Good Morning Vietnam

12/13/2012

Vietnam in short; unbelievable!

The people were beautiful, food was delicious, scenery was amazing, everything was well priced and culturally it was a step outside my comfort zone!


My trip started in Ho Chi Minh City. Before arriving I'd told my travel buddies I was adamant we were not catching a taxi due to all of the nightmare stories I had read online, so we shuffled with all our luggage to the bus rank where we were met by a lovely bus driver. He couldn't speak English well but was determined to help us and confirmed that his bus went into the main city. I naively thought this would mean we would be dropped off close to our hotel, this was definitely not the case.

The bus stopped in the middle of the city and the bus driver suddenly turned to face us waving his arms about, urging us to get off the bus. I rummaged around to grab my belongings, hopped of the bus and looked again to the bus driver for some kind of direction to my hotel. He made a walking gesture with his fingers and pointed to a taxi rank which was at the other side of the biggest, busiest roundabout I have ever seen. I waved as he drove away and turned towards the round about to face my fears. 


No traffic lights, what seemed like thousands of motor bikes buzzing past, and there I was with all of my luggage needing to somehow trek across this crazy street that never seemed to slow down. 

After a few minutes of deep breathing I managed to cross the road as my travel buddies grew tired of my fretting and crossed without me putting the pressure on me to take the leap of faith and step into the traffic. I couldn't believe I’d actually made it when I finally arrived at the hotel.

From then on I became a pro at crossing the busy streets of Ho Chi Minh City. I loved nothing more than to go out and about and see what fantastic treats the city had to offer. I visited the war memorial museums, went to local restaurants, visited the markets, went Karaokeing and on remembrance day was blessed enough to be at the Cu Chi Tunnels which was a wonderful experience.

After spending time in the big city it was then a chance to slow the pace down in Sapa which is a beautiful rural area in North Vietnam. This was an incredible experience, the people were just so wonderful and kind and the stunning mountain surrounding and landscape was breathtaking. We stayed at the Topas Eco Lodges right up in the mountains which meant we were secluded with nothing but nature around us. This was a big difference from Ho Chi Minh City and a perfect contrast for us. The local people were so helpful giving us tips about foods to try and how to navigate the markets. On particular standout was the food in Sapa, it was all simple fresh Vietnamese flavours and local produce but combined it was so delicious. We couldn’t get enough!

From Sapa we travelled to Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. With French influenced architecture, French bakeries everywhere and many of the Vietnamese tour guides speaking French, this was just another amazing place to experience. Hanoi is less busy and smaller than Ho Chi Minh City, our tour guide mentioned that the government are currently working on expanding Hanoi to make it a larger capital city, however there are a lot more tourists and many western style bars/pubs and restaurants here then Ho Chi Minh. While we did dabble a little bit in Hanoi’s attempts at western food, and it was better here than anywhere else in Vietnam, we had learned our lesson many times over to stick to the local foods on the menu. If you chose the Western foods it was a bit of a lucky dip as to what you’d get served up! The night markets were great and there was a lot of buzz and youthful atmosphere in Hanoi which was great fun.

To finish our time in Vietnam we went to Ha Long Bay which is such an incredible part of this country. There is a Vietnamese saying, loosely translated as, if you haven’t been to Ha Long Bay then you haven’t been to Vietnam - I can see now why the saying rings true! What natural beauty and serene environment this place had, while also so rich in history. It felt like I had stepped into a movie.


I was sad to say goodbye to Vietnam and was disappointed that we had decided to end our trip in Thailand as I could have stayed in Vietnam much longer.

We stayed in Bangkok and Pattaya and while this was definitely an adventure, it isn't a place I would ever go to again or recommend any where as near as much I'd recommend Vietnam.

Vietnam was wonderful holiday and brilliant country to visit.



xx

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