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Planes, Trains and Automobiles

VIETNAM | Thursday, 12 May 2011 | Views [562]

So I think I've finally adjusted to the 11 hour time difference, and I must have done it in a way that turned me into a morning person at the same time. I wake up between 5-6am every morning now, but that's probably also because the sun rises at 5am here.

The first full day in Ho Chi Minh was spent eating, sleeping and adjusting to the time difference - with a brief walk in the city. The second day was a lot more adventurous. I went to see a beautiful Buddhist temple called the Jade Emperor Pagoda. I then took a taxi to My Tho for a Mekong Delta tour. I had no idea the drive would take over an hour, so I ended up getting slightly ripped off. I got on a boat which took me to three islands on this wide river. I saw a bee farm, some shops with crafts made entirely from coconuts, and visited a coconut candy factory (it was kind of like coconut fudge). I also took a canoe ride down a small channel here. The end of the trip was marked with a wonderful seafood lunch, Rebecca and I holding a giant python, me drinking rice wine with a dead cobra in it...oh and how could I forget - me eating fried cobra (which they killed on my table) and proceeding to take a shot of its blood with gall bladder and beating heart in the same glass. The tour guide was hilarious; he said "It make you feel warm in chest now, but later it make your banana feel warm"

These days have been so packed with tours that I'm sure I'm forgetting a few things. The next day, we had a city tour booked and saw a war museum, a traditional lacquer workshop where they make stunning art works and furniture, and a 200 year old Bhuddist Temple dedicated to the lady in the sky (I forgot the Vietnamese name). We also stopped at a huge Chinese market but I was so overwhelmed with goods and random stuff that I didn't buy anything. A lot of the stuff was imported from Western countries anyway. Had lunch at the famous pho 2000 restaurant; made famous because Bill Clinton and his daughter ate there in 2000. We even ate at the same table. Besides his average order of food, he had coca cola - very daring.

Caught a train the same night headed for Nha Trang. Stayed in a hostel called Backpacker's Hostel. It was a great bargain for 12 USD considering the room had its own bathroom, A/C and two balconies. I spent some time on the famous beach, and then booked yet another tour. This one was another full day ordeal, but this time the transportation was the back of a motorbike, which was exciting until maybe the 3rd hour on it when my tailbone started to feel like it had been whacked with a sledgehammer. We first stopped at Monkey Island, which is known for the 200-300 monkeys residing on it - they looked like macaques to me. There was a show, if you can call it that, when we got there, but I had no interest in seeing trained monkeys do eerily human tricks. With the music on top of that, it was like a psychotic circus. I'm sure they weren't treated very well either. Instead, I walked to another part of the island where the monkeys were in their natural habitat and got to feed a couple of them. It was ridiculously hot on this island! Had lunch further down the road at a well known seafood restaurant. My meal was a little more tame this time around with fried snapper, rice, handrolls and soup. I went to Bo Ha waterfall immediately after to cool down. I did not want to leave this place, it was so refreshing! I did a bit of cliff jumping, and managed to work up the courage to jump from the highest spot - about 40 feet or 14 metres. The last stop on this trip was another beach further down the highway with whiter sand and shallower (is that a word?) water. The bike ride back was about an hour and a half and really tested my lower body, but the trip was soooo worth it. Yes. four o's for emphasis.

Took a plane from Nha Trang to Hanoi early the next morning and slept entirely too much once I checked into a hotel here. As I'm typing this, my stomach is growling and I fear it will get its revenge if I don't get breakfast soon. A car will be arriving very soon to take me to Halong Bay - a famous UNESCO site which I've been wanting to see for so long. I will be spending 2 days and 1 night on a traditional Vietnamese junk boat and I am confident it will be awesome.

OK, time for food. More updates, and pictures to follow as soon as I get organized.

Tags: beaches, city tour, mekong, nha trang, train


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