good morning vietnam. what all the locals say to any american they see. im actually in Mu Nei at the moment, which is a really massive beach and pretty warm.
when i got to singapore the first thing i noticed was how incredibly clean everything was, and the first thing i did when i got through customs was to get some beef, its been a while and in india i found myself craving it. so lucky for me there was a nice burger king right by the luggage reclaim, double whopper with bacon and cheese meal please. was fantastic and filled me up for the whole day. after choping it down i tried to head down to the snow city and science museum area just for a bit of fun, using the infamous MRT, sky train thing, which is incredible. its so easy and cheep, and just so clean and efficient, was quite shocked to see normal houses out the window, has been a while since i had seen any of them. unfortunately everything was closed except for the few shops and hundreds of restaurants which i had a look around. was amased to find a fish tank in one of the restaurants but instead of being able to chose which fish to eat, you could chose which frog you wanted instead, which was a bit of a surprise.
whilst sipping on a coffee i decided to head down to china town as it had only recently been the chinese new year and there were supposed to still be a few celebrations. but instead of checking out the celebrations i took a look at a camera shop where i managed to get one of the olympus like indestructable ones for about 240 quid which is what they were charging in duty free, but unlike duty free, this included a memory card, spare battery and a free mini tripod, on top of that, i was able to claim some tax back in the airport, so all in all not too bad. having sealed the deal i then went onwards into the dark alleyways of china town, which werent actually that dark because there were lots of lights up celbrating new year. on top of one of the shopping centres there was a little chinese band playing, not many people were standing around when i turned up, and as soon as they started i realised why and carried on to the markets. not a lot of stuff there and after the lame celebrations i decided to call it a day and head back to my hotel - the airport, on the way i came to the conclusion that singapore is expensive and boring, not a very hard conclusion to come to ill admit. on the way back to the airport i noticed that there was something different about all the girls in singapore, but i wasnt sure what it was. and eventually i realised, that i can see some of their skin other than their faces. this might not sound very strange to all of you, but after spending a month in india where the women wear saris which cover pretty much everything and sometimes they even cover their faces with their shawls, it was quite a surprise.
i quickly realised when i got back to the airport that spending the night here wasnt going to be the most comfortable experience of my life. there were lots of chairs about and many 24hour restaurants, but the problem was the gaps between the chairs being quite a large and so quite difficult to get comfortable enough to sleep, but i managed it for a couple of hours. in the morning i had some more time to kill and decided id take a tour of the airport, it really has to be the nicest airport in the world, its just so clean and looks so modern and its just pretty amazing. definately reccomend stopping over there if you need to go to australia or something.
anyway after a delay in the plane to saigon because someone got on the plane who apparently had a medical condition which meant he wasnt supposed to fly and took a while getting him off the plane, we soon high-tailed it out of that joint and about 1hour 35 minutes later we landed in vietnam.
catching the bus to the main backpacker area of town was alright once we found out where the terminal was, and got talking to someone japanese medicine graduates who were taking a mini trip around parts of south east asia for a couple of weeks. getting off the bus in the right area was good and i started the search for somewhere to stay. it seemed that everyone in the whole city knew of a cheep place to stay and would take me there so that they could receive a commission or something, but i found my own way to a small hostel with a $3 a night dorm, which i thought was a fairly good deal. taking my bags up the stairs to look at the room and deciding it was ok a random guy who was fairly short with long dark hair started talking to me. turns out hes apparently from japan and is sleeping in the bunk below me. after a quick introduction he then started stroking my arm, i thought wow this is a bit weird. and then he started trying to touch my chest and lifting up my shirt so i told him to funk off in a more polite manner and then bumped into a fellow brit who had his own room over the hall from the dorm and started telling him about this weird japanese guy who started touching me. he laughed. but much to soon as the jap spotted him and promptly came along to introduce himself in the same way he did to me to this british bloke, much to his shock. after the guy got lost we decided to calm down a bit over a nice cool beer. roaming the streets of ho chi minh we soon came across a bar serving the vietnamese drink bia hoi, which is home brewed beer and as a result costs about 13p a litre. pretty good.
when we got back to the hotel it was about 11 30 and i was pooing myself about this strange man who started touching me and was apparently sleeping under me. so when we got close i told matt that if he tried anything id be knocking on his door. but when i got into the dorm i was greeted by a nice lady who was sleeping on the bottom bunk. turns out the guy was lying and actually works at this hostel, which i wasnt sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing.
in the morning i went with my new english buddy to the cu chi tunnels which was quite interesting despite everything being so anti american. at the start of the tour we watched a video on the vietnamese soldiers and then were told about some of the 'heroes' of the war, who were awarded medals for being 'american killing heroes' and how they 'used traps for hunting animals to hunt americans'.
we were then taken around the joint and were shown one of the many hidden entrances to the tunnels which was pretty small, we were then given the opportunity to have a go for ourselves and up stepped a rather heavy set man in his 30s i guess with spiked hair which i imagine was to increase his height to make his width appear smaller through proportions. anyway this guy was into the whole tunnel thing and had his video camera our and was jumping from place to place to try and get a better shot. this guy up for the full experience proceeds and takes position above the tunnel. he then lowers himself to a sitting position and places his vast legs into the hole one by one. then using his arms to lower himself he gets stuck. he manages to wriggle his way out and blames it on the camera in his pocket, and then tries again. no luck, stuck again and gives up rather humiliated. we then head over to the booby traps, and most of these looked pretty horrible, and dangerous. wouldnt like to fall into any of them i can assure u. moving onto the next event, the guns. we were allowed to shoot lots of different guns, from the colt pistol through to the AK47 and even up to the old M60. but at $1 a bullet i thought i could spend my money on better things. like an ice cream. its been too long since i last had ice cream. was rather weird eating an ice cream whilst listening to the music of the AK47.
on the way back to the city me matt and a guy we met, shaun, got off at the old war museum and had a look at a few rather disturbing photos of victims of napalm bombs as well as shrapnel embedded in the side of other vietnamese and the worst was seeing some preserved dead babies who were victims of agent oranged, one was a seiamese twin and the other had every part of its body out of proportion with every other part. really horrific. but eye opening. and again very one sided affair, all very much anti america.
the next morny i cought the 8 oclock bus down to mu nei and have been here since. its so chilled out and relaxed, exactly what i needed. and the beach runs for miles upon miles of golden sand. and theres a huge kite surfing scene here too, but its a bit expensive to do a course $250, bit out of price range i think. but its nice to rent a body board and catch some of the surf.
the first night i arrived was a big full moon, and on the way to get some food i bumped into a group of backpackers travelling around south east asia. we were walking for a while and came across a place i had seen earlier called Jibes which is like a surfing poser hang out spot. anyway to celebrate the ful moon they had some 'traditional' dancing from local vietnamese boys and girls, and they even put in a few spanish and latin dances in front of some surfbaords, pretty crazy. they then lit the fire and we bumped into a group of local students having a party of their own which we crashed. and they gave us some free drinks and taught us a bit of vietnamese. when the booze ran out we all made our way back home to have a bit of a sleep.
had some vegetable pho in the morning which is noodle and vegetable soup, but just ate the noodles and veg and left the soup for about 50p and then hit the beach and sat in the sun for quite a while. but it soon clouded over and so i went for a wonder downthe road until the sun came out again, and it was scorching. so went for a swim, the water isnt that warm here but its refreshing, still warmer than guernsey at least. and then i sat in the sun again, bit silly, cos all the sun scream had come off and i got a little burnt, especially on my feet which is annoying cos im always wearing flip flops around here, and even wearing sun cream isnt helping much.
anyway in the evening i went down to jibes again to chill out and catch up in my journal where i met these 3 austalian flight attendents,all living it up, hitting the cocktails. they invited me over and we started talking, turns out that being a flight attendent is pretty good for travel, after each flight you get at least 3 days in that counrty for which they pay you and provide accomodation which is usually 5* and give you an allowance too. so its not a bad life, just got to put up with quite a bit of s*** on the flights. me and the other guy carried on partying down at the wax bar whilst the two girls who were a bit drunk and a bit tired went to bed, bless them. we then bumped into a couple of the backpackers from the previous night who later joined us and we sat and drank and talked and laughed until the early hours of the morning when we stumbled the 3km walk back to our hotels. when i finally got to mine all the gates were closed and doors were locked and i couldnt see anyone. the only way was to climb over the gate which had long pointed spikes on top which only left a narrow gap for me to pass through. i thought about my options for a while, sleep outside, try knocking on the door to wake someone up, or climb the gate. in my drunken state i decided that climbing was the best option. first attempt: i grabbed one of the spikes and accidently bent it to a right angle. second attempt: grabbed between the spikes and put my feet on a little decoration within the metal frame of the gate, but decided i didnt have enough grip and thought id try without my flip flops. third attempt: no flip flops, much like the second attempt except more painful. forth attempt: same as second attempt with the flip flops, but this time i didnt bottle it and went for gold. thank god, i made it! after fighting with the door for a short while i stumbled into my room and turned on the tv to find blood diamond on HBO so decided to watch that for a while and drink some water for a while before realising it was 3 in the morning and i should go to sleep.
i woke up this morning fairly late and fairly hungover, but didnt really mind. what bothered me more was my slightly sun burnt body which was a bit uncomfortable. being slightly rosey i decided it wouldnt be a good idea to sit in the sun especially being slightly hungover as well, so i went for a walk hopping from one shadow of a palm tree to the next looking like a right loser. and then sat down in a restaurant waiting for my breakfast where they couldnt make me any hot food because the electricity was off, or so he said, and just moments later i saw someone with a steaming hot plate of noodles. oh well. i then watched blood diamond in my hotel room again whilst the main heat of the sun was out and about and then did some clothes washing followed. and then decided to go sit on the beach at some resort and steal one of their deck sun bathing beds under one of the small tiki huts and just watch the kite surfers getting some crazy air off some crazy waves. then as the sun was setting i made my move to have a look at the rest of the beach that i hadnt seen yet and saw a beautiful sunset. then made the massive journey back to a little restaurant near jibes which made me an amazing chicken curry with rice, in fact it was so amazing i polished off two portions.
and thats what has happened so far, pretty much. tomorrow i plan to get a scooter and go check out a few of the sights a bit further away, only 3pounds to rent a scooter for the whole day. bargain. laters.