Published: January 4th 2007January 2nd 2007
James in Hanoi looking the part!
This is the first blog that I'm writing myself as both James & I have decided to split up and each travel where we want. From now on i'll probably only do an entry every few weeks or at the change of each country i've visited... Loved Every Second Of It!
We both arrived in Vietnam after a short 8 hour train journey (trust me, 8 hours is short after you've done 34 hours!). The journey was split up well, either by one set of customs or another. Basically I got no sleep at all. We did meet a couple of sound lads from Manchester though (Dave & Will) and we headed to a hostel with them.
Hanoi was a cool place and it had loads to do although to be honest we did bugger all in the place, mainly to do with poor planning and going to museums on the days they are all closed! Instead we just found somewhere to buy an open bus ticket down through Vietnam and also a ticket for a 2 Day trip to Halong Bay. We got a great price and when compared to the price others paid we were definitely
Whilst walking around I came across some cock fighting.
So off we went to Halong Bay, the place had been made out to be really amazing and to be honest with you it was pretty special. The huge rock formations came out of the sea randomly and it looked awesome. We had a great 2 days on the boat and the group that we spent our time with were all fun which always helps. The first night onboard we all drank and played games and by the end I was very merry! I normally get sea sick real badly but i was lucky that it was so flat it was like floating on a duck pond.
Once back in Hanoi we made a quick getaway to Nimh Binh, the guide book told us that there wasn't anything to do here and to be honest there probably wasn't. I think most places have nothing much to do and if you just read the guide book and follow an itinerary everywhere you go then you're just wasting your time. We decided to hire out a couple of motorbikes and speaking for myself I had one of the best days of my trip so far. We went on a
A quick trip back to our hotel on the back of a motorbike
boat trip through the rice paddies and the landscape was very similar to Halong Bay (although i preferred here). Most people don't go to Nimh Binh but it's definitely a place i'd recommend, although if you hire out a bike then you had better be good at dodging people!
After Nimh Binh we went to Hue, one of the larger towns/cities in Vietnam. I enjoyed myself here but I think i'm more at home out in the countryside. We didn't spend much time here as we were rushing off again. I was beginning to hope for a few rest days because all we seemed to be doing was sitting on buses or heading to one tourist site or another. I felt like we weren't getting to know the places just what was in them and I think that you need to spend 2 or 3 days in a place to really get a feel for it and the people.
Hoi An was next and this was where we spent Christmas and also where James & I parted. We arrived on Christmas Eve and did bugger all. Hoi An is basically a town with a small beach and a
Vietnam, Halong Bay
Sunset over the Bay
small centre with bars and restaurants. Christmas Eve we did decide however to split up. It was really because we both wanted different things from the trip and after 2 months together 24/7 and in pretty stressful countries we had started falling out over pretty petty things. So we decided it was best to split now and see each other in Bali and New Zealand when Lingy comes out to visit.
Christmas Day we both spent on the beach and just chilled out and swam. It was great to finally see a beach after all the time we spent traveling inland. At 6pm James caught his bus to the next destination and we said out goodbyes (Although we bumped into each other twice in the next few days!, Small world!). That night I met up with a guy from Darwin and had a few beers before calling home and wishing everyone a happy xmas. It was great to hear everyone again after so long, it was only the second time i'd spoken to my mum since leaving.
I moved on to Nha Trang 2 days later after chilling out for a bit. Nha Trang seemed to be the
party town of Vietnam and had loads of families and travelers there for New Years. The beach there was cool and so were the bars. After 2 days I was bored though! One interesting thing that happens in Nha Trang, if you are male and walking through the streets alone at night you get attacked by the taxi girls. They grab you trying to find money and you basically need to fight your way out of it! Its much safer being a woman in South East Asia!
I decided to skip out my 2nd to last stop and head straight to Saigon for New Years Eve. The night was great and I firstly started it in the street party that was going on near my hotel. I met up with Will & Dave the 2 Mancs which we met in China. It was definitely one of my better New Years and a little better than Bingley has to offer! Needless to say I got drunk and got back to my hotel at 5am!....Its a bit of a shame I stupidly booked a trip to see the Cu Chi tunnels at 8 the next day!
Saigon turned out to
Vietnam, Halong Bay
The water was warm but as soon as you got out it was freezing!
be one of the best places I'd been to in Vietnam. The history there is immense and there was lots of reminders there of the war with America and the awful things that took place.
Anyway, I figured I could get my mum to ring me at 12am her time to say happy new years, this would be 7am my time and act as a great alarm clock! Shame my phone fell on the floor through the night and smashed into a billion pieces! I woke and grabbed by watch to find that it was 7.45am and I only had 15 minutes to run the 300metres to catch my bus! Normally that wouldn't be a problem, it's just when you have loads of cocktails still churning up inside and the weather is already 30 degrees and humid! I must admit I was very close to being sick but I made it and was so glad I did!
The Cu Chi Tunnels were used by guerilla soldiers on the side of the Viet Cong to hide and attack the Americans near Saigon. They had no weapons but after seeing how creative they were with what they had and the
Vietnam, Halong Bay
The next morning looking out from the boat on a clear day.
fact they were so deep underground even the B-52 bombers couldn't get to them, you soon realised that they were a force to be reckoned with!
Later after my hangover wore off I went to The War Remnants museum and again this was a place that left you speechless (A novelty for me!). Although it seemed very biased against America, you couldn't argue with the photos that were on display there, many of which were stomach churning (not good in my state!) and quite damning to the Americans & their allis.
My visit to Vietnam left me wanting more, I really enjoyed my stay here and its a country which has so much to offer. I will definitely be coming back here some day, but for now I'll just look forward to Cambodia and hope I enjoy it as much as here.
There are more photos below