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The Big Trip. Stephen, Laura, James and Sinead head for an epic adventure: 17 weeks in South America 8 weeks in New Zealand 2 weeks in Fiji 11 weeks in Australia 14 weeks in South East Asia.

The Vietnam adventure continued...!

VIETNAM | Monday, 22 March 2010 | Views [4261]

Hoi An was our next stop. Hoi An is well known as the place in Vietnam for tailor made clothes and suits as well as silks. Hoi An is also a UNESCO world heritage town. The old town along the river is a maze of tiny streets with lovely little old French buildings which are lit up at night with hundreds of lanterns. 

As cars and bikes are banned from the old town it can be really nice and peaceful… sometimes! There are hundreds of tailors and cobblers in Hoi An not to mention people selling souvenirs, books, etc so there is a lot of competition and every where you go and all day long people shout things at you like, "wanna buy a suit", "buy shoes buy shoes", "come into my shop" or just "buy something buy something". So you spend all day saying no thanks, no thanks!!

Despite all this Hoi An is every girls dream!! Cheap clothes and shoes tailor made to fit and for half nothing as well. Needless to say the lads soon got sick of being dragged round all the shops looking at dresses. Stephen picked his suit and was measured in about 10 mins flat, I on the other hand was a different story. You can get anything you want made here and the shops have piles of magazines, catalogue and the like for you to choose from or just bring your own picture. In the end I got three dresses made, a coat, two pairs of sandals and many silk scarves. Sinead got two dresses, a coat and two pairs of sandals. James got a coat and Stephen got a suit! We had to buy a few extra bags before we left.

Hoi An hasn’t got the most happening night life but it is only a few kilometres from the beach where there was a beach bar with a pool. After a few drinks in town we got the free transfer to the beach club and drank into the early hours. Stephen and James at some stage decided to strip off and take a swim in their boxers.

When the place was closing they gave us and a couple of other people a lift back into town… or so they told us. We were left off in the middle of no where and had no idea where we were, walking wasn’t really an option so we had no idea what way to even go. Lucky for us there were a few guys working on a construction site and said they would give us a lift to our hotel… so off  we went. On the way James decided to dry his wet boxers by putting them on his head (he was very drunk) they didn’t stay on his head long and so James was a pair of boxers short lol.

Very hung over the next day we collected the last of our clothes and booked some bus tickets out of Hoi An for the next evening.

Another overnight bus later we were in Nha Trang. Nha Trang is the big beach town of the south of Vietnam. It was getting hotter and hotter the further south we went so a few days at the beach was just what we needed. First thing on the agenda though was to find a bar to watch Ireland kick England’s ass in the Rugby… and that’s exactly what happened. Great game but James was not so happy… aw well.

While in Nha Trang James manages to loose two more pairs of boxers when they fell off the hotel balcony onto the neighbouring buildings roof where there was no way to get them. James had to head off to the local market in search of some underwear as he was running seriously low at this stage. All he managed to find was a couple of pairs of very figure hugging fake Calvin Klein‘s…. very figure hugging!!

We decided to do an island hopping cruise… It was really cheap and we soon realised why. It was a bit shit and bizarre! The boat was a basic wooden boat with rows of benches inside there were about 50 people on the boat. Basically there was snorkelling but the snorkels and masks were like something from the pound shop and there were no flippers so snorkelling was just crap and then lunch was cold. On the funny side after lunch the crew set up what is possibly the most old and rusted guitar and drum set I have ever seen and with an tambourine they started to play and sing, it was very cringe worth stuff.

But it got worse… They started trying getting people to sing and dance. I've never seen so many people trying to make themselves look invisible. If one of them had come near me to try get me to sing I was jumping out of that boat. Truly weird. After this one of the crew jumped into the water with a floating tray of plastic cups and few bottles of wine. And the floating bar was open! Everyone grabbed a big rubber ring, jumped into the water and made for the bar. It was great fun floating around the middle of the sea drinking wine.

Next we stopped at a island beach for some relaxing time. We are still wondering why its called a four island cruise cause we only stopped at two islands.

In Nha Trang we found a bar and restaurants right on the beach with a pool and sun lounges on the beach where for 25 cent we could use all the facilities all day. We spent a lot of time here and it was fabulous, pool side service, cocktails, massages and the pool and beach only a few steps away, bliss.

The overnight bus thing was getting to be a bit of a pain but we had to do one more to get to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) our last stop In Vietnam.

Saigon is a much nicer city than Hanoi. It is more modern and cleaner but still as crazy. Its crazy, loud and busy with thousands of scooters and motorbikes… They out number cars in ridiculous numbers. On our first day we walked twenty minutes or so to the War Remnants Museum. Its was freaking scary and crossing the road near impossible at times… We decided to get a taxi back to our hotel later.

The War Remnants Museum is entirely dedicated to the Vietnam war. It was had by far some of the saddest and most disturbing images we have ever seen. The museum is very anti American and controlled by the government. It had articles, war artefacts, weapons and photos of the war and victims of the war which were very interesting but what they showed was disturbing.


We booked a tour to the Chi Chi tunnels a few hours north of Saigon. These tunnels were used during the Vietnam war by the Viet Cong who fought against the Americans. The tunnels are part of a much larger network of tunnels that underlie much of the country. The tunnels were used by Viet Cong  as hiding places during combat, as well as housing, hospitals, food and weapons and living quarters for numerous guerrilla fighters. The original tunnels are tiny and narrow and made for the tiny Vietnamese solders and the solders would have had to drag them selves along the tunnels on their elbows. We had the option to get into the smaller tunnels, Stephen had a go but unfortunately James was to big.

Some tunnels have been made larger to accommodate the larger size of western tourists, while low-power lights have been installed in several of them to make travelling through them easier. Stephen, Sinead and James went into the tunnels but I chickened out at the entrance and couldn’t make myself go any further it was just too small.

Also on display were some of the booby traps that the Viet Cong set in the area around the tunnels. They looked painful. There was a small shooting range and the lads had fun shooting big card board cut outs of cows with AK47.

Also on the tour we went to see the centre of the religion known as Coadaism. This is a religion bases loosely on the Buddhist and Christian religions. It has about 2 million followers in Vietnam. In the north of Saigon is the centre if the religion in what is known as The Holy See. This is a huge compound made up of many fabulous temples and religious buildings and the main Temple of worship, which like the other buildings is beautifully and colourfully decorated.

We were there in time to be able to watch the midday service of worship. The worshipers dress in white robes and the more important members wear different colours robes, they kneel and pray to the music.

The real surprise of the day was our tour guide. He used to be an English teacher so had excellent English but he also knew an amazing amount of Cockney rhyming slang much to our amusement. As soon as he realised James was from London he was non stop with cockney rhyming slang. For example when we were going for lunch he said to James "are you hank Marvin? Because were going for a ruby murry now." In English that’s James are you hungry, we are going for a curry now. He was also able to speak a bit of Irish… more than I can actually.  

Next stop is Cambodia. Cambodia will be country number 15 on our trip so far and also our last country as after this we head back to Thailand to spend our last few weeks on the Islands. 

Tags: chi chi tunnels, hoi an, nha trang, saigon



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