I <3 'nam

Trip Start Aug 24, 2008
Trip End Jul 01, 2009

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Monday, February 23, 2009

         When we arrived in Vietnam, we took a city bus that dropped us almost to the doorstep of our hostel. The street we were staying on was very touristy- lots of foreigners and places to shop. We dropped our stuff off and went to a travel agency Lonely Planet suggested using. We read through our options and decided to book a trip to see the Cu Chi tunnels the following day. That night we walked around the city, got dinner and chilled at the hostel.
        The next morning we got up and took a bus ride outside the city. Our tour guide spoke broken English but we got most of what he was saying. We were standing on the land where the war took place. He showed traps and hidden tunnels and how they made their weapons, and food. There was a shooting range and place we stopped and tried Vietnamese tea and dry tapioca. Although I really don't believe anyone can truly understand the conditions if not having been there during the war, the tour did a good job painting the picture for us. We crawled through a very small, dark tunnel- if you were claustrophobic, theres no way you'd make it out alive. I was only down there for about 10 minutes- that was long enough for me to realize how awful it was.
        When we got back from the trip, Kara and explored more of the city. We saw the Saigon River, played cards in the park, saw City Hall and the theater and found the flower market.
         The next day we went on another tour. Took a bus outside the city again- got on a boat and went through the Mekong Delta. We saw floating houses, floating markets, tried different local snacks and fruits, and rice wine<yuck. While we were riding along in the boat, I kept feeling like I was in Forrest Gump- it looked just like the movie- very swampy. We stayed the night at a hotel half way through the trip- Kara, Jane and I walked around looking for somewhere to eat- everything looked really sketchy. Finally after about an hour, we walked into a lit up garden and used hand gestures to ask what they had. We went to bed early that night because we had another full day of floating to go.
        The next morning, we had breakfast with a couple German travelers on the same tour as us. We got to know a lot about em as the day went on. They had been traveling for a year. Saved up a bunch of money prior and packed a backpack and left. They hadn't stayed in one city any longer than a week.
        When we got on the bus to take us to our boat, we realized Willie as missing. The guide said we had to go and that his friend said Willie was on his bus so we'd meet up with him in a little bit but we didn't know what to believe- why would Willie have gotten on a different bus? After about an hour of worrying, we saw Willie walking down the street with a different group and we all met up. Kara could've killed him. We almost got off the bus and would've been left behind because we didn't know where he was. All was good though. 
        We cruised around on the boat for a while, saw the locals trading fruit and other goods. We saw so many kids coming out of their homes to wave hello. We stopped for lunch and tried a bunch of different fruits- one was so sour my face hurt after eating it. Afterward we fed alligators meat from a stick. It took quite a while to get back to the port where our bus was waiting to take us back to Ho Chi Minh. That night we laid low and just walked around the hostel area.
        The next morning we were off to Mu Nei for the remainder of our time in Vietnam. It was about 5 hours away so we brought lots to do on the bus (everyone was getting better at cribbage). When we finally got to our resort, we couldn't believe how beautiful everything was.  That day we just laid out and hung around the pool. Kara and I snuck into the pool of the resort next to ours- so nice! That night we had a nice dinner and then drank on the beach for a bit. We figured since we experimented with a Philippino liquor while being there, we should probably do the same while in Vietnam. Afterward we went to a bar and met a bunch of foreigners. We played pool and drinking games til the bar closed.
         The next day we soaked in the sun and then Jane and I went on a tour the package included. The first stop was the White Sand dunes. Felt like we were in Egypt or something. We trekked through the sand with these plastic sleds and then slid down the hills. It was a blast. Although we were completed covered afterward and a bit tired from climbing large sand hills, we had a great time. Afterward we were taken to the Yellow Sand Dunes. Also beautiful. There were kids everywhere trying to sell us things. So sad to think how young they are and are being put to work. The plus side was that they seemed to be having fun- at least they had a lot of sand to play in. That night we watched an amazing sunset during dinner.
        The next morning we walked to the pink stream and went back to the resort to get in a little pool time before heading back to Ho Chi Minh on the bus. 
        The hostel in Ho Chi Minh let us keep our luggage there while we were away in Mu Nei. We stayed one more night there and then shopped around the whole next day- bought lots of gifts and DVDs. Our flight was leaving at 3am so after dinner that night, we just hung out at the hostel playing cards until the taxi came to take us to the airport.
        We were all pretty exhausted from our month long vacation but weren't ready for it to be over. When we landed in Beijing, we went straight to the train station to find out when the next available train was leaving. We lucked out and got on a train leaving 20 minutes from then. When we got back to the Shiz, Helen informed us that we didn't haven't to work for another week...ha! -so Chinese to tell us then! email really isn't their thing. It was ok though because it gave us time to catch up on sleep, spend time with a few people that were leaving China and of course plan for our future trips ;)

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