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Anywhere but the UK Almost three years of saving and hard work since graduation have culminated in this trip. My inspiration has come from reading inumerable atlas's and watching the quality output of the BBC ever since I was a kid. My route has changed in it's scope and length since my orignial ideas. The theme however,remains the same: to get beyond the shores of our tiny island and to experience and explore the world beyond. Oh and to have a good time and not work for six months!


VIETNAM | Wednesday, 27 June 2007 | Views [744]

Arriving in Vietnam I immediately noticed that the grass was greener on the Vietnamese side of the border.  Well actually it wasn’t greener as the Cambodian side of the border was actually a barren wasteland.  I hoped that Vietnam would live up to this neatly manicured welcome.

Saigon, as it seems the majority of locals call the city, is a bustling metropolis of over 8 million and probably twice as many motorcycles.  They are everywhere on the roads and, as I was later to discover, the pavement when the roads become too busy, or one motorist becomes frustrated.  At first they create a real problem with crossing the roads, that is until you realise that the best way to proceed is to simple walk out and they will successfully negotiate you.  The drivers here seem to have a great deal of experience at avoiding obstacles.  In my three days in the city I saw no fewer than three motorcycle accidents which required some sharp thinking from Saigon’s road users. 

Besides dodging motorcycles I managed to visit a number of sites made famous by the Vietnam War, the most impressive of which were the Cu Chi Tunnels.  Here the Viet Cong would hide between 3-10m underground while ensnaring large numbers of ‘imperialist US aggressors’ and their ‘puppet soldier’ allies.   The Vietnamese tour guide was so proud of this he kept pointing out that the Iraqis today are copying what the Viet Cong did forty years ago.  With sightseeing in Saigon wrapped up we headed north on our $16 bus ticket.  This would eventually see us to Hanoi, but first came a stop in Hoi An. 

uses in this country, and any tours in general for that matter, always follow the same pattern.  Invariably you are made to get out of bed way earlier than you need to as the bus spends the next hour driving around the town while it goes round the houses picking up everyone who is taking  the bus.  Then once the bus is full a small group will start to raise hell because the air conditioning isn’t working.  What do you expect for $16?  Finally, as these buses are invariably night buses, the same small group gob off or generally make a racket, but later, not too subtly, complain when one of the few Vietnamese people on the bus makes a noise while they are trying to sleep.  I mean how dare they?  

This all becomes very frustrating.  God knows how some of them are out here as they seem to enjoy being shrouded in a protective bubble which safely transports them from one backpacker ghetto to the next without having to really come into contact with the country.  Anyway rant over, but suffice to say I’m getting a little peeved with some of the fuckwits traveling around on mummy and daddies buck!  Or maybe it is my lack of sleep from last nights twelve hour overnighter up to Hanoi.

Anyway, digression over: we arrived in Hoi An and spent three days doing very little besides purchasing some tailor made clothes.  Why not?  It was only $6 for a shirt, even if I didn’t understand half of the questions fired at me over while I stood there being measured.  A casual shirt please, that’s all I ask.  The questions, however, kept on coming and since they required a simple yes or no I made decided upon a vague movement of the head leaving the tailor to interpret it they though best.  It all worked out fine and I am now the proud owner of four tailor made shirts, a pair of jeans and a pair of cords, all for the princely sum of $28!

After some shopping and a one especially long night on the beers with a group of lads we had met in Laos we were off again.  This time the destination was Hue, a place which really didn’t speak to me.  Maybe this was because I was knackered from the recent spate of late nights, or maybe, and this is probably more likely, it was because it was so hot that I couldn’t really be arsed to let it.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll find out if I ever pass this way again.

Well I’m in Hanoi now feeling shattered, again the result of an overnight bus journey.  However, what I’ve seen of the city so far I have liked.  Even better is the fact that I am soon to be the proud owner of a train ticket which will transport me over 2000km to Beijing.  This is good as I think I’ve had my fill of south-east Asia and I’m looking forward to a land where apparently few people speak English.  It’ll be challenging if nothing else.    

Tags: Sightseeing


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