Bec and Paul are trundling through Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia until school is back in March 2009. They insist on keeping a blog despite the facebook thing being much more likely to attract any interest.
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. The villagers lived underground for 5 years. It is quite amazing! The perfure river tour was nice though we couldn't afford to visit all the attactions. We saw the making of conical hats and inscence (bec and i had a go rolling the inscence...we did good!) oh yeah, and 'many many pagoda!'
looooong bus ride tonight to hanoi,
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 reshuffling of files.
I would like to find a supermarket before the bus ride to replace my now black facewasher and maybe stock up on pringles for the trip. The pringles available on the street have all faded in the sun and we suspect they may be stale . . . But supermarket's are rare and I can imagine our whole conversation with whoever we ask. They'll send us to Dong Ba Market for some pretzels or something.
There's no ATM in Sapa, but we'll see how we go with internet. I am screwed on the photo front without a computer.
See you later, hue?
PS people: Identify yourselves better. We don't know who's dad belongs to who. OMG! We just saw a portable laminator walking down the street. It has it's own soundtrack! Yesterday we saw a woman sitting on the bridge, in front of a set of scales. And i'm all, hmm, have i lost weight or put it on. And how much am i willing to pay to find out? Is this a long PS? Too bad.
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 to their hotel, so, out of principal we braved the heat (and my full bladder) and set off to find our own hotel. Unfortunatly for us we picked a shit one that leaked and is mouldy, but at least we feel proud that we have stood up for the non-commission paying hotels and us un-suspecting travelers that were told that we would be dropped off at the bus depot!
We are exactly half way through our journey and we (well def me) are having a brilliant time!!
bye for now
We eventually found an okay place, but its more hotel than guesthouse, which is really crap, i've decided. You never see the same person at reception twice and when we complained about our leaky bathroom, we had to tell the story to six different people and none of them knew what we were talking about. Another drawback is you have to put up with tourists taking 30 minutes to get their huge group down the stairs (right next to our room) and argueing about the best way to do this the whole time. Then someone is trying to get into our room, fiddling with the doorknob (the one that's threatening to fall off anyway) at 10:30 at night. So i rush over a grab the handle and swing the door open real fast like (i thought it was unnattended children) And there's this guy there (and about 5 other adults and 5 or 6 kids, clogging the hallway with their bags) trying to open OUR door with HIS key that was probably for some OTHER hotel or something.
Grr. But for ten dollars a night, we can't be bothered finding another place, we won't stay long here anyway. Did i mention the leak was from the air-conditioning? There's a valve missing or something. So we had a river of water going from one corner of our bathroom to the other. We eventually got given another room. They gave us a choice between the cheaper one with no bathtub or the better one with two double beds. I'll let you guess which one we took.
So just as soon as I'm finished with my bitching, we're heading across river to check out the citadel, and we might book a tour to the DMZ for tomorrow. Demilitarised zone. Don't let the name fool you, there will land mines a-plenty.
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.
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 sure we'll get used to it.
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's (paul's mum's) giant first aid kit. It has lots of fun things in it that we can play with. Paul has fashioned himself an eyepatch, and I a sling . . . so Claire doesn't feel left out with her great goopy bandage.
Enough of the medical update,
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.
... 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 minutes of polite getting-to-know-you, they've just come out with "You have very white skin." I appreciated their frankness. I said "I am very sunburnt." And then we said goodbye.
I'll apologise for my random rambly style of post - i had terrible sleeps last night and am moula tired. Tomorrow we go to Hue, where i'm told it will be even hotter. Goddamnit. How is that even possible???
I'll keep you posted,
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 haven't bought anything really. I did get a little musical donger thing for a buck, which hopefully will make it past customs. Oh, I bought thongs because my shoes were too hot (30,000 dong / $3 or so).
There are some other things that I'm not allowed to talk about. I won't go into details, but I am hereby announcing my intent-to-dissent (maybe). We're coming down with a bit of Cabin Fever. Or, more like, Hotel Fever. In any case, it was bound to happen eventually. I'm sure we'll get over it soon enough.
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 mean it, it's fucking hot here. You have no idea. We go through about 4 or 5 litres of water a day, but we ain't doing any wee. It all comes out in our sweat. Luckily for us laundry is only 8,000 Dong a kilo (75 cents). I'm getting some eczema on my wrists, probably due to the humidity. I think it's hotter here than it was in Saigon, but I have no way of telling - actually I'm avoiding the weather channel. I think it would just depress me.
Last night was some kind of special thing. We have no idea what it could be, and we can't be bothered finding out, but everyone was burning little bonfires in the gutters. There was smoke all over the place.
Tomorrow we'll do a tour around some interesting stuff, and then head off the day after, toward Hue. Until then I guess I'll just follow the girls around, from shop to shop while they take advantage of the exchange rate and the disgustingly cheap clothing. I'm going to wait until Hanoi before I do any of my spending. So far I'm surviving on around 200,000 Dong a day. If I keep it up, I'll spend less than $800 for the whole month.
Go team me!
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 home. My plan is to get a jacket to match and a short cotton skirt to wear here, then maybe a summery top aswell. The skirt I had made was $8 US. Which is a-okay with me. It is tourquoise and chocolate brown.
Later today we plan to hire a bicycle (10,000 dong for the day) and ride to the beach. Claire knows the way as she was scootered off there yesterday by an Irish footstool. He is OUR NEW FRIEND.
Tomorrow we get a tour bus to My Son, the greatest Cham ruins something something. I would have loved to do it without the tour, but Claire won't drive us anywhere at 5am. Which means my spectacular photographs will also be crawling with tourists. But nevermind, I am also a skilled photoshopper.
Smelling Like Sunscreen,
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.
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 issue is that we get bugged to buy a tour everytime we try to walk past reception, but for $7 us dollars a night each with breakfast, i can't really complain.
I am looking forward to exploring the city of Hoi An tomrrow. It used to be the main port in south east asia and was spared in the war, so there are many old buildings and artifacts to look at. There is also the beach not to far away and cheap cheap made to measure clothing that i am going to take advantage of.
Bye for now
- Hoi An
So when I'm almost so exhausted I can finally pass out sitting up, we arrive in Hoi An. 6am it was. They dropped us at thier tour bus affiliated hotel and we fell asleep on the steps and woke up in a room for three. I don't remember checking in at reception but apparently it happened. This place is way too nice for us and no more expensive than our other accomodation so far. (Except we pay and extra $1.50 for breakfast - apparently we signed up for that too) It appears, so far, that the further north you go, the more you get for your money. I won't explore the ins and outs of this theorum, because there are too many associated with our naivety. Which I am having trouble spelling.
So everyone welcome Robyn to blogland as she has finally visited Sai-Gone. Which we still can't access!! We had somehow associated this horror with Nha Trang, don't ask us how, and we skip down to the local internet cafe and still can't get to our own site. We're getting all of the comments through Paul's live feed inbox setup thingy.
Did I mention our hotel has a pool AND air-con AND an elevator AND illuminated artwork in the rooms AND hot water AND a bath AND this really great toilet that doesn't threaten to overflow everytime you flush?!? Its great! I feel spolied. AND a fridge!! We've sticky-taped it shut though. 3 times the price.
Did I also mention the sun rises really bloody early here? Like whatever times come before 5am. And people get started as soon as the sky shows signs that maybe the sun will rise sometime soon?? I can't get over it. Coming home and getting up at seven will be a dark and dank affair. No brilliant daylight to wake me up.
Anyhoo, I'm rambling.
Survived a bus ride,
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.
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
PS. Here are some random photos:
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 ourselves in it and now we are burned....BURNED...we were jibbed 45,000 dong for useless cream!!
but it is all part of the experience!
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 and arrive somewhere in Hoi An (I'm yet to ask where) at about 10am. Assuming it is a decent bus.
We went to a seafood kinda restaurant last night and were horrified and insulted when we weren't given chopsticks or bowls. WTF!? Then they bring out our dishes and place them right in front of each of us as if we're going to eat the whole thing by ourselves. with a fork! Then they don't give us rice even though we ordered it. We are total snobs now, and when we see tourists ignoring their bowls and the communal values of a vietnamese meal, we say BAH! Look at those humans and their pathetic ways. ...Yeah anyway, when we asked for bowls our waiter guy was thrilled and very proud of us. THEN we had the best desert ever in the history of man. It was black sticky rice next to grilled mango with coconut sauce and so delicious i'm trying to talk the guys into going back there just for the dessert. Maybe if we get it with coffee they'll forgive us for going straight to the sweets.
Anyhoo, i think we'll chill out on the beach for our last day in nha trang.
Alrighty, see youse all in Hoi An, unless we get bored killing time tomorrow,
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 mauntain as the main attraction. (we can see it from out hotel terrace) it took us around 1 1/2 to 2 hours to walk there through the city. It was a beautiful place (photo's coming soon) with lovely gardens and stonework.
Rebecca, Paul and i have pondered the thought of buying a small terrace house here to frequent as a holiday home, It would be perfect...for now it is just a dream, maybe in a few more years time!
i hope you enjoy the photos we have posted
- Nha Trang
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 exterior wall goes off to the left but the interior one heads right. We laugh all day long.
Claire and I have decided to move here and start a chain of Laundr-o-matics. As there are none available anywhere. We went strolling to find a laundry service today, as the hotel was charging about 50 cents too much - 15.000vnd/kg. One guy had a sign up for 6.000vnd per kg, so we went inside to ask if we could pick up that same day. But he thought we were asking about price. So he wrote on a piece of paper 70.000/kg, which is just stupid. So i wrote down 6.000/kg and he said ok. But we didn't trust him with our undergarments so found somewhere else for 10.000. But then the receptionist at the hotel saw us leaving with our laundry and dropped her price, so after all that walking, we dropped our 2kg off at the desk. Interesting story, huh?
We found ourselves oweing each other money, after one picking up another's dinner bill for whatever reason. So to Paul i say, oh, you owe me 20.000 from lunch. And he says, but you owe me 5.000 from afternoon tea. And i say, ok, give me 15.000. It took us a day or two of this to realise that we were holding debts of $1 or 50c. And we all laughed and thought ourselves doofis.
I have purchased too many post cards as we keep befriending the sellers. So i'm going to send some home with nothing on them. haha. No, i'll think of something to write.
We have all found that we are simplifying our English even when we speak to each other now. We omit whole words and keep eveything to a single-cyllable. We have also developed a habit of guesturing to explain our meaning. "Tomorrow we visit big mountain" (hands indicate size) "How?" "Bus" (point to nearest bus) "Bus good" (thumbs up).
The problem with this is that we're dropping english, but not picking up vietnamese. So we'll come home with no native tongue.
P.S: we can't get onto our own blog. What the! So sorry if we aren't returning comments. However, if it's blogger's problem, you couldn't comment if you wanted to.
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 of thumb is that traffic is coming from EVERY direction. And there will NEVER be a break in traffic.
#01(b) - Do not assume the footpath is only for pedestrians. Keep an eye out.
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 go to the ones that only charge 3,000 dong an hour. They will be slow slow slow. Right now is our third try, and we've finally just come back to our hotel to use theirs. It's a fair bit more expensive (200 dong a minute), but it seems to actually work. And now we can't upload the photos we wanted to. This is extremely frustrating. I'm getting really shitty.
So instead I'll just describe the photos we were going to upload. The first one was of all three of us in a canoe. It was taken by the tour guide, who was really nice. The second one I wanted to upload was me holding a python, and looking a bit bored.
I'm sure I'll find a good internet cafe that has actual working computers somewhere around here and upload the photos. Anyway, we're going to go eat now. Bye.
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
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 and from markets and islands and through canals, and a row boat along a smaller canal. And a performance by some musicians, and an introduction to coconut candy, and honey tea and all sorts of great stuff. We tipped our tour guide as he was very friendly and funny and spoke to us about where to go in Vietnam. He was happy.
AND! I rode on the back of Ngân's scooter-mobile all the way to her house. This traffic is insane but I can imagine doing a better job of scootering around myself in Saigon than in Let's-All-Obey-The-Road-Rules-Australia. You kind of take it as it comes, and no-one goes very fast and you beep the Everything-Is-Okay-Horn all the time!
This post is completely out of order but hey, we're busy busy beavers. I am now addicted to coconut candy - we bought some at the workshop on the tour - but am steering clear of banana wine.
The only reason this post is so long is that i'm charging my iPod and i'm only paying 8000vnd and hour. So 11900vnd is equivilant to 1aud so you work it out. I spotted an internet cafe near Ngân's house - away from the tourists - which was only charging 3000 dong per gia, which i assume is hour, but hey, we're tourists. We deserve what we get!
So i've run out of things to report, You'll probably hear it twice more as Claire and Paul are posting as we speak. Or as I type, really.
And to everyone at home, hi! Hope all is well. Please water my Bonsai and feed my cat. Tabby cat, you know the one.
By the way - the gardens here are super manicured bonsai setup. Everything is in pots, and the grass is really special - no-one steps on it. This might interest Stephen . . . so i'll be sure to take photos.
So it's quarter past seven now. We figure we'll head on over to the Train Station at ten. It should be interesting to see how we handle it. We learnt inter-district wandering quickly enough, now we're on to inter . . . province? I think that's it.
Wish us luck!
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 safe. We've finally got the hang of crossing the roads and I'm feeling very comfortable here already. It's a pity we have to leave so quickly. We're already planning our return.
We have an open invitation to visit Ngân and the family when we all come over next year, so I hope the tour that you guys had planned isn't too rigid, it would be really nice to spend a couple of days extra in Saigon.
Earlier on we went to the market. When I say 'the market' I mean THE market. Although I forget the name, it is apparently the largest market in Saigon. Haggling over the price of pants is lots of fun, especially when it isn't your money or your pants that are involved. Ngân told us that 70,000 Dong is a very good deal for pants, so the Bec did alright there, but apparently we got ripped off on the Tin Tin T-shirt. Anyway, I figure we came out about even.
The food here is great. It's amazing being able to eat out at a restaurant for every single meal of every single day, and still be able to afford it. Although we are paying tourist prices (far more than the restaurants that the locals go to), we can feed the three of us for about $5 AUS.
Today we took a $7 (US) tour to the Mee Kong Delta. It was a 2 hour bus trip (bad suspension, but air-conditioned) out, and then a whole day on the river and various canals. We ate lunch (included in the price) in the middle of some 'jungle' and had fun with snakes.
Anyway, I'm sure the others are posting extremely similar posts right now. So I'll leave it at that. Lucky you, getting to read about the same thing from three different points of view.
Next post will be from Nha Trang.
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
Thankyou everyone who commented, make sure you guys keep reading this! I promise it will get more interesting.
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,
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!
So what to say other than holy crap I know i've forgotten something!
We've now got a new point on our itinerary. Peter has given us a letter to pass on to his uncle in HCMC, which means we'll be meeting some of his relatives, and I guess they're my relatives too... I'm not sure what that is, second or third cousins? Who knows family tree stuff? Anyway, that will be interesting to see if we'll be able to navigate our way to them succesfully.
It's hard to prepare for what I'm going to wear tomorrow. It's going to be effing cold when I wake up at 4am, absolutely freezing - but I have to dress lightly as it's going to be in the low 30's (celsius) when we arrive in HCMC. It's going to take a while for me to adjust to monsoon type weather (hot, humid and very wet).
Bye, see you all in a month.
This weekend we're going to hold the first annual Mass-Permethrin festival in which we get all the clothing that we're taking with us and wash it in poison. This will kill any mosquitos that land on us. As well as that we've got non-scented deoderant and copious ammounts of tropical strength repellant with that mysterious ingredient 'DEET' that I know nothing about, but apparently we need it.
I just realised that I'm not going to be with my music collection for a whole month, I won't have a DVD player to watch, and my PC is going to be collecting dust. This country better be rich in culture, because I'm going to need plenty of distractions to keep me occupied without my 'media'. At least I can bring a couple of books for the long train rides and I'll get a big ol' sketch book. I've also managed to procure a video camera for the duration of the trip. Bec has her Digital SLR too. We'll basically be recording the entire trip in every possible way, which is going to take up a lot of time. So I guess it's a good thing that I won't be able to waste hours on the internet, or playing Half Life 2.
One thing is certain though. By the time we return, I'm going to be in total withdrawl mode and I may go crazy once I get my computer back.
shit i'm going to Vietnam in 5 days!!!
They call it restricted economy. What the hell does that mean? I imagine there will be ropes and reef knots involved, so that we can't leave our seats. The seats right next to toilets, or the ones whose leg room is taken up by the coat cupboard, and you have to rest your head on your knees in order to sleep.
But don't knock it, it's cheep! We're looking at a nine and a half hour flight, then an all too short transit in Hong Kong - that's China, right? - then a two and a half hour flight, then a car ride. We don't know how long the drive will take, but it will cost $10US.
I organised said car ride with our humble guesthouse, whom I emailed yesterday to confirm our reservations - 3 persons room 3 nights. I wrote this email in my best English, with all the polite frills. They have yet to reply.
In about a week the three of us, Bec, Claire, and I will be leaving on a jetplane to visit Vietnam for one month. Bec is already panicking, and preparing for anything that might go wrong and I respond by acting as though everything will work out fine no matter what we do. I can only assume Claire is coping in her own way.
This will be my first time off the mainland of Australia unless you count wading out into the water about 100 metres. So yes, I'm nervous, but I don't think it will really hit me how exciting this all is until we're sitting in our class S seats ascending into the sky.
So I created the blog, mostly to give me an excuse to write again, but also to replace any emails or postcards I was going to send. I'm going to try to post something every day, from now until we return, at least. Hopefully the others will join in and make this a success. Of course, I'm not sure how many internet cafes there are in Vietnam so there may be delays, but I'll always have a pencil and some paper with me, so dear family, check back regularly.