Friday, 20 April 2012

Good Morning, Vietnam

hi fans!
Continuing our South East Asia tour, we are in Vietnam, and have been for 2 weeks now. Currently in the capital Hanoi, at the north end of this long and thin country. Battling traffic and noise, hawkers and the heat, Hanoi is quite a blast in your face, and ears.

But first we started in the south, coming into Saigon (or Ho Chi Min City, as it is technically, though no one calls it that), on the fun bus from Cambodia. We had a mess up with our Vietnam visas (thank you Cambodia), which has squashed our stay a little (language problems) but what the hey. It was a painless crossing, and we met up with out friend Gemma who lives there now, to show us around.   

We went to the war museum there, currently titled "War Remnants Museum", opened in 1975 as "The House for Displaying War Crimes of American Imperialism and the Puppet Government of South Vietnam". It was predictably horrifying and interesting, but quite clumsily laid out.  Not the best museum I've been to. Some incredible photos from war journalists though.  Laura sat under a fan while I took goofy pictures of the helicopters and planes outside.  There was a cool bulldozer, for those interested in those.

I AM smiling. Can we go now?
We both loved Saigon, and having friends there was brilliant.  So. Many. Motorbikes.  There are 20 Million in Vietnam. And if your'e not on one, then your'e a foreigner or yours is broken.

Another predominantly Buddhist country, there are quite a few temples and a lot of shrines.  Its odd to see the food offerings to Buddha at the small shrines being chocolate Oreos, a can of strawberry Fanta and sometimes a few cigarettes.  Laura saw a beer can at one. But i suppose everything moves with the times doesn't it.

Hoi An was our next stop, a train ride up the coast.  Not quite as flash as our Thailand train rides, but it got us there safe n sound.  Cricked necks and no sleep!  (we couldn't splash for the beds, we just had chairs).  Hoi An was beautiful, especially at night and felt very chinese influenced.  The beer was supa cheap and we hired bikes for 5 days to roll around on and enjoy the slow pace.  Very touristy, it was still a nice place to stop by.  I even had a suit made at a tailors, which is the done thing here.  Its on its way home in a box now.  Fingers crossed!  I even got a personal email from the post office, confirming its transit, and asking if I was well or not.

My mum is very proud

Sail boat in Hoi An

From Hoi An, we took another rattle train north to Hanoi, where i am sat now.  Probably the worst train ride we've had, with ogre snoring from somewhere infront, I nearly threw up at the smell of dried squid flapping around in someones hand at 5am as we got off.  I was grumpy! 

We are staying in the Old Town area, which is very hairy, and twice so at night time.   Its quite a place!  Want to eat street noodles sat on a reed mat on the pavement while a guy angle grinds some steel tubing 3 metres to your left infront of the metal shop?  This is the place!  Its pretty amazing to see how things run here.  Pavements are like that army assault course they used to have on Whitley Bay beach when i was little.  But with more motorbikes.  

It feels like im talking about bikes a lot, but that is the overwhelming feature of city life here, and all commerce and transport is done on one.  Laura found a great photo book in a shop called Bikes of Burden, which has captured some of the bike stunts here. Click HERE for some of the brilliant pictures. My favourite is this one i think, from the book...

Confuse those tail-gaiters!
And a few from our collection...

There's a man on there somewhere...
Bicycle with a wood burning stove on the back

Vietnam has been great fun, we've travelled a long way northwards, and seen even more amazing sights and memories.  And its good to know these places will still be here after we've left, for us to visit again sometime in the future.  

So, tomorrow we jump on an early bus, and enter into China.  COOL!  We have 3 and a half weeks to explore Yunnan and Guangxi provinces, where Dog is the speciality dish. COOL! no, wait...



  1. All I can say is "Honda Super Cub" - we loved those bikes and I'd love one in the UK although it wouldn't like the hills in Wales. What was your record for number of people spotted on a bike?

    Glad you are still enjoying yourselves. Train up to Hanoi didn't sound like too much fun. Think we got something nicked from Hanoi to Hue. Did you have a beer in beer corner - we enjoyed seeing the Vietnamese walking around in their pyjamas. Very odd!

  2. Watch out for that border crossing! We did it in reverse (with the added bonus of food poisoning from probably inadvertently eating dog) where I was accused of having a gun!