Saturday, December 12, 2009


Like a Vietnamese springroll, it's time for me to wrap this Vietnamese story up, because as of a few days ago, Vietnam is now behind me. I am writing this post from Phnomh Penh, "City of Wonders"as they advertise it here.

Just so that there isn't a huge gap in my stories, here's a quick summary and hightlights of the last 12 days...

20 - 23 November 2009 Hoi An
Hoi An is owner to the hostel I wrote such a bad review about earlier on, we left within the hour, and went straight to Phuoc Anh, the hostel we actually decided on ages ago. The name of the Hotel means something like Hapinness and Peace. Hoi An is very picturesque and very cute, everywhere you look there are kodak moments. We eat lovely food at the foodstalls and enjoy the proximity of everthing, we even get to see our first beach of the holiday (although it's still kind of messy from the tyfoon an few weeks before.) But after a few days it does start feeling like (yet another) themepark: cute music from the loudspeakers, a cute japanese bridge, cute lantern shops lit up at night, cute art-stalls, streets full of pensioners. I keep expecting having to pay entrance somewhere to visit the next cute-street-ride.

We do end up doing a cooking class, some of you might be lucky enough to try some of my food some day, and of course we get clothes made at the tailor, which Hoi An is famous for. The girl that measures me comes to my armpit, Ankies girl is kind of the same height. They whirl us through the designs and fabrics and within 15 minutes we've each ordered 4 pieces and are out on the street again. It felt like we didn't know what hit us!

24 - 26 November 2009 Nha Trang
Looking for some much needed sunshine and swimming, we fly over to Nha Trang. There's not much to do here apart from chill at the beach. We do eat fantasticlally good squid that you grill on your own BBQ. Yum!

26 - 28 November 2009 Ho Chi Minh city, aka Saigon
According to the weatherforecast (which didn't turn out to be accurate) there was a lot of rain and thunderstorms coming to the south of Vietnam. So we decide to fly to Saigon first, to do some cultural sightseeing, waiting for the weather to get better. The flight only takes 40 minutes, but when we get to the airport we hear the announcement: "Due to schedule change your flight has been delayed for 4 hours". Schedule change? You mean bad planning! Anyway, 4 hours delay turns into 6, and 6 into 8, and this for a 40 minute flight! All the Yahtzee in the world couldn't make this a day not wasted!

It's around 23.00 when we arrive in Saigon, and it's started to drizzle. We end up getting into a blind taxi drivers's car who has no idea where our hostel is. We do get there in the end, just as it starts to pour outside. Because of the rain, we decide againts our flip-flops, and put on our sneakers when we go out looking for some food. Bad idea! I've never seen so much rain in my life, and the local people at the restaurant seem to think it's kind of out of season aswell. The walk back to the hotel is in knee-deep water (literally) and our sneakers are soaked with sewage water! The next morning though it was like nothing had happened, it all had evaporated into the air, some people we met hadn't even realize it had rained so much!

Saigon is a crazy city, much bigger than Hanoi, the amount of scooters per square meter is countless and the customary children without helmets are still squeezed between their parents, grandparents and siblings on one scooter. Where are all these people going and coming from? But it has it's charm aswell, in a huge, busy, smelly, crazy, unorganized kind of way. We don't want to stay too long though, so we pack our days pretty full with visiting (among others) the war-remnants museum (very impressive), Continental hotel and the Cu Chi tunnels, we even walked through the longer tunnel (1oo m) with our nerdy-headlights on.

29 November - 2 December 2009 Mui Ne
Escaping the busy hustle of the city, we fly back to the coast, to Mui Ne. Again another beachtown where there's nothing much to do. But we get a beautiful bungalow near the swimming pool and beach, really relaxing. Apparantly it's high-season, but at night the place has nothing to offer, it's empty! Highlights were the jeep-ride to the red and white sanddunes and the best and biggest (freshly caught) lobster we've ever had (oh, and drinking Vietnamese rum with 2 cool guys from SA and Oz, hi Evan and Glen!)

3 - 4 December 2009 Dalat
Dalat is the town of everlasting spring, and it's lovely to feel cool night air again and sleep without AC. We're only here for 2 nights, because we want to do a hike through the mountains and waterfalls. The area has a lot of mountains, pinetrees and french-style architecture, which makes it feel kind of like Switzerland, not like the Vietnam jungle I was expecting. Nevertheless, it's a great 14 km's hike, we end up climbing a hill, which we felt like we almost didn't survive, but had a great view over the area. Our guide, whos (western) name is Hat does a great Michel Jackson impression, which I'll try and post here aswell. A trainee guide comes along aswell, her name is Phong, which translates into: sidestreet. I wonder if this is where she was born...

5 - 10 December 2009 Phu Quoc Island
The days before Ankie leaves we decide to chill out on the island of Phu Quoc, and what a great idea that is! Lovely food at the night markets, a great bungalow on the beach (which you can only get to over dusty, hobbely roads and with no electricity at night), clear starry skies, snorkeling in crystal clear water wearing life-vests, delicios food at Mai Place on the beach, swimming in tropical waters, bathing in Vietnamese sun, it's a great ending to our Vietnam trip! On the 10th Ankie leaves to go back to Amsterdam, and I'm left to travel by myself again.

11 December 2009 Chau Doc and the bordercrossing to Cambodia
I decide to take a local bus up north to Chau Doc, which is near the border crossing of Cambodia. Arriving in Chau Doc, I get hassled into taking a cyclo to my hotel right away, which I'm glad i decide to do. Sitting on the Vietnames equivalent of a back-to-front bakfiets, i get transported through the traffic to my hostel. It's still pretty early, around 16.00, so I decide to take a motorbike taxi ride up Sam Mountain to see the sunset, it's beautiful! The sun is setting and reflecting over the wet rice-paddies, everything turns orange. Although I practically get eaten alive by musquito's, I'm glad this is one if the last images I have of Vietnam. On top of the mountain, I meet 2 Dutch guys, who I end up meeting up with again in Phnom Penh. Great meeting people on the way! I get to bed early, the next morning my slowboatride to the border leaves at 7.00. Cambodia, here I come!

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