"GOOD MORNING VIETNAM!"
After a great time in Laos, it was onto Vietnam, where i found the Vietnamese people and i had 1 thing in common, hatred for loud, over the top, over weight Yanks! (They declared war on them or something back in the 70's) Upon arrival in the capital Hanoi at 2am, after a sweaty 15 hour bus ride, Liza and i got thrown out the bus in the middle of a unlit, deserted and creepy part of the city where my LonelyPlanet (travelers bible) would be little or no help. As we quickly marched down the street in search for a bed i noticed a sign over a shop doorway that said 'This Door Is Alarmed', I thought to myself "its pitch black, I'm somewhere totally unfamiliar and intimidating. How the f#ck do you think i feel!'
As daylight broke on my first full day in Vietnam, the sweet smell of napalm was unmistakably lingering in the air above, and on the ground the constant din from over use of horns on scooters and mopeds that filled the width of every road you walked. (I think Yamaha may have mixed up the "Demo button" from there Keyboards for the "Horn button" on the scooters!) Crossing the road here proved one of my biggest challenges to date. It was a dice with death, in a human v motorbike game of the Okey Kokey, the idea being to get your left leg in and out again before it got amputated by a moped tyre!
I then headed north to Sapa, on 9 hour sleeper train journey in a tiny 6 person room, where the arse above me hovered only an inch from my person and insisted in violating cabin flatulence rules which clearly state, 1 per cabin, every hour. A rain soaked 3 day hill trek began with a hike through thousands upon thousands of rice plantations, and a couple of evening's were spent with a local hill tribes in the mountains, unfortunately conversations were somewhat limited due to lack vocabulary shared between 2 Israelites, a Czech chap, and Vietnamese family. Although we got on an interesting one on religion, mainly belonging to my two new long nosed pals when they told me how they believe the Jew's don't take there religion as serious as others, i said them that now i understood why they're known as Jew - ISH! They also let me in to little known secret as to why they all have big noses - because air is free of course and there not idiots! ("there's not a fork in a sugar jar for just any reason")
I had my first opportunity to taste some western food for a while so decided on some of the Colonels finest chicken strips, I'm now pretty sure that KFC in Nam translates roughly to Krispy- Frazzled - Cat!
After total saturation for 3 days, i was hoping for better weather when i embarked on a 3 day sailing trip to Halong Bay. I was not to be disappointed by amount rays the sun had to shine and it made some of the most beautiful sights that much better (not least of which was the young hot ship hand)! A couple of days were spent sunning bodies and sinking lagers, topped off by a visit to monkey island, which I was told is lorded and run by monkeys. This was not a lie, because as we approached the island I first monkey I caught a glimpse of was Howard from Halifax advert fame. (I always did wonder where his TV career went?!?)
Unfortunately the dry spell did not last, and the 8 day journey south to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) was spent making my way through a Vietnamese typhoon, stopping in a variety of destinations down the east coast to kneel towards Buddha and pray for sun! My prayers were answered for a few hours one day, giving me just enough time to squeeze in my first surfing attempt. I assumed having long sun bleached hair gave me the natural talent to be able to surf, but after hours of failing and falling I gave up, and decided that the surfboard must have known my blonde hair comes straight out the bottle with a Toni & Guy touch to it!
Finally after 8 days battling rain and storms and Liza, I arrived wet, well weathered and ready for some fun 'n' sun in Saigon. Instead I got smog, fog, and a few days on the bog due to a bout of acute uncontrollable bowel syndrome (The Sh#ts). When I was finally empty and recovered I ventured out into the noise which I'd became oblivious to since entering Vietnam, the orchestra of Yamaha Moped horns amongst the hoards of gaggling locals. As strange as It may sound for me I had taken a keen interest for once in the history ofthe country, its friendly people and its brutal hate filled war. I thought it would be nice idea to take time out and visit an old Vietnamese Vet to see what life was like back then, but I was shocked, I've never met such a rude man. He told me to stop wasting his time and come back when I actually had a pet to be looked at!
"GOODNIGHT VIETNAM!"Onwards and northwards to poverty, crime stricken Cambodia and allegedly still one of Southeast Asia's most deprived and poorest countries. And that can only mean one thing, a cheaper selection of trainers and t-shirts for Gav……………………………………..