Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Day 40!

I just realized I hadn't posted this one. Sorry team. I'll try and get a post of my last 2 weeks up tonight as I have good internet again in Hanoi.

I arrived in Vietnam on the 2nd of June and met up with Colin at the airport. By noon we were in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) and found a hotel to stay in. The rest of the day was spent walking. A lot, we went to the Ho Chi Minh city museum which was a little disapointing however the was War Remnants Museum was really interesting. They had a whole section about the bombings, agent orange and simpy the historical timeline of the war. Seeing as how I did very little research prior to coming, most of my knowledge of Vietnam came from watching Forrest Gump. It was a little embarrasing the amount I didn't know about. We followed this up by trying to find a theatre playing the new X men only to discover that it isn't showing yet in Vietnam (it was everywhere in KL and Singapore). This was probably a good thing as we settled in early and were up by 6:30 to head to see the Cu Chi tunnels.

The Cu Chi tunnels were again really interesting. There were over 200km of tunnels dug out using spoons and bomb shrapnel in order to prevent the advancement of the americans. This was probably one of my favorite days so far. Here we learned that Colin is in fact bigger than your average vietnamese since he didn't fit in one of the hideout holes. His shoulders wouldn't fit.

Back to Saigon in the evening we prepared once more to travel the next day to the Mekong River delta. One frustating thing about Vietnam is that even on highways you can't average more than 45-50km/k. So getting out to the Delta took all day. I will be brief with my description of the Mekong delta. I didn't really enjoy it. It was somewhat of a let down. Sure the floating market was pretty neat but going to fruit plantations and bee hives wasn't exactly the highlight of my trip. I tried to think of a different way to tour the area but since it covers such a large geographical area I couldn't really see a better way without having an extensive knowledge of it first.

We got back to Saigon at around 4:30 and were catching a night bus at midnight to Dalat so had some time to kill. We found a restaurant that showed movies and had cheap enough beer so we hung out there for a bit. At 10 we had to be at the tourist agent to be brought to the bus station. Getting to the bus station at 10:30 we found out that there wasn't a midnight bus and instead had to take the 10:30PM bus. Not a big probelm except I had just had food, water and beer and was somewhat counting on that 90 minutes to let my stomach settle.

The bus ride was an adventure. We thought we were being smar by taking a sleeper bus overnight. It cost an extra 3 dollars each but to be able to sleep through the night. Turns out the bus is more of a roller coaster. Constantly slamming on its breaks and swerving left and right. Being in the sleeper you really couldn't sleep. The fact that I didn't really fit in the bed didn't help either. Colin really didn't fit. Once again, turns out he is larger than a Vietnamese. The ride was capped off by the lovely sounds of a woman in the back vomitting the entire ride. All 7 hours of it.

Dalat was a really nice town. Its small and in the mountains so wasn't as hot as the rest of Vietnam. Unfortunately it rained all day but we managed to make the most of it walking around. A really pretty place. One thing that is funny about Dalat is there are motorcycle tours called Easy Riders. And the second you walk into the city they find out. We were originally going to head to the beaches following Dalat, but then got convinced to do a 5 day motorbike trip up to Hoi An and experience "the real Vietnam" with a local. The scenery was beautiful and the ride a lot of fun. Passing through the central highlands we saw so many nice rice fields, mountains and rivers and jungles. One thing that is incredible here is that there is no wasted land. Farms climb up steep mountains and down the other side. Terrain that would never be farmed in Canada.

Driving the bike really wasn't very hard and wasn't as dangerous as you would think. The only pain was the busses. In Vietnam there are different traffic speed limits for different sized cars. Tractors can go 30, bikes 40-50 (depending on the road), cars 60 and busses 70. The rest is that busses are constantly making the sketchiest passes. Blind corner going downhill, no problem, Doesn't even tough the brakes. Fortunately everyone in Vietnam honks roughly every 8 seconds so you always knew when a bus was coming to move over onto the shoulder.

We finally arrived in Hoi An in one piece with a lot of dirty clothes. This required the necessity for laundry and also a new wardrobe. Hoi An is where you can get really cheap clothing made. I got a suit and jacket made, Colin two pairs of pants. I just picked them up today and am really pleased with the outcome.

We spent the day waiting for the suit at the beach getting roasted. Vietnam is by far the hottest of the countries I've been in so far. I guess thats why I get heading towards the 20* of latitude in the middle of June.

Thats it for now. We are heading to Hue in 20 minutes and will check out the Citadel, some Tombs and hopefully the Demilitarized zone.

Hope everyone is doing well. Let me know what you are up to. All I've gotten as replies is "keep up the updates"

Miss you all

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