Xin chao from Vietnam! What a start - we have barely been here a week and are already shattered! We started in Ho Chi Minh, arriving the day before New Year's Eve so we set about doing a bit of exploring before the big event! We already knew the city was likely to be a bit chaotic NYE, as we had seen some crazy videos on youtube, but we really had no idea! Come 10pm we tried heading out to the massive street party that was being held about a 10 minute walk from our hotel but literally could not move! Pavements as well as roads were just jam-packed with mopeds (the mode of transport to be seen on in HCM) so we were going nowhere! Nevertheless, a bottle of champagne in our room overlooking the big firework display on the river wasn't a bad plan B and was fantastic start to 2012.
On January 1st, we really got to work! We hit HCM big time and saw everything from the colonial style post-office to the Notre Dame cathedral (yes, we are in HCM not Paris) and the Reunification Palace. We also spent time at the War Museum, which, although somewhat pleasingly anti-american, displayed some disturbing and moving images of the civilian effects of the Vietnam war (known here as the 'American War'). We have, of course, done lots of mooching about too! Nat spotted a little shop advertising 'foot massages' for £8 so jumped right in...ending up getting a 90 min full body massage for that price - awesome! Not to mention the somewhat surreal water puppet show we went to - will upload the video! We have eaten like kings for the princely sum of £5 each and are loving the fact we don't need a jumper, let alone a coat in this 32 degree January heat!
Just before leaving HCM we headed to the Mekong Delta for the day to explore some of the floating markets and get a taste of more rural living in southern vietnam. However, the child in Nat was most impressed by the snake at the restaurant we ate in which had eaten a duck the day before and you could still see the duck bulging out of its middle - childish? Yes! Impressive? Hell yeah! We also had a fantastic morning at a cookery class in the city. We met the chef at the local market to do the shopping for our impending culinary adventure and get a taste of local life in the way only a local market can dish it out. Nat tried to persuade Nick he needed Weasel coffee in his life (a weasel eats the bean, craps it out then they make coffee from it) but was, once again somewhat perturbed on the animal front...after watching a tiny lady anihilate a huge thrashing eel on the floor of the fish section! The cooking part was soooooooo fun though - we made yummy spring rolls, caramel pork (delicious!) and a clear vietnamese soup. Even Nick's culinary skills came into their own and, if we do say so ourselves, what we made was yummy! And the crazy aussie lady at the class ('Hi, I'm Tania, I'm a cook' - a touch irritating at a cookery class) who kept insisting on telling us all either about her gay vietnamese brother-in-law or her gastric band operation was a massive dose of comedy!
Yetserday we headed to the beach at Mui Ne, a four hour train ride out of HCM, and have spent today chilling out, reading and enjoying the sunshine. Off to see some massive red and white sand dunes tomorrow (apparently Mui Ne is famous for them!?) and Wattsy Woo is driving (bring on the moped madness!) before a bit more chilling then heading to Dalat in the mountains early next week and doing some trekking in Cat Tien National Park.
We still have Phu Quoc Island, Hanoi and Halong Bay to see before heading to Laos on 26th too - bring it on! What a place, what an adventure, what a life! xxx