We have been in Vietnam for 10 days now and it seems to have flown by. I think this is because we spent most of it being spoilt rotten at my friends house and the rest of it on a luxury (by traveller standards) cruise boat. It has seemed more like a holiday than a backpacking trek! Hey I'm not complaining! If I had a Steve Price-Thomas host in every country, I'd be a very happy traveller!
Because of this welcoming comfort that has come upon me, I have to say, I've got a bit lazy, wallowing in my comfort! They do say you need to take comfort breaks when you are travelling to stop burnout but I think I may have been taking it a bit to far!
Now that I have moved out of Steve's house and back into travel lodging (£4.50 per night accommodation), it's hit me like a slap in the face! Where is my evening Gin and Tonic?? Where am I going to do my washing? Who's going to recommend amazing places to visit? Damn I'm going to have to get up off my ass and do some research! And swap my refreshing G&T for a budget friendly carton of juice!
Actually our £4.50 accommodation is fine, if you ignore the owner who seems to not know what a shirt is and his staff that seem to not know what a smile is! The room is clean and spacious with private bathroom and air con. That's all we need really. Although it didn't stop us from booking a hotel with a pool at our next destination - Hoi An. Only because we got a deal and it's within budget. Always keeping an eye out for them!! Also Hoi An is meant to be a holiday destination, so, when in Rome..... (Or should I say Hoi An...)
I guess I should probably talk a bit about the culture and the way things go here. Well it's great actually. There are no high rise buildings, (yet, I think there are some in Ho Chi Minh). Everyone travels around on scooters which are fab to watch. It's crazy, there are thousands of them on the roads, like hoards of bumble bees, that swerve away from you (instead of sting you) when you get close. And the best thing about the roads here is that you don't have to wait for the green man to cross the road, you can just go, and the traffic passes around you. It's fantastic for me as I am so impatient that waiting to cross a road drives me mad! Also the danger of it all is quite exciting! There's that crazy streak in me coming out again! I am aware that this is an unusual outlook on the Vietnam roads and most westerners are too scared to cross! Come on Westerners, embrace your road crossing freedom! God help me when I get back to crossing the UK roads! Splat!
There are markets everywhere selling anything from engines to fabrics. The fabric stalls are my little piece of heaven!! I feel all inspirational when I'm around them and want to buy all the fabric! I've managed to hold back so far and only bought 2mts of silk, which I am taking to Hoi An tomorrow to be made into a skirt. Apparently Hoi An is the place to get stuff made. I wonder if they will let me use their sewing machines....
And then there's the food stalls that seem to pop up everywhere, out of nowhere! All of a sudden there is a fire on the pavement with a family grilling corn on the cob, or massive pots full of Chow (rice meat porridge soup stuff - amazing!) or something more simple like a pile of coconuts that they will chop the top off and stick a straw in for you. I could go on and on about the amazing food stalls, but I am aware this blog is getting long, and no one likes a blabber mouth! (Or should I say blabber blogger...)
I'll just round up with some of the cultural things we have experienced here in Vietnam. Yes the boring bit, bare with.....
In Hanoi we went to the temple of literature,
That was the only cultural thing in Hanoi. We mainly just wandered, took in the atmosphere and enjoyed the locally brewed beer for 20p a glass!
Jon talked about Ha long bay in his blog, so that's covered.
And now we are up to Hue, where we visited the Imperial Palace which was pretty amazing. It was massive and full of ruins, dragon statues, and beautifully decorated old buildings. Also there were many ponds, with gigantic gold fish and Lilly pads and some gardens with the most beautiful smelling flowers. I thought to myself, my Grams would like it here. And she'd know what all the names of the flowers were. I took a moment to remember her.
And finally, our last cultural experience so far, we saw some US Army tanks and planes that were captured by the Vietnamese during the war. It was fantastic to see! Very interesting and moving at the same time.
So there you go, Vietnam so far. I hope I haven't bored you to sleep!
Until next time...