Vietnam was just how I expected it to be, the cities were crazy busy and the countryside was beautiful. The country is more developed than Cambodia was but still very poor in parts. Driving through I came to the conclusion that towns are just one street with a few motorbike garages and places selling food out of there house garages, no sights of a bundle of houses together.
Our first stop was Ho Chi Minh city. It had so many mopeds it was crazy, I have never seen so many in my life, crossing the roads is mental as of course they don’t seem to have pedestrian crossings and if they do they do not abide by the rules. The main reason we went there was to see the war tunnels, we had a crazy tour guide (see my fb video) he was hilarious and actually I learnt a lot from him, although not sure how much of what he said was the truth. I think he was a Vietnamese man who worked for the US army and took great pleasure in telling us how they trapped the Vietnamese in the tunnels and foiled there plans. Quite odd for telling these stories glorifying the US in a country that hates them for what they did. The title of this blog post comes from him as well when he was explaining how the Vietnamese could stay squatted for so long to shoot from a low range.
The war remnants museum was probably the place that’s effected me the most since being away. The pictures were so graphic and it made me really despise the Americans. After studying war crimes and genocide at uni I can safely say there was definitely war crimes committed and it disgusts me they have never been fully punished for it.
On our final night we headed out with 3 English lads from our room, we ended up in a very random club which was tiny. I learnt two things: the Vietnamese love Justin Beiber and they love a good beat. They were going crazy in the club. We had to get a 7 hour bus which at first I dreaded but to be honest it was actually alright. We were on the back row at the top in these weird seats which you had to lay down in. Not too uncomfortable and only one other Vietnamese guy in the row who kept his distance. Although after the second stop (they love a toilet break every 90 minutes out here. Mums dream) he started taking photos of us, so we took some back. Strange man.
Our next stop in Vietnam was Dalat, somewhere we had never heard of but was recommended it by a couple of people so we thought we might as well check it out. Im glad we did as it is among all the mountains and it is pretty stunning. It’s quite a small town which was a welcome break from all the cities, but only just becoming a tourist destination as most places do not have menus in English. We also had the best ever hot chocolate here. Just what I was craving!! (Side note: There are loads of cafes in Vietnam a welcome French influence.)
We stayed at Mr peaces hostel, it is definitely an experience in itself staying there. Mr Peace was very eccentric and liked to hang out with everyone and be everyones friend, but that was cool. His wife was called strawberry and they had a little daughter called Laura who was the most adorable kid ever. Each night they do a ‘family meal’ either eating in or going out and on our second night we joined them at a spring roll place, which was really yummy.
Our big experience in Dalat was canyoning, which was not exactly my forte. Before I went I had no idea what it was, which I think was a good thing, as it is abseiling down cliffs and waterfalls. The first couple of cliffs were dry then at the bottom you dropped into the river, then the third one was the waterfall. He said it was very unlikely for us to fall, well of course I fell as soon as the water pushed down on you, I completely panicked it felt like I just kneeled there for about 5 minutes with my mind blank of what to do. I finally sorted myself out and got back up thankfully. But then I had to watch Louise fall at the same spot. I was terrified for her, watching your best friend stuck dangling on a waterfall is not ideal. The worst part about the day was the rough paths in between each activity. I twisted my ankle badly (I’m gonna say I sprained it as it hurt a lot for a few days after and swelled up) it was not good for me. We also just got chucked down random little waterfalls head first, odd but fun. We also did free jumping, 7 metres off a cliff into the water. We both didn’t do the last abseil, my body could not handle that, all the adrenaline and fear takes it out of you.
Our final stop in Vietnam was Hanoi, which at first I really didn’t like but it grew on me. We started off badly though as we were dropped off in the wrong place which was scary as the streets were so small and crowded. We walked around for ages trying to find our place asking loads of people and finally discovering there’s two streets with same name but different accents on, so frustrating. But when we got to the hotel it was totally worth it. We stayed at the Posh hotel, which actually was very posh. It was a normal hotel then had a dorm downstairs with the most comfortable beds so far. Whilst here we went to a few museums, which were interesting but the main attraction was
Halong bay. We did a day trip around the bay, we originally was going to stay over night but heard bad things. Thankfully our boat was very nice and had a good meal on board of seafood and rice etc. We went kayaking which at first we were rubbish at but I think we improved by the end. Definetely a good experience. Also went into the caves which were cool but to be honest Cheddar gorge in Somerset had more impressive ones!
A great week in Vietnam with Laos next on the agenda.
Louise’s fact- The Vietnamese do not understand the term “okie dokie”