Day 1 - the journey begins (Heathrow to Vietnam)

Trip Start Sep 27, 2012
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Trip End Nov 06, 2012


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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Friday, September 28, 2012

A stunning rainbow waves us goodbye at Heathrow airport and our journey begins.

Flight details- Heathrow -Frankfurt (2hrs)
Frankfurt- Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) (13.5hrs)


Meera was upset about being surrounded by children on neighbouring aisles but seems to be fine now...soundly sleeping with her earphones on :)

I can't sleep on the flight as usual! I watched this incredibly touching movie called a thousand words ...it's with Eddie Murphy about a magic tree. It's portraying the importance of every word we speak (and write!) and the effect it can have on life and the people around us. I would definitely recommend it!

Also watched MIB 3 but we won't go there...

Finished reading the Alchemist and started reading Eleven minutes ( both by Paolo Coelho and recommended by Ash :))

I did some research on Vietnam too...Here it goes:



VIETNAM

Background
The conquest of Vietnam by France began in 1858 and was completed by 1884. It became part of French Indochina in 1887. Vietnam declared independence after World War II, but France continued to rule until its 1954 defeat by Communist forces under Ho Chi MINH. Under the Geneva Accords of 1954, Vietnam was divided into the Communist North and anti-Communist South. US economic and military aid to South Vietnam grew through the 1960s in an attempt to bolster the government, but US armed forces were withdrawn following a cease-fire agreement in 1973. Two years later, North Vietnamese forces overran the South reuniting the country under Communist rule. Despite the return of peace, for over a decade the country experienced little economic growth because of conservative leadership policies, the persecution and mass exodus of individuals - many of them successful South Vietnamese merchants - and growing international isolation. However, since the enactment of Vietnam's "doi moi" (renovation) policy in 1986, Vietnamese authorities have committed to increased economic liberalization and enacted structural reforms needed to modernize the economy and to produce more competitive, export-driven industries. The Communist leaders, however, maintain control on political expression and have resisted outside calls to improve human rights. The country continues to experience small-scale protests from various groups - the vast majority connected to land-use issues, calls for increased political space, and the lack of equitable mechanisms for resolving disputes. Various ethnic minorities, such as the Montagnards of the Central Highlands and the Khmer Krom in the southern delta region, have also held protests. (Vietnam war against America from 1966-1975 (3 million Vietnamese and 55,000 American troops were killed) . 2/3 of the Vietnamese population is born after 1975!!)

Independence- 2 September 1945 (from France)
Constitution- 15 April 1992
Legal system- civil law system; note - the civil code of 2005 reflects a European-style civil law

Currency- Vietnamese Dong (£1= 30,000 VND)

Language- Vietnamese

Religion- 85%2525 Buddhist followed by catholic and other local tribal religions

Culture- Adopted from china, Hindu and French

Economy- 10% yearly growth, better economy than neighbouring countries (Cambodia and Laos). Severe restrictions to foreigners owning land/property.

Stats- Population = 91m; Median age 28.2yrs; 95% literacy over 15yrs; Unemployment rate 15-24yr olds is 4.6%. (Thought this was an interesting comparison with UK where population = 63m; median age 40yrs; 99% literacy; 18.9% unemployment in 15-24yr olds!!!!!)

Food (always very important for me! ..I thought it wise to learn the Vietnamese translations)

Hello - Sin Chou
Thank you - Gumurn (no idea how to spell these lol)
Mot, Hai, Ba - 1,2,3

Water- nuoc
Orange juice - nuoc cam
Coconut water - nuoc mia
Milkshake/smoothies - Sinh to
Coffee - ca phe ( 'ka fe')
Coconut wine (definitely want to try this!) - ruou dua

Soup broth with veg/meat and rice noodles - Pho (pronounced 'fu' as in 'funny') - vietnam's national dish
Rice/eating - Com


LANDED HO CHI MINH CITY 5pm local time

Visa- Disorganised and inefficient staff but the queues weren't too bad so cannot complain.

SCAM 1- the price for the visa is 25 dollars (520,000 VND) but they asked us at the desk for 600,000 VND if we din't have dollars and everyone was paying it. :( Result- CONNED

SCAM 2 - Meera went to the foreign exchange desk at the airport to exchange some British currency and the guy smiled and said that he has some new British pounds and would we give him the old notes and take the crisp ones as new ones are not accepted in Vietnam. We told him to go to a bank. Result- NOT CONNED!!

Got picked up from the airport by two Vietnamese people who were polite but dint really converse with us during the trip except to say we should be careful with our bag when walking on the road.

The biggest culture shock here is the traffic....more specifically the motorbikes. Crossing the road is a death trap which we did about 4 times on our own this evening when looking for a place to eat. To say this city is buzzing at night is a major understatement....I'm wondering if the whole population of Ho Chi Minh City is out on the town tonight...

Well we managed to track down a decent cafe and had some sandwiches and chocolate fudge cake (well deserved I think!) :)

Just had a shower (no hot water luxury unfortunately lol) and finally getting some sleep..... :) goodnight!

Xx
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Comments

Nikita on

Love the heathrow picture, looks really cool. Camera isn't so bad after all!

Priti Vyas on

Well we have the luxury of hot showers, lavish meals and zebra crossings!

Minal on

Yes the zebra crossing bit I'm missing the most masi!

Nikki watch that movie...it break all the movie rules you told me about lol

Jils on

Oooh, too cold here, def need the hot showers! x

Bijal Badiani on

Wait till you you visit Freshland :-)

Minal on

Oh gosh :(

Kish on

Yo! This is awesome Mins! Bet you're enjoyin the adventure...

Minal on

Hi Kish! Yes I love it :) xx

Neha on

Mins is crossing the roads there more difficult than in Milan? :O

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