Day 1 - the journey begins (Heathrow to Vietnam)
Trip Start Sep 27, 2012
20Trip End Nov 06, 2012
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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
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:
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
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)
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)
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
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!