02.06.2010 - 07.06.2010 34 °C
We made it to Vietnam!!! We arrived here on Wednesday night and found a pretty cruisy guesthouse in the backpacker district and then walked for what seemed forever looking for a restaurant that is supposed to be amazing but we have come to the conclusion they have knocked down. Any how at this very moment it is 5am and I am sitting on a midget sized bed on a bus with a birds eye view into the toilet. Welcome to Asia!! We are on our way north to Nha Trang but at this time I will be blogging about our time in Ho Chi Minh.
Our first day here we had our first taste of Vietnam. We found a restaurant call Pho 24. Pho is a noodle soup and you can choose to have either chicken or beef. Matt and I both ordered the chicken. We get a plate of herbs (Lime, chilli, culantro and Thai basil) that we can add as we want to the soup. I love it. It is my kind of soup. Matt and I are going to take a cooking class at some stage during the Vietnam leg of the trip and I am going to make sure that this is part of the menu. It is truly yummy! We bummed around a bit and wandered through a local market and hung out at the room. It was a pretty laid back day.
Day 2 we went on a mission to post some things home (as our packs were bursting and weighed a tonne). We caught a cab to the post office which is this gorgeous stone building and found the correct counter. After filling out around 43 forms and giving them all of our money they smiled and promised to get our stuff to Australia in a slightly more tattered state but on the up side they said they would not accidentally drop it in the ocean. Lovely People!! The whole process was actually cheaper and easier than I thought it would be. They also have these cute little air conditioned ATM booths so you can withdraw money in comfortable privacy
We have started to see the beginning of the wet season over here. Its not too bad though. 2 or three showers a day that last between 10 minutes and half an hour. In fact I think they are great as they cool everything down. So anyway it started to rain and we dashed for a building in front of us. It was a shopping centre called diamond plaza. An upmarket department store that puts the prices in our department stores to shame! Needless to say we didn’t buy anything except lunch.
We had decided to go to a water park called Dam Sen. So we caught the worlds most expensive taxi there (I am pretty sure they had fixed the meter) and bought tickets and headed in. After a bit of confusion about where the lockers were (The westerners had free private locked lockers in a different area of the park) we were ready to hit the slides. Now I haven’t been to the water parks in QLD so I cant compare but this one was awesome!! They had the coolest slide that you went down with 2 people and it was pitch black with a few strobe lights going. They had the usual slides that every water park has and some different ones. Matt is going to do a more detailed blog about it if he ever decides to get motivated. We snagged a cab on the way out of the park and all seemed to be going well. We were happy as Larry and chatting away when our driver turned around and said that he was going to have to let us out here (We wernt even half way through a 15km journey). He said his friend called and he needed to go and see him. Then he promptly pulled the car over and we got out. Feeling a bit bewildered and confused we just stood there. The driver got out and organized a new car for us though and let them know where we were going. We eventually made it back and it was much cheaper than our original trip in.
Cu Chi tunnels. We had organized a half day trip out to the Cu Chi tunnels. The tunnels are where the Vietnamese guerillas lived and fought from during the war. They were insanely tiny! Matt went in through the ground in one of the tunnels that had been widened for us fat westerners. They were pretty fascinating though. They were really well designed with different levels and around 250km of tunneling done. There were also parts where the entrance of the tunnel was wide enough for an American to fit in. But when they did manage to squeeze in the tunnel suddenly got smaller and they were stuck. Too far in for any help. They also had a pretty big display of homemade booby traps that they had set up throughout the forest. They were nasty looking. Pretty much all of them involved being speared numerous times with bamboo stakes. There was a shooting range and Matt went off to shoot an M16. It was too loud down at the range for me to go and he said that the ear protection was pretty poor so he will have to give the details about that one.
After the tunnels we were dropped off at the War Remnants Museum. It holds a lot of US war vehicles and paraphernalia. They also have a war photography exhibit on. They are the most amazing war photos I have ever seen. The journalists really got up and close during the fighting. It was incredible. They were just real people in a horrible situation. There is one that really stick out in my mind. A person lying on the ground in the bush looking up at a Viet Cong solider. He had a gun pointed at him. The caption read ‘Viet Cong solider prepares to execute prisoner after interrogation’. It is pretty confronting to have that snap shot of such a heartless moment in front of you. The look of absolute terror on this guys face was extremely evident. Also the cold, hard look on the solider’s face was horrifying. There was also a photo gallery that was devoted to the rest of the world trying to put a stop to the war. They had photos of protests going on in pretty much every country in the world including Adelaide. Matt had ventured outside and found an attached prison that I did not know was there. He said it was pretty horrific. Worse than anything we had seen in Cambodia.
We had met some cool kiwi guys on they bus heading down to the tunnels and organized to have dinner with them. We had pizza and beer (Fosters beer). Real Vietnamese food for sure. It was good though. The boys were a great laugh and running amuck wherever they were. They had brought along some cobra wine. It was in a small bottle and the snake inside looked menacing. The restaurant owner brings out 5 shot glasses and we pour it out. The snake is too big to fall out. The liquid in the glasses is a murky yellow. Apparently the murky slime stuff is supposed to be an aphrodisiac. It smelt terrible. 1,2,3 down it went. It burns. Beer chaser and all was good. It must have had a pretty high alcohol content because I was pretty happy after it and I hadn’t had that many beers. They boys managed to get the snake out of the bottle and proceded to scare pretty much everyone on the street with it. One poor girl fell over trying to climb the gutter and I caught her just in time. Her boyfriend wasn’t too happy about it all. I thought it was highly likely that one of the guys doing it was going to be seriously hurt after trying to scare the wrong person.
We hit a few bars and played some cards and then something amazing happened….. We stumble across a local Vietnamese street restaurant that was serving beer. It about midnight by this stage. We ask how much the beer is. ‘10,000 dong’ the woman replies holding up a 1 litre container!! Now 10,000 dong is about 67 Australian cents. So about half way through our trip we have already found (drum roll please) THE 30 CENT BEER.!! Matt was pretty impressed. Oh and the beer tasted good too. We finished the night off with $1 beef noodles which were of course fabulous and came complete with fried egg!
Market day was upon us. We went out to a market called An Dong and spent some time there. It is a Chinese based market. It was then we realized that the haggling system seemed to be a bit different. They didn’t want to do it. At all. They were not a whole lot of fun. I am sure that I got ripped off on a few things that I bought. There was a Chinese woman there that was trying to sell me freckle removal creams and skin bleaching lotion. She was actually physically dragging me around her stall. In the end she got a bit full on and left without buying anything. We were feeling the effects of the night before and so we left the market scene. We caught a cab and asked him to take us to a cinema. We wanted to see the new Karate Kid movie. We get dropped off and found out that they only have 2 movies playing at one time. So we saw a film with Matt Damon in it.
Feeling a bit better after a couple of hours in air conditioning we wandered through the town and eventually stumbled upon the night market. It was awesome. They had amazing food and both Matt and I bought up a storm. I walked away with 3 different watches and the coolest necklace I have ever seen. Stumbling home around 11 o’clock we promptly crashed.
We knew we were leaving on this last day so we checked out and bought bus tickets to Nga Trang. I really wanted to catch the train but it was triple the price so the bus won on that front. It was a 10 hour trip… of 400km. I am sure they drove at about 20km the entire way there except for the bumpy bits. They would speed up for them. The bus was pretty cool though. It has 34 beds (bunk bed style) in it as opposed to seats. Matt and I are in the back of the bus. The only half sized bed in the entire bus. They crammed an extra bed in where they didn’t have space. All in all a pretty cool concept.
And there I will leave it with further adventures to come