Ho Chi Minh is dead, long live Ho Chi Minh
Trip Start Mar 23, 2010
33Trip End Aug 11, 2010
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Where I stayed
Dalat was amazingly cool becuase it was up ion the mountain, and I was cold for the first time in ages. The hotel rooms in that city don't have a fans and wooly hats are sold at the markets.
From Dalat first I took a one day motorbike tour in the area around the city and then I decided to take a three day tour from there to Nha Trang. It was absoulutly incredible cruising across Vietnam on the back of a motorbike. Originally I had wanted to ride my own motorbike but the guy had persuaded me not too because the journey would have taken longer and we wouldn't have got to see nearly as much. Also, I don't think i would have felt nearly as safe. The guy who I was riding with was called An and he was a really friendly. He'd fought in the American war for the South Vietnamese army and had a lot of interesting things to say about it. After the North won the war he'd been put in a 'Reeducation Camp' for two years. I had a really interesting, yet slightly heavy, conversation with another biker on the first night about the communist regine in Vietnam. He summed up by saying that if the Americans returned today the South would fight with them.
We went to loads of little villages and some waterfalls on our route from Dalat to Nha Trang but the riding around was the best thing. He let me ride the bike at one point but I didn't get very far. I started it ok the first time but after stopping on an upward hill I had no chance of getting it moving again.
I spent 3 days in Nha Trang which was 3 days longer than I'd planned. It's a beach party town so I had fun there but was still annoyed when I had to get the bus later than intended due to the bus guy who just said yes to any of my questions, whether it was right or not. I spent one day on a boat(!!!) doing an island tour of which Michael Jackson was the main soundtrack. We got to go snorkeling, although the goggles seemed to have to funk of 40,000 years which made seeing anything nearly impossible. On the boat we had a live band which consisted of most of the crew, it was bizarre but fun. They played a song from each nationality that was on the boat, but when i told them that I was from Wales they had no idea where that was. Luckily that meant that I đidn't have to get up on the makeshift stage and sing Wonderwall with the English guy. After the band, they put a floating bar in the water and we all got to float around in little tubes getting free cocktails. Very surreal.
After Nha Trang I went to Hoi An, which is an old French colonial town that's near an amazing, huge and empty beach. The whole town is a Unesco world heritage site so cars are banned. Motorbikes are still allowed though, which, in a way, made it more hectic. The town is all purty-lookin', especially at night when they light up the riverside with multi-coloured lanterns.
I only stayed there one full day, which was enough, because after the beach and the old buildings there isn't much else to see or do.
Next stop was Hue, a much bigger town with another Unesco world heritage site right in the middle. This one was a 1000 year old citadel with a smaller citadel inside it. The smaller citadel was where the emperors lived before the Communists took over the country. It was a cool place, despite a lot of it having been destroyed by bombs and it was very strange to see bullet holes in the main gate. The hostel I was staying at also had an hour of free beer daily, if I'd stayed any longer that would definitely have been my downfall.
After escaping that wicked place I moved on North to Hanoi, the capital. I arrived this morning at 7 and had just enough time to go see Ho Chi Minh, the guy who started the Independence movement from the French and essentially made Vietnam Communist, also he was the guy who died 41 years ago. At 11 o' clock they have to put him back in the fridge and two months a year he has to go back to Russia to be looked after (I don't see why, he couldn't really get much worse *haha*). He was pretty creepy looking and I didn't like him one bit. The rest of the day I spent checking out the old merchant quarters of Hanoi and the Temple of Literature, a place where Confucius once taught.
Tomorrow I'm booked onto a tour of Halong Bay, a crazy looking group of limestone islands about 2 hours from Hanoi. Someone described it to me as 'like those floating island from Avatar, only in the water.' We'll see...