Viet Nam Trip Report
Replies: 14 - Last Post: May 29, 2013 5:42 AM Last Post By: mooslie
Nov 29, 2012 11:30 PM
Viet Nam Trip ReportWell, I'm almost too embarrassed to post this, considering how lax I've been doing it, but beter late than never eh? So:
I had three fantastic weeks in Viet Nam and had a ball, and can honestly say this was the best trip I've ever done and I'd go back again in a heatbeat. There are tourist sites that everybody wants to see. In Sai Gon I didn't see any (too damned hot) but had great fun just walking around the streets. I had planned on following LP's "walking tour" but as I said it was just too hot. I did go to the Hard Rock Cafe though on the back of a motor bike. Helped a shy young man and a shy young girl get together. I felt like an agony aunt giving advice to the many questions Bao asked! The hotel in Sai Gon had the most wonderful staff who go out of their way.
Did a Mekong Delta tour with a homestay - I thought Sai Gon was hot but the Mekong was even hotter. Phew! Got lost in Cần Thơ, had no idea where I was, realised I was being followed, my heart went beating like a bongo drum and I had visions of "Lost in the Mekong" but that's another story. It all ended well, people from my tour bus were looking for me.
Da Lat brought relief from the ever present heat, saw some tourist sites there - did a private tour with Easy Riders. Loved the Peace Hotel (thanks Burnsie) did an Easy Rider tour to Nha Trang which was fantastic. Loved the freedom of being on a bike, seeing so much scenery. Poured buckets in Nha Trang so didn't see anything much in the way of "sites". First view on Vietnamese overnight trains was a bit of a shock to the system - it was so old - bare floorboards, grotty window and covering, but the beds were very comfortable. I slept like a baby. Loved, loved Hoi An - great little place just made for strolling around. Yes, there are too many hotels, too many cafes, too many tailors, but it's just like a little village with an old fashioned feel. And yes, I did go to a tailor and place an order. The food was delicious and oh I do miss it.
Next saw me at Hue where I met up with Maureen who introduced me to the "Delights of the Daiquiri" - it was love at first taste. Was lucky too because the Bar Why Not hadn't been sold or taken over. She gave me excellent advise re cyclos and taxis too. Showed me some of the best restaurants and the food was wonderful. I found a delightful little eating place on the way to Pham Ngu Lao which does very good coffee the traditional way - you get the black tea with it. All the other customers were looking at me and they all smiled. I was the only westerner there! I like these places - no noisy tourists yapping on, flashing money around, talking in loud voices.
Ha Noi - When I visited Ha Noi, I had a "list" of the famous sites I'd like to see but didn't end up visiting any of them. I did get to see two things that really interested me - the lovely Hồ Hoàn Kiếm, Thê Húc and the water puppets (Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre). It was that bridge that I really, wanted to see!
The Sapa trek was fantastic, it poured buckets trekking to the villages and the mud! Would recommend this to anyone, spectacular scenery and wonderful, wonderful people. Ha Long Bay was awesome too, didn't see any floating rubbish, again, wonderful scenery. I can see why so many tourists want to go there.
Found the best cappuccino place in Sai Gon, I love Vietnamese coffee and found a great little hole in the wall operation in Ha Noi that has the best coffee (In Ha Noi). I love the old buildings and architecture, visiting markets, historical stuff and just sitting somewhere watching people go past. You see a lot that way. Most of my time was spent sitting somewhere doing nothing. Did get a taxi in Ha Noi that wasn't a Mai Linh cos I couldn't be bothered waiting. One driver tried to take me the "long" way but by this time I knew my onions and told him to turn left and go back. (I'd made a not of the streets you see).
Had some funny moments like the young chap from my hotel coming out to help me across the road, otherwise I'd have been standing there forever!
All in all a wonderful holiday, staff at hotels helpful and friendly, trains comfortable, good street food, people everywhere smiling and friendly.
Many thanks to people on this forum who gave me advise and tips which were very helpful.
Nov 30, 2012 12:41 AM
1I always think that people who plan every move for their holiday miss so much. As you said you just did things as you went along, much more fun and much more interesting.The best times I have had he in SEA are the ones that arise from basically doing nothing, but being inquisitive of what could be down that road or where can these small alleys lead to.
Nov 30, 2012 2:26 AM
Nov 30, 2012 2:36 AM
3I'm with Roadking95. My best times come from being in no hurry and having the time to explore off the beaten track. I book just my first nights hotel and go with only an idea of the general area I'll explore. When I see people posting a month long itinerary, I imagine them whooshing past what could have been their best memories....
Also snaps to Captain_Courageous for not moaning about rip offs and being charged an extra 50cents on something. Such a nice change.
Where is this 'best coffee in Hanoi' of which you speak? I want to try it.
Nov 30, 2012 3:30 AM
Nov 30, 2012 4:08 AM
Nov 30, 2012 6:08 AM
Nov 30, 2012 6:19 AM
Nov 30, 2012 6:21 AM
8First view on Vietnamese overnight trains was a bit of a shock to the system - it was so old - bare floorboards, grotty window and covering, but the beds were very comfortable
Frankly the beds are cr*p! They are only bunks with 3cm of foam.The trains bump along and stop/start all night because there is only one line. bThey have to stop at stations to let an oncoming train pass. They seem to get the timing right. If they make a mistake then you're up the creek without a paddle!
Nov 30, 2012 12:42 PM
Nov 30, 2012 3:50 PM
Ah mooslie, you must miss so much. Where's your sense of adventure - as I said on the other thread, anybody can hop on a plane, sit in a nice seat and have a nice, boring flight. That's no fun, but riding the trains with your fellow passengers, sharing food, hearing their stories, seeing the world through their eyes, enjoying the companionship of your travel companions, the little boy who was upset because he forgot his toy, the lady and her two daughters who were going home to visit her parents, the grandparents, the man whose wife was vomiting most of the journey and the way he kept hopping up and down, emptying the sick bag, the way he looked after her. Some photos - they bring back memories that no plane ever could. The thrill when the train stops and you see the people getting off and on the train - you wonder where are they going, where are they from, what is their story? And, like I also said on the other thread - It isn't the stars, or the moon, the towns or many roads you travel - the journey is the destination.
Dec 1, 2012 2:51 AM
Dec 1, 2012 9:58 AM
12I agree so much Captain. I love rail travel wherever I am. In UK, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Iran, China, but especially in SE Asia.
Not sure of the juxtapositioning of 'emptying the sick bag, the way he looked after her' and 'Some photos' though...
May 27, 2013 1:56 AM
May 29, 2013 5:42 AM
14@#13 look at the statistics-95% don't come back. That's a pretty good indication!
Anyway back to trains. Recently I spent time in South Korea and enjoyed a lot of train travel. The KTX 300kph bullet train goes from Busan in the very south to Seoul near the North in about 2.5 hours. It's like floating on a cloud. When I arrived at the station , compared to Vietnam I thought I'd taken off at Cape Carnarvil and was on another planet. The station was modern, with numerous clean modern cafes with all types of food at reasonable prices. The station was clean without a million blobs of chewing gum and cigarette butts strewn everywhere. To board the train you do not have to lug your cases over several dirty tracks and climb up on to the train. Instead you hop on at the same level as the platform and immediately inside the entrance is a very convenient storage area for cases. Surprise, surprise you don't have to lug cases halfway through the train finding a seat. Train carriages are all numbered and the train has hostesses, in air hostess uniforms, to assist finding the right seat. Inside is similar to an airplane-comfortable, reclining fabric covered seats , overhead lockers, in house Korail monthly magazine, professional catering trolleys the same as airplanes. The next surprise is there is no clickety clack bumping up and down, swaying from side to side on a 100 year old track. (They have 4 tracks on KTX routes). Instead the train floats along at up to 300ks. With 4 tracks they don't have to stop and wait half an hour for the train coming in the opposite direction, like the Vietnamese one.The windows are huge and the train not too fast to enjoy the magnificent scenery. The Korail "slow trains" are almost as comfortable and I had sensational journeys with them. Then you link all that with their subway system which is high tech and professional. After travelling from Hanoi I thought I had landed on Mars! Korail is right up there with the world's best rail networks!
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