I've realised they all start with 'I' and now I can't stop.

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Asia » Vietnam
March 25th 2013
Published: March 25th 2013
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I've realised I title each blog starting with the letter 'I' and now I can't stop it! Ridiculous.

I'm now in country number four! We came into Vietnam on the 13th after nearly two weeks on the beach in Cambodia! We were just way too comfortable! Our guesthouse was really chilled, cooked good food and was run by a really nice family. They invited us to their baby shower/birthday party one night and provided countless plates of food, a constant flow of free beer, and lots of fun! We partied like locals and it was hilarious being dragged around the dance floor by the Cambodian men wanting to show us off to their wives! The Cambodian people were really nice and made it even harder to finally leave. Everyone staying at the guesthouse had been there for months or else in the case of a really nice Scottish girl we met, she'd come back to Otres beach for the second time on her travels and was in no hurry to leave! Our Dutch friends who we travelled Laos with came to Sihanoukville on the 10th so we spent a few days with them, celebrated Charlotte's birthday and had our last farewell dinner!

Our journey into Vietnam on the 13th took all day! We left at 7:30am and arrived at 8:30pm into Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon. A massive change after the quiet beach life we'd been leading! HCMC was manic, I've never seen so many motorbikes! We went for dinner and had a drink at a makeshift bar in the street. Everyone takes a tiny plastic stool and we were absorbed in people watching while we sipped our beers. I somehow got chili in my eye (because I'm a moron) so had to run back to the room to scrub my streaming eye! While I did so, Beth got comfy and decided to stay in for evening and I went off to meet Mike, Nicola's brother. It's the first time I've met a friend from home and it was a little bit surreal! The next day we visited the War Remnants Museum which was pretty heavy. The museum is full of photographs of the war and depicts the devastation caused by the Americans and the lasting damage done by Agent Orange, etc. It was fairly biased but was still very interesting. We met up with some Spanish friends that evening who we'd met in Laos and Beth saw a friend from university. The next day I set off on my own to visit the Reunification Palace and was halfway there when the skies opened and I had to run into the nearest cafe for shelter. I sat down, waiting for the rain to pass when suddenly a Federer/Nadal ATP tennis game came on and ... I watched the whole thing! By the time it was over, the palace was closed so I went back to the room, slightly embarrassed about my poor attempt at being cultured but at the same time, pretty pleased with my lazy afternoon! The next day we visited the Cu Chi Tunnels used by the Viet Cong during the war. They were really interesting as you saw all of the hidden entrances, the nasty traps set up for the American soldiers and got to go inside the tiny, very sweaty tunnels! They've actually been widened to accommodate Western tourists (rude) but it's amazing to think people lived in these tunnels for 30 years!

We went off on another day trip the next day to the Mekong Delta which was pleasant but slightly dull. We've seen too much of the Mekong River already so the day was a little bit samey and very touristy. You take boat trips, stop at a place where they make honey, take another boat trip down tiny canals packed with tourists, stop for lunch, wander villages, see how they make coconut candy (delicious by the way!) and then back. Like I said, nice but dull. We bought an open tour bus ticket that day to make our way north through Vietnam and were booked on the 7am bus the following day. We decided we had to go for one drink to celebrate St Patrick's Day and found a tiny Irish bar, full of people wearing giant green hats! We grabbed some beers, grabbed some hats and got talking to a group of guys who looked very Irish but sadly turned out to be Australian! I only found one Irish man in the whole bar, maybe the Irish thought it tacky?! Nah! The next morning we were up bright and early for our bus and travelled to Mui Ne. I had high expectations for Mui Ne, a supposedly beautiful beach town but we were quite disappointed. We tried to hit the beach but the tide was in to the sea wall. We hired motorbikes and went in search of a beach and to visit the sand dunes but had no luck on the beach front and thought the dunes were amazing but a lot of effort! You arrive and kids swarm you with plastic mats so you can ride down the dunes. This involves sliding down and a LOT of climbing back up. Turns out sand isn't the easiest thing to climb! Who knew? It was incredible but hot and tiring. We continued riding around looking for a nice beach but found nothing. We also found the nightlife strange, every bar was either completely dead or full of Russians sitting in silence. Safe to say we didn't have that much fun! We just couldn't find any other backpackers, only Russians on holiday, staying in resorts which monopolised the only portions of beach! I'm sure Mui Ne is nice but maybe we were spoiled by our recent two week holiday on Otres beach!

We left for Dalat and when we arrived the weather was chilly, the skies were grey and it almost felt like England! It was strangely, very nice! Made a change from being constantly boiling! We met a Danish girl on the bus and decided to take a room together as it was cheaper. We had the biggest room we've ever had! 4 double beds for three people! It was amazing and only $5 each. We stayed for two nights and one day. Beth and I hired motorbikes again and had a really fun day of getting lost in Dalat. We found the Crazy House which is a bizarre tourist attraction/hotel! The house is a maze of different corridors, rooms, ladders, bridges. There were spiders webs, giraffes, views over Dalat! It was fun to see something other than museums and temples! We drove out to a nearby waterfall and again, something different, there was the option of taking a roller coaster cart down to the waterfall. Obviously we paid to take the roller coaster and found the whole thing hilarious! You're in control of the cart so can go as fast or slow as you want. Annoyingly the woman in front of me was not much of an adrenalin junkie so I stopped my cart altogether to wait for her to get further ahead. What's the point of being in control of the cart and keeping the brakes on all the time? Dull. When we got to the waterfall we were hovering to take a picture when an Asian group asked to take a photo with us. This happens from time to time, they like our white skin and ginger hair but this group were particularly keen! They took loads of photos, all swapping to get in the picture, hugging us, pulling different poses! They couldn't get enough! We then took the roller coaster back up, both squished in the same cart this time and it was really steep so we were pretty snug! We spent the rest of the day driving around Dalat, getting lost in the streets and stopping for drinks by a beautiful big lake. I thought it was a very sweet town.

We left the next morning for Nha Trang, another beach town. We took a room for 3 again with Leah the Danish girl and went straight to lie on the beach. The beach is impossible to miss here and although it's busy, you can sit in the shade of a palm tree and admire the views of distant islands. We went out for dinner and drinks and had a lot of fun! Nha Trang was really touristy, loads of high rise hotels and more tourists than Vietnamese people but with that, it was really busy at night and good for one night! It was really popular with Russian people and all of the signs and menus were translated into Russian and English! Yesterday we relaxed on the beach again and then took a night bus to Hoi An. My first experience of a sleeper bus ... I was thinking I'm lucky that I'm short but somehow ended up with one of the only beds without leg room! I found it pretty uncomfortable, only managed a couple of hours of sleep but arrived in beautiful Hoi An so can't complain! It reminds me of Luang Prabang in Laos, full of cute lanes, every building painted the same shade of yellow and all have matching wooden signs outside (with no Russian or English translation). It feels very relaxed, and offers a beautiful Vietnam to tourists, unlike Nha Trang which was just another beach resort. I've already gotten lost in the lanes, visited one of the famous tailors to order some clothes and tried a local delicacy. I think we could stay here a few days ...

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25th March 2013

Hi Cecilia
Glad to hear your travel plans are all going well& I'm enjoying reading all about it. Very cold here @ present, with lots of snow about. No sign of Spring yet! Went to Rory's 1st birthday party yesterday & met up with all the Dunn family, Una etc.Vincent & Siobhain expecting a baby in Sept. John A & Louise's wedding scheduled for next May.I expect you will be still travelling. Wishing you a very happy Easter. God bless. Pat & Ann xx
27th March 2013

Hi Cecilia, Delighted to hear of your great travels again. Sounds amazing. Here in 'Boring Clonmel', Séamas got his Confirmation last week. All went well and we had a nice family gathering (mainly O'Briens, except for Susan and Seán) with dinner in Minella Hotel. His next celebration is his 12th birthday on next Friday (Good Friday). Eibhlín is doing a course in a private college in Waterford this week to help towards the Junior Cert. The others are all on their Easter hol.s for 2 weeks, so are enjoying the rest. I am still covering at work for the girl who went to Australia for 5 weeks but she should be back on Wed, so life should be a bit more relaxed then. Keep in touch. Looking forward to the next exciting instalment and more fab photographs. Keep safe, God Bless, Mar.
31st March 2013

Happy Easter
Have you come across any Easter eggs? Another really interesting blog - I really enjoy reading them. Take care and enjoy your travels. Michael

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