Published: June 8th 2012June 8th 2012
We took the bus from Dalat to Mui Ne late morning. The ride was down very winding roads and as soon as we hit the first curve someone was sick on the bus. I pushed my earphones further into my ears trying to block out the retching noise but when I looked out of the window, I saw the sick bag flying past - nice. On reflection, every bus I have been on for the past few months had at least one person who suffered from travel sickness.
The ride was horrendous and the bus was tiny but we eventually made it to Mui Ne. We heard conflicting information about Mui Ne - somewhere we read that it is very small and easy to find your way around, other sources said that it was widespread and the best way to get around is by motorbike. One of my friends was meeting me there and she got to Mui Ne at about the same time as us. We agreed a meeting point and by sheer coincidence, she got there at the exact same time. We wanted to stay at the Austrian House (aka Mui Ne Backpackers Resort) but they were full
so we checked into Joe's Cafe next door. They have the most comfy beds in the whole of Asia!!!!!! Great rooms and a 24 hour bar with happy hour and life music. The rooms were still quiet though.
We were a bit unlucky with the weather because it rained the first two days quite heavily and the streets flooded. We managed to get one hour on the beach but that was it. The weather changed though for the next few days and it was lovely. I loved Mui Ne. Once you find a cheap place to stay, and there are plenty, you can just walk back and forth from the beach to your hotel, restaurants etc. It isn't that widespread if you stick to an area. We didn't really find it to be a party place as we were in the low season but Joe's Cafe does have live music every night and also seems to be the busiest bar in town. There are also loads of places that offer happy hour, some of them have Beer Saigon for VND8,000. There is a new restaurant called 'The Sun' which has delicious cheap food and very friendly staff. For the
next few days we just relaxed, watched the kite surfers on the beach and chilled with a Beer Saigon and a nice dinner in the evening. Blizz!
My friend and I said goodbye to my travel buddies who went on to Cambodia and we continued to Saigon. I didn't expect Saigon to be the way it is. I found it more geared towards backpackers than Hanoi, eventhough Hanoi also has a backpacker area. Perhaps it was because in Hanoi it's more widespread whereas Pham Ngu Lao, the backpacker area in Saigon, is more confined to one area. I also found that some of the bars in Saigon are a bit on the sleezy side (like Thailand/Cambodia if you know what I mean). I hadn't really noticed this in Hanoi. Nevertheless, you get nice food and cheap beer on the street. A Beer Saigon goes for VND10,000 and who can complain about this. It's the best place to be to people watch.
The next day we took a taxi to Cholon to have a look around the area and then went to the War Remnant Museum. It was a bit gruesome but very interesting. They also have a section
on prisons during the war and again it makes you wonder how sick some people are and that a war seems to bring out the worst in people. I sometimes wonder how people can think of all these things to do to other people. I can't believe that mines are still produced and used. It's just not normal! The museum had so many guns and rifles on show, I didn't even know there were so many available. Some of them explode again if they hit the target - seriously, how can you fire such a thing!
On the way back from the museum we decided to go to the cinema. We took a taxi, one of the touting ones, from outside the museum. I usually only take taxis which you flag down but we both felt sorry for the guy and he said he would put the meter on. I had a feeling that it was going quite fast. The driver kept pointing out motorbikes - "...so many motorbikes... ", "...look big motorbike...", "...look so many people on one motorbike...". We played along thinking that it is the only thing he can say and he is trying to be
friendly. Before he pointed the last one out I looked at the meter and got a shock because it was already at VND110,000. After he pointed the last one out the meter was at VND174,000. The guy put the meter up everytime we idiots looked at the motorbikes. We shouted at him to stop and argued with him. He got really cross but we paid him VND110,000 which was already far too much and got out. I was so angry, we should have paid him nothing and it just proved my point - don't take touting taxis! He was also going in the wrong direction.
We managed to find the road the cinema is on but it splits into two parts and we weren't sure which direction to go so we ended up walking into the wrong direction (typical) and on the way I hit my toe and I really thought it was broken. I was cursing the taxi driver even more.
We decided to call it a day and take a taxi back to Pham Ngu Lao (or Pam nude in Lao - that's what we called it to make it easier to remember) and had a
nice meal and an early night as we both had flights the next day. My friend was flying to Hanoi to start her teaching job and I had a flight booked to Jakarta via Singapore.
I did like Saigon but I can't say whether I prefer Saigon or Hanoi.
The first two weeks of my trip to Vietnam weren't the best ones. I met really nice and friendly people (locals) but also some of the rudest people I have ever come accross. Coming from Laos and Cambodia where you are made to feel welcome and then going into Vietnam where I didn't really feel welcome at first was a bit of a culture shock. I did like the country but there have been a few incidents were I almost wanted to leave. It got better once we got further down South especially Mui Ne. I also found that the food got better and the people just seemed to be more welcoming. I am glad that my trip to Vietnam ended on a high note as I was hugely disappointed at first. I enjoyed all the places I visited apart from Dalat which wasn't really that great. Hoi An was the most beautiful one but it can get stressful arguing with the tailors. Vietnam is a bit more expensive than Cambodia but I found it cheaper than Thailand. The accommodation has a high standard with most places having aircon, TV and a fridge as standard for around $10-15. Travelling around was fairly cheap and easy but you have to endure a few night journeys because of the size of the country. The only regret I have is not having seen the Mekong Delta but I needed the 6 days in Mui Ne to chill out. I am not sure if I would visit Vietnam again though but I will definitely continue to eat the food!
And there goes another month of my travels - only 3 weeks left in Asia before I fly back to Europe. Where has the time gone??!!