Archive for the 'Vietnam' Category

Published by Linda on 10 Jun 2008

Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) & Mekong Delta

Arrived in Ho Chi Minh City at 4.30am by overnight train. Had to leave the hotel at 6.45am to drive to the Cu Chi Tunnels which was really interesting. They basically built villages underground to protect themselves from the Americans during the war. The tunnels measure 250km in total. We had a chance to crawl through some of the tunnels which was a bit scary and really hot!! This photo shows a typical entrance into the tunnel network…..

and this one shows how they ventilated the tunnels.

Not really sure how I managed to get in (or get out!) of here……..

At the end of our time at the Cu Chi tunnels, we had a chance to shoot some guns so couldn’t pass out on that!! It was a lot of fun, might get myself an AK47 at some stage – joke :-) It was mounted too so you didn’t get a load of kickback on your shoulder.

Heading back to HCMC and visited the War Remnants Museum. It was very disturbing but something you should see, rather than you’d like to see, if you know what I mean. There were a lot of photographs of the war, some were quite brutal and really unpleasant but then I guess war is. Also a lot of pictures of the lasting damage done by the Agent Orange bombings. There was one particular photograph which sticks in my head. A Vietnamese man surrounded by American soldiers. The caption was a quote from the photographer asking them to wait until he could capture the scene and when he was done, he turned and heard the shots fired. I know someone has to document war but it seems so clinical to hold the fate of the life of another human being albeit for a few seconds. Also saw a lot of the weapons used to torture the prisoners, things you couldn’t even bear thinking about. Of course there was brutality on both sides – check out my flickr photos showing the traps used by the Vietnamese!!

Ho Chi Minh City is totally mental, like Hanoi but much bigger and there is traffic everywhere!! These photos don’t really capture just how many mopeds there are here. They also drive like maniacs and there doesn’t seem to be any real rules to be upheld. It’s not hard to imagine why there are 43 road deaths a day in this country.

Saturday morning found us on a 3 hour bus journey to the Mekong Delta. Made a pit stop to see a Buddhist temple which was spectacular, as you can see…..

Had a fantastic tour around the Delta. This area is unspoilt by tourism. We got to cruise around and visit some of the villages that surround it. Many different things are produced around the delta including clay products such bricks, roof slates and pottery.

After a hard morning’s work(!) we had an amazing lunch in a Vietnamese house, followed by a relaxing snooze in hammocks. Did I mention I have a tough life? :-) In the afternoon we made another couple of stops and got a chance to taste snake wine and hold a python – now they are heavy buggers!!! We also couldn’t hold him in the middle because he’d eaten a duck two days before – nice!! To recover we had some green tea and fruit – jack-fruit and dragon eye fruit which are really good!

We were then brought to our homestay and spend the night sleeping under mossie nets (thank god, the war seems to be back on!) listening to roosters, frogs, crickets and all the other wildlife. Really enjoyable, had the best sleep since leaving home. The following morning we visited a sweet factory where caramel, rice paper and other sweetie products are made. These guys here are making the equivalent of Rice Crispie bars!

Then it was back to Ho Chi Minh with us to meet the rest of the group. There are 18 of us now which is great. We all had dinner in a restaurant which trains homeless kids to become chefs and cooks. Moving into Cambodia next and I will be sad to leave Vietnam, it’s such a varied country, depending on where you go.

That brings us to the end of our two weeks in Vietnam. It’s a great country, really varied on the one hand they are agricultural is still a huge industry but tourism is going to boom and I’d highly recommend a visit before that happens because I think there will be massive changes here in the next 10 years. Anyhoo that’s the scoop for now. Next stop………..Cambodia!!

P.S. The mossie war is back on :-( The little feckers seem to like me again and this time the bites are swelling big time – oh joy!! Anyway I have a lovely one on my knee which has swelled so much that I look like I’ve two knees on my left leg. It is providing great entertainment for the tour group but I could do without it!! I am now armed with 95% DEET repellent, anti-histamine gel and tiger balm and they’re still eating me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Published by Linda on 04 Jun 2008

Hue, Hoi An & Nha Trang

Left Hanoi by night train on wednesday and got into Hue for one night only. Took a break from the cultural stuff and did some sun lounging on the beach which was all gooood. The Vietnamese are so different to us though, they cover up completely on the beach to avoid getting a tan and because they are far more modest than us. I think we amused or offended them or maybe a bit of both! I saw a teenager with socks, trousers, teeshirt, jacket, face mask (well they all wear them) hat & gloves!!! Imagine how hot you’d be!!!!

Left by bus the following morning for Hoi An which is just lovely. Beautiful artwork including these pictures which believe it or not are weaved thread by thread. Unbelievable stuff. Got to see the live silkworms, the cocoons being unraveled and the silk wound up. We also got to see the people creating these amazing pictures.

Really nice feel to this place and it’s nice to see it now as apparently it is going to become a huge holiday spot. There is plans to build a 6 star hotel and a 5 star resort on China beach which is very beautiful and unspoilt at the moment.

Also sampled some more great food in a local restaurant, shrimp wrapped in banana leaves, shrimp wrapped on sugar cane sticks and steamed won tons (white rose) to name but a few!!!! They also do amazing fish in clay pots, which is different everywhere so I have to keep trying it! I’ve gone on a little fish frenzy I have to admit but it’s just so good and fresh here. Did a little bespoke tailoring here too which was fun.

Following a 12 hour day train journey (with a mouse in the carriage!!), Nha Trang brought some more welcome rest and relaxation on the beach. This is another town set to become a huge resort. It is hosting the Miss Universe competion in a couple of weeks so there will be a huge influx of people here. It’s all up and coming but at the moment all the resorts are just built and completely deserted so there could be bargains for discounts on holliers here I reckon.  

We also had a big night out here and sampled some buckets of cocktails, which can only be good (well not so good the following day actually – groan….) The bar we went to is on the the beach so now I definitely know I’m on holidays!

 

 

P.S. It would appear that the group have noticed my need (okay, okay compulsion!!) to be neat and organised and have nicknamed me Monica from friends!!!!! Sooooo unfair! Damn it, thought no one would notice. And I keep walking myself into it because we were discussing what vegetables we like one night and I mentioned that I like brussel sprouts better than cabbage because they’re neater…..oh I got abused for that one!! (But they are so much neater, really can you argue with me??) Anyway I’ve retaliated a little and named the Tour leader “Monk Lover” as she has a little thaang for the monks. It’s all good fun though :-)

Published by Linda on 29 May 2008

Vietnam – Hanoi & Halong Bay

Ahem……..Gooooooooooood Morning Vietnaaaaaaaaam!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sorry just had to!! Well I arrived in Hanoi, it’s as you would imagine bodies and mopeds everywhere!! it is all goooood though :-) Totally mental. I was warned that it’s really hard to cross the road here but I think Cork being the jay-walking capital of Europe has helped a lot!! Just gotta keep going and they don’t run you over. Really warm here, even some of the locals look a little overcooked these last few days! I reckon it must be 34 or 35 degrees. Pretty hot for walking around in!! Doesn’t help being so white because they constantly try to sell you stuff. Most of it is pineapples or “tat” but I’m determined not to buy any tat!!!! Went to see a water puppet show which wasn’t completely my scene but entertaining nonetheless!

Headed up to Halong Bay on monday just overnight. Got to spend a night on a boat which I was really looking forward to in theory, the reality was hot and sweaty!! Very enjoyable trip though, really beautiful scenery and we had the boat to ourselves which was a real treat. Also had some seriously good seafood straight out of the the South China Sea. Crabs are Gooooooooood!!!! In fact all the seafood is really good.

 

 

Did some cultural things today, including the Ho Chi Minh Museum, got to see the man himself, well in preserved format anyway. Little bit creepy though as his wish was to be cremated. Anyway the man is a GOD here so we went to check him out. Also went to see The Museum of Literature and Hanoi “Hilton” which is the prison where they kept political prisoners. Now that was a bit disturbing considering it wasn’t that long ago.

Tonight we begin our journey south and are getting an overnight train south to Hue where I’m planning to do nothing cultural and just chillax on the beach. The train journey is sure to be pretty nasty so I’ll fill y’all in on that in the next few days……..

There are 8 of us in the group now and everyone seems lovely. We’ll have more joining us along the way!!

More photos on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157605298213792/