in Saigon, tomorrow morning we'll arrive at Nha Trang and wander around looking for new accomodation. I've given up trying to control my hair as it has taken on a life of it's own. I now have a full on afro.
Last night (as I'm sure the others are explaining simultaneously) we visited Peter's relatives at their home and went out for dinner with Ngân (Teresa) at a proper fancy restaurant.
Everyone was very friendly and we got on incredibly well with Ngân especially. We were having trouble trying to pronounce her name properly, so we stuck with using 'Teresa' for the most part. She gave us each a ride on the back of her Scooter through the streets of Saigon, which was the single most exhilirating moment of my trip so far. Although the streets are utter chaos, no one ever gets up any speed so it's really very s…

day 3

Hi there all

It is approx 11pm and we have just arrived back to our hotel. This evening we spent with the lovely Theresa, a relative of pauls. We visited her family at their home and she also took us to their shop where we met some more of her family. We then went out to dinner at a beautiful coconut-themed restaurant and we ate the most amazing vietamese food. Theresa suggested we try the braised snails but apparently it is a very popular dish and they were all out tonight, damn!
It is a shame we have to leave saigon tomorrow, we would have loved to spent more time with Theresa and her family.
Well it is off to the Meekong delta tomorrow at 8am then the night train north to continue the next leg of our journey. I am sad to leave saigon, it is such a huge city and i feel like we haven't even scratched the surface, but there is plenty more to see in the rest of the country.

bye for now
Claire
- Saigon

convincing literature

I honestly thought I would be able to come up with some really good literature to post once I got here, and that I would even have time to do so. So far I've been too exhausted to even think, let alone write a blog. We've spent only two nights here so far and basically we've all just crashed into bed at the end of the day and slept. But there is stuff to write about, so much has happened in a day and a half, I just don't have the time or energy to sit down and go through it all. It's the heat, and the humidity. My brain just can't take it. The brief moments of rain are welcome when they come, and they do come randomly. The weather here is probably even more random than Melbourne, which is nice. My hair has gone weird, it's never been curlier, it's like a basket of noodles on my head (sorry about the simile, we had fried noodles last night).
Thankyou everyone who commented, make sure you guys keep reading this! I promise it will get more interesting.

- Pau…

We Live!

So we successfully navigated our way around three airports and made it to our guesthouse in Saigon. It's down a small alley which is frequented by people on bikes singing about what they have to sell. Water bread fruit etc. Not far from a park where heaps of kids play a mutated form of hackey sack involving springs and feathers. I know I've seen this doo-hicky somewhere else either Nepal or Melbourne . . .

It is hot hot hot and who would have thought? My fingers are sticking to the keys. The rain we heard so much about has come and we might need to buy an umbrella or maybe a garbage bag.

Our room is nice and there IS room to swing a cat, so we're happy. Navigtion is a bit wierd, but we're only new so we might catch on. Inter-district travel is our next hurdle.

Hot and Sticky,
Bec,
Saigon

wow!

So we are in Vietnam...

there is so much to say; When we arrived we were picked up by our a driver and taken to our hotel....and it was CRAZY!! there were bikes flying everywhere, no 'right' side of the road, the only road rule is drive moderatly slowly and beep your horn because no one looks where they are going. We saw one accident and no one seemed to care. As i speak, a monsoonal rain has just drifted over...and now it has finished...oh it has started again...well at least i feel at home with the weather!

love Claire
Saigon.