Saigon: scene to many a great film...
Trip Start Feb 28, 2012
40Trip End Nov 22, 2012
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the backpacker area isn't bad here, its only a very small part of Saigon (so remember Ho Chi Min City used to be called Saigon but everyone seems to still call it Saigon and i prefer the name so from now on its Saigon for this blog)... it's got the usual hawkers selling and pushing to sell you everything, moto taxi's who ask you every two minutes, loads of food stands, bars and just a pretty good vibe all round..
Met an English guy from Milton Keynes and we went out on 2 nights and in between i met a friend of a friend here, Dan and his mates; Dan being Hayley boyfriends who is mates with Kate who is engaged to Niall, a friend of mine who is in Oz now...OK, so now you all know! But on that night we met up and i spent a fortune, inadvertently because they all worked here and were very generous to buy me quite a few drinks all night, rum and cokes and sambucca's mainly... ahhh sambucca's, i swear if i ever needed a blood transfusion and the had no blood they could use this stuff and i would be more than OK.... but later i demanded i buy a round in as i had bought 1 beer all night and so they all had rum and cokes and think it was about $40!! with all these extra charges i noticed on the receipts for buying drinks first after 1am, then after 3am etc adding 10 or 20 per cent each time - i think they timed my round well! We went to a sport bar to watch the FA cup final and then on to the club Apocalypse now which i was dying to try anyway but it wasn;t half as good as it sounds - no theme around the movie and the music was shabba hip hop but still it was OK...
I have been going to a cafe for 'cafe sua ngon' which is the coffee i love here... this translated as hot coffee with milk.... but she speaks good English and so has been teaching me some Vietnamese and really helping with the pronunci ation, so much so i am now sometimes being understood! but learning the Lingo is still tough as its all about tone and looking out for all the accents, cedilla's and many more little squiggly symbols they use to differentiate words... its very easy to say the wrong thing here especially the word for you; basically one the word is 'ban' but one with a cedilla over the 'a' i think which makes it sound more like 'barn' but only slightly and if you get it wrong your saying 'cake' so your either calling people 'you' or 'cake'..!!
I had a couple of days sickness here either from a coffee and a local stand or the baguette i got with a fried egg in... i went to this gym i found after and on route i felt my stomach cramp a bit but i have had this quite a bit throughout my trip so thought nothing of it but in the gym, standing out like a sore thumb, especially when doing my Gil-esque sit ups in between stations on the floor!, but about 40 mins in an about 2 stone lighter from perspiring so much i had to rush to the toilet and throw up and that was it, i knew it wasn;t good and made the walk back but in red hot heat and feeling like passing out at any moment but anyway it went after couple of days so i was lucky in the end really
After this i had been in Saigon about 5 days and was kind of feeling in limbo on what to do next, where to go and how to tackle Vietnam for the rest of the trip as my overstay on Phu Quoc and long stay in Saigon had taken up a third of my visa already and the biggest mind screwer was the whole motorbike situation... basically you cannot get insurance here, i would have to be back in the UK to be able to take the CBT bike test, then get insured and then come here...crazy! why i cant take the CBT here and then get insured is beyond me but after seeing the manic traffic here in Saigon i was questioning whether it was worth the risk to buy and ride a bike knowing i wouldn't be insured and any accident wouldn't be covered on my current travel insurance so i decided that i would test the water and throw myself in the deep end and just hire a bike for the day and bike around Saigon!! I know, but there is something about the driving system here - it works for me, it makes sense, there are rules but they just look extremely dangerous but if you drive as everyone does it's really not that bad. Oh yeah, before this i had found a number of an English guy selling bikes here so i went to see his bikes but called him t o ask how to get there and he said if i got a car taxi it would be 2.50 and if i passed the phone to the driver he would give him the address and make sure he didn't take the scenic tour and rip me off
I was out for about 5 hours, sometimes following my map and at others just driving in a general direction and then either finding where i was or just asking Burton route i needed a few bits and found markets and shops and found everything and even managed to speak some Vietnamese and be understood sometimes too but just being out in the metropolis, driving on the biggest main roads and roundabouts in the world but also loads of little backstreets even a small car couldn't fit through, was great and i only had two minor scrapes, once hitting someones wing mirror but from his lack of reaction i am guessing its a common clash, and the other just before i got to my hotel there was a tight gap me and a guy both went for and we kinda went into the side of each other but really it was my fault but again he just drove off without blinking an eye - i love it all, every aspect right down to just shrugging off anything like that..
So i decided it was time to move on though i loved Saigon and only really saw small part of it but could quite easily come back and live here for a while but for now i decided that as i wasn't biking i would go up towards Hue which is about half way up Vietnam and the point where i would have biked up to and then taken the train up to Hanoi as the bit in between Hue and Hanoi is long but there is nothing to see at all. So on the way to Hue i have now just stopped at Mua Ni, a beautiful beach resort and i am staying in a bungalow about 20 yards from the sea underneath theses amazing palm trees and i am on a tight timeline now so as i am only staying tomorrow night too i have set the alarm to see if the sun rises opposite me and watch it in the morning and then go for a run on the beach i think before having just one day to explore this place (scooter has been booked from this guesthouse already!). Then its up to Nha Trang which is not only beautiful but also the party town here in Vietnam, and their answer to Southern Thailand so ill be there a couple of days then up to Hue and then probably back down inland to a mountain hill station called Dalat and back towards Saigon where will probably go on a day stop on the Mekong delta, do a homestay on the river and then be about ready to go to Loas on the southern border and work my way up and round but after that i have a choice between going back to Vietnam to do the north which i really wanna do as it has Hanoi, the 2nd biggest place here, halong Bay which is meant to be the most naturally and beautiful place here and also Sapa and the rest of the norths mountainous region which is also meant be be amazing to travel through
I hope you are all well, looking after yourselves and each other and i know i always say it but i do miss you all loads... thanks everyone for the comments you have been posting, they really perk me up and its just good to know your reading and enjoying my blog and great to hear your thoughts.... ill blog again in a week or so when i know what i am doing next. Ill try take and upload more pics for you too. I did manage one video upload to the youtube channel which is of the lizard/chameleons i told you about which you gotta see but i bet half of you cant remember how to get on and view them, well, i cant either so next time i log in i will get my username and post it at the end of this post for you..!
Love to you all...xx