So we were up early and grabbed our bus down to Saigon, a rather hot and uncomfortable journey but otherwise painless! We arrived and tracked down a cheap hotel for our stay and managed to reconvene with Tash and Andy again, who had come down a few days prior!! We spent a few hours trying to track down a bar with live music which was recommended in the good old lonely planet, but after walking with no joy we eventually gave up and just went to the nearest bar for a few drinks! The next morning the four of us headed out for our last trip together, the destination was the Chu Chi tunnels, all in all a rather harrowing experience, the Chu Chi tunnels are a maze of underground tunnels which the Viet Cong dug during the war, to hide from and to ambush the americans! After our day of fun we headed back for our last night out togther before tash and andy started their journey towards home the following day. Another good night with the two of them, a few drinkies and then we grabbed a cracking little meal, with a bbq in our table, and some lil Vietnamese lassy cooking our meat for us!
As usual after a night out, it was a late start the following day, and after grabbing a late brunch we headed out for Chloe to get a few belated birthday treats, in the end the shopping was't succesful so we ended up in the mall's bowling alley, we had two games, winning one each, we both also managed to post awful scores throughout with only one strike...sadly coming from chloe!
The following day was our sight seeing day, so we were up bright and early for breakfast and a strong coffee and headed off on a walking tour of Saigon. First stop was the War Museum, the only word to describe this is; horrific! Within about 5mins me and Chloe both had tears in our eyes, as did every other person in the building, the most part of the museum concentrates on photography of the American massacres and the Agent Orange victims, to think this happened less than 40 years ago is just scary!! After taking 5mins out to pull ourselves back together we headed back off on our walking tour, next stop was the botanical gardens and the city zoo (we're loving our zoo's on this trip) which housed the biggest hippo i've ever seen and a cheeky monkey which begged for food and then threw it straight back at me, i got chinned by flying carrots several times! Final main attraction on the tour was the reunification palace, which was pretty boring to be honest so we lightened up the party with a good old KFC!
Next day was an early start as we had booked onto a 3 day tour of the Mekong delta which would end up with a slow boat journey into Cambodia. The first day was your average tourist trip, but the scenery was spectacular, we first got the bus down into the delta area and changed onto a boat which took us down the river and to a Coconut candy factory. A rather tasty sweet which is made from pulping up coconuts, then melting it and letting it set, very simple and yummy!! From here the boat took us to a bee farm, this seemed pointless as we saw no bees, no tour guides, or anything to do with a bee farm, we did have some snake wine (snake wine is an alcoholic drink made from fermenting rice, and then soaking a small snake in there for added measure. its of unknown strength but makes your hair stand on end just smelling it!) with our tour group though before leaving on the boat again! Next stop was a local village where they sang and danced for us and fed us fresh fruit before we took our final leg on the boat for the day! The bus took us down to a large delta town where we spent the night.
The next day was a very early start and we all headed off to a large floating market which was a great exprience, hundreds of barge like boat all selling anything you could imagine, my only purchase was a strong coffee to counter the early start! Next stop was a rice noodle factory where they make......you guessed it, rice noodles, but was quite interesting seeing how the noodles we've been eating for 5months are actually made! From here we headed to a fruit farm which seemed to be growing every fruit imaginable, we then had a 30min break to eat some fruit and rest....it ended up with our whole tour group, the tour guides, and boat driver all getting hammered on beer and rice wine and then singing and shouting all the way back to the mainland where we headed for lunch. Not sure how the boat driver got us back as he was pretty pissed, and even ended up with a couple of the girls from our tour taking the wheel at some points!! Once back we found ourselves pretty drunk and with a menu offering all sorts of weird and wonderful food, and being drunk it seemed a good idea to eat it, so our table ended up with chicken pork and beef dishes, and then accompanied by frog, snake and rat dishes! I'm not sure i would have enjoyed these if sober but i remember them all being delicious, especially rat! After lunch our tour group was split up, with the majority heading back to Saigon, and only 4 of us heading off for another night in the delta before heading to Cambodia, the 4 of us remaining stumbled onto another mini bus to find ourselves now paired with 4 elderly americans and 4 rather stroppy looking German girls, with the lack of party atmosphere the alcohol turned into a hangover and we all passed out on the route to our afternoon stop at a crocodile farm. The croc farm was pretty interesting as we arrived during mating season, so there was a huge pen with 200 crocodiles getting their freak on, not so much romantic as it involved alot of head butting and fighting for a mate, but this was good entertainment. From here we headed to a temple for sunset, and then to a hotel where we both crashed!
Another very early start and we set off for Cambodia on another slow boat, we stopped off on the way at a floating fish farm and a small minority village before setting off to the border, it was another beautiful jorney and within 3 hours we were in Cambodia, and a further 3 hours and we arrived at our destination! A short bus ride took us into the capital Phnom Penh, we were only spending the night there so checked into a hotel, grabbed some food and got some sleep. We moved on the following day to a town called Kampot, which is a little river side town on the south coast, the town was fairly cute, our room certainly was not! We had found a cheap no frills room, but it was right on the river and had a great little bar for chilling in, it wasnt untill we came to go to bed that the nightmare began, it started with a couple of big cockroaches, these werent too bad, they were the size of my fist but nothing a flip flop cant solve, we're used to them now. Next came scuttling in the ceiling above us, rats running in the rafters, again not nice admittedly but not too much of an issue, so we turned off the lights and set in for a good nights sleep...then something fell on my bed next to my pillow, then on my pillow, and then on my lip...i checked with Chloe she wasnt throwing anything at me then switched on the light...the rats were now literally s***ting on my head.... this i couldnt have slept through so we woke up the hotel staff and shifted into a better room for the night, the next morning we left and found a much nicer hotel for the same price. After moving hotels we spent the day mooching around Kampot, not really doing much excpt taking in the few sights and drinking coffee by the river!
After a day of relaxing around the town we grabbed tuk tuk and headed off for our sight seeing tour of kampot and the surrounding areas! Was a really nice day sitting in the back of a tuk tuk driving through the countryside of cambodia, along the way we stopped to see the salt fields, some caves which a really cute little kid took us around ( and who after told us we had just walked through a recently cleared minefield, which wasnt quite cleared near the mountain we were walking around), then we headed to a pepper farm before spending the afternoon on rabbit island, which is half hour off the coast and paradise, a small island with white sands, emerald waters and nothing more!
From Kampot we headed up the coast to Sihanoukville, the "beach resort" of Cambodia. We spent the first four nights on Otres beach which is 4km away from the main town, and was gorgeous, we had a small room on the beach, which only had elecricity from 6pm till 10pm, and just spent 4 nights and days sitting in hammocks, swimming and generally bumming around.
After 4 nights we headed into the main town of Sihanoukville, we only planned to head here for 2 nights to use the internet and have a couple of nights out then head back to our quiet hut on the beach, but we ended up finding a nice hotel with a pool, and some cracking restaurants serving cheap BBQ's (these BBQ'S were immense, dead cheap and cheap beer to go with, and a massive stack of potato, salad and meat/fish of your choice, and all for about 2usd) so ended up staying for the remainder of our time here. Again we didnt get up to too much, its a beach resort and so no real sites, so we sat around the pool, caught up on some emails etc, and chilled during the days! On our second night we headed out to try and track down Billy, i guy i worked with at Northern and who was in town somewhere, unfortunately our facebook communications fell through and we didnt find him, we did however have a pretty good night out, ended up rather drunk at a beach party with a couple of guys we'd met earlier. Luckily we were unable to contact Billy to arrange to meet the following night as I was in a bad way the next day, had a stonking hangover and couldn't eat all day, but we did manage to arrange to meet up the following night. Had a good few beers with Billy and his mate he was with, was great to catch up and see a familiar face all the way over the other side of the world, we were planning to go off to a club round the corner but Billy's cambodian girlfriend got in a strop and he had to go and check she wasn running off with all his belongings!
We did push the boat out on our final day and headed off on a boat trip which involved some snorkellingalong the way and stopping off on a little island for some swimming and a bbq lunch, the snorkelling was pretty disapointing, no fish anywhere really, but the trip itself was a good day, and the island stop was on another beautiful little island!
Next stop for us as the capital, Phnom Penh where we were meeting Tom and Carole, we arrived a day earlier to find a nice hotel for their arrival and get settled, we checked into one which wasnt great so spent the afternoon finding somewhere better, grabbed some food and headed to bed. During the night we were awoken by a gigantic thunder storm and rain pummeling the roof and windows, this continued well into the morning, after 4 months of not seeing a spot of rain, the day tom and carole were heading out it was chucking it down!
I'll leave it there for now, and will cover our time with the in laws in our next blog!!