Good Morning Vietnam......
Actually we are in Loas at the moment, but we need to tell you all about our time in what has to the most hectic country in the world!!
We arrived in the border town of Chau Doc after spending 5 hours travelling, and 1 hour filling in forms at the border, ie the tin shed with the men with AK-47s. Chau Doc is mid sized town with no real redeeming features, imagine an Asian Milton Keynes, without round-a-bouts, they are not needed, no one stops!!! This was made all the worse as we had just spent two days on the best beach in Camdodia, two days of crystal clear water, beach BBQs, beach parties and the town wide search for a missing person involving the embassy. It was such a serious event, that half the group decided to spend the day on a boat, partying and snorkelling the day away. The irony of it was, we were the first to spot the mssing girl!!
Back to Vietnam, we spent the afternoon racing round the twon on the backs of motorbikes, up a mountain to see the sunset, then racing back round the town to the hotel. Made all the more exciting as the drivers always took short cuts into head on traffic, though redights and across petrol station forecourts. Mine also thought he was Valentino Rossi!! The first night was pretty quiet, we went for a meal then went back to the hotel for a good nights sleep.
The following we day we got yet another bus to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon to the oldies), the city seems to have a Picadilly Circus on every corner, without the lights, just lots of motorbikes weaving in a out. The highway code seems to be a game of trumps, the bigger you are the more right of way you have, yets bikes can also use the pavement it seems! The day was spent roaming the streets doing a bit of shopping and eating. we found a little cafe called 'Shake n Bake' whcih served the worst milkshakes but the best apple and cinamon pancakes.
That night we went out for dinner, at which point three new people joined the group, two germans and girl. The bill came to a staggering 3,000,000.................dong!!! Thankfully its 29,000 to the pound. We then proceded on to one of the many bars/clubs of the city. Unfortunately the night took a turn for the worst as after leaving. I went to get KFC with the Columbian, Fran and the Canadian were on the way back to the hotel, when a motorbike mounted the pavement and snatched her bag. Luckily there was only $5 in it, although tragically it did contain the makeup!! Fran is Ok, she was not hurt, it was just the shock it.
The next day was spent at the police station, it had to have been the most incompetant police force ever, similar to that off Hot Fuzz. That night we got our first night train, we were in cabins of four, we shared with the Irish couple. The train was suprisingly nice, little did we know the next two would be very different.
We arrived in Na Trang at 530am, we were given a minutes warning of our arrival so we all had to jump straight out of bed and off the train. Once at the hotel we were told that the rooms would not be ready till midday. We passed the time by napping by the pool and going to the beach. The day continued as such. That evening Fran and I missed the group dinner so went to find a restaurant by ourselves. The only one we found had to be the most disgusting one in all of Vietnam, although the food was OK, the ambience was ruined by the dogs weeing on the vacant chairs and the rats scurrying around!
The following day we had to get another night train, therefore the day was again spent by the pool and finding a restaurant that did cheap takeway pizza. As I said the train was very different to our first, the cabins were filthy and Fran's bed had some one sleeping in it moments before she got on. After another nights fitfull sleep we arrived in Hoi An.
Three of us headed into town to have a mosey around, we ended up in one of the many tailors. Fran ordered a lovely three piece grey suit with a flashy silk lining, I bought a top notch black suit with just as flashy a lining. The next day five of six of us headed to the beach, this was a half hours drive on the back if the motorbike. Whilst the girls tanned themselves on the near deserted beach, the boys had a drink with what can only be described as the Vietnamese Mafia. In the evening we had our final fitting of the suits. and once happy shipped them home.
In the morning we left to go to Hue, en route we stopped at Marble Mountain, there is a temple at the top, and after climbing hundreds of stairs and then climbing all the way down we had all lost a stone in sweat. The road to Hue carves through the mountains and winds its way for about five hours, the scenery was stunning. I think it was the route they took in Top Gear. After a disappointing dinner, never order Gnocci outside of Western Europe, we got lost on our way home. Subsiquently we got ripped off for our taxi home.
The next day we all went on a motorbike tour of the city and the nearby countryside, there is nothing quite like this at 9am on a Sunday morning, when it already blazing sun and your weaving through the traffic, bamboo forests and rice fields. The morning had one blip, Fran got off on the wrong side and burst her calf on the exhaust. We then had to get yet another train, just as bad as the one before, this time though we had to get on three hours earlier than normal, those extra hours fell like hell on these trains.
We arrived in Hanoi at 430am, I thought we were on holiday!! We got to the hotel we would be staying in the following day to drop our big bags off. We were then stranded as the heavens opened anf for 3 hours it poured. The entire district of Hanoi was flooded with 2ft of water!! After the rain subsided we waded to our bus, parked in the shallows, for our trip to Ha Long Bay.
Considering the rain picked up again, and the windscreen wipers were next to useless the driver still drove like a lunatic, overtaking on blind corners, pulling out into on coming traffic! Eventually after these hair raising few hours we arrived in Ha Long Bay. The skies had cleared up and the sun was shining as we got on our boat trip through the islands.
We spent the afternoon, sailing round the thousands of islands and diving off the top deck, this ended abruptly when one of the group landed right on a huge jelly fish. We then explored a cave on one of the islands. Back on shore there was very little to do, it seems most only come for the day.
Back in a much drier Hanoi, after just as bad a bus ride. We spent the day exploring the city and visited a few shops, a few pubs and a brewery! We also booked tickets for the Water Puppet Show. That night was relatively quiet as the following day was the last night for the Irish couple and we had to give them a big send off.
In hindsight I dont think any one will be putting there hand up to see teh Water Puppets again, ot was however a very good siesta! That night we all went for a big meal and ended up in Le Pub and had a huge night out.
Feeling a lillte worse for wear we all got up at 5am to leave for Loas, its a 10hour coach journey. Not fun.
We are now back in Bangkok, after spending 10 days in Laos, I know we are a bit behind but will try and update from our next destination.....Koh Tao.
Love Chris and Fran x