from ho chi minh city to ha long bay and everywhere in between…
ok, i know its long but worth a read or picture creep at least. after leaving our wonderful bungalow and heading for the ferry to mainland vietnam to see ho chi minh city (saigon) - we had another horrible trip getting from point a to point b - well at least kurt did… after breaking down in the bus and getting sold a tick on the ‘local’ ferry, with no seats effectively left for us, kurt ended up wearing the vietnamese breakfast of choice pho’ for the rest of the day. He literally wore it for the rest of the day as he got vomited on by a child who got sea sick. this incident began the day and without going into to much detail, it did not get any better.
once we arrived in ho chi minh (saigon) we found a nice little guest house in the centre of the city, located close to restaurants, shops, a big park and a wonderful coffee shop. with two days nights and one day, we had little time to waste, so we booked a day tour to the cu chi tunnels and the war remenants museum. we did a bit of reading to ensure we weren’t going in totally unaware of the happening in the area during the war and set of on a day full of surreal, depressing and astonishing experiences. the cu chi tunnels is a ‘must-do’ for anstralians and new zealanders who visit saigon, to understand the conditions our soldiers fought in during the vietnamese war. granted, it also educated us on how the vietnamese lived during the war, how they lived, fought and defeated the usa. the afternoon was spent wandering around the museum, learning about the relations before, during and after the war and glancing at first hand images taken by journalists in the firing line.
fact: saigon has a population of around nine million people with four million motorbikes; which make for a lot of traffic, insane hustle and bustle when trying to cross the road and a lot of noise.
from ho chi minh we opted for a five hour bus trip, which quickly turned into seven a half, to mui ne. the closest white sand beach from saigon. it was nice however not comparable to phu quoc. we spent a few days here getting blown away by off shore winds that attract wind surfers and kite boarders from all around the world. the beach itself was nice when the wind was not encouraging sand to flick up or send learner kite boarders kites careering into sunbathing tourists. it was a nice relaxing change from ho chi minh however and we were able to spend some time wining and dining with laura and rohan in some of the local restaurants before heading north.
next was a twenty one hour bus ride (crazy, i know) from mui ne to nha trang to hoi an. hoi an was an absolute old charmer and we instantly fell in love with its old worldly buildings, river and quaint restaurants. we spent our three days lazily wandering the streets, enjoying food and absorbing the local culture and way of life. in the mornings we observed as little made their way to the local markets to buy fresh foods and flowers, how the men enjoyed morning tea in the local cafes and traditional lanterns lit up the town in the evenings. we indulged in coffee and cake most days, dinners with fellow travelers tom and kate from melbourne and kurt enjoyed the services of a local tailor and had a winter coat custom made for the grand total of forty dollars. it was a town with charisma and somewhere we would like to visit again.
rather then sit on a bus for a further sixteen hours, we purchased some cheap flights to hanoi. we justified the cost by weighing up how much our time was really worth, our sanity levels after the previous bus ride and time constraints. we arrived in hanoi at midnight, checked into our hotel and booked a tour directly to ha long bay, which departed the next morning at eight am. while we didn’t have much sleep and were not looking forward to a three and a half hour bus ride from the city to ha long city; we were excited to see one of the seven wonders of the natural world. we wound up spending our two days and one night on one of the luxury chinese ‘junk boats’ with a group of old biddies in a luxury cabin feasting on eight course seafood lunches and dinners, as opposed to fellow back packers … however, it was an amazing trip and we really loved sleeping in a traditional wooden boat. the bay itself was breathtaking and we were lucky enough to see some afternoon sun, through the winter mist.
in a quick scramble, these are the pics. scooters in saigon, art gallery featuring propoganda posters from the war in saigon, the cu chi tunnels, a b52 bomb crater, cu chi shooting range, kurt shooting an ak-47, vietnamese sniper hole from the war, war museum in saigon, mui ne beach, kite surfers at mui ne, hoi an by day and by night, locals buying and selling on the street, kurt at the tailor getting fitted kurt enjoying some coffee and cake (a little too much), the hoi an river at night, our last night in hoi an was beautiful in the rain, ha long bay, our cabin on the boat, sunset on the bay and us at ha long bay.
ha long bay