Back in Nam....

Trip Start Aug 28, 2009
Trip End Dec 16, 2009

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Sunday, November 8, 2009

Hi people! Halloween was a good time. I dressed as a Christmas tree. It was really hard to try and come up with costumes from the little we brought on the ship. I wore my brown uggs as the tree stump, green sweat pants, green shirt, star on my forehead and wrapped my friends lights around me. The Halloween candy we gave out to the kids turned out to be awful! They probably hate me. India doesn't know how to make candy. We have been trying to keep up with US happenings, but it is so hard with limited internet! The other day there were a bunch of people huddled around a computer watching the World Series. They could only watch the gametracker, but everyone was very into it. I put some pictures up of us doing our emergency testing with our life jackets on. Luckily we haven't had any emergencies, but actually today something funny happened. All of a sudden the Captain came on the intercom saying CODE BRAVO CODE BRAVO. Then crew members were sprinting around the ship. It was a bit chaotic. All of us were like...WHAT IS CODE BRAVO!?!??! I was in the computer lab and someone said it either meant man overboard or fire. The Captain came back on the intercom and told us that everything was under control, but there had been some smoke in the engine room. No fire. Everything is fine now, but it was a rather exciting/frightening ten minutes.
On our way to Ho Chi Minh City we had to sail down the Saigon River for three hours. We were weaving our way nearly hitting many boats. Everyone woke up to watch. Some of my friends had dresses made from the numerous silk tailor shops in Vietnam. A bunch of guys also got really nice suits made for 80$. Everything was SOO cheap!! They LOVE the American dollar. I made it rain on Vietnam with American dollars. You could pay 1$ for anything. The currency is crazy hard to work with because it is 17,000 dong for 1$. Too much math. We spent the first day shopping. I started to wonder if I was buying things because I actually wanted them or because of how cheap they were. I got fake everything. Coach purse, North Face jacket, North Face backpack, Ray Ban sunglasses. We got 6$ pedicures. Legit. I bought seasons 1-7 of 24 and about 7 other dvds for 20$. We ate lots of Pho. Pho (pronounced fa...which led to a lot of "what the pho" jokes) is a rice noodle and broth dish. Huge in Nam. also excited that I can now say..."back when I was in Nam..."
Day 2 me and 5 other girls flew to Hanoi- the capital of Vietnam. The cab ride was interesting. Three of us went in one cab and three went in another. When I told the guy to turn on his meter he no the other cab has the meter. I said No sir turn on your meter please and after much pleading and arguing he turned it on. When we got to the airport we paid him the 300,000 dong. I went to the other girls cab and they were about to pay 680,000 dong. My friend can't really do arguing/bartering so I had to take matters into my own hands. Mission accomplished. You are not ripping us off sir.
Something we learned at the airport was that Vietnamese people do not believe in lines. We got skipped many a time, especially in the long line for the women's bathroom. They seriously would just walk right to the front. It was like they knew which stall would be open next and went sprinting for it. We got really good at skipping people by the end of the trip.
We made it to the coolest hostel ever. It was all young backpackers and they had a happy hour and a bbq on the rooftop. We visited the Hai Lo Prison where POW's were kept. It was really interesting because it was so completely biased towards Vietnam. They would be like...Americans were bombing schools and daycares! Americans were awful awful people! Later that night we found Bia Hoi (cheap beer). We are talking 20 cent beer. Did I mention I love Vietnam?
Day 3 We woke up at 8AM to drive the 3 hour trek to Ha Long Bay. SOOO PRETTY. My pictures don't do it enough justice. Google it. It is competing to be an official wonder of the world right now. We spent the day on a boat sailing around the bay and its thousands of islands. We saw the coolest caves ever and got to kayak as well. That night it was one of the girls in our groups 21st birthday. Hanoi's nightlife is not big at all. Mostly everything is closed by midnight. We ended up running into a bunch of backpackers from Scotland and London who also wanted to keep the night alive. Our cab took us to the Sheraton Hotel to a bar called "Nutz". We should've known that it would be awful. On the way there our cab driver had a Backstreet Boys cd and we were all screaming to the music. Then we realized that it was some Vietnamese dude covering the Backstreet Boys songs. Very interesting. Nutz turned out to be full of "prozzys". Prostitutes. It ended up closing right when we got there so then we were told to go to the "Sailor Club." Still determined to keep partying we show up at the Sailor Club which is indeed a gay bar. Maybe transgender bar is the better word? I don't know. They also were out of most alcohol and had no beer. We ended up having to call it a night.
Day 4 Went to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. They really love Ho Chi Minh in this country. Massive pictures of him everywhere and every souvenir has his face on it. We took a motorbike ride back to the hostel. There are millions of motorbikes used as taxis and you just hop on the back of one and pray for your life. Also, there is no system for crossing the street as a pedestrian. You basically start walking and they swerve around you. I tried to skype some people, but seeing how it was noon here and midnight on a Friday night back home it was hard to reach people. We got packed like sardines in the shuttle to the airport. Literally, there was a guy in the shuttle from Texas and he had a Vietnamese woman on his lap for most of the ride. It was ridiculous. That night I went out to dinner with my friends at a very random restaurant we found where the people didn't speak English and we didn't really know what we were ordering. I was a little nervous because the day before on our drive to Ha Long Bay a motorbike with a cage packed with kittens stacked on top of each other drove by and our tour guide said.. to eat to eat, while pointing to the cage. I proceeded to tell her to change my meal to vegetarian for the day. The waitress brought us Saigon beer and proceeded to motion that we should wipe the mouth of the bottle down. I don't want to know why. It ended up being a late night. This is all I can tell you.
The last day my friends and I went to the Mekong Delta. It's a huge huge river. Don't really know what else to say about that. They produce half the amount of rice exported from Vietnam. Basically, we were all very tired from the night before and it was a long hot day and we just wanted to shower and sleep.
Only a couple days to China! Talk to you after!
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