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The Saga of Heather's Travels ... the story of a dream come true

Good Morning Vietnam!!

VIETNAM | Sunday, 21 March 2010 | Views [554] | Comments [4]

Since Katie returned to New Zealand, I have crossed another border, and am now in Vietnam, wow, Vietnam!! This is where this whole trip started from, my desire to see Vietnam. It sorta grew to encompass so many other countries, but Vietnam was my goal, and here I am! Not that much different from Cambodia so far, except for the level of development. Pol Pot has so much to answer for in Cambodia, by taking out a whole generation virtually, the country was set back so much, and will take a long time to recover. I loved my time there though, especially at Wat Opot, and hope to get back there some day.

Once again I decided to do it the hard way, and took yet another riverboat from Phnom Penh, down the Mekong and across the river border which is just out of the Mekong Delta city of Chau Duc. The trip was surprisingly uneventful, a comfortable boat built for 30(ish) with only 3 of us on board!! Amazing!! I spent 3 full on days in Chau Duc, mostly on the back of a "moto" (motorbike taxi) visiting temples, mountains, and caves. The Khmer Rouge have left their calling card around here too, many stories of brutal murders and torture, just unbelievable. I visited a smallish mountain known as "$2million mountain" as the americans apparently spent that much trying to bomb the VietCong out of the caves there. They were spectacularly unsuccessfull as the whole mountain is just riddled with caves, and provided a safe and unreachable hiding place. The temples here are called "Pagodas" and seem to have a much more chinese influence. The Buddhas are now the chinese style, of the laughing fat man, and painted colourful icons and gods. As yet I dont know if this is all of Vietnam or just this area. I went up another mountain where a Giant happy Buddha sits in front of a lake, towering over the whole area, and visible for miles around. The trip to these mountains was through many miles of rice paddys. The delta area is very rich agriculturally and they can harvest up to 3 rice crops a year. The richness of the emerald green fields, the canals, the geese, ducks, oxen, water buffalo, and the constant hard working farmers tending the crops made for such interesting trips. My friendly moto driver stopped and pointed things out to me to photograph frequently, which was great as my bum is not so used to sitting on the back of a motorbike all day, and was complaining strongly!! The 3 days passed quickly, and then before I knew it, I was on a bus heading to the larger Mekong delta city of Cantho (about 3 hours). It is a constant surprise to me to find these large vibrant cities that I have never heard of, which are just getting on with their business and oblivious to my "discovering" them!! Life in Cantho, as in Chau Duc, revolves around the river. The Mekong is very large at this part of its journey and it supports many many lives. The floating market here is incredible, and worth the 6am start to see. Not a touristy trinkety market but a place where locals come to buy their fresh fruit and veges wholesale, small bum boats, packed to the gunnels with bananas, pineapples, potatoes, pumpkin, rice, fish, and many many more staples that eventually find their way to the mouths of locals, and tourists I guess. I am struck here by the "woman power" The small boats for hire are all skippered by women, as are most of the businesses and restaurants it appears. Strong, loud, brightly dressed women, all keen to part you from a dong or two!! Even the hotel I was staying in had a woman manager and all women staff. That's a big difference to the way things are in Cambodia.

From Cantho I caught a bus and a fast ferry to where I am now, on the beautiful paradise island of Phu Quoc (pronounced Foo Wok) Who knew this sleepy relaxed island was here? I certainly didn't, but I guess that's good, as it has been able to maintain the quietness and beauty that many of the more developed islands in Thailand have lost. Even now, it is "high season", but I had no trouble finding my gorgeous wee bungalow, and though the resort I am at is full, the beach is not packed, there are no touts, it is cheap as chips, and just absolutely beautiful. There is an airport here, that has several flights a day, just to Saigon, so it is very accessible, and I have no doubt there are big beautiful and expensive resorts available also. There are 2 towns on the island, I went into the closer one Duong Dong just once, to book my ticket to Saigon, and once again was amazed at the size of it (I was expecting a wee village) There seemed to be a million motor bikes, and many traffic lights, and I just booked my ticket, got the taxi to wait, and came straight back here - time enough for all that once I hit Saigon! So, thats my next stop, I fly to Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City, on tuesday, and with the help of my very dear friend there, Steve, who I met at Wat Opot and who lives here permanently, start planning the rest of my Vietnamese journey.



I love the way you explain it all mum you have a very easy-to-read writing style. You make it all sound fresh and interesting, I forget I've been to these countries lots of times and instead feel fascinated again! Can you just keep travelling and entertain us all? Love ya lots stay safe please x

  Deb Mar 22, 2010 12:40 AM


Fab to keep up to date with your travels Heather. yes as Deb puts it so well-so easy to read and interesting to boot!! Always ready for your next chapter.Like a book in progress-not sure what the next chapter will hold. Take care. Travel safe-Enjoy your dream!!Keep the dream going sis!!Much love Caroxxx

  Carolyn Bisley Mar 22, 2010 7:24 AM


It was 10 years ago since Deborah and myself travelled through Vietnam looking forward to hearing from places we exployed ....Hope you make Sapa

  Andrew Mar 22, 2010 11:23 AM


Hi Heather, Caught up with you again at last. I get the feeling you'll travel for the rest of your life - you won't know how to stop. And maybe get bored with little old NZ as your experiences of life go on and on. Good for you. Just read your story from Wat Opot and as the tears ran down my cheeks for the people and their fate, I felt very blessed to be leading the life I have in NZ. I could feel the love that you would have been spreading among the people there. We're all blessed to have a friend like you with so much love to give.
Take care and keep up the amazing adventures.
Trish XX

  Trish C Apr 15, 2010 5:15 PM



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