Week 9-10 blog entry, sight-seeing, 1 night

Trip Start Oct 01, 2007
Trip End May 30, 2008

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Monday, December 10, 2007

Part two of our Vietnam adventures:

From Nha Trang we got on another one of those nice sleeping buses, this time during the day and not during the night. Being almost pros at choosing the right seats by now, we got ourselves some nice window seats in the rear of the bus. So far so good, only problem being that the driver appearently thought nobody on the bus needs to use the toilet, so he just kept on driving and driving, while most of the passengers were busy "holding their horses". Eventually, after about 4 hours, he had pity on us and stopped for a quick break. About an hour later we arrived at our destination, Mui Ne. This used to be a quiet fishing village, but thanks to the nice beach, it now has become a tourist spot. Actually, the old part is still there, but just along the length of the beach you find one resort after the other... On the other side of the road they`ve got all the necessary stores, restaurants and internet cafes. Well, we couldn`t resist the temptation to rent a nice bungalow in one of the cheaper resorts (the first one we look at wanted 99$/night, haha). So we paid 15$ for ours, including access to the hotel pool and "private beach". The beach wasn`t much to look at (only about 2m of sand in front of a concrete wall), but we enjoyed ourselves poolside for a couple of days. On our third day we decided to finally do something else than just laying around and we rented some bikes. Puuuh, it was windy like hell and going against it for 1,5 hours was pretty exhausting. Ok, on the way back the bike almost drove itself, you know how it is. There wasn`t much to see along the coast, besides some pink sanddunes (and the white ones we didn`t find unfortunately).

The day after we travelled to Saigon (aka Ho Chi Minh City). The town was in much better shape than Hanoi, with wide boulevards and less chaos (that doesn`t mean there wasn`t any...). One could also notice straightaway, that everything was a bit more expensive than anywhere else (a meal now cost two euros instead of one...). On the first day we had to sort out some stuff, like how we would travel to the islands in the south (Phu Quoc). Unfortunately all flights were full and the journey overland would have been a long one, so we changed our plans slightly and decided to continue towards Cambodia after Saigon. Well, first we did a half-day tour to Cu Chi tunnels. During the Vietnam - American war some communist forces dug a tunnel network of around 200km in an area close to Saigon. Some of the soldiers stayed in those tiny tunnels for months, which is quite amazing. They dug rooms on three different levels, up to 12m deep underground. Now I understand why the US forces only sent their small guys into those tunnels, coz I had a really hard time getting through them (hobbling on all four). Anyway, there was a shooting range too, where you could try out some AK-47`s and other old guns, for $1.30/bullet. One guy must have bought about thirty of them and he fired them using the automatic button. Ha, what a blast that must have been.

There were some nice markets in Saigon and naturally we visited some of them. Man, I got ripped off there... Ok, it was my first time haggling in ages and I`ve never been good at it (Nora`s our pro-haggler). They nicely diverted Nora`s attention, while I was busy trying to get the price down. Haha, for every 50`000 dong I upped my offer, they only lowered theirs by about half, so I ended up paying much more than I was supposed to (about 22$ for 3 T-Shirts). Well, next time I just have to start lower and raise my offer more slowly.

Getting to Cambodia proved to be quite a journey itself. We joined a two-day tour of the Mekong Delta, which would take us to Phnom Penh. On day one we first drove three hours in minibus to some place in the delta, from where we took a small boat to visit the floating market. Ha, we were there at about 11am and the guide tells us, that nothing`s really happening before 2 or 3pm... Ok, next stop was a coconut candy factory (3mins explanation and 2mins to buy the product, nice), after which we took the boat for another 30mins to the place we got our lunch. There you got the choice of vegetables w/rice or pork w/rice (the pork being one tiny piece, half of which was bone). At least we got some soup... Aaanyway, afterwards we had to get on a bus again, for five hours to Chau Doc, where we`d spend the night. On day two we first visited a fish farm (hugely interesting...) and some local village (I hate intruding on other peoples morning routines...), then we rode a boat to the border. That journey was the best part of the tour, coz first we shuttled along the huge Mekong river, and later through a pretty small canal, where people lived and cultivated their fields. Look at the photos of the water buffaloes, duck & fish pens and the stilt houses, you`ll get the drift. Eventually, after waiting at the border for two hours (getting cheated out of our last vietnamese money), three hours on another boat and more than an hour on a minibus, we arrived in Cambodia...

Recap of our time in Vietnam: Again, I didn`t know what to expect, but I have to say that I`m a little bit disappointed. I thought we would see some better beaches and some nicer nature scenery. The people weren`t overly friendly nor hostile, but vendors selling books, sunglasses and other stuff start getting on your nerves, especially coz they come into restaurants, while you`re eating. On the good side, the weather was great and everything`s so cheap here, so it would make a good spot for some winter vacation sometime down the road. If you wanna see Halong Bay, better sooner than later, coz this place won`t be enjoyable much longer, with all the trash they`re throwing into the water there.

Financial statistics Vietnam: Raffi 22.58e/day, Nora 21.69e/day.
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