Hi everyone, sorry its been a while since my last entry but the internet access hasn't been great of late. I'll warn now that I am unable to load pictures for someone reason so this may not be the most exciting blog - I'll try to get them up asap.
I feel a bit sad as I write this as there are many Goodbye's to be said. Goodbye to Belinda, who leaves the tour tomorrow, Goodbye to Vietnam as we are crossing the border into Cambodia tomorrow. And Goodbye Capex. As some people reading this will already know, I have been made redundant from my job which I found out a couple of days ago. I know many of the people reading this are my friends and colleagues who are also in the same boat and I just want to say I hope everyone is OK - its a shit situation but I don't think there are many of us who didn't want out of there at some point so perhaps it is a blessing in disguise. Personally I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders and now I'm really confused about what to do with myself.
This blog might end up going on for a bit longer than the 7 weeks I had planned, but we shall see. Good Luck everyone from Capex xxx
Anyway back to the trip. After making our way to Netrang on the 10 hour day train (which wasn't actually too bad) I was good for nothing but an early night. I was sorry to say Goodbye to Hoi An, my favourite place in Vietnam. It was also my favourite hotel that we have stayed in, a really cute little hotel with very sweet staff, they gave us all a little silk purse as a present each when we left!
The next morning in Netrang some of the guys went to a waterpark and I really wanted to go, but wasn't feeling well so I gave it a miss and spent the day lazing around on the beach and mooching around the shops. Netrang is a very party/backpacker-y type destination so there were many tourists around and lots of nice little shops selling bikinis and stuff, which was a nice way to spend the afternoon.
As Netrang is a party town, it was only right that we went out
to sample the nightlife that night and lo and behold, we ended up back on the Buckets and on another beachfront bar. It was another great night, with more casualties the next morning! We were good for nothing but chilling out on the beach again the next day and before we knew it it was time to say goodbye to Netrang and leave for the next stop on another overnight train to Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon). We set off at about 10.30pm and arrived early in the morning around 6am (I got very little sleep again!). There was no time for relaxation though, as we had breakfast and headed straight off to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels. These are the tunnels that were dug in the late 1940's by the Vietnamese and used for protection during the wars. By 1965 there were over 250km of tunnels. It was pretty cool to see them, we were allowed to go into a 100m long tunnel, but most of us including me got out half way through - it was way too uncomfortable and claustrophobic to carry on. There was also a shooting range there so I took the opportunity to
fire out 5 rounds of an AK47! It was on a stand and a man held my shoulder firmly while i fired, but it was still pretty scary and extremely loud. Apparently there were many female Vietnamese fighters from this area and I have no idea how they managed to fire the guns alone. The afternoon was spent wandering around Ho Chi Minh City, browsing in the market and busy streets there.
We were up early the next morning to head off on our 3-4 hour bus journey to the Mekong Delta where we were to spend the night. We cruised down the Mekong river on a boat, stopping off to visit the small villages and communities that live alongside. We were shown how they do everything from making tiles to coffins, all by hand. We also visited a factory where they make bricks and terracotta pots and again I couldn't believe the hard work done by the women there. Manual labour is not deemed to be a mans job here and the women have so much strength. We spent that night in a Homestay on the Mekong Delta. We were rowed there on small wooden rowing boats, rowed
by , you guessed it, women. Our lady stopped to pick us fresh rose apples from the trees as we went. It was a sight that you associate with true Vietnam and exactly what I had been expecting to see for a while now.
The Homestay was basically someones home which they open up for tourists to stay at. It was really nice, the people that lived there put on a really sweet music performance for us before serving us dinner and we drank and chatted into the night until bedtime. Our beds were pretty much in the open with a canopy above so we could hear all the sounds of the insects and nature around. Thankfully a mosquito net was provided but it still didnt stop me from getting bitten! I hardly slept much as the cockerels began at about 2am! We were up at 7am to visit the local market which was as local as it gets! Like a few markets I have seen now, live fish, seafood, frogs and chickens were everywhere, as was raw meat.
In the afternoon we visited a little sweet making place, where they make allsorts of little treats such as
toffee, popcorn type stuff, peanut brittle, etc all by hand. They gave us demonstrations of how they make them and little samples of the sweets too which were really nice. Back in Ho Chi Minh City now for our final night in Vietnam before heading for Cambodia tomorrow.
We have been warned to expect an instant change once we hit Cambodia. Apparently begging is far more common, particularly children, there are many more landmine victims and the country is generally far less developed than Vietnam.
I will be sorry to say Goodbye to Vietnam as I have really enjoyed my time here but having been here for over two weeks now I am ready to move on and looking forward to Cambodia. I don't know what the access is like there so I may not update for a while.
Take care everyone,
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