Delta life and road to Saigon

Trip Start Jun 16, 2011
Trip End Nov 10, 2011

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Where I stayed
Hotel Thien Hong

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Monday, July 25, 2011

Another very good day so far ! Well, let's wait a bit as I don't have a hotel for tonight and I am currently in the bus, on my way to Saigon.

I woke up at 5 am (!!!!) and it was still dark even though roosters and birds were serenading together, trying to wake everybody up. Well, it worked on me ! At 6, the sun was there and I got out of bed for a quick wake up shower (no hot water, putain fais chier ! Just kidding, I was actually looking forward to this cold shower...). Backpack packed, ready to go, I was waiting in a hammock for my breakfast to come. The owner set up my table nicely, and invited me to come and have it. Guys, Vietnamese coffee is STRONG ! Very strong ! Very very strong ! But I had loads of sweet condensed milk with it... Hehehe Ludo I thought about you when I had some bread with condensed milk on it... Reminded me of our "tube blowing" times :-))))

After breakfast I waited again in the hammock, listening to Fink with my great Bose headphones, for my guide to pick me up. He was there at around 8am. I went on the small boat and joined a group of 5 other French people. Jeeeez ! The French seem to love Vietnam and Cambodia ! There are so many of them ! Former colony reflex ?

I had a perfect morning, traveling in this boat and at some stage even a smaller one (you have to be right in the middle of it otherwise you end up head first in the Mekong) that is driven by women who paddle standing, with crossed paddles. It's a beautiful gesture to watch. We went through the maze of shady canals (it was there ! Hahaha) and I actually got, this time, the feeling of what delta life is. A peaceful, yet very busy, life. Strolling around was the nicest sensation.

We visited some other spots where we saw how pop rice was made... It's the same principle as pop corn, except it's done in a big big wok, with sand, that is black after several rounds of pop rice. It goes very quickly, then the guy passes the mixture in one first net to release the sand, then a second to release the rice cask, which is bring reused as combustible, like for rice noodles. The pop rice is then mixed with various possibilities of flavors, either stand alone, or as a mix : coconut milk, honey, peanut... It tastes good !

We then went for lunch and after a short nap, it was time to head back to the boat in order for me to reach Vinh Long again and the bus for Ho Chi Minh city.

Three hours of bus and beautiful landscapes followed. It's a pity I couldn't stop to take pictures... You know what ? They put their family graves in the middle of the rice fields and it really creates scenic landscapes. Amazing...

Arrived in HCMC, it takes about 5 seconds for me to be found by a guy who offers a hotel for 10 bucks to me. Well, the place is small but clean, in district 1 (downtown downtown !), in a tiny street like thousands of others that link big avenues. The owner is an old gentle man and I like the place. A quick shower later (in this great concept of shower / toilet / basin all in one), I'm out on the street ! The place is crazy, vibrant, busy, noisy, colorful, friendly. I like the vibe. I avoid the flashy bars full of westerners and, as usual, I do the "dog trail" method, i.e. I go all around the block in a big rectangle (no I don't pee every 10 meters !). I finally decide to stop in a Pho (pronounce "feu" for French speakers or like "fur" but without the "r" for English speakers) shack where I can see only asian people. Pho is THE Vietnamese soup which I have been longing to have since I arrived...

Well, it so happens that I actually get seated in front of... an Indonesian guy who doesn't know Saigon either and is so happy to meet another foreigner ! He even pays for my Pho ! He doesn't have a hotel so I take him to mine where he also takes a room and we end up walking the streets of Saigon together... We are meeting tomorrow morning for breakfast and will be visiting around a bit until lunch. He's here for business. He is a PR guy and his client is HP. Tomorrow he's taking journalists to visit a recycling factory for HP computers, a new big thing ! He's from Jakarta and was impressed I could write his name in Arabic (yeah, he's a Muslim, his name is Amir). So guys, I am invited in Jakarta anytime ! :-))

It's nearly 1 am and I am slightly tired... I wonder why :-)

Ok, a couple of goodies before I go :

- the fun fact : Vietnamese people say about Ho Chi Minh that you write it Ho chi Minh but you pronounce it Saigon :-)))

- I mistook jackfruit for durian... yuuuuuuuuk !

- Vietnamese people honor their ancestors until the fourth generation... After that, they believe they're Ok... :-))

- for fun, before I left my guide in Vinh Long, I bowed and joined my hands to him. He said "hey, we are in Vietnam, not in Thailand, we don't do this". I said, "oh,, they do in Cambodia too. How do you do in Vietnam ?". As he was hesitating, I did this "bras d'honneur" (sorry guys, don't know how it's called in English)... And we both burst out laughing... This was due to the fact we had joked all day... I had started hostilities in the morning when he asked me where I was from. When I told him I was French he said I was lucky because the 5 other people that I was joining were French too. I replied to him : "I am not lucky ! French ? Oh my god, any other bad news ??"... He laughed out loud and said "you are funny !". I guess that broke the ice because we never stopped joking after that...

Good night folks ! More tomorrow insha Allah !

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love your blog little sis' we feel like we re there with you. One thing though, I personally would have never brought music with me. I would have listened to local music as much as possible....just my way, even though in Egypt during the Pharaohs rally, I only listened to HAbib Koite and Bamada (which you had just made me discover the week before) not really local music ;-)...but still closer to local culture than Fink in Asia!

nadegeb72 on

Hey thanks ! :-)
Regarding music, I must mention it's the second time I was listening to my music since I started the trip... I listened to traditional and pop music here... So far, not my thing. It helps also in long bus rides where the guys behind you are two Dutch couples who don't know how to speak softly... Dutch ? Definitely the ugliest language ever. Thank you Bose, thank you Fink, Milton Nascimento and Camille !


As far as the French people in Cambodia and Vietnam, I understand why. China doesnt attract me whatsoever. Even though Thailand has supposedly beautiful beaches and great tourist infrastructure, I am not attracted by the atmosphere of sex tourism. Japan, even though it's great and clean, it's just too modern and overbuilt (and been there for biz) . other countries? blah.... Vietnam and Cambodia are first that come to mind when I think of dream trip in Asia.

nadegeb72 on

Bro... Well dad and I got an overview of what is sex tourism in Cambodia too and believe me, it exists, big time. We saw two westerners leaving in a taxi with... four Cambodian girls. Made me sick. Girls bars everywhere... And honestly, same same in Vietnam... I don't know about Lao yet but I'll let you know. As far as Burma is concerned, I don't think so but maybe I'm wrong...
Now as far as traveling is concerned, you are definitely neglecting Lao and Burma... Lao is supposedly the best of all "semi developed" ones where landscapes are amazing and people are awesome... I was told it's better than Cambodia. And Burma... Well, for many of my friends, it's the most beautiful because... it's 30 to 50 years backwards because of the military dictatorship. I'll tell you all about it ! Then you can decide :-)

gil7429 on

You didn't forget concentrated milk struggle with your brother ! a long time ago.

I wish you a nice trip again, more and more enjoyable.

gil7429 on

Sorry, about milk, condensed seems to be the right word, instead of concentrated (french translation)

nadegeb72 on

Non mais c'est qu'en plus il a vérifié le bougre ! Hahaha ! T'es trop drôle mon papoune ! :-)


Laos ou Lao? Burma, yeah the dictatorship doesnt make me want to gothere...but you may be right... should be awesome as well....I guess I can read it soon!

paolo on

le bras d'honneur ... il gesto dell'ombrello en italian!!!!

kami on

pop rice?
one with everything on /in it please...


how do we transform HO CHI MIN (CITY also?) into SAIGON?
trop bon!!

tu as achetée du durian?? ils ne t´ont pas empeché d´entrer avec à l´hotel?
quand même, j´ésayerais de le goûter une autre fois, inchAllah

(nederlands is niet heel mooi, maar ook niet echt afschuwelijk... hehe)

Ludo, salut, ici kami, it´s posible to travel thru Thailand and avoid the sex tourisme atmosphere, I personaly hate it and I love Thailand, it´s all about avoiding mass tourism places...

and yes, LAOS IS THE PLACE!!!

greetings to everybody, nadège, disfruta, disfruta, disfruta!!!

nadegeb72 on

Hehe, Kami, nice one... And thanks again for the detailed email for Laos and Thailand ! I will listen to your recommendations ! It looks to me that I am going to extend my trip a little bit :-))))

kami on

you should!!
(I would if I could...)


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