The long way down
Trip Start Nov 07, 2009
20Trip End Jun 17, 2010
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
TM Brothers cafe
Well-ish rested we arrived in Hoi An, another UNESCO world heritage site. Like Luang Prabang its old town is mainly built out of typical local huts and French colonial houses and we fell in love with it instantly. And like in Luang Prabang we found a preferred lounge where we had a few great drinks and some lovely food. Unlike Luang Prabang, Hoi An lies at the sea. The white sandy beach is kilometres long and offers plenty of secluded spaces for chilling and going for a dip in the sea. The water was so warm and inviting, we just couldn't resist and enjoyed quite a while, playing with the waves
Oh, and we have some exciting news to share with you all. Many of you probably already expect it and aren't surprised, but by the end of next August we'll have a new addition to our family! On arrival he'll weigh 30kg and needs to be picked up from the port. He's white marble, very calming and peaceful. Yes, we will give a lovely carved buddha statue a new home with us! (And those guys who now thought we were about to announce something else: yes - internet connects the world but definitely not for things like this!!!)
From Hoi An we hopped back on the bus for another overnight journey to Nha Trang. Another town at the South Chinese sea (aka Vietnamese sea - thanks Chris), mainly known for its beach resorts and partying at the famous Sailing Club. Since we only had one overnight stay before we went on to HCMC we had to try out the Sailing Club. It first was a very chilled affair: Norah Jones, followed by James Blunt to Duffy, Cafe Del Mar and so on. When we were about to leave the DJ started to play a bit more upbeat music and it turned out to be a good night
After a further night on the Open Bus Tour we finally ended up in HCMC, Chris' hometown. If we first thought Hanoi is busy, we had to rethink. Traffic here is simply terrifying! 8 million people and all on mopeds. Yes - I do mean all! If they are too young to drive themselves, they ride with their parents. It's not seldom you see a whole family on a moped: mum, dad and two kids, out of which one is most likely a toddler and only the mum wears a helmet. Thank god for the wide avenues but hey, they can be filled with mopeds, especially when everybody is out and about to see the Christmas lights or just drives around to celebrate Christmas. There are so many of them, that they interlock within each other on a red light so that you can't cross the street when traffic stands still. Therefore: with the traffic moving, just close your eyes and go for it...! (see video below)
HCMC is a booming town: all over sky scrapers are rising up, much to the disadvantage of some lovely old French colonial buildings which would require a bit of tlc
Chris introduced us to Vietnamese cuisine. One night we went for a Vietnamese BBQ, though we weren't brave enough and only had beef and deer. Other specialities we had were mango salad with pigs ears (OK, this was already too exotic), fresh spring rolls, soup with rice noodles and beef, a shrimp past that is so disgusting that only Matt can eat it - most Vietnamese don't like it apparently - and much morehere. But we also found a brilliant bakery, which fed our carb addiction.
A trip to Vietnam also includes confrontation with its past, especially the Vietnam War. So we visited the War Remnants Museum in HCMC. It primarily contains exhibits relating to the American phase of the Vietnam War. Apart from helicopters, fighter, tanks, bombs, ammunition and different guns, it contains a lot of photos. Photos which show the gruesome truth about war. How families suffered under the Americans and their horrible techniques, which amounted to experimentation of how to use their war machine to greatest effect, and the defoliation with Agent Orange. Still today, babies are born with mental and/or physical disabilities which can be led back to Agent Orange. This isn't a museum which nurtures the "happy holiday" feeling but nevertheless it's a piece of history and eyes shouldn't be closed and turned away.
After a rather depressing day at the museum Chris asked us if we fancy going to an orphanage with some of his friends to hand out Christmas presents to them. They do this every year as a Charity event at a different orphanage. There were about 130 children, most of them deaf-mute but all a very happy bunch. At first they were a bit shy but after a little time they warmed up to us and wanted their photos taken. It came to a point where about 4 children were climbing and crawling over me and pulling on my clothes and camera to gain my attention. This was just the right thing to lift up our spirits for Christmas.
That's our update from Vietnam. Next on our itinerary is Cambodia for a few days before Bangkok for NYE