We have fallen really far behind on our blogging but have been busy enjoying vietnam, can you blame us ? To catch up I'll try to provide a brief summary of what we have gotten up to.
The weather was unexpectedly cold but we had an incredible home, that was of French colonial design, with 12 foot high ceilings and collumns in the room. We had a few lazy days of wandering the city and enjoyed a lot of pho. There is a fast food joint called pho24 and it is delicious some of the best soup I have ever tasted. Pho Bo is Addicting. Meg, Ryland and I went to a local joint where a lovely couple a dutch baker and his Vietnamese wife gave us the low down on what's what and what to order so we ended up sharing some tasty dishes. We went to the war museum where they glorified war Heros.
We booked a boat to Catba island in Ha Long Bay. We planned on staying two nights. We expected the boat to be direct but it ahahhaha we ended up on a tour boat but we weren't allowed to sit inside because people that where on the boat where staying overnight so they sat inside and we sat up stairs on the deck in the freezing cold. The scenery was beautiful, we stopped to go in a cave that was really impressive! Ryland had a major cold/ fever so stayed in bed. We stayed in a little harbor town and it was really rainy like prince rupert. I explored the town it was really tiny but nice to walk around in but there wasn't much to do because the weather was so bad.
We arrived around 10pm on this dreary looking street everything was closed up, it was raining and there was no taxis anywhere. The only thing open was a sketchy hotel but we had already booked a guest house that was outside of town so we had an interesting time trying to explain to the receptionist that we needed a mode of transportation. Ninh binh was excellent for a real cultural experience. We went trekking at phuong national park. It was really wet and slippery so it was more challenging but a lot of fun. We then went to a primate rescue center that was attached to the park; there was a 140 primates that the centre rescues. We walked into town and there was a huge soccer stadium that was falling apart. The town was empty you barley saw people when you where out, it was if we where walking through constantinople. We came across a restaurant that was busy and stopped in for some soup. Immediately everyone put down what they were eating and just stared at us. This one lady yelled at us for coming in, and everyone watched us eat, foreigners were not welcome.
We took a sleeper bus from Ninh binh and I had to sleep beside a Russian family and the man kept rolling over and sleeping on me. There was no
Bathroom on this bus ( this is typical no
Bathroom for 12 hours) our driver had no intention of stopping but we got a
Flat tire around 2am thank you!!! We all got to relieve ourselves on the side of the road ( I am not above popping a squat in public; when you have to go, you have to go. I spent the rest of the night trying to keep the Russians out of Canadian territory. We had a short stay in hue just one night. We celebrated the half way mark with food sampling around the world. We met a group of men in there sixties from south Africa that were on an 18 day cycling trip, they had a lot of advice for travelling and a bundle of laughs.
We needed to be spoiled a bit, so we stayed in slightly nicer accommodations. Our first night we went to the mermaid for dinner, it is the first restaurant to open in hoi an in 1991. The woman who opened the restaurant needed a way to support her family, she now owns 4 restaurants in total. All of which are very tasty. Ryland tried his first hot pot soup. We went to cargo for desert and shared a chocolate mouse cake- was AMAZING, a taste sensation if you will. It cost 2$. The next day we went to the spa and both had massages and pedicures for 40$ grand total. It was well worth it. In the afternoon we rented bikes and stopped at a deli, picked up some meat and a baguette and headed to the beach for the afternoon. Before you get to the beach there is a parking lot for your bicycle and it costs 50 cents. It's actually brilliant, you get a ticket and then you do not have to worry about someone stealing your bike. We spent the next three days riding bikes to the beach and eating. Hoi an is a quant town that has all colonial buildings with cobble streets. It's beautiful with a large river running through it and the street lights are all lanterns.
We took an over night bus to Na Trang, we got on the bus at 530. Spent the first hour heading north to danang we stopped to pick up cargo and locals so all our bags were moved into the bus to make room for this cargo. The bus driver locked bags in the bathroom and the rest laid in the aisles. Some people were unable to get out of there seats because they were covered in luggage. We both had top bunks which was great because the locals had to sit in the aisles and were sleeping over top of all the other bags. It looked uncomfortable for everyone. We arrived in Na Trang around 630am and caught a bus to MuE Ni at 7am arriving around 2pm. The first two nights we stayed out of town away from the main strip the beach wasn't as nice and there was a strange awkward silence, everyone kept asking us if we were staying at the guesthouse when we clearly where. At this point in the trip we realized that maybe the writers of lonely planet haven't actually been to any of these places and they just googled it. We went into town for dinner and had some amazing Indian food, Ganesh which is a chain. I ordered us lamb samosas, butter chicken, vegetable jalrazzi and some garlic nan bread. It was delicious! We went back two more times!! We walked back to our guesthouse it was 7 km and actually took a lot longer than expected so we had to stop to quench our thirst at POGO; I had the best gin and tonic. Next day we bikes 14 km to find ourselves a new place to stay that was in town. We ended up at a place called the small garden, we got a bungalow that was five steps away from the beach. The beach in town was beautiful fine sand and the water was packed with hundreds of
Kite surfers. We spent the next four days in the waves and reading our books. The waves were over rylands head and basically would spit you out. It was our favorite place in vietnam.
We ended up arriving in Saigon around 730 on march 15 and ran into meg and Aron with a huge group of people and all stayed in the same room; there was 9 of us. The first morning we went to Chi's cafe and found the most tasteful BLT with avocado. It was note worthy that's why I mention it. We went to the military market; this massive indoor market with so many rats( the size of cats). That afternoon we went to the war museum, it was "heavy" to say the least. Three floors containing galleries of photos of the ill treatement of soldiers and civilians. One gallery was dedicated to demonstrating the effects of agent orange it made my stomach turn. There was a mock prison that was rather disturbing and a list of torture techniques; such as the tiger cage which was a barb wire cage that was half the size of a deep freezer and held 5-7 men at a time. St Patrick's day we went to the cu chi tunnels. We order a 16 person bus for 8 of us and had a private tour guide. He taught us a ridiculous amount about Vietnam such as when you buy a car here you pay 200% tax. At the tunnels we all got to try fitting into
An opening the pictures of Ryland in the small space is hilarious (we can't post photos at the moment ) . We had the opportunity to crawl 100m within the tunnels but as our guide, frank the tank said they have been enlarged for KFC bodies. It was so hot and sweaty my legs were throbbing days afterwards. Rylands hips almost got stuck in the tunnels. The original tunnels have been closed for 40 years. I couldn't imagine living in one for 20 years let alone having a baby in one. I spent 8mins in one and that was enough for
Me. We were able to get into the spirt of st pattys day by watching a rugby match Ireland vs England . We also went to the reunification palace it was nothing to write home about it looks like the 70s inside and out. And that pretty much wraps up our trip to