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Tailors, bikes and boats

VIETNAM | Tuesday, 31 January 2012 | Views [354]

Our time in Vietnam has been activity packed so I haven't updated the blog recently. We will be losing more of our group that day and our tour will be down to 5 as we fly to Laos on the 1st.

Since I didn't give Ho Chi Minh City a good description in my last post I'm revisiting it here. Since then, however we have visited Hoi An (where I again spent to much money), Hue Halong Bay and finally Hoi An, which is where I'm writing from.

Ho Chi Minh City was an interesting experience. Our first night there we visited the market, where you could find souvenirs, leather goods, and perfumes galore! the morning of our second day we visited the War Remnants Museum, which had extensive displays of the Vietnam War including the affects of Agent Orange. That afternoon, a few of us hired a van to take us to the Cu Chi Tunnels, an extensive tunnel system used by the Vietnamese during the war, both to live in and travel. We were able to crawl into the hidden entrance holes and take a short, crouched walk though the tunnel system... the last 100m was the worst, as the tunnels were the narrowest here (this so even after widening them for tourists).

That night we headed to Nha Trang and from there Hoi An, the tailoring center of Vietnam, where custom designed and fitted coats, suits and dresses are produced within a day. Everyone in my tour had some item of clothing made. Personally, I had a beautiful silk lined wool coat and Vietnamese silk dress made. This resulted in me having to purchase a second piece of luggage! haha Thankfully my hostel in Bangkok will allow me to store luggage for up to 60 days (I plan to do this before I head to the islands).

Day Two in Hoi An involved a 4 hour bicycle tour of the countryside. We were able to experience the Vietnam you see in photos: rice paddies, vegetable gardens, fish farms and water buffalo. This was one of my favourite experiences while in Vietnam.

From Hoi An we flee to Hue. Hue was not our favourite location, but we did not stay long. One late afternoon 3 of us took a motor bike tour of the region. We were taken to the rice museum, an Emperors Tomb, and an American Bunker. We were also able to take a stab at making insense.

From Hue we took a 14 hour night train to Hanoi. Very interesting and sketchy experience. We were lucky to have 1st class cabins with bunk beds, because by 10pm the hall of our car was filled with Vietnamese people sleeping on the ground. It was an ordeal to make the trip to the toilets! Locking the door was also a must, as some people would just open the door, hoping to find an empty bunk, or some goodies to steal.

When we reached Hanoi in the early morning (5am) we took a 4 hour bus to Halong Bay. After checking in, we headed to the tourist pier for a 4 hour boat tour and seafood lunch among the islands. Over 2000 islands are scattered throughout the bay. The site has recently been named one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. Our fresh seafood lunch was amazing, and we were taken to one of the floating seafood markets in the bay. Later we also stopped at one island to tour the caves.

We spent one night in Halong Bay then headed to Hanoi yesterday. In the afternoon we went to the water puppet theatre. This afternoon we plan to tour Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, and tomorrow - Laos.

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