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Hoi An, Nha Trang & Saigon (HCMC)

VIETNAM | Tuesday, 6 October 2009 | Views [383]

So before I delve into more storytelling I forgot to mention one thing in Hanoi - I was at a cafe having breakfast and this random Vietnamese man was taking photos of me and wouldn't stop! I tried to ask what he was doing and all he said was that he couldn't speak English but he thought I was very beautiful... Gillian tried to comfort me by telling me that he probably thought I was Angelina Jolie and that he'll be selling the photos to the papparazzi ... not so comforting! haha

After Hue we went to Hoi An which was just beautiful. It was once the major sea port for import/exports and is very influenced by the French. The first night we got there we tried the local specialties 'White Rose' which is a pork and prawn wonton type thing and another type of wonton that was deep fried and served with a tomato and pineapple salsa... a very interesting mix! On the way back from dinner we walked through tiny alleys lit with fairy lights (so gorgeous!) and bought some lanterns from a shop selling them for $1. It is so hard not to shop like crazy in these places! The next day the weather was pretty bad so we went to one of the many many tailors in Hoi An (I would say there are over 200). They had the pattern books for all the leading designers 09/10 collections... I was well restrained though and only bought 3 wool coats (must haves for the UK of course), 1 blazer and 2 dresses. As they were all made to measure I think it was pretty good value, $200 all together! After that we finally caught some good weather and rode bicycles for 8km to the beach. The beach was beautiful although the water isn't too refreshing, it must be at least 28 degrees - still nice to wash the immense sweat away. Oh I guess I must mention that I haven't ridden a bike since I was a small child so riding on the road was rather chaotic! Not so much for me, but for Gillian who had a small heart attack everytime i lost control of the steering inbetween a million flying motorbikes or flipped in the pot holes. I don't think I'll be riding on the road again unless Im in a place like Holland where the roads are apparently very flat (and have less motorbikes Im sure). Then we found a cute book exchange run by an American ex pat who had the perfect life, by the river surrounded by books and great air con. On our last day we did a day tour to My Son - a local religious temple site largely destroyed in the war, it was really good!

After that we headed to Nha Trang. The best way I could describe it is like the Vietnamese Noosa, very built up, very touristy and very expensive. The beach was beautiful though and we spent a few well deserved days by the water on sun beds working on our tans and eating lobster cooked on the sand by little ladies with portable bbq's. It was some well deserved luxury and a huge difference to the way we've been living! We also went to a spa for a day and sat in menthol-ish mud and hot springs which was bliss. Didn't stop the locals trying to sell us stuff though! Also got a bit homesick in Nha Trang - I missed Andrea's yr12 graduation which made me sad, apart from that I seem to be coping pretty well. Don't have too much time to miss home!

Then we headed to Saigon AKA Ho Chi Minh City, I was happy to see the end of our overnight bus series of adventures and unfortunately we were only there for 2 nights, expecting a similar city to Hanoi. It was equally as chaotic however had alot more character and so many cute alleys filled with restaurants and bars! We did a tour of the Cu Chi tunnels which were built during the war so that the Vietnamese people could hide from the Americans up to 25m underground. Considering their resources, it was all so well thought out and seeing all the war remnants really took you back to what it would've been like (as much as you can I guess without seeing all of the atrocities). Our tour guide was so cute and said that the tunnels were too big for all of our fat white asses... which was true, we went into a tunnel that was made bigger for the tourists and it was so small and claustrophobic, we were literally crawling on our knees for ages in the damp darkness with no air. I couldn't imagine hiding in there for months on end. We also did alot of shopping in Saigon buying DVD box sets, ended up spending about $100 and got 70 DVDs movies & box sets. I don't think I'll be bored for a very long time. Now in Cambodia so I will write soon!

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