I Haven’t Felt Heat Like This Since ‘Nam

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May 24th 2011
Published: May 24th 2011
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May 18th-24th

Sin Chow! After another questionable border crossing where my guard held me longer then everyone else, I finally made it into Vietnam, although i think its time i shaved. Our flight landed in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi. Although this was another very hectic city with over 3.5 million motorbikes and it was near 100 degrees, I liked this city right away. Unfortunately, we only spent a day there. First we went to see the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum where he is entombed. “No bags of any sort, no talking, no folding arms, no short shorts, no shoulder showing, must stand 2x2, don’t stop walking....” all as signs of respect for their national hero. We then walked to the Presidential Palace and the one-pillar pagoda, which really was nothing special. A few people in our group, including me, went to see the Army Museum which showed some history of the wars Nam has been in and included a MiG-21 jet fighter, T-54 tank, a helicopter, and much more stuff (mostly American and French stuff that was captured). Even though the war had nothing to do with me personally, I did feel uncomfortable many times my first few days in Vietnam. For example, in the Army Museum they are proudly displaying items taken from killed American soldiers or swords which decapitated 8 prisoners. It was more the way they wrote the captions so bluntly that disturbed me. It makes me wonder how museums in America display things? Another example was at a rest stop that employs only children with deformities from the chemical mixture Agent Orange that American troops used during the war. I talked to several of them and they were extremely nice, but if i was in their situation, would I really be able to completely forgive? Well anyways, that night we also went to see a water puppet show which was pretty boring, but after we had a big farewell dinner for two of my favorite members of the group, who are now doing the rest of Nam and Cambodia on their own. After dinner, we took our first motor bike rides to a karaoke bar for some fun times (wink wink for those that were there).

The next morning we headed off on another crazy 3 hour bus ride to one of the highlights of this trip and one of the finalist for the new 7 wonders of the world, Halong Bay. The bay has thousands of limestone karsts and islands of all sizes coming out everywhere. A truly amazing site to see. This is also where many accidents involving tourist boats sinking happens, including one in February where twelve died when their boat sank in the middle of the night and there was no time for them to escape. When we first got there, it was pretty foggy, but soon after we left that fog lifted. After a few hour cruise in and out of the islands, we got to the Thien Cung Cave and Grotto. Was very cool but kinda of ruined by the artificial lighting and speakers throughout the cave, but was still awesome. After a nice meal on the boat, we got to go kayaking for over an hour and see some narrow passage caves from the water. When we returned, the captain put the ladder down and let us swim and jump off the third story of the boat, lots of fun too. Later that night we also got to fish for squid and while the leader caught something right away, the rest of us had no luck. The next morning we hiked up a mountain at 7am to beat the crowds and get a great view of many of the islands, well worth it after we caught our breath and the sweat dried. I wish we had more time there but we were off back to Hanoi to catch an overnight train to Hue.

Hue was one of the old capitals of Vietnam but is no longer a huge city. As soon as we arrived in Hue, I was debating if I should do an optional motorbike tour of the outer city and man am I glad I did. It was one thing seeing the fields and small towns from the bus, but a whole new experience to hop on the back of a motorbike for a real tour. We saw race fields up close and they explained the process from start to finish, we saw old bridges, a one armed lady known worldwide for making the straw pointy hats, bunker hill and hamburger hill from a distance all while weaving in and out of small towns with children waiting all day to say hi and give high fives while you go by. I don’t know what it was about this, but so far it was one of the best parts of my trip so far. The bad part about Hue was the heat, very very hot, was well over 100 and you couldnt walk more than 30 seconds before you were covered in sweat. That made seeing some of the historic sites tougher, since most were outside. Only one day in Hue, and now we were off to Hoi An. This is a very charming backpackers city and i love it already. Its known for all the custom tailors and shopping, but everything is very charming and romantic, except the beggers. We have 3 nights here but I have a big decision to make regarding this tour. I am torn because my original plan was to spend a week and a half more in Thailand when the tour ends, but I didn’t care for Thailand as much as I am enjoying Vietnam and from what I hear about Cambodia. Well the hot British girl that we said goodbye to last week (and the one that calmed my down in the happy bar) is spending more time in Nam and Cambodia and wants to do it together and we are going to try to meet up tomorrow here. The problem is once i leave Nam, i wont be able to get back in due to visa requirements. What do my readers think i should do? I still have 7 days left on the tour i already paid for but i have a chance to see more of a country i really like with a girl i am crazy about (and i hope she doesnt read my blog). I am leaning toward leaving the group. I will let you know!

Additional photos below
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Ha Long BayHa Long Bay
Ha Long Bay

Our Boat

24th May 2011

Go for the girl!
25th May 2011

follow the hot British girl!!! if you feel you have seen enough of Thailand
see more of Nam and then meet up with this hot British girl!! lol
25th May 2011

Chase the skirt
Bro checking in.....It's good to see your spreading your awesomeness worldwide. I highly recommend you follow the girl on that adventure. It looks like you are having a blast. BTW this is a great blog, i look forward to living vicariously through you!
28th May 2011

Alan, Hope you followed the hot british girl. Sound like an AMAZING trip, I love reading your blog. Take care! Chelsea

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