Cafe Su Da's and Pho Bo's !
06.04.2013 - 30.04.2013 32 °C
Well this will be our last blog post away from home we'll make sure to do one more when we return so you all know we made it safe and sound!
Brammm beep beep beep honk honk! You must be in Vietnam, there are so many scooters here but what can I say that hasn't already been said about it? Crossing the street can be quite dangerous and you should never second guess yourself once your brave enough to attempt it. Traffic is so unpredictable here... its ordered chaos. Vietnam is home to about 90 million people and 190 million scooters. Jannelle and I have made a game of craziest load on a scooter and our top three consist of: (keep in mind these are 125cc 4 stroke scooters) 3 oxen in a trailer (1000lbs+ ?) a load of 50 2x4x16 ft planks on either side of the scooter, and two guys hauling a scooter on the back of their scooter. After 3 weeks here I'm starting to think the scooter could render a half ton truck useless.
Crossing the border from Cambodia into Vietnam involved a pretty painless 6 hr bus ride and only a 10 minte wait in line at customs. Jannelle still wasn't feeling 100 % so we were pretty happy that it went quickly. Houses and businesses lined the roads the whole way from the border to Saigon so it felt like we were driving through an endless town. Once we arrived we managed to find a decent hotel for two nights while Jannelle finished recouperating from whatever bug she had caught in Cambodia. On the second morning we awoke to the sound of 100 children screaming and playing just outside our window, turns out next door was a preschool they were so loud we packed our bags as quick as we could and started looking for a new place. We found a really nice hotel downtown whos only downside was the terrible free breakfast (fish and quail egg soup or noodles with mixed 'meat')
The next day we went to the War Remnants Museum where they had on display (amongst many other things) captured US Military airplanes and artillery. History is usually written by the winners, so it was interesting to have a walk around the museum and get Vietnams perspective on the war. There was quite a few areas in the museum dedicated to the destructive use of agent orange and other chemicals sprayed on the people and this country over the years that the war took place. Even to this day it is estimated that arond 15% of the total surface area of the country is contaminated by UXO's (Unexploded Ordinances). Won or lost, right or wrong, the museum is a reminder of the brutal after effects of war and the price that humanity has to pay.
We spent the next couple days enjoying Saigon, and drinking iced coffees (Cafe Su Da's) and just enjoying this beautiful city.
We then took a 6 hour bus North to Mui Ne, which is a sleepy little beach town making a name for itself as a kitesurfing hotspot. Because of Vietnams Communist past and present, everwhere you look you can see the old Soviet Communist hammer and sythe flag beside the red and yellow star flag of Vietnam. Other than that and the odd giant propaganda billboard, your hard pressed to find any real evidence of communism. Theres also a heavy infusion of Russian tourists and their language can be found on most signs in Mui Ne and Nha Trang (our next destination). A few times Jannelle and I were both approached by people mistaking us for Russians and were always given the Russian menu first.
We rented a scooter in Mui Ne to head to 20kms out of town to a little desert oasis with giant sand dunes. The drive was great we had some amazing coastal views along the way.
That last picture was of the nightly fish market where you could find monster lobsters and pretty much any kind of fresh fish you could ask for, all cooked fresh on the grill right there on the street. Ellen you would have died and gone to heaven Jannelle says! After a few days in Mui Ne we continued our journey North, next stop Nha Trang. Nha Trang is a small city situated on the coast with a beautiful beach that runs the whole east side length of the city. There was plenty of sunshine, and plenty of Russians. They are easy to spot by their 80's throwback haircuts (mullets). We had a hard time finding a decent place to eat and breakfast now consists of fried rice or Pho (rice noodle soup) after too many failed attempts to order a 'Western' breakfast. Once I ordered a steak and it ended up being a 3/16" slice of sweetened roast beef served with a huge side of disappointment. I'm not saying the food isn't good but were finding it hard to satisfy our western palette. Believe me there are gems waiting to be discovered in every town, and when we find one were there breakfast lunch and dinner!
Another 6 hour bus ride and we found ourselves in beautiful little Hoi An. Home to every woman's dream, custom made to fit EVERYTHING including dresses, hats, shoes, and suits. $25 and your into a beautiful little number made from any fabric you could think of. They will do any style or cut that you can imagine and have it made for you in 24 hours. So... we bought Jannelle four dresses and a blazer and a few smiles as everything turned out really nice! Hoi An is an ancient little fishing village that has managed to stay in tact for the last few centuries with short buildings, narrow alley ways and huge blooming trees covered in pink purple and white flowers which reminds you of the old towns of Europe. It was our favorite stop in Vietnam by far and we wandered the streets and soaked up some sun by the pool.
After enjoying a few days rest we boarded the dreaded 26 hour bus ride back to Ho Chi Minh (Saigon). It was a long trip but we made it here safe and sound with two days to spare before hopping on our first plane towards home! Were just finishing up some shopping and we have splurged on a fancy hotel with a beautiful view of downtown Ho Ci Minh City for the whopping price of $30! We have a long day of travel ahead of us but we're really looking forward to seeing our family and friends!!