13.04.2013 - 15.04.2013
After getting a bus from Phnom Penh, Cambodia we arrived safely in Ho Chi Mihn, Vietnam on April 13th. My initial reaction was 'dear gawd there are motorbikes EVERYWHERE!!' It was mesmerizing but also quite daunting. ...I imagined it to be a similar feeling to being swarmed by bees but instead of getting stung the motorbikes would more than likely knock you down and kill you. (Not good!) BUT thankfully I'd been warned of this situation in advance so I knew the drill! When crossing the street in Vietnam you just have to go! ...otherwise you could literally be standing there waiting for hours!! You just have to pluck up the courage, step out and walk ...and the motorbikes will just swerve around you. (Apologies in advance to anyone that this advice doesn't work for!!)
After getting used to the noise and the 'I could get knocked down and die any second' feeling it was time to relax and enjoy all the amazing things that Vietnam had to offer. (And I assure you we did!!) ...I pretty much fell in love with Vietnam straight away! The food there is unreal (got addicted to Pho soup ..well to all the Vietnamese food actually!) The people are so friendly, similar to Cambodia they just seemed to be generally happy people even though most lived in what we would deem quite poor conditions. There were gorgeous beaches ..many still remained unspoilt although with Vietnam becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination I fear this may change over the next few years. (So you'll have to get there quick!!) Its ridiculously cheap which was great for the ole budget and also for my back as I treated myself to a massage every other day!! But most importantly (to me) RANDOM things happen to you in Vietnam....and randomness is ALWAYS good!
Ho Chi Minh City:
This was our first stop in Vietnam and as I already said the motorbikes were quite overwhelming at the start! Ho Chi Minh, formally Saigon is the largest city in Vietnam. Since the end of the Vietnam War many tourists visit Ho Chi Minh's Cu Chi tunnels and the extremely disturbing War Remnants museum. The Chu Chi tunnels were very interesting. Used by the Viet Cong soldiers during the war the tunnels are part of a huge network of tunnels that can be found throughout most of the country. At one part of the tour you were able to actually go down into the tunnels and make your way from one entrance to another. Word of advice though ..we are much taller and fatter than your average Viet Cong soldier so that experience was quite uncomfortable!
We also visited the War Remnants museum which was awfully sad. The museum mainly focuses on the American phase of the Vietnam War and exhibits military equipment and extremely graphic photography portraying the catastrophic affects of Agent Orange and other chemical sprays used during the war. The US military claim the goal of spraying the chemical was to defoliate forested and rural land depriving guerrillas of crops and of cover. However the chemical had horrendous effects on Vietnamese people who came into contact with it. Vietnam estimates 400,000 people were killed or maimed, and 500,000 children born with birth defects as a result of Agent Orange . (The United States has challenged these figures as being unreliable.)
Ho Chi Minh was also great for an ole wander. I got up one day and just started walking around the city on my own. I don't even think I brought a map but I generally found that anywhere there seemed to be a tour group at or people taking photos was usually a good place to stop for a look!! I followed a group of people to what ended up being the main post office in the city. A gorgeous old building buzzing with tourists sending postcards around the world. So I jumped on the bandwagon and starting writing a few myself!! ...I'm not 100% did they all arrive to their destinations but sure its the thought that counts right!?
On our final night in the city we went to a quirky little place called Bobby Brewers. Its a restaurant and a cinema all in one..definitely worth a visit if you find yourself with a couple hours spare in Ho Chi Minh ..and you're in the mood for a movie night ...AND you've forgotten to eat dinner!!