Vietnam

 

Hello Vietnamimage image

So in Vietnam I was a millionaire, 1 million dong is approx 30 quid, I found that funny! I really loved Saigon, it is definitely one of my favourite places during the trip, this was probably down to the great tours I did, the people I met and the cool bars and amazing food. I ended up in Saigon for two nights then travelled up to Hue and Hoi an, then I travelled back to Saigon for another night because I could and again I had a great time, it is holiday right, I can do whatever I want.
The two tours I did were Mekong River Tour and the Chu Chu Tunnel tour. The Chu Chu tunnel tour was defo my favourite, I love history and I got to be totally bad ass and shoot a M16 gun! The bullets are expensive, I paid 17 dollar for 10 but I really felt it enhanced the experience, plus the tour guide was great, his English was superb and he recommended the M16 over the AK47 as he said apart from the AK47 being really powerful and can hurt with the force it fires at, he said the bullets fire out in 10seconds, therefore the M16 is better value for money, which is nice of him to be honest. All the tours are out of the city so be prepared for a hour or so bus ride to the locations.

I stayed in the backpackers district, which was District 1, there was plenty of bars and restaurants and street food to keep everyone of different budgets happy. The baguettes on the street in Saigon were delicious! The rolls were so soft and fluffy, and only 15000 dong.
I mingled with people at my hostel bar, met some really nice travellers, everyone is so transient, the next night was a complete set of different people, it was fab. Very friendly vibe here.
I Left Saigon very hungover and the hostel booked me a taxi to the airport, here I caught my cheap as chips flight via Jet star to Hue. With my time constraints I decided to fly, not very backpacker of me but it saved me lots of time! Unfortunately I can’t tell you much of Hue as I had to spend the day arranging stuff for my next steps, but I dined in a great cafe and had some really delicious food. I stayed at a typical backpackers place, it was very clean and tidy with a nice veranda for sitting out on in the eveing. My main reason of coming here was to do the tour on motorbike from Hue to Hoi An, Top Gear eat your heart out. I booked a easy rider bike and it cost 60 usd for the day. My driver was MrTy (Vietnam-smiling-easyrider.com, easyrider@hotmail.com). This by far was one of the most epic points of my trip, where I felt completely free and in love with life and Asia.
Many people ride motorcycles themselves and  if I rode I would, but I quite enjoyed having the company and being able to totally relax into enjoying the stunning scenery around me. The day went so quickly because I was having so much fun, MrTy stopped in all the places that us tourists visit, American bunkers from the war, waterfalls, caves and beaches, for lunch we stopped right at the seafront where I picked my food from fresh, I had barbecue shrimp with a noodle and mixed seafood dish for 70,000 dong, It was a beautiful place to sit and eat. As I was travelling alone MrTy was very sweet and always offering to take a picture for me, his kindness was actually overwhelming, he couldn’t do enough for me. When we got to Hoi An he dropped me outside his friends tailors, I wasn’t going to buy anything but I came away with quite a … bit oops!
The tailors were fab, I got recommended several other tailors by people but I couldn’t be bothered trekking around as I am sure they all do pretty efficient jobs, my tailor was TUONG, 67 Tran Hung Dao St. they had catalogues for you to choose from but what I did was choose pictures that I had found from online, I got them to make me a wool coat from a picture on Asos and two copies of designer dresses, then next door they had a shoe shop run by the same family, they knocked me up two pairs of leather boots, I was more than impressed with the quality and the service, these tailors can knock you up a coat in 4 hours if you need it, I explained to them I was leaving early the next day and they did all my stuff by 9pm that night, even including a quick last fitting to make adjustments. I wish I could get all my clothes made! So I left with a extra heavy backpack, clever me.
Hoi an had such a great vibe, after walking around in circles l soon realised it wasn’t that hard to navigate, the markets at night are great, the food stalls I loved the most, between the markets is a little food hall where loads people have set up street food stalls, I went and ate in there for 30,000 Dong (1.5 Usd) that included dinner and a beer! The lady told me to put this chilli sauce on my food which gave it some extra kick. I got a yummy doughnut off a stall lady for my dessert, food is great here in Vietnam, I think I could easily outgrow my trousers here. Here I stayed very near the centre in Hostel Backpackers, it was a nice little hostel with a small communal area at the front, from here I managed to book a taxi to take me to the airport for my flight back to Saigon.
On my return to Saigon I decided to stay at Kohi Hostel which was just down the road from Hideout Hostel on Pham Nag Lao in the backpackers district, this time I got a bus from the airport which was easy enough and only cost 12,000 dong, 6,000 for you and 6,000 for your case, the bus stop is just outside on your right and leaves regularly. I decided to stay at Kohi hostel so I could have a quieter affair, but alas I do not think that is possible in Saigon or just possible for ME! The hostel was by far the nicest I have been in so far, the bathrooms were pretty standard but the rooms were so clean and spacious with free toothbrushes and soap, the lady even greeted you on check in with a banana and water, she was also super helpful, mapping out places to go and where best to exchange money. The communal area was a good size, this enabled lots of socialising. The hostel itself is just by a market down a little side street so it made it feel like a home, really authentic and cute. As soon as I got there I acquired a Australian friend, we both decided to be proactive with our day and go walk the city, the museum was apparently a 40 minute walk, we left at 10am and due to our lazy meandering, stopping for drinks, chatting, we made it there about 3pm. The museum is worth a visit, it doesn’t give much info about the war itself, it mainly focuses on what the toxic chemicals the Americans dropped had on the vietenmese people, then and now still to this day, well worth a visit, yet again, more sad history. In the evening a group of us played cards, drank and listened to music, it was a fab day and I met some fab people, yet again I was leaving Saigon the next morning with a hangover!

Cambodia

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My Southeast Asia adventure

I am a massive fan of Asia, having visited Thailand several times and Myanmar, I decided it was time to have a taste of other parts of Southeast Asia. In a rather ambitious trip. I decided to visit Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, my plan was to end with the Gibbon experience in Huay Xai in Laos. I brought my backpack and my bumbag, all set with my Lonely planet and my plane ticket, I set off for Siem Reap, Cambodia. I decided I didn’t want to be tied to any place so I didn’t book hostels or transport, travelling Asia people tend to change their plans all the time. Here is my blog covering my month trip which I must say has been one of the best holidays of my life, the people, the places, the freedom is so intoxicating. As a treat to myself I flew BA to Bangkok, direct flight, big spender hey, I arrived in Cambodia with no problems and found my hotel very easily. I thought I had booked a hostel but it was evident when I got there it was a hotel, probably should have read that In the title, Bopha hotel, having an obvious sponge brain moment. As a lone traveller, in aim to met more people my aim was to stay at hostels, but this first stop in a hotel worked out well, very nice hotel for very cheap. Great shower (which later would be appreciated more) and fantastic staff. This holiday is no slacking, I have a ton of bus journeys between places, no rest for the wicked, so I arrived Siem Reap about 8am. I dumped my stuff at the hotel, checked in, then I got a tuk tuk from outside the hotel, for about 20 usd he was my tuk tuk driver for the whole day. I did a temple route which he showed me on his map, I expected to be in awe of the temples as seen as it is the 7th wonder of the world and honestly I was! The temples are breathtakingly beautiful, if you are agile enough and can climb, you can get some great shots. Every temple was more beautiful then the next, my favourite was Angkor Thom. The heat was intense so take sunscreen, being a Buddhist place, I fully covered up unlike some other bum wriggling tourists I saw, therefore I was sweating and roasting but respectful. I immediately brought some typical pants they sell westerners, outside Angkor wat for 3 usds, they were a staple for the entire trip, I don’t think I even unpacked other stuff from my case! In the evening my tuk tuk driver recommended a traditional dance show, I paid 12 usd and had an all you can eat buffet and watched some traditional dance. It was lovely to feel like you are seeing some Cambodian culture, I had my first Cambodian beer so after an initial thought of an early a night I rejected that and I took myself to Pub street. Famous street where people go to drink and party. Someone from the traditional dinner place, a Malaysian guy recognised me and invited me to drink with them so I did, a few beers later I had befriended a group of English guys and from there the night was epic dance moves and shots of anything! The next day in Siem Reap was a bit of a write off due to my hangover, ashamed to say it but I meandered around a bit then relaxed in my hotel room, the evening I went and had dinner at a nearby cafe, then I got my backpack and checked out for my night bus to Phomn Penh. A short but sweet stay in Siem Reap. The bus journey to Pnomh penh included the worst road ever! I did not get an ounce of sleep as the roads are pretty bad between the two cities. Here I checked into a hostel called Mad Monkey, a proper backpackers place with nice clean rooms and a bar and restaurant. The place had plenty of tuk tuks outside but be careful as some guys got ripped off. I rented a tuk tuk for the day and the guy did it for a reasonable price, he took me to the killing fields and the museum, both these things are highly recommended to do, really sobering and give you an idea of the Cambodian past, which is very sad. The killing fields are mass graves and it is very so bearing, you can rent a tour guide or take an audio and go at your own pace which is what I did, gives you plenty of time to sit and reflect. The museum is where prisoner were held and tortured, this was pretty sad too, interestingly they had survivors selling their books, I recommend speaking to them and buying their books, Inspiring people with tremulously sad stories, lots of people left here crying including me. I had to sit for a while after and think about how lucky I am in a world where there is such cruelty. In the evening I met other backpackers down in the hostel bar, I joined in a few drinking games then headed to a few bars. I was pretty tired and still fresh from my Siem reap hangover so I made it back to my hostel earlier than most. The next day in Phonm penh, pandemonium seemed to have been released, the water party was commencing and millions of people were heading to Phonm penh, I walked around the town and decided it was far to many people for my liking and I found some other guys in my hostel and we paid a private taxi to take us to Sihanoukville, bit extravagant but all the buses and normal taxis were booked out as other tourists were getting out too! The taxi drive wasn’t to bad bar the road traffic accident we drove past, we arrived in sihanouckville 4 and half hours later and headed to Occuctreal beach, due to all hostels on Otres beach being fully booked because of the water festival holiday. Sihanouckville was a party place, a tame version of Koh Phi Phi, it was far to touristy for my liking, many people travelled over to Koh Rong for a more tranquil experience. If partying is what you want then go ahead but I thought It was a bit to much of what I have seen before, I stayed 2 nights and that was plenty, I did meet some lovely people who made the experience fun, the bar Utopia was probably the highlight with its cheap as chips beer and relaxed vibe for meeting other travellers. After partying I decided to head to Kampot and Kep. I had read about it in the Lonely planet and this town sounded so lovely, quaint and quiet, a more Cambodian atmosphere. I travelled by bus, it cost nothing like most buses in Asia, and took about 4 and half hours if I remember correctly, I got a super early bus at 7am, well they made me get up at 6am to wait but like most drivers he was late and arrived around 7.15am. I stayed at Captain Chims Guesthouse, which isn’t directly on the river but there are many guest houses that are and were probably more lively than mine. Captian Chim’s had just opened so I was one of a few guests, the dorms have no door which was annoying, especially with no lockers but if you provide him feedback I think he planned on making adjustments. I quite enjoyed the peace and quiet and I got a tuk tuk who took me around for the day. I went via Tuk Tuk to Tek Chhouu Falls, it was really pretty, due to the water festival it was very busy. People where playing and swimming in the falls, there was café and restaurants along the river, if you walk further up the hill you can come further along the waterfalls and there are restaurants on the falls edges, for 12 half dollars you could order enough for 3-4 people, sharing platters of amazing sea foods and various other dishes, the squid looked great. I literally was the only westerner there so I didn’t attempt to get my bikini body out, I just pulled up my trouser legs and went and sat on a rock in the falls for about 20 minutes, some Cambodians lads came and gave me a beer, this was very nice, we exchanged names and they even offered me to come eat with them, my tuk tuk driver was waiting so I drank my beer and headed back. The tuk tuk driver then drove me to Kep, it took about an hour but the scenery is lovely and it wasn’t a chore doing it by tuk tuk. In Kep I walked along the beautiful beach and then went and sat and had dinner where the people board to go to Rabbit island, the food was nice and very cheap, I think this restaurant was also owned by Captain Chim. That night I sat at the bar in The Rusty Keyhole up by the river front, I had beers with the local expats, it was a really good day. The next day I did a tour to Rabbit Island, I booked through an agent in the town and to be honest it was a terribly organised tour and I recommend not booking with this agent, he is the one that is just right opposite the road as you turn out of Captain Chims cafe on the corner. Rabbit Island is a nice little getaway, some people go for a few days, but one day visit was enough for me, not overly much to do, probably great for couples and families. It was lovely to immerse myself in the sea and watch the world go by. Unfortunately the journey back was crap due to a torrential downpour, by the time I got back to my hostel after waiting and waiting at several different places for buses I was freezing, I waited so much because no one said my ticket was valid and I got shoved from bus to bus and then I think they just stuck me on a local bus, I was a bit miffed but that is Asia, you have to let a certain amount just slide off your back, so I showered and headed back to the Rusty Keyhole for the famous ribs. Christian the owner was lovely, as a lone traveller he made an effort to ask me questions and chat to me as I hadn’t made many companions in Kampot, despite that I loved it, the ribs were great, then I sat in O’Neills a Irish bar on the river front and had lots to drink! Some generous woman I befriended at the bar left and paid for all my drinks! I hate the fact I forgot her name but she was very generous and added to my feeling of how good the world is. Apparently there is a bit of a low-key nightlife scene due to lots of expats in Kampot so don’t think it’s a sleepy village, apparently the night before I arrived there was a massive party that was the talk of the town! Anyway the next day I ate at Captain Chims and waited for my bus to take me to the Ha Tien, the border of Vietnam. This journey was actually very good. Getting to Ha trien was easy, I travelled via mini bus with several other people then at Ha Trien I transferred to a big coach to Saigon, I can’t remember how long it took but it pretty much took a whole day. The border control was not bad,bar the charging me 1 usd to take my temperature, maybe checking for Ebola 😉. I arrived at my hotel after a taxi ride from the bus station (which was fairly far, 250000 dong) around 11pm, I had a quick walk around and then went to bed, I had booked a Mekong River tour for the next morning through my hostel, Hideout Hostel. So it was goodbye Cambodia, short but sweet, I did really love it, the only negative is the insane amount of tuk tuks harassing you and the constant begging from the poor, I gave to a few beggars but you can’t give to them all.