The advantage of moving on to a country with lots of little stops is spending long bus journeys catching up on blogs and posts, as long as you can concentrate through the bus drivers blaring horn. And have headphones to drown out the, interesting, music choices.
So Ho Chi Minh. I must admit I went to Siagon (it's just quicker to type) with a negative view of the place. It was the first stop on my last trip to vietnam, it was rainy season and I just didn't understand the vibe of the city. This time we approached it in a different way, it's still crazy, the only place where you have to even be careful on the pavements - a few drivers have clicked that if it's busy you can get through traffic quicker by driving past it all on the pavements.
It took us just under 7 hours to get to Siagon from Mui Ne, mainly because of the insane traffic around the capital - like trying to get into London, but no one believes in 'lanes' and motorbikes weave through all the traffic continuously. After getting dropped off we did our normal routine of finding a little cafe to get food and WiFi to work out what random part of the city we had been dropped in that time. Luckily for us google maps pops up with a 3 minute walk - score! Of course this is us, and naturally it took 20 minutes waking round in circles before we found the little alleyway behind a market where our hostel was hidden away.
As is fast becoming tradition we spent the first day getting our bearings in the city, visiting the war remnants museum along the way. In Vietnam we visited a few places to try and find out more about the war as Asian history is rarely touched upon in the west. The museum doesn't hold back that's for sure, with graphic photographs of Vietnamese people being shot at point blank range, or bodies mutilated by explosions, the most disturbing had to be a Perspex box with the still born foetuses of individuals affected by agent orange.
On a lighter note, we also followed another tradition, a visit to the Haagen daaz cafe and scoffed two epic deserts. You know it's good if I manage to scoff more than Tasha........
On our second day we got a tour out to the ch chi tunnels. An hour drive out of the city is a small district which was a strong hold for the viet cong during the war, a district in the south who supported the communist North. Here the viet cong dug over 2km of underground tunnels, in which they lived and fought for 21 years. It was a major area of gorilla warfare and we were shown a series of traps and defences used against the Americans - alongside comments such as 'and this cut them, so they had to go and be a ladyboy in bangkok' - vietnam isn't quite known for its political correctness.
There is a small 100m stretch of the tunnel which has been widened to let tourists through, which would be insulting if you didn't see the size of the original tunnels. In the words of the guides the tunnels were made small because the viet cong were tiny and the 'hamburgers, hot dogs and mc Donald's makes Americans bellys too big to fit through'. Even though it's been widened we both still struggled to get through, at one point having to lie down to get down to the next level.
On our final day we found a little art area someone recommended to us. Previously disused warehouses down the 3A alley between 2 posh hotels, it's been opened up little botiques and graffiti artists, it was a bit like stokes croft meets Clifton, in the Vietnamese sunshine. For lunch we finally got to cyclo resto, scoffing their 5 item set menu - I avoided the fish and Tash wish she had after searching 'snake head fish' when we got back. In the evening we went to the Barbecue garden where you get your own little gas BBQ in the middle of the table and choose what you want to cook. Naturally we caused a smoke storm, but had different types of beef and prawns with a load of sides.
So a lengthy catch up post. If I say so myself I'm impressed it's typed so well as the bus driver has found the accelerator and is currently doing 110km/hour down cambodia's interesting roads, but it's ok, because when he wants to overtake motorbikes he just blares his horn continuously until they move into the dirt....