Sodden South Vietnam

Trip Start Apr 16, 2013
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Trip End Dec 20, 2013


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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Dalat

After a bumpy overnight bus, a breakfast stop in Nha Trang and a further 5 hour bus we eventually arrived in the small mountain town of Dalat. We'd been promised colonial French buildings and a rural feel so were a little disappointed when we arrived to a standard noisy Asian town in the rain. Our hotel was lovely though and after a little rest we headed into town to find some lunch. Ended up eating at an 'Arts Cafe’ we’d read about which did fantastic food followed by the owner creating 2 original pieces of art for us at our table! See photograph for link to video - amazing!

We spent our one full day in Dalat on a hired scooter exploring the local area. It was still raining and Laura navigated for Jim with a paper map pressed against his back on the crazy Vietnamese roads. Our first stop was Datanga falls which were spectacular but very touristy. We enjoyed the luge ride down to the falls and spent an hour or so exploring before getting back on the bike and heading to ‘The Crazy House’ recommended by the hotel and the Lonely Planet. It was a really cool hotel created by a Vietnamese female architect after 13 years work and looked like a cross between Alice in Wonderland and the Gaudi buildings in Barcelona. We had fun exploring the rooms, tunnels and very scary high bridges (true Asian H&S) despite all the grumpy Russian tourists around. Whilst we were there the heavens opened so we sheltered in a souvenier shop for ages before seeking out some coffee and cake. Had a lovely dinner that evening in a bar selling Western food where Jim accompanied the resident guitarist on a cajon!

Mui Ne

After an amazing breakfast in Dalat we boarded a cramped mini bus to Mui Ne where we were hoping for 4 nights of relaxing beach time. Unfortunately, after 5 hours of bumpy road we were disappointed to find one long strip of resorts on a dirty road which made it very hard to get to the beach. Luckily we had a nice hotel so spent our time chilling out by the pool (in the rain). Laura got sick during our time in Mui Ne so we didn’t manage to get out to explore the surrounding area and to top it off it’s famous for wind surfing but the wind was blowing the wrong way for our 5 days there. Never mind, Jim nursed Laura back to health and we caught another (slightly nicer) bus to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

Saigon  

 After Mui Ne it was great to move on to a big city with lots to do and see. Our first day was spent on a walking tour of the city where we scaled the Bitexco Sky Tower, wandered the shops, visited the Notre Dame cathedral, ate some amazing noodle soup and stopped at the eye-opening War Remnants Museum. The photographs on display were extremely graphic and showed the extent of the damage the war caused to Vietnam and it’s people. We were particularly horrified by the effects of Agent Orange which caused (and continues to cause) awful physical deformities.

We also visited the Cu Chi Tunnels on an organised tour with our guide – John Wayne. It was pretty cool but we were a bit disappointed to be herded  round with a coach load of people and felt this detracted a little from the history of the place. Jim managed to go through the full 100m of underground tunnels whilst Laura only managed 20!! Very claustrophobic and hot and it was amazing to think that people lived in such conditions. After our trip, Jim got his final Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwich with dodgy pate, noodles, meats, pickled veg, corriander, chilli and a fried egg) and we packed our bags for a couple of days on the Mekong Delta before our Border crossing to Cambodia.

Can Tho and Ha Tien (Mekong Delta)

We got a lovely spacious coach to Can Tho from Saigon and were thoroughly impressed with the journey until we went to collect our bags. It had been raining continuously and our rucksacks were absolutely soaked – not a great start. We spent the majority of our day in Can Tho drying out our belongings and hair-drying our rucksacks. We managed to squeeze in a floating market tour on the morning of our departure which meant a 5:30am departure. It was lovely to be on the Mekong again as we crossed it ages ago in Laos. We had a fantastic guide called Tien who had studied for a year at Greenwich University – his impressions of England were really interesting! The floating markets were amazing – lots of boats displaying their wares on large poles. Unfortunately we couldn’t get to the smaller market as the backwaters were blocked by floating water hyacinth but the scenery was lovely!

Our bus to Ha Tien was another typical Vietnamese journey – mini bus crammed full with 8 people on the back seat (made for 4) and someone on a small plastic stool on the floor. We put on our headphones and tried to zone out for a few hours but were brought back to reality by a small child vomiting on the back seat. We then realised our bags were under said child – queue another evening scrubbing our rucksacks *sigh*.

So South Vietnam didn’t quite lived up to our experience of the North but on the whole, Vietnam has been amazing and we are looking forward to our next stop – Cambodia. 
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Comments

The Birds on

Amazing pics guys. Looks like you]re still having fin despite the traumas of travelling! Lots of Love, ECHO xxxx

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