What a fantastic three weeks! Each country we visited had it's ups and downs, some more than others, but each country has been a memorable experience for us both.
Vietnam stands out to me as my favourite place and somewhere I'll definitely be returning to-any takers?!
In each country we got to see a birds eye view of the city. In Ho Chi Min (Vietnam) it was from the Sky Deck, which the citizens were very proud of ('The elevator travels up in 35 seconds!' I think he was more impressed than me...we were only going 42 floors!) It signalled the beginning of a bright future for them after the trials of war. In Bangkok we saw the city beneath our feet from two different sky bars (they went for bigger is better and the sky deck was on the 83rd floor if remember correctly). In Old Delhi we climbed onto the roof of someone's house and took a look at the sights. (Ok so it wasn't built by some great architect and it didn't cost 5 billion to create, but we still saw some cracking views.)
In Thailand and Vietnam everyone believed it to be perfectly acceptable to drive on the pavement. Whereas in India everyone thought it perfectly acceptable to walk in the middle of the road. The crossing of roads in all three places varies slightly. Bangkok has a traffic light system, but despite the jaywalking warnings people still appear to cross when they wish. In Vietnam it depended on which City you were in. In Hanoi it was every man for himself, you saw a gap in traffic and you took it! In Ho Chi Min City there were elements of traffic lights-which only the cars adhered to-and then the rest of the time it was the 'walk into the traffic game'. In Delhi we were too scared to cross the main road as the trick seemed to be, rather like Hanoi, walk with the traffic until you are at one with the car/tuktuk/motorbike and then cross. If you're lucky, in Delhi, then people might even try and sell you things from the road. You could be innocently sitting in your luxury tuktuk when someone offers you something you probably don't want or need. Then there were the people who walked between the vehicles begging. There's no escape in a tuktuk, in traffic, when someone sticks their face in asking for money. There were times we had to lean back and hide our western selves behind the curtain!
What I will never understand is the whole acceptance of the peeing into the wind. From India, where they did it on the side of the highway, to Thailand at the side of any road and finally to Vietnam where we drove past a woman pulling down her trousers and squatting in the countryside. Are there no toilets?!
Right, we all know I love my air conditioning. Let's talk travel and AC:
India-it varies on what vehicle you are in. If it's a tuktuk then you've no chance of air con as it's you against the elements my friend! If it's in a taxi then it depends on the driver, we've had ones that seep out tiny portions of AC and ones that let it all blast out.
Thailand-the AC in cabs nearly blow you away-it's amazing. It's like standing in front of an electric fan for your whole journey. The minibus however is a different story. Tuktuks-see above.
Vietnam-even though Vietnam is VERY HOT the cab drivers are quite slow to dish out the old air conditioning, to my disappointment. It's always on, but the volume of it is something to be questioned. For a normal person this is fine, but I prefer the electric fan in the face experience. Mini buses in Vietnam are better as you control the AC for your seat. :-)
Right hotels. In Vietnam you are treated like royalty, in fact in all three countries you are treated like the most important person in the world, but in Vietnam (especially in hanoi) you get a whole other experience. In most hotels we were given extra treats like toothbrushes, sewing kits and cotton buds in addition to the regular shower items. In India it wasn't always easy to get a 'drink' but that could have just been the hotel as in our Holiday Inn last night we had a bar. Breakfast is always interesting! All hotels have a western part of their breakfast (thank god!) as the other options are slightly unusual for breakfast. Some examples:
We enjoyed those kinds of delights for our lunch and dinner...we didn't feel the need for them at breakfast too!
Bathrooms: all the bathrooms were pretty amazing. However there was a little problem with the Bangkok hotel and the Delhi hotels...they appear to believe bathrooms should only have three walls and that the fourth wall should be a gigantic window. I think the fancier the hotel, the more chance you get of having a peep show type bathroom. Luckily there were blinds in the Delhi ones-only partly effective may I add. In Bangkok it was more of a frosted glass approach.
Cooking on the street appears to be the norm in all three countries. Whether you eat from these vendors is your own decision!
In each country you need to be prepared to haggle. Leave your polite British self at home and barter to your hearts content.
Right here are our pros and cons for each country:
Top pros for India:
Arskhadham (Hindu temple)
Cost of travel
Lack of beer
Depravation that surrounds you
Forceful taxi/tuktuk drivers (not all)
Being harassed-Lack of personal space/people approaching tuktuk during traffic
Cultural delights-temples/lady boys/massages
Cheap beer which you can get anywhere
Rachel and James :-)
Con artists/demanding money for everything
Forceful taxi/tuktuk drivers (not all)
Ha long bay
No price tags
As you can see Vietnam won!
Finally in England and awake! We got home at about 1 ish this morning. Feeling a bit zombie-fied but am glad to be home safe and sound. Travelling and seeing new countries is amazing, but nothing beats a wardrobe (instead of a suitcase), choice of shampoo (instead of the same one for three weeks), good old fashioned British food (really craving mashed potato and gravy :-) ) and my own bed! Oh and I'm soooooo glad England hasn't suddenly decided to start cooking meat on the streets :-).
Seeing as I doubt anyone would read about my staid life in Brum it is time to say...
Farewell all, here is where I sign off.