A Travellerspoint blog

Vietnam

Checking out at Ho Chi Minh City

overcast 25 °C

Hello Everyone, first of all, a huge thank you to all who posted birthday messages for me - it was lovely to get them from so many of you, especially as we are unable to access any social networking sites in Vietnam (communist country etc). I'm glad many of you enjoyed Colin on my behalf, I had food envy! For those who have posted things on facebook, sorry I have not responded, but we cannot access anything at the moment.

So, we have had a speedy journey through Vietnam, and at times we felt like we were chasing something that wasn't there. While we all really enjoyed Hanoi - so interesting and atmospheric, the rest of our journey has lacked that 'something'. After Hanoi, we took the 18 hour train journey to Hoi An. Though this sounds gruelling, it was much better than we all expected and we shared a cabin with a lovely Vietnamese family. Ross actually got 'tucked in' by one of them...funny but very caring....and cheered him up on the day the first true homesickness took him by surprise. We shared snacks throughout the journey and everything was going well until the train broke down and was spearated, which meant everyone from the other carriage joined us. Cosy it was, we eventually arrived Hoi An. Hoi An is descirbed as a UNESCO Heritage town (akin to Luang Prabang in Laos). Maybe we were spoilt by Luang Prabang, but this felt more 'oldy worldy' than historic, and overly touristic to be able to see any of the crumbling, gorgeous buildings we were hoping to see. Nonetheless, the place was lovely for wandering around and we found a great little cafe/restaurant called STREETS that supports disadvantaged teens & young adults through employment and culinary training.

TET holidays coupled with the fact that everyone was doing the same as us (chasing the sun), buses and trains were fully booked and slow, so we treated ourselves to a flight to Nha Trang for some beach and sunshine. Nha Trang is described as the Jewel of Vietnam's beaches - the beach was lovely and the three of us had a great time, but the town itself is like Croydon town centre with a beach.

So, here we are, writing from the airport of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), awaiting our connecting flight to Bangkok. We were all very curious about Vietnam and Hanoi in particular was excellent, but overall, the remainder of our trip gave us little in the way of cultural stimulation - this in itself is fascinating for a 'communist' country. It possesses little in the way of identity as a nation/country and appears to be influenced by Japan, China, France and the U.S which is ironic. It certainly feels capitalist and the nation has a comparatively good quality of life, to their neighbours in SE Asia. As a result of this lack of cultural stimulus, we haven't taken many photo's....sorry!

Aside from that, I have loved my Mum being here and we have all had a good laugh throughout, which has been excellent.

We will most definitely return to this part of the continent soon, to visit Cambodia, but for now, we are heading to Hua Hin for some sun & beach (we are feeling knackered), after which, Ross and I may try to get some beachside bar work (Vietnam hasn't been cheap!)

Love to all, keep the messages coming!

Ross and Charlie
xxxxx

Posted by charlieandross 22:06 Archived in Vietnam Comments (2)

East meets West in Hanoi

overcast 10 °C

We have been in chilly Hanoi for three days now and I can safely say it is the coldest both Charlie and I have been since we left the UK - back in November. The temperature has dropped close to 4 or 5 degrees above zero most evenings and neither of us were really prepared for this weather. In fact, if it were not for the proactive intervention of Lee (Charlie's Mum who has since joined us temporarily on the adventure) bringing some much needed thermals for both of us we would be freezing our faculties off!!

Vietnam is the first communist country I have ever visited and Hanoi bears testament to the Soviet influence that the country still retains. Whilst the city is thriving, sprawling, modern and expanding, it still retians an old Eastern/Asian charm with many French colonial buildings indespersed amongst the chaotic streets. The legacy of Ho Chi Minh is almost everywhere within the city and whilst we have not managed to see his embalmed body at the Ho Chi Minh tomb (due to the Chinese/Vietnamise New Year) we have visited the equally impressive military museum. The museum is a tribute to the American War - which we refer to as the Vietnam war - and gives a brutally honest account of Vietnamese suffering during the futile fighting in the 1960s and 1970s. Images of Ho Chi Minh are littered throughout the museum and his impact and direction on the war are highlighted throughout. We have also seen the equally impressive Opera House and the many boutique galleries that line the streets next to it. The artwork has been impressive and both Charlie and Lee have purchased some nice pieces. I also bought Charlie a lovely portrait by a local hill tribe artist for her birthday that will, one day, adourn our first house :-)

We are celebrating Charlie's 31st birthday today. Unfortunately we have an 18 hour train journey south to Hoi-An so the real celebrations will be slightly delayed until we reach warmer climbs in the next day or so.

It is lovely to have Lee on board for this leg of the South East Asian adventure and it is also really nice for both of us to share a smaller part of our bigger adventure with someone so close. We are also thinking lots about the rest of our loved ones back home - so keep the comments coming please!

Much love.

Ross and Charlie
xxxx

Posted by charlieandross 05:15 Archived in Vietnam Comments (4)

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