Greetings from Vietnam! well the journey although very long was mostly uneventful and the boarder crossing itself was the easiest and quickest we have had so far. The journey from pick up to arriving at our accommodation in Ho Chi took 13 hours! second longest but most cramped and sweaty trip to date and hopefully not something we will be going through again for a while...that may be wishfull thinking though.
We had a minibus pick us up and take us to the boarder crossing and then once through the crossing we were dropped off at the bus station, we had to wait an hour for the next minibus, we had been told by the company we booked the tickets with that once over the boarder we would get a big air con bus that would take us straight to Ho Chi Minh and we would arrive by 9:30pm....haha in our dreams! the bus we actually got was an old, very hot and very cramped minibus that drove us for 2 and a half hours where we then had to swap buses again to yet another hot and very cramped mini bus. Thank god for Dexter thats all I can say! After 3 back to back episodes of Dexter I just about managed to nod off when I was woken up with the sound of one of the men on out bus clapping and shouting 'oi no sleeping please' turns out the driver had been nodding off and that wasnt the first time during the 6 hour ride with him, good job one of us had been watching him!
Luckily we had already booked our accommodation, reluctantly though as it cost us like £6 extra just to book ahead online, but we didnt arrive until midnight and district 1 which is the area we are staying is like a series of rabbit warrens so it would have been a total pain in the ass to have to walk around looking for someone to put us up. We actually had to wake the man up when we eventually found our guesthouse, he had been asleep!
We were up bright an early as usual, even with no routine alarm clock getting us up we are still awake by 7 at the latest every morning, we dont mind though, its good to get up and make the most of our time. We booked a trip to the tunnels for the next day and also our bus ticket to our next destination so we had a very productive morning and all before we had even stepped outside!
We have suprised ourselves by how much we like Ho Chi, although its a really busy big city its also really clean and there is lots to go and see. All the buildings are super high so you dont get that much sunlight which is a good thing when your sight seeing all day. There is loads of greenery too and different parks with lots of lovely flowers, they definatly make an effort to make this a pretty city. We walked all day long, we went to the war museum first which Damo loved as they had loads of different aircraft, they had a chinook, american fighter jets and different tanks and guns, so he was in his element explaining all about the different things. There was also some difficult reading and photograps all about the tortured prisoners and the different jails they had all around vietnam. During our walk around we were stopped by a young man selling coconuts to drink, he just started chatting to us and then let Damian have a go at carrying his baskets on his shoulders to see how heavy they were and then without us actually asking for any he started choping the tops of two coconuts, when he told us the price I piped up and said no we didnt even ask for them, he then told us this big sob story about him being up for hours and these were his last two so after he sold them he could go home, I made him cut the price and we had them....Im such a meanie, Damos penny saving ways have definatly rubbed off on me! We also saw a load of locals just taking a pee in the street, the men will just pee up anything wherever they are, i didnt think women would ever do anything like that, but as we were walking down this street on quite a busy road this lady was looking all shifty, then as if it was nothing she took herself into the bushes and had a pee! I couldnt believe it when we walked past and you could see her just right there for all to see!
We treated ourselves to a Subway...yes Subway! we figured it was the first time during our trip that we have actualy gone to a western food chain, we have seen loads of burger kings, KFC, pizza huts but we have never actually had one so when we saw a Subway we were like 'rice and something or Subway?' To be honest Im still struggling to look at the asian food and not feel queezy after getting so ill but im sure I will get over it soon enough.
In the evening the main street is lined with plastic chairs where you can sit and have a drink, we sat at one but when the lady gave us the menu it was all alcohol, Damo orderd a beer but I didnt want any booze so I just said I didnt want a drink, well my god we have never been thrown out of a place so quick! The lady was having non of it, 'one beer two persons no good' I tried to explain that I didnt want a drink but she just kept shaking her hand in my face and shooing us out! It ended in a win win for me though because we then found these ladies who were right by our accommidation who made the most amazing fruit shakes, they were huge and really thick, they put chunks of fruit in there too so you ate it with s spoon, once we knew about them we ended up having three over the two days!
Crossing the road here is like taking a leap of faith every time, they have zebra crossings but we're not entirely sure what they are used for because no one stops. You literally have to just step out into the moving traffic and walk slowly so they can drive around you! its scary! Its mainly bikes though and they are quick at dodging hesitant westerners whilst attempting to cross the road and make it to the other side with all body parts!
On the second day we went to the Cu Chi tunnels. The bus ride up took almost 3 hours to go 19 miles, the traffic is horrendous! We stopped on the way to visit a small factory where disabled people were making allsorts of things from plates to chairs and giant vases, we got to walk around whilst they were working decorating all the things by hand, some of them were using tiny bits of egg shell to decorate plates while others where carving into pearl shells, like paper cutting but wth shells, really detailed beautiful work.even
Once at the tunnels we went around with our tour guide who explained in geat detail all about the tunnels and the life of a soldiers or gurillas as they were known. They have examples of some of the booby traps they used as well as the weapons and bombs they used. The tunnels themselves aren't actually open to the public and this is mainly just due to the fact that we would not fit down them. Back then all they ate was a vegetable called tappioker which is like a sweet potato that we got to try, so the men and women were really slim and a lot shorter than the average tourist or even local nowerdays. They had an entrace that we could go down and have your photo taken which Damo did, the hole looks tiny, one lady got stuck trying to get out and two men had to drag her out....yeh I didnt fancy getting my beyoncey bum dragged out so I left tat one for Damian. The actual dimensions for the tunnels were 60cm by 90cm so really small. The tunels that we got to go through had been made especially for the tourists so were a lot bigger but still a squeeze. The tunnels are over 3 levels, the first was tight you were bent right over but you could still walk, the second was lower and tighter so we were really bent over and shuffeling and then the third opens up a little bit. Along the way there were exit holes so you could get out if you got too claustraphobic but we both managed the whole thing. It was really good to see and experience on a small level what kind of a life they had and went through.
We are off to Mui Ne next which is a beachside town about 5 hours north...or so they say! It has been fun doing the touristy stuff again but we couldnt stay in a big city like this for much longer, the fresh sea air is calling us...oh and the sun...and the beach.
Oh and happy valentines day everyone....I wonder if Damo has packed my card and prezzi in his bag???? hehe xx