Happy wednesday to you all!
We've had a fantastic few days touring around South Vietnam. With the amount of activities going on it's probably best if I number the days :-)
Day 1 Saturday: The day began as I had planned with Chris & I on the hunt for a Pizza Hut. Whilst roaming the streets we bumped into our Canadian friend from the bus journey the previous day; he joined us for lunch which was worth every Dong! We perused through the center of the city soaking in all the colours and exciting sights and sounds. As this would be our only day to explore the city we took a 20 minute walk to the War Remnants Museum; The Vietnam War continued for over 17 years. The U.S. used over 14 million tonnes of bombs to destroy the beautiful countryside and cities of Vietnam. One section of the museum was solely dedicated to what has been described as the most destructive man-made chemical in history, Agent Orange. The U.S. sprayed over 20 Million gallons of this chemical which killed and permanently injured thousands of people. The chemical even enters the DNA so many children even a couple of decades on have been born with physical defects like no arms or legs, also mental disorders. Such suffering is not only in Vietnam but also the U.S. soldiers/Journalists who came into contact with chemical have had children born with complications. Chris & I both feel that our knowledge of history is some what lacking! When we left the museum it began to spit which means you have to find shelter within the next 5 minutes before your soaked, sadly we didn't have such luck and just began to laugh as all three of us were desperately running through the streets. We found a little cafe which gave us the perfect opportunity to have icecream whilst the rain let off. As we sat there we could hear these angelic voices echoing through the wet streets; beautiful harmony. We followed it and found ourselves at the Notre Dame Cathedral; you could enter for free so we watched the hundreds of people take communion whilst the voices of the choir still flowed out the doors. It sent a shiver down our spines. As we had to be up early the next day we went back to the hostel for a sleep.
Day 2 Sunday: Today we booked a tour for the Cu Chi Tunnels and a temple. Firstly I can't remember the name of the temple or even the religion however the temple was striking! All the walls were multicoloured with stars on the ceiling; a huge eye at the end which all the people prayed to. Back on the coach to the Cu Chi tunnels the funnist part of the day :-) Albeit the whole design of the Cu Chi tunnels was for Vietnamese protection from the U.S. but it was interesting to see the weapons the Vietnamese people designed and scattered around the woodland. Some of the hidden entrances to the tunnels were the width of Chris' foot! A couple of people from our group voluntered but Chris wouldn't fit and I was saving myself for the normal entrance haha. There was one tunnel where they have 'westernised' it i.e. made it fatter! The tunnel is 100 meters long and only 3 meters deep, Chris could barely fit due to his wide shoulders but lasted the whole 100 meters. I on the other hand only survived 20 meters! I began to get rather claustrophobic and just wanted to get out! Dad you would have enjoyed it but would probably have hurt your knees! Mum's you would have hated it haha After we had a good laugh we headed back to HCMC and found a restaurant which made incredible Quattro Fromage Pizzas!!
Day 3 Monday: Today we'd booked a tour to Mekong River. We began the day listening to a band play South Vietnamese music whilst eating a delicious mixture of fruit. We then sailed down on a paddle boat under the coconut trees to a family run business in the middle of an orchard. They collect the coconuts and make a variety of coconut candy; we also had a hot honey drink made from the local beehive! all very authentic :-) The next acitivity even now i'm still puzzled by. Our tour guide got a huge Python out of a bag and asked if anyone would like to take a photo with it; a couple of people inluding a nine year old girl held the snake so I volunterred too. Oh the commotion!! I just started screaming, everyone was laughing and the photos are priceless! Chris also held the python but was far more graceful haha. We then went on a large motorboat down the Mekong River, absolutely huge! We felt the wam breeze on our face and watched the trees fly past; we pulled up to a little village and had lunch. There we joined a hungarian man who tells us about his ex-wife, ex-girlfriend and current girlfriend; he has three children one of which was a mistake. Quite strange lunch time conversation. We sailed for another hour on the lovely motorboat then hopped back on the coach. Predictably we ate at the same restaurant to eat that unforgettable pizza, we also got Saigon beer which is 10,000VND - approximately 33p haha. As we walked back to hostel we walked through the park which had hundreds of women performing aerobics to a boombox! Other people were playing badminton or running round the circuit of the park. Chris and I waited at the hostel for our sleeper bus to Nha Trang. It was quite an upgrade from the Cambodian sleeper buses; free blanket and quite spacious. We also made a funny friend from Manchester, when we first started chatting he says he likes to watch people sleep. Clearly weird people attract weird people because so do I haha
Day 4 Tuesday: Arrived in Nha Trang and went to have breakfast. We love Vietnamese Coffee! We checked into a hostel and had a couple of hours nap; we wondered around the town which felt like a ghost town. No one hassled us and we just sat down for lunch. The beach was stunning with white sand and lots of parasoles; as we're not ones to lie on a beach we hired a moped!!! It was one of the best days we've had; Chris just handed over his driving license and we were off. They gave us no safety precautions, no information about the roads, no insurance etc. I only attempted to drive in a secure area once but as I kept getting the brake and accelarator confused and almost drove into a tree we thought it was best if only Chris drove. We drove around 40km along the coast - freedom! The beautiful sea and small islands on our right and luscious green hills on our left. We went from town to town and our last stop before we turned around was a fishing port; hundreds of red/blue/yellow boats bobbling on the sea. This was what we had been waiting to see. You could see the beauty of Vietnam from the landscape and the life of Vietnam from the people. As we flew along we chatted to other people on mopeds asking us where we're from, I even got the conversation on camera :-) We enjoyed every minute of it. We popped back to the hostel to grab our bags as we had a change of heart and felt like we needed to hit the road; we have a lot of ground to cover before we get to Hanoi. The owner wasn't pleased but it wasn't long and we were back on a sleeper bus to Hoi An. Im currently sitting in the foyer waiting another hour before we can check in.
It's been a fun filled couple of days! Hoping to do a few tours here which is renowned for it's history. We're also trying to organise a Halong Bay tour which i'm really looking forward to. Chris & I are both well, neither of us are burnt or ill - progress! Hope all of you are well at home.
Love to all,
Love J & C xxx