This has been a week longer than normal, and I apologise for that! But it's been a crazy few weeks with a lot of actual travelling and bus journeys, and the time has just gotten away from me! Alas, this will be my last update before I head back to the UK, as talking of time getting away from me, it is only two weeks until I am back on British soil. Don't worry, I can hear you all crying in joy from over here!
Anyway, onto the travelling news! Well, I have done a lot since I last wrote! I got the overnight bus into Hanoi, which was an interesting experience! It was a sleeper bus with little beds in, except the beds are made for Asians, who are tiny, not Westerners. So I had absolutely no space at all and had to spend the journey with my knees up around my neck! It also took twenty five and a half hours, myself, the two guys I was with and two girls we met were also the only travellers on there, everyone else was a local! A lot of them were friends of the driver just trying to get over the border as they all soon disappeared once we were in Vietnam! We also stopped in the middle of nowhere at 1am for 5 hours without any explanation. Turns out the border into Vietnam was closed. But no one told us so we didn't have a clue what was going on! It also begs the question, why did they not just have a bus that leaves first thing in the morning to save having a 5 hour wait?!
Anyway, eventually we got into Hanoi! From there we went to see the dead body of Ho Chi Minh (I'm not quite sure how I feel about seeing a dead man, but it was a good experience I guess!), took a wander around the lake and went to the war prison museum. It was there that John McCain was held when he was captured in the war, so I saw the uniform that he was wearing when he was shot down. All in all a very interesting museum, learning about the history. From Hanoi, we took a two day boat trip to Halong Bay, which is beautiful. It's in the running to become the Eight Wonder of the World. Went into the Amazing Cave which was cool, and we also went kayaking at sunset around the bay which was beautiful.
Then it was time to get a bus to Hue. Not a lot to do there, other than a day trip to the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). Unfortunately, we had a really bad tour guide, so the day was a bit of a waste and I didn't really learn anything. So we didn't hang around Hue, and soon got a bus to Hoi An.
Hoi An is lovely, and it is also the place where you can get clothes tailor made for you really cheap! So, naturally, I had to get some dresses made! I got a dress made for Nanna and Grandad's 60th Wedding Anniversary party, and one for my friend's wedding, and also just one for general day time use. Pretty successful I'd say! After a few days there I had to move on, simply because I could have gone on forever getting things made!
So the next stop was Nha Trang. Just a couple of days there to relax by the beach after all the site seeing I had been doing! Also, the last chance to really work on my tan before returning home!
So, Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon as it was known until 1976) was the last stop for us in Vietnam. I only had time for a couple of days there, but I really liked the place. It was good to be back in a busy city with lights everywhere and crazy traffic! I'm amazed I managed not to get run over in Vietnam - you have to just walk out into the road with a million motorbikes everywhere, and trust that they'll go around you! Anyway, in Saigon we spent a full day siteseeing. I spent the morning in the market buying presents for people (and myself, naturally!) and then the afternoon going to the War Remnants Museum to learn more about the war, and then to see the Notre Dame Cathedral. The next day was spent doing a tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels, where the Vietnamese army lived whilst fighting in the war. That, luckily, was really interesting. We had a really good guide and it was a great day out, so took away the pain of the rubbish tour in Hue!
So, then I came into Cambodia. A nice easy border crossing luckily, and to Phnom Penh. Yesterday we spent the day visiting the S21 Prison Museum which was really harsh but interesting. It's where the Khymer Rouge held 20,000 prisoners during their reign (only 7 survived). After that, we went to the Killing Fields, which is where they sent the prisoners for execution. Hard to see, but well worth learning about. So, as it was a rather sad day, we went out for a few drinks in the evening and ended up playing pool with the locals!
That brings me to now. Had a day relaxing today, and on to Siem Reap tomorrow. There I will see Angkor Wat and a few other temples, before making my way to Bangkok to catch my flight to Beijing. Then it's homeward bound!
By the way, every time I've said "we", I'm referring to the two guys I mentioned in my last blog that I was getting the bus into Vietnam with. They've been doing the same route and are on exactly the same time scale as me, so we've been travelling together this whole time. However, their flight out of Bangkok is to Kuala Lumpur and a day before me, so in a few days we shall be parting ways.
The next time I write I shall probably be back at home, or very near it!
So I'll see you all soon I guess!