I’ll post videos separately YouTube is not working!
Before we reached Ho Chi Minh City I had one night in a home stay. The house was out in the county side about two hours after the border. Our accomidation that night was a building just next to the family home. I had a bed with a mosquito net over it. The back garden was a huge patio with a cover. The patio had tables, chairs and hammocks. At dinner time the family came out and cooked food making Vietnamese pancakes. I got to help with the cooking and I didn’t do to bad. After the pancakes came 6 more dishes. The night was spent playing games and talking. The next morning I was back on the bus and heading to Ho Chi Minh City.
Driving through the city the first thing you notice is the traffic. It is insane it never stops and there are hundreds of scooters on the road and some riding down the pavement. That afternoon I had lunch in Pho 2000 the restaurant that Bill Clinton ate in. He was the first president to visit Vietnam after the war. I saw the Vietnamese Notre Dame and visited the war museum. The war museum had tanks and other armed vehicles from the war in its grounds. In the museum there were 3 floors full of photos, stories and facts from the war. The photos and stories are very graphic and it really brings it all to life the struggles the Vietnamese went through. There is a section about Agent Orange. It shows you how children today are still suffering from the chemical. Children who’s parents were exposed to the chemical had defects at birth. After the museum I grabbed some dinner and headed out to drink on the streets with a girl I met at the hotel. In Vietnam the local people sit on the side of the road on small plastic seats and drink beer. We had a good night the beers cost 12 pence. It’s very hectic but fun we met 4 people from Holland and grabbed a few 12p beers with them.
The next morning I went on a trip to the Ho Chi Minh Tunnels we had a guide called Law. Law took us around the tunnels explaining how the Vietnamese constructed the tunnels and how they lived in them. He also told us how they threw the Americans off the scent to avoid being found. I also saw the traps they built, fired a gun and even went through a 40 metre tunnel. Law was brilliant and he explained the American and Vietnam point of view in regards to the war. The afternoon was spent doing a little bit of shopping and getting food for my first night train. The night train was pretty fun. The group had a bottle of vodka to help us through the night. There were mice on the train and one in our carriage.
I arrived at Nah Trang at 6AM. After arriving at the hotel I had a nap before heading to the beach. Nah trang is a beach town with a island just off it attached to the main land by cable carts. On the island is a theme park. The beach was very nice. After venturing into the rough sea I returned to the hotel and got ready for our spa day. Seven of us decided to the visit the mud baths. The spa was called Thap Ba Hot Springs. First we had a mud bath for thirty minutes then moved on to a hot bath for another twenty minutes. After the baths we relaxed in the hot pool, waterfalls, jet sprays and plunge pools. That night a few of us headed out and ended up at a bar called Why Not? We meet a few travelling idiots and some nice people. Two girls from Norway left there Snooze which is tobacco you put up your lip. My roommate on the tour who is also Norwegian likes Snooze so we grabbed it for her. Before going home we tried a snooze each and didn’t get the big deal. When I got back to the room I gave my roommate the snooze and she burst out laughing as we had collected the used snooze….yes we had put used snooze in our mouths yuck! The night ended at 7:30 AM on the beach watching the sun come up it was a amazing sight.
After catching up on some sleep I headed to the mall and market for some shopping. Then grabbed some sushi for our next night train to Hoi An.
Another night train passed a little calmer then the first we watched Friends on my iPad and before we knew it we had arrived at Hoi An. The hotel in Hoi An was very nice. Our guide was not allowed by law to take us around the town you had to go on you own or get a Hoi An tour guide. The first day we rented bikes and rode through the country side to a farm. At the farm we got to have a go at watering the crops. You balance a piece of wood on the back of your shoulders with two watering cans hanging at either side. To water the crops you swing the watering cans back and forth of course I dropped it the first time but I eventually got the hang of it. We continued on the bikes through the rain to another farm were we got to ride a water buffalo. They use the animals to farm. One at a time with the farmer we jumped on the buffalo and rode around a shallow lake. Ridding the buffalo bare back was a lot more comftable then ridding a horse bare back. That night I went out in Hoi An with my roommate. We headed to the river which had flooded and the boats were now on the road. We found a bar called Infinity bar at the end of backpackers street. We grabbed a couple of beers and enjoyed a free Shesha.
We had the bikes for one more day so we explored the town and markets before relaxing around the pool. On our last night we went to the night market which had stalls full of lanterns. Later on we headed back to the same bar as a group again. We bumped into a guy we met in Nha Trang and played beer pong with him. After going to the bathroom and seeing a Vietnamese man peer over the door we decided to call it a night.
We had a early morning bus ride. I managed to grab the back seat so I slept most of way to Hue. I did wake up for Hai Van Pass which had the most beautiful views. A few quick photos and it was back on the bus to Hue.
The hotel in Hue was very quirky we had a balcony with plants and lights covering it. The rooms furniture was made up of random unmatching beds, desk and wardrobes. The afternoon was spent looking for a cafe which no longer existed. We settled for a coffee at a funky coffee house called Bee, it looked like the inside of a bee hive with a stream full of coy fish running around the perimeter. That night we went for a Indian meal and for me I was in need of some Indian food …it didn’t disappoint. After food a few of us headed out for drinks. The first bar was very chilled with a giant 3D map of Vietnam on the roof. Then three of us headed to a club called Brown Eyes it was full of neon paint and backpackers. We were greeted with a free shot then left as we were not feeling the vibe in the bar. Heading back to the hotel one of the girls spotted a bar with a window in the back which had a club behind it, we decide to check it out. You entered the club through a back door in the bar and walked through a passage covered in a wooden pattern. Through the second door we entered the club with strobe lights, smoke and a DJ at the front on a raised stage. A man escorted us through the club to the bar. Once we had our drinks we got a table and realised we were the only westerners in the club. The club was called Victory it was a lot of fun, the DJ was amazing and even threw in a few western tracks for us. The staff were also dancing and at one point the security man was on stage breakdancing.
The next morning five of us squished into a taxi to go see the Royal Citadel. We saw it from the outside walking around the moat. That night we had a 14 hour journeys so we headed to the supermarket for food and grabbed some lunch before heading to the station. The third train ride was full of card games, guess who, a bin bag full of beer, massages, lady body moments and ” move bitch”.
Once in Hanoi we were greeted by a women peeing in a grate outside our bus. After a short bus ride we had arrived at Halong Bay. Once we had finished breakfast we headed to the port for our private boat around Halong Bay. We had a tour guide called Tang. On the bus she explained that if we were older then her she had to address us as sister/brother, if we were the same age we were a friend and if we were younger we would be called younger brother/ sister. Ting guessed our ages, if she got it wrong we got to flick her nose and if she was right we she got to flick our noses. On the boat we got lunch which was crab, fish, vegetables, rice and meat. After docking in Halong Bay we rented kyacks and went around the caves. It was my favourite day by far the views were just amazing. On the way back we stopped at some caves called Dragon caves. Inside the caves the rocks were lit up with bright coloured lights. There were many shapes in the rocks which looked like animals. The myth for those caves was the princess of the cave had to leave 50 of her100 children in the cave so she left one breast in the cave for them to feed on. There is a big rock which is suppose to be her breast. It was a quiet night in Halong bay we had a Italian meal then a few drinks on our balcony. The next morning we were back on the bus.
Before we headed straight back to Hanoi we stopped off at a Pearl factory. The guide took us around and we got to see how the pearls were made. After the short tour we went to the shop and I bought my first pearl. Back on the bus we headed to our last stop in Vietnam, the capital Hanoi.
The hotel was in the old quarter of Hanoi it was made up of very narrow streets, hectic traffic and pedestrians walking on the street as well. We grabbed a coffee watching the madness go by. That night I stayed in and rested as I was exhausted. The next day we roamed the small streets where they cook dog and did some shopping. That night we went to a local BBQ restaurant the meat was amazing. To wash our food down we headed to the narrow drinking streets where you can barley move for people sat drinking beer and eating peanuts. The first bar was called The Local where we enjoyed some drinks and music. Then we moved on to the street for some cheap beer before the police closed the bar down.
Our last day in Vietnam was spent grabbing our last gifts from Vietnam and packing for our flight to Laos. On the way to the airport our bus driver had some road rage and drove like a mad man so we nearly didn’t make it out of Vietnam in one piece. After a Burger King we boarded the plane to Laos.