Published: May 14th 2007May 14th 2007
Hello again everbody! We have spent about a week in Vietnam now, so thats about half of our allocated time. I am currently waiting for the rain to stop - it is well and truly the wet season here now. So, wasting a bit of time by blogging.
The crossing into Vietnam was one of the most bizzarre days we have had whilst travelling. We had to get a really early bus (half 6 in the morning), because it turns out that Savannakhet is actually on the other side of the country from the border we intended to cross. So, we turned up at the bus station, and bought out tickets (and we had to sign an insurance form too - thats the first and only time that we have had to do that on any travel anywhere in Asia so far - needless to say, I was suspicious, but nothing came of it).
So, hopped on the bus, which had just been loaded to bursting point with bottles of water - public transport over here seems to be more about carrying goods, and the passengers are grudgingly let on, rather that the other way round. They were
piled up in the corners; stuffed under seats; in the overhead racks; and piled onto the roof. We grabbed a seat, only to be followed onboard by a monkey. Yes - someone had his pet monkey, on a lead, and tied it to the back of his seat, where it proceeded to jump about, grin, yell and eat unidentified substances which it discovered in the nooks and crannies of the aging bus.
It did this the entire journey - which amused the hell out of us - and it was thoroughly put out when someone had to unload all the water bottles (which it had made a seat out of).
We eventually made it to the border town, where we had to walk the 3km to the border itself, because we had spend all of our Laos Kip - you can't exchange them outside of the country, so we had gotten rid of them.
Border crossing was more or less uneventful, bar the official thoroughly examining my passport, rubbing it, showing it to his mate, and then making some comment about my having been rained on. He seemed happy enough, so we wandered on.
a mini-bus to get to Dong Ha, the nearest town where we could catch a connection to Hanoi, only to be joined by the monkey and his owner. The owner tied the monkey to my bag. The monkey was then joined by a cage with two birds in it. There were also another 18 people stuffed into the minibus, along with luggage and some more goods which needed transporting.
An hour later, 18 people, two birds, a monkey and a minivan full of crap arrived in Dong Ha. We walked to the train station, to be told that trains were very expensive. We walked to the bus station in town, to be told that the buses to Hanoi only left from the bus station out of town.
Eventually, we managed to sort out a bus, to leave that night, and went for a meal (where I had Nems, the vietnamese version of springrolls).
When the guy sold us the bus tickets, he informed us that the bus had beds - by which I assumed he meant chairs, that leant back a bit. Nope - this bus had beds. Bunks, no less. I kept thinking of Harry Potter
and the night bus all the way. I'm a geek.
Arrived in Hanoi (after a good nights sleep in bus terms) and found a hostel. Hanoi is great - again, the French have left their mark with lots of French architecture, breads, and cafes. There are motorbikes absolutly everywhere, to the point where if you want to cross a road, you don't bother waiting for a gap, you just wander across, and they avoid you. Works perfectly, I love it.
After a couple of days in Hanoi, we went on a trip to HaLong Bay - two days and one night on a junk. Met a load of nice people, did some kayaking, and saw some amazing scenery - everywhere around the bay are limestone cliffs jutting out of the sea.
The day after this, we headed south, to Hoi An, which seems to be populated by tailors. I know of people who have gotten suits, shoes and all sorts of stuff made. I just got a pair of jeans copied, but they're OK, and cheap!
Spent a couple of days in Hoi An, and went on a day trip to a place called My Son,
which is the site of some ruins that are from the 7th centuary - old Hindu temples and things - cultural stuff! See, I'm not just spending my time in pubs.
Now, we are in Mui Ne, which is a tiny little fishing village that is also good for doing some kite surfing - or would be if there was wind without it heaving down with rain. So, might be able to do some wake boarding tomorrow instead, and failing that we will just move on to Saigon instead. Mui Ne is OK - not a lot here, but a few good bars and restaurants, and we met up with some friends we left in Laos here too, so it was good to see them again.
Anyway, will get some photo's uploaded for this blog, and the last one, as soon as I find a PC capable of it - they're a wee bit basic here, so think it might derstroy it if I try.
Hope everybody is OK back home!
There are more photos below