Good Morning Vietnam

Trip Start Jan 16, 2009
Trip End May 26, 2009

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

So we got the bus to Ho Chi Minh City, I had to get my breakfast pancake to take away (ER btw, hi!) as it arrived exactly when the bus did. We had a whole coach all 40+ seats to ourselves for most of the way (until we picked up about 4 Cambodians), was plush! We had to get a ferry across the Mekong at one point and there was a local bus next to us, it was a minibus with about 40 people inside and 10 people on the roof, looked much warmer than our air con affair...
Cambodia-Vietnam border was the best border. A man on the bus filled our immigration cards in for us and a little woman took our passports and got them stamped etc for us at the border, we just had to stand there and look respectable. Genius. After the last Cambodia border we were a little dubious!
Oh! By the way, we're not in Thailand now and won't be for at least 5/6 weeks, so don't check BBC news all the time worrying about us, ok.
When we got to Ho Chi Minh City, (lets call it Saigon, easier to spell), the bus dropped us right in the middle of backpacker land, how convenient! The cheapest place in the lonely planet was full, but we ended up in its sister hostel, which was down a dubious back alley, but free breakfast and internet seemed a good deal. After a much needed shower we went exploring for some tea. We ended up in a nice Vietnamese cafe/bar place where the man phoned our order out and it got motorcycled in in polystyrene boxes. They put it on plates before they served it but we found it quite funny all the same. It was still quite early, like 1830 when we finished but we went to Le Pub for a few drinks and as it turned out some crepes, which were gooood. After killing a suitable amount of time we went to Go2 bar and had a few more beverages, decided to be sociable. Chatted to a guy called Rich who was in the army and seemed quite nice, he saw some people we know, who were Irish (i'm telling you there's no one left in Ireland) and from Donegal, so we reminisced about the homeland for a while... ahem...
Eventually. Due to our early morning we went to bed, after a visit to 999mart (not quite a 7-11) for a cheese and ham sandwich! Woo!
The next day we had our free breakfast, (scrambled eggs, coffee, toast and jam, pineapple) and then had a nice walk to the War Remnants Museum, (formerly the museum of American war crimes) in the heat of the day. When we got there it was closed for lunch, so we sat in a rather classy restaurant for over an hour and drank some water... they gave us nuts, which it turned out were not free!!
The museum was quite chilling to say the least. America dropped more bombs on 'nam than the sum of all bombs in WWII, see pic. Horrendous. And Agent Orange was definitely not cool to play with. There was a room full of photos by journalists and photographers who had died in 'nam some of them were on the front lines, some where of people just before they were killed. Was very bad business that there war.
Feeling lazy we got a Xe On (motorcycle taxi) back to town, we were given helmets and had a bike each with a little woman driver to cling to for dear life. Was definitely an experience as the motorcycle is Saigon's main form of transport, but rules and the road don't seem to go together, so when the driver woman is cutting through the exact middle of a roundabout its best just to shut your eyes rather than think about it.. she prob know what she's doing...
After the excitement of the ride we had a nap and booked a trip to the Cu Chi tunnels the next day.
For tea we ventured less far and got burgers, we got chatting to a couple of guys from Manchester and a few girls they'd met and ended up going for a few drinks, went a cool bar where somehow I was awesome, really awesome, at pool. Considering EmmaW beat me 10 times in a row in China, it was indeed an Easter miracle! They went to a club, but having an early morning to see the tunnels we went to sleep! Wild times. When we got back I checked my money situation, as we had just taken out 4million dong (180pounds...) and found that 20$ had been robbed from my purse, in my bag, in our room!! We knew someone had been in as the door had been deadlocked and not just locked like we'd been doing... so we were robbed by hotel staff, I told anyone in the hotel who'd listen, but there's not a lot you can do for petty crime I guess, fail times. So yeah, 2nd hotel in budget LP section for HCMC, don't go.
7.45 we were supposed to be picked up for the Cu Chi tunnels, it was more like 8.30! We could have had an extra hour in bed! Did get fried (rather than scrambled) eggs for free breakfast though.
We were on a massive tour bus again, china style. We were the last to get on so couldn't sit together, whatever would we do!
We went to the tunnels via a workshop for disabled people to make things from egg shells and sea shells. Very few people there were disabled and the shop was massive. Fail Workshop.
Got back on the bus, this time sat together, for the next hour ride to the Tunnels.
When we got there we saw a video about how Cu Chi is a really nice fertile land, where people went for holidays and farming, also was where the Viet Cong had loads of tunnels, which caused the Americans to totally decimated the area with chemical bombs, napalm, bombs and more bombs. And they still couldn't beat good old tunnels.
We saw traps the Cong had used to kill Americans and had the chance to fire AK47s, for 1GBP/bullet, (and who wants one bullet in a semiautomatic weapon so we didn't bother) At the end we got to go into the tunnels, which was terrifying. The Vietnamese are a very small race it seems, so big fat westerners had issues getting down the tunnels, and there was a bat down there and bottle necks we had issues with! Luckily I had my trusty head torch, and wasn't scared at all. Infact me and EmmaW would have been excellent members of the Viet cong, all kinds of medals, I'm sure, All the crouching has made EW's thighs hurt, my legs are short so I could just bend double...
Some Japanese people were very impressed we made it all the way down the tunnel, as lots of people bottled it at the first section. We were very brave... and very sweaty, those tunnels were WARM.
Had some tapioca (urgh) and bamboo tea (not so urgh) and then reboarded the bus (via the giftshop) back to HCMC. We were back mid afternoon and had a MUCH needed shower as we had a healthy glow as you might often see on tunnel dwellers... we were filthy. Were planning on visiting the market... actually had a nap. Investigated a bus out of town the next day, to some beaches, booked aforementioned bus.
Went to get a few drinks where an Estonian guy came over for a chat. He has lived in Saigon for 6 years so took us to a place for Pho, Vietnamese noodle soup. He told us we'll wake up in 2 years ready to murder so we can get money to come back for the soup. It was indeed very very good. And he bought us it... He then decided we should go clubbing... even though it was only 7 we went along with him. Of course the club was empty. He took us to an aussie bar, which was good, a Danish bar which was expensive and then another club, even though it wasn't even 9..  By now he was really quite drunk, no idea how as we definitely weren't... we went back to where we started as drinks were cheaper and saw some aussies we recognized from the Cu Chi tunnels. We ordered vodka lemon rather than lemonade, which was interesting. The Estonian didn't last long and went home, I almost adopted a Vietnamese kid who kept trying to drink my vodka, I told him he wasn't allowed.
The aussies went for a train and we went to pack and sleep as the next day we were headed to Mui Ne and beaches!
Love Emma and Emma
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