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Around the world in a daze

Down South in Vietnam

VIETNAM | Monday, 11 May 2009 | Views [487]

Well we are a week in and despite what everyone predicted there have been no major dramas.

We arrived in Saigon tired and overwhelmed on Monday morning and mistakenly took the first taxi we saw. We thought he said it would be 50,000 dong (about $5) but he meant 500,000 ($50) – our first rip off.

The traffic on the way in was chaos. Motorbikes and scooters darted infront of the taxi and wove their way around other cars and taxis. Bikes carrying huge loads of food, plastic containers or people appeared out of nowhere. When there was no room they just rode up onto the pavement. I was sure we would die several times on the way, or kill a scooter rider.

But we made it to the hostel in one piece.

From there we spent the day exploring by foot. We found a map and managed to find our way around the city. We found the markets, Reunification Palace and a bunch of nice parks before settling in for an evening of water puppetry.

We also pretty much mastered crossing the roads, it doesn't sound like much of a chalenge but when you realise there are no real road rules and every scooter driver has a death wish it is pretty challenging. We learnt to just walk in front of them and hope they don't hit us.

Our first dinner was an interesting experience and we both expected to wake up in the night with severe food poisoning, luckily we didn't. Despite everyone saying there was food everywhere in Saigon we struggled to find any other than one man serving bits of meat and rice. We weren't exactly sure what the meat was or how long it had been there for, but it tasted good and we were starving having skipped lunch and spent the day walking. So we risked it.

Meals have since become easier and we are learning to be more adventurous.

Day 2 we headed to the Cu Chi Tunnels where the Viet Cong lived during the war, pretty much the only way to get there is to go on a tour but our guide was really good so Im glad we did. He explained a bit more of the history of the war and showed us around the bunkers and tunnels. We headed down into one tunnel that has been widened for us fat lazy westeners but it was still pretty small, we could get through bending over. It ran for 100 metres but Louisa and i both decided to take the first exit at 20 metres. It was hot and sweaty and smelly underneath.

It was a great experience but kinda glorified the war. Great fighters were given the “American Killing Award”.

After this we jumped out at the War Remnants Museum, which was pretty gory. There were actual deformed foetuses in alcohol in one display as well as pictures of deformitiies from Agent Orange. But again it was interesting to read aobut the history of the Vietnamese, my memory from studying the war in college is very hazy.

We spent the next 3 days on a Mekong Delta tour. It was really relaxing after the hustle and bustle of Saigon and crossing roads was just that little bit easier.

We did a lot of boat trips, which were great, but a tad repetitive. All tours seem to include lots of side trips to people making rice paper, coconut candy and just about anything you could imagine. We were restrained and didnt by anything!

Tags: louisa in saigon

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