Our month-long holiday in Vietnam is coming to an end and we head home today. We have covered more than 1700km from Ho Ch Minh city to Hanoi, plus more with all our trips in between. I'm finding it difficult to pick a highlight for the trip, as each section offered its own unique experiences, and we certainly learnt a lot of history about the country. Maybe if I return to Vietnam I would spend more time in a beach front hotel in Hoi An.
Whilst sitting enjoying our last salt coffee, over looking the lake in Hoian reflecting on things to remember about our holiday experience would be - The food in Vietnam is great and the small serve sizes really suited us. We found an awesome resturant in each of the cities and made it our regular, to sample different dishes on the menu. The many choices of coffee were interesting - salt, egg, ginger, Vietnam coffeen, coconut - the most enjoyable was salt coffee. This is made with a small layer of condensed milk first, arabica brewed coffee, usually loads of ice, and toped with cream mixed with a little salt, which seems to enhance the taste of coffee.
Vietnamese people are generally interested about Australia, however we did have to clarify we came from Western Australia. When overseas, Sydney and Melbourne are the only places people seem to associate with Australia! We are very spoilt in Australia with out work conditions. Most Vietnamese work a 12 hr day, with one day a week off. If it's the busy season they work 7 days a week, and have 1-week annual leave per year. Next time I feel like I need a holiday from work, hopefully I will stop and reflect that I'm very lucky to live and work in Australia.
It will always amaze us the capability of what the locals manage to pack onto a scooter, with at least 3 people. And they have amazing balance and very little is tied down.
Sidewalks are definitely not made for walking on. When google maps tells you its 2.5 km you must at least double this estimation. Pavements are used for food stalls, cooking food, sitting and eating food, general storage and parking scooters. So the safest option is the road side. We mastered crossing the road fairly quickly - wait for a small gap, step out, and slowing keep moving forward, DON'T step back! The drivers are very skilled at driving around pedestrians and no one drives really fast. Even on the country roads the fastest one can go is 60 - 70 km / hr. While on long drives there are many road sit rest stops for drivers where they just pull up the car, and there are lots of hammocks hanging, so one takes a nap before heading off. One of my amusing observations was the men just stop the car or bike anywhere along the road stop and just stand there having a pee, they don't try to make it discreet in any way.
We were lucky with the weather, and although it was mostly overcast the entire time, it was a little better than walking around in the blazing sun. The average temperature was 30 - 32 *C with 70 - 90% humidity. It rained a couple of times during the night, and we only got caught in it once. We would walk out in the morning to site see, stopping for a coffee or juice somewhere, enjoy some lunch and head back to the hotel for the afternoon for a shower to cool down and a siesta. I think I had 3 showers a day sometimes due to humidity.
So I guess that's the wrap for another amazing holiday, and until next time I will have to "just imagine".