Published: June 17th 2012June 17th 2012
Tom absailing through a waterfall
Saigon, the city of mopeds, was of little note except for an exceedingly good bakery. We have to thank the French for teaching them how to make good bread. The main attraction here was the museum about the vietnam war. We fully expected it to come across as very one sided and essentially anti-american propaganda, and we were not dissapointed. It was extremely informative though and did give a view of the war that even after you remove the propaganda edge puts america firmly in the wrong. The vietnamese do however loose points when they showed photos of the american POW's enjoying games of cards, chess and cigarettes, when in fact they were forced to pose for the photos and were actually being tortured at the time. During the war america were sent these photos and forced interviews saying they were treated well, and didnt realise it wasn't the case until one of the american prisoners blinked "torture" repeatedly during the interview in morse code.
After Saigon we travel to Delat, a very pretty french style colonial town which they call "little paris", a regular vietnamese long weekend couples destination. We however were recommended the canyoning in the
The view from the beach overlooking Vinpearl
nearby valley by our friends from Fraser Island Australia, so headed off to that. It was awesome, 4 absails down through waterfalls, a natural waterfall waterslide, and a few cliff jumps made for an awesome day.
Nha Trang on the east coast was back on the more popular backpacker trail, and also where we joined party with Will, my uni room mate for 2 years, on his 2 week holiday before starting work in London. Nha Trang has an island just off from it called Vinpearl that contains a theme park, amusment arcade and water park. That made for a great day out, but the theme park was 100% more scary than any in england, as you are never sure about Asian health and safety, meaning that when you are hanging upside down with just the harness holding you in, you are scared.
After Nha Trang was Hoi An, another peaceful relaxed french colonial town, a nice respite from the constant beeps of mopeds (in vietnam you beep your horn to turn left, to turn right, to overtake, to undertake, to speed up, to slow down, and when passing every intersection, times this by 30 million
The best mobile shop ever
peds and it's quite annoying!). The attraction of Nha Trang, according to the guide book, is good food; true to form we found a restaraunt overlooking the river that served a brilliant honey lemon beef in banana leaf. This was also where we witnessed the final day of the premiership, best finish to a football season ever.
Hanoi was next, a short 15 hour bus ride away. Back to the chaos of peds but a nice little area of small streets and random stalls. From here was the base to explore Halong Bay, the hostel organised a highly recommended 3 day cruise. It was for me probably at least in the top 5 things I've done on the trip. An absolutely stunning place to enjoy a cold beer on the top deck of a cruise liner, to rock climb, wakeboard (on which I stood up on the 4th attempt, the guide was very jealous by trying not to be as it took him most of a season!), and sleep on an island. At night when you go in the water it's one of 6 locations in the world where they have photo-luminecent plankton, so any movement results in the
The view from our island stopover
water lighting up to a vivid shade of blue.
Hanoi was where we left Will, and we headed on the Laos whilst he got a flight to Bangkok to stay in a 5 star hotel for 2 nights before his flight home. We spent the same two night ON THE SAME BUS. a 37 hour bus journey to Luang Probang in Laos. More on that next time...