Since our last blog we've done quite a lot! We took a trip to the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam for a couple of days. I started with a visit to the floating markets on the river where people sell everything you can imagine. They then took us to a little village where they make all kinds of sweets from coconut. We watched them making sweets and something that looked like coconut rice cakes before they sat us down to a cup of tea and a glass of snake wine!! The jar had dead snakes curled up in it! It was foul!!
We were then piled into rowing boats and taken down a quiet canal to a restaurant for lunch - on the way they made us wear those conicle hats that the locals wear - Vietnam 1, tourists 0!!
In the afternoon they took us to a boat that we were goingto sleep on that night. We sat on the roof of the boat and watched the sunset over the Mekong while being waved at by the local children on the bankside
We were told that we all had to be up for breakfast at 6am(!) so we all were in bed early in our 24 bed bunk room!
We got off the boat at 7am to go sightseeing. But not before I managed to go head over heals getting off the boat bruising my hip, knee and splitting the toe nail on my right foot!!
They took us to a fishfarm, a working Buddist pagoda and an ethnic minority village where Amanda made friends with the children! After that - back to the boat for a 7 hour cruise up the Mekong before jumping back on the bus to Ho Chi Minh City
The Mekong Delta was an amazing place to visit - we saw so many different things - one thing we've realised is that we should have started in Hanoi and worked our way south because our trip finished less than an hour from the Cambodian border. Oh well, never mind!
The following day we'd booked ourselves onto an overnight sleeper train to Nga Trang - a famous beach resort. We'd booked beds in a first class cabin (for 13 pounds!) and we met three lovely Vietnamese men who were on business who chatted to us about Vietnam and we learned a lot about their school system and various other things
One slight disaster - I managed to rip the toe nail off my left foot while kicking the bag under the bed! Luckily Dad had packed us off with a first aid kit so we were able to apply running repairs!!
Up at 5am in time for the train arriving in Nga Trang - ouch! - we headed to our accomodation before venturing out and about. The weather here was much cooler than the south and the town is much more touristy. There's not a great deal to visit unless the weather is good so best to come in the summer months. That said we enjoyed it - except the morning after the night before! We were in a beach bar and drank several buckets of cocktails - seriously, they're called buckets - while chatting to the barman who was from Blackpool!
It was here theat we discovered the problems we were apparently going to have getting to Hanoi for New Year - the trains were booked solid for 3 weeks! Our only alternative was to fly. So we took our first flight from Nga Trang to Danang and booked another from Hue to Hanoi leaving a small stretch in the middel to work out
We arrived in Da Nang two days ago - in simple terms, don't go!! Under any circumstances!! It's just a run down, dirty city. There's nothing to see aand unless you're happy eating at the street stalls no where of note to eat and what you can find is heavily overpriced. We think there was only us staying our hotel and we had to put up with Karaoke in the function room across the hall for most of the evening
So, yesterday we jumped on the bus to Hoi An and arrived in a place nothing like what we'd seen so far. The old town is gorgeous, lots of tiny streets with lovely old buildings. The only thing is that it's extremely touristy. Every building is some form of souvenir shop or tailors. Still, that's what it's famous for. Amanda has already put an order in for two custom made skirts costing 20 pounds in total and if they're good I'm going to get a suit made at 40 pounds! Fortunately they also sell cheap holdalls to carry them!!
So that's where we're up to. Slightly depressed that we're well inside the last four weeks of the trip but loving Vietnam and looking forward to our second new year's eve on the 25th!