Vietnam: A Whistle Stop Tour


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Asia » Vietnam
May 20th 2012
Published: September 18th 2012
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Well this has taken far to long to be written, and considering Vietnam was completely amazing we both feel very bad about leaving it so long!! Been rather busy that past few months but feel that this should still be written! Everyone already knows where we've been and so on, but here it is once again, in a little more detail 😊

We began our trip into Vietnam from Phnom Penh, where we stayed in a brilliant hostel, Me Mates Place! The air con bar down stairs was rather great! We also found a cavern club, yes as in Liverpool, where we had some drinks with the local ex pat oldies, and also came across lots of amazing places of ice cream and cakes!! This is basically how we spent 2 days here, leaving by bus to Saigon (Hoh Chi Minh City).

We thought Phnom Penh was busy, major shock on arrival in Saigon!! Scooters everywhere!! Managed to navigate our way through the alleyways to find a guest house! Very busy streets and narrow alleyways kind of sums up the place! Had our first taste of Pho (noodle soup) amazing!! Meals sorted for the next few weeks! Favourite place was cafe zoom, vespas on the walls, vespa tours, just rather great 😊 Whilst having a walk around town, we managed to get lost and stumble across the 'shopping area' fitted out with Channel and Chloe, all looked lovely and air conned inside but didn't have the gall to go in dressed in our 'travellers' get up. Also came across 'fanny's ice cream' where they have an ice cream buffet! We had to go in, even if it was just to make Monique jealous! We booked the rest of our buses, daring to take a chance on the night buses, all those scare stories don't put us off!!

Our first night on the bus was, well, an experience. The 'bed' was barely wider than us and rather uncomfy, but gets us to the next place and saves a day so can't really complain! The first bus journey was to Nha Trang, we both had beds next to one another, on the bottom and luckily enough the floor space between us didn't get filled with 10 locals! (this time anyway). Nha Trang was rather quiet as we were there out of season, which was a plus for us as we got a lovely private room for the price of a hostel!! Settled in and headed to the beach, a real beach with the actual sea, for the first time since Krabi and our tsunami 'experience'. The beach and water were lovely, until about 3pm everyday when it starts to rain. Crazy storms every day at 3pm, roads completely flooded, water up to your knees to get most places, river roads, but still roasting!! We had plenty more Vietnamese food and loved everything we tried! Whilst in one bar we got told that 'you drinks lots, you not fall over, very good'! Apparently used to people that can't handle their cocktails!

The next night bus wasn't as pleasant! Really busy, we didn't get beds next to each other and we were up high this time! We weren't sure at first as we thought we'd fall off, but after 10 mins the ailes were filled with locals and you could barely move!! The bus dropped us in Hoi An at 6am at what appeared to be just the side of the road, and certainly not in the centre! We managed to get a nice place to stay that let us check in early, bonus! Hoi An has to be one of the prettiest places we've ever seen. Lovely lanterns hanging everywhere, the city itself all built in the same style, all very quaint! The food again was amazing, local dish was Cou lou, which was rather good street food, much better than a kebab on the way home from a night club!! Bumped into friends whilst trying to find somewhere for dinner, and so went out to yet another bar called Why Not! On the plus we got to choose our own music, great place! Hoi An seems to be the place to go if you want new clothes. Everywhere has tailors for suits, coats, dresses, everything!! Wish we weren't hauling backpacks around so that we could make some investments! More markets and we managed to stock up on books to last us the rest of our trip, although i'm sure they were all photo copies of originals!

The next stop on our tour of Vietnam was Hue. Which we discover is not pronounced in any way other that a sort of grunty boaky sound, and everyone will know where you mean. It was a day bus from Hoi An to Hue and a rather scary road, beginning to think that at least you can't see the roads in the night bus! Hue was just a stop-over for the next part of our trip, but we still managed to have a good time despite the crazy rain. We found a club called brown eyes and as we walked in they were playing 'twist and shout'. Our night ended with flaming shots and free long island ice teas from the DJ because he had stayed in Glasgow for a bit and liked our dancing! We had more Pho on the way home from an old lady on the street, seemed like everyone in Hue was there, was great!

One of the main things in Vietnam that we were looking forward to was a trip to some of the caves, yes we are Geography geeks, there is a running theme... We had decided to stay at Phong Nha Farmstay after doing some research online, as it really does give you the best options for visiting different caves. To get there we got the local bus for Hue which dropped us right at the farm stay. Was a bit of an interesting journey with everyone watching us eat our spicey chicken tofu rolls, but it got us there all the same! Phong Nha Farmstay was really great, we had decided to stay in the dorm room next door, but there were private rooms too, a great social lounge area serving good food and a lovely swimming pool out back! All with beautiful views of the surrounding fields and the great owners, made the stay one of the best parts of our entire trip.

We spent 2 days exploring caves, the first day by mini bus with a group of great people and the second day we cycled out to the park and all rented a boat to go into the caves. All the caves were amazing and completely different. Paradise cave has been orgainsed very well for tours, with proper paths and stairs leading up to and right into the cave. The lighting, even if a little dramatic, really allows you to see all the features and makes you aware of how large the cave system actually is. Another of the caves, which had to be kayaked too, was the dark cave, and right enough it was dark. Pitch black, couldn't see a thing, even with head torches. Could hear plenty of bats though!! Phong Nha cave was spectacular, the dragon boat taking us right inside it before getting off to explore some more! We decided that it would make a great place for a party, with natural DJ booth and dance floor built in! We had a great time at all the caves and at the farmstay, and will definitely go back to visit if we ever get the chance to be back in Vietnam!

Another local bus collected us from the farmstay and took us back to Hue where we got yet another night bus to Hanoi. This bus had to be the scariest. We were right next to each other right up the back, which is probably the only good thing! After finally managing to get some sleep the whole bus suddenly gasped and woke up to what felt like we were travelling tilted to one side, with only the right hand wheels on the ground! The bus soon enough seemed to tip back to normal greeted with a great sigh of relief! We were extremely glad when this bus journey ended, never again on a night bus!
Hanoi was certainly extremely busy, bikes, scooters, cars, people, dogs, everything everywhere!! Just crazy!
Stayed at Hanoi backpackers which was fun and booked ourselves on to their Halong Bay tour. Being a bit limited on time we could only do the one night tour. The trip soon turned into more of a booze cruise with silly drinking games, but everyone got on well so we all had fun! Halong Bay was beautiful! The karst landscape was a dream for us and so we took another load of photos that all looked the same and were basically just rocks to everyone else!

And so concludes our whistle stop tour of Vietnam. Just a very quick, very late blog in case anyone missed out!

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