Good Morning Vietnam! and a very good morning to all of you
Chris is currently tucked up in our 12 bed dorm, where needless to say a few people had a party last night (not us!) and so as I stumbled to the door this morning I found people asleep on the floor which created a maze in order for me to get out haha. As I opened the door I found even more people sleeping on the floor and leaning against walls; traipsing over these bodies and bags I thought it could have gone either way - an amazing party or a nightmare haha It's only 8.30am in Ho Chi Minh; im surprised I hadn't slept longer considering we had a 15 hour journey yesterday. But i'm feeling 100% better, almost my normal self. I thought I would let Chris catch up on his beauty sleep whilst I have a scrumptious Latte, type the blog and watch the busy streets of HCM.
To continue on from where we last left off...We had a night time stroll around Phnom Penh and stumbled across what must be the 'young' hangout where it appeared lots of people were on a date. We walked over bridges, down motorways, through huge car parks interspersed with amusement parks; one of which was called 'Dreamland'. It looks in slightly better condition than ours but only just! We sat down at a little cafe where we were clearly an interesting sight to see; without realising we we're in fact the only white people around. But what's lovely is that whenever you look up or around there's always someone smiling at you; people are always willing to try to speak english which is more that I can say for our Cambodian! Woke up fresh the next day, daunted by the coach journey from the permanent scars left behind from our last coach experience. However the trip wasn't too bad, we both had a nap and a read of our books and it only took around 5 hours to get to Sihanoukville.
We shared a tuktuk with 2 Croatians to Serendipity beach. What a beautiful sight! We ran down to the beach and took a deep breath of that clean sea air. We plonked ourslves into a couple of cosy seats and I quite bravely ordered local Khmer cuisine for my lunch whereas Chris had a cheese and bacon toastie haha Both were delicious, mine was simply noodles with veg and a 'special' sauce :) We looked at each other feeling as though we had really accomplished something getting away from the busy cities; alas this was still Cambodia! As I sipped my coke I felt something rub my foot; a woman insisted she give me a foot massage, if not, a manicure, pedicure, ANYTHING! She lifted my skirt and felt my leg and shook her head in disgust and said I needed my legs threaded i.e. getting the leg hair off dad :) As i strongly protest and try politely but firmly to say No, Chris is being bombarded with disabled people begging for money, a woman holding a massive plate of Shrimp, children trying to persuade him to buy their bracelets and even people asking if we would like a tour around the local islands. We couldn't help but laugh!!! In all its madness it was quite endearing. We were mainly preyed upon because we still had our bags so looked like fresh meat; aftewards it wasn't as bad but still consistent.
We found a nice guesthouse which we haggled down to $9 a night; no A/C but three very good fans. It's a 2 minute walk to the beach where we spent most of the day. We walked along the promenade and found a bar selling 2 beers for the price of 1 only $1!!! We felt like we had found Joshs paradise; cheap beers, playing pool right next to the sea with Credence blaring, just perfect. After a few games we sat right next to the waves, watched the little sun we could see go down over the people swimming whilst sipping our beers. Later on I saw the shrimp lady again, I asked if I could try one. She cracked open the shell, rubbed Kampot spices over the meat and poured a little lime juice on top - yummy! I started off with 2 small ones then when I saw her again later on in the night I had 5 large ones!! Chris likewise was trying to be more adventurous and had a homemade lemongrass chicken curry :) We headed back to the bar as it began to rain; we met a sweet couple called Kevin and Heather both teachers in Bristol. They have just made the big decision to teach abroad for a year in Bangkok, it's an incredible thing to do but what's even more incredible is that they had never been to Bangkok before they made that decision! Bangkok is not my favourite place, it's just that you can never find relief in the city which never sleeps. However we had a great chat with them and laughed with them about their crazy plans; we wished them every bit of luck and then headed back to the guesthouse.
Next day sadly it was pouring it down so we waited out the rain by eating :) By early afternoon we were swimming in the warm sea; we couldn't swim at the same time as one would watch the bags. We continued on our pool tournament; I can't quite recollect the score but maybe that'a a good thing. We bumped into a young friend we had made the night before, a boy named Joe only 10 years old. He was watching us play pool and asked to join in, I played one game against him and thankfully I won! Afterwards he began his tricks of the trade trying to get us to buy one of his bracelets, in exchange we bought him a coke so that he would stop asking us. All tourists are encouraged to not buy from the children because otherwise the parents will stop sending them to school and put them on the street. The children were also selling fireworks; we just sat and admired other peoples fireworks being set off all over the beach. Chris has started to really joke about with the locals; one man tried to sell him sunglasses but Chris just pointed at the ones he was wearing but the man said maybe try another style, Chris then began to explain about how he needs prescription lenses HAHAHA
Next day we were to begin our 15 hour journey to Ho Chi Minh. I cannot make any complaints about the first half except, we got off at Phnom Penh where we had to wait an hour and a half for our connecting coach. At the boarder everything went well except.......we'd handed over our passports to the coach driver who gave them to the stamp people and all those on the coach collated together in a room. All the locals were chuffling through us to the front handing over their passports which then got stamped and then they walked through. This continued for an hour. Our passports had simply been put aside as all the locals kept pushing to the front and pushing their passports ahead of ours. There was no queue, no order haha Chris, me and even a few Brits around us began moaning about how tourists wouldn't get treated like this in the Uk, how we have clear signs so that there will be no public uproar!! A few of us thought it was a very good idea to jump over the partition and stamp our passports ourselves!! obviously me included :) We got back onboard but it was not only the group we had on before but some guests had made themselves comfortable..... THE QUEUE JUMPERS!! They were sitting in our seats but Chris politely asked them to move, everyone was calm. Chris and I started to get sleepy but as we began to drift off there was a ruckus! All the queue jumpers thought lets talk as loud as possible! I slapped my face against the window and looked out at the wonderous array of Pizza huts and bright lights.
Fifteen hours after we left we were getting into a taxi for our last stint. Thankfully we shared the taxi with a couple of other Brits; Roughly 33,000 VND is one pound. Amongst laughing with these Brits about travelling horror stories and the Canadian who these two boys knew quite well as he had shared a hostel with them, I stared at the meter. Quickly we're getting into the hundred thousands, then 500,000, 600,000, 700,000!!! I began to panic. Eventually what was not even a ten minute journey cost 793,000VND. We got fleeced as Chris would say. Roughly 25 pound which as I say we thankfully split between these two other boys. We both paid 400,000 each, chris handed me the money and I handed it to the driver. The driver popped his hand in his pocket then held the money out again and said we had underpaid; my suscpicions rose and thought maybe he had put some of the money in his pocket and was now demanding more. I couldn't be a 100% sure so we just paid an extra 100,000. Where are the tuktuks now ay!!! Chris wound up and frustrated we booked into the hostel; they had no record of our booking. *Hysterical Laughter* I showed them a picture of our booking and all was well. We went to the room and I forced chris to give me all the money so I could see how much we had lost. we originally had 6million VND, deduct the first 400,000 then another 100,000 which the driver got out of us which leaves 5,500,000. I counted and actually we had only paid the 400,000; clearly we had given a smaller denomination of note than we thought HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA by this stage that was no real consellation for Chris. We hit the bar then hit bed.
And that my dear friends and family is where we are :) Vietnam seems like a buzzing beautiful country which we're looking forward to exploring. Today we're going round the War Musuem and tomorrow hopefully a tour to Cu Chi and Monday a tour to Mekong River. After that we're heading towards Nha Trang, back packers paradise! We are both well and after a good sleep in great spirits :) I'm about to wake Chris up and head to Pizza Hut for lunch :) I hope you are all enjoying lovely weather in good ol' England!
Love to all,
Love J & C xxxx
Apologies for not putting photos up again, there is no SD drive here so cant upload. I will try though :)