Posts filed under 'Vietnam'
Well the bicycle and I made it to Saigon. Actually I should be calling it Ho Chi Minh City which is the name that the north gave the city after they won the war, but everyone still calls it Saigon over 25 years later. Anyway I’m in Saigon. It’s Vietnam’s biggest city with 5 million people. It’s just another city really but the people don’t seem to hassle you as much so that is quite a refreshing change from the rest of Vietnam. And I have a plan. For the next 3 days anyway. Always a good feeling when you’ve figured out a plan.
So my plan is this: spend today in the city, specifically going to the War Remnants Museum. Tomorrow I am booked on a one-day tour of the Mekong Delta then I’ll be back in Saigon tomorrow night. On Wednesday I am booked on a flight to Siam Reap, Cambodia! Yes, I’ve decided to’do’ Cambodia on my way back to Bangkok. And I’m actually looking forward to it because I’ve heard that the people are really nice and the country is quite pretty. I’ll start by visiting Angkor Wat which is the big thing to see in Cambodia. After that I may actually do some cycling with a Swedish guy, Peter. He’s been on the same route as me but a few days ahead …I had heard about him from some other travellers along the way. We were able to connect through email when he posted something online about his experience cycling in Vietnam. I knew it was the same guy whose been ahead of me when he wrote to buy earplugs as the people I met told me the guy they met had to buy ear plugs to protect his ears from the horrific truck horns. Peter is already in Siam Reap but we’ll get to meet this week and decide if we want to cycle together. It would be great to have a cycling partner that’s for sure!
Actual pineapple plant (on the Mekong Delta tour)
On the Mekong Delta
February 18th, 2002
It’s been a strange 2 days in Nha Trang. Yesterday it was cloudy and raining all day. Not much to do in a beach town in that weather, but I found something to do and that was to go to the mineral springs 7 km north of town. For about $3.50 I had a natural mud bath and then a soak in the natural hot springs. Nice, but there were a lot of Vietnamese men oogling at the Western women in bathing suits. Back in town I went to the hotel and the people running it asked me if I wanted a roomate to share the price of a room. With Tet and all mostly every hotel is full and I would never leave a fellow traveller stranded without a place to stay so I thought sure, just assuming it would be a female. And they said,’Oh, he stay here before, he’s very nice man.’ And I said,’It’s a MAN???’ Well the Vietnamese family had a good laugh over that at my expense but they were not the ones about to share their room with a strange man for the night.
Well, the’stange man’ turned out to be Erik, a 27 year-old American guy who’s been teaching English in Japan for the past 6 months and is now travelling a bit before heading home. He turned out to be a really nice guy and we wound up going out to dinner together and then having drinks and playing pool later. He’s done a lot of travelling himself – Europe, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, etc. etc. so it was really interesting to hear more of his stories.
Erik left early this morning on the day bus to Saigon. That’s the same bus that I TRIED to get on but they wouldn’t take me because of the bicycle. No room for a bike on a bus full of backpacks. So I thought, well ok I’ll just take the train tomorrow (today) then. This morning I went to the train station to buy a ticket, but the trains are sold out for the next 3 days! So many people travelling because of Tet. Well, I thought now I’m screwed – I either stay in Nha Trang another 3 days or just start cycling to Saigon. Either way I wasn’t going to get to Saigon for several days.
Then I had a THOUGHT (I know it’s rare, but sometimes I get them). I bought a bus ticket for myself for the night bus tonight. Then I took the bike to the train station and checked it in as baggage. So now we are both leaving tonight – me by bus and the bike by train, and we’ll arrive in Saigon tomorrow. Brilliant!
The clouds and rain cleared out late this morning and so I had a sunny day for my last day in Nha Trang. I spent most of the afternoon at the beach reading my book and talking to a guy from Belgium (also travelling solo). Now I’m just killing time until 8:30pm when the bus is due to leave. This will be my first’night bus’ on the world journey. Due to arrive in Saigon at 6am tomorrow. Erik recommended a good place to stay so I might even run into him if I am able to get a bed there. Then I will arrange my visa and method of travel into Cambodia where I plan to spend a few weeks before heading back to Thailand.
February 16th, 2002
Happy Valentines Day! So…I’m in Nha Trang!!
Yeah, it feels good to be here. Long story, but the short of it is that I set out to cycle from Qui Nhon the other morning (day of Tet), and at 7am already saw many people drinking on the streets. Took it as a sign to get off the roads and just get the hell down here. Found the train station after a 12 km ride, waited 5 hours for the next train, and arrived here at 7pm that night. What a great feeling to see so many other tourists for once!
Once here I knew I had made the right decision to train it. Sometimes you’ve gotta listen to your gut feeling and I had just sort-of become overwhelmed with bad feelings about the whole cycling in Vietnam thing. Also has something to do with finding out in Hoi An that an American female cyclist had been killed by a truck on the roads here about 2 weeks ago (on the same route as me). Hard not to think about that when you’re out there on the road yourself. Anyway I was glad to bail when I did.
So straightaway when I arrived at my hotel, I was invited to the family’s Tet party where they had free food and drink for all the hotel guests. (Wow, a generous Vietnamese family, how rare!) I met 2 guys there (one from England and one from Australia), and we wound up going to the Rainbow Bar on the beach for drinks. EXACTLY what I needed! Then I booked a boat cruise with them for yesterday but they were too hungover to go (I had left the bar hours before them) so I went anyway and had a full day on the boat. Did a bit of snorkling but mostly just cruised around. The weather here is warm and sunny and the beach is quite nice. Met some more people on the boat and had dinner and drinks with them last night. Such a good feeling to be relaxing and chatting with other people after being stared at, laughed at, looked at, and not spoken to for 5 days! I earned it!
Friends made on the boat trip – Felicity, Simon, and Austin (who had been stung by a jellyfish!)
View of the islands around Nha Trang
February 14th, 2002
I never actually made it out of Qui Nhon today. I TRIED, believe me. Had everything packed and ready to go last night, went to bed early – the whole bit. But when the alarm went off at 5am and I realized that in just one short hour I was meant to be on the road cycling again, I thought Uggghh. Couldn’t do it. And with a 113 km day looming over my head, there was no option but an early start. The hotel I’m staying at is quite nice actually – clean, with air con, hot water, and a view of the sea so I said you know, it wouldn’t be a bad place to rest up and relax for a day. Other hotels I’ve been in I couldn’t wait to get out of…dirty, musty, dark, nasty places. The last one at Sa Huynh was INFESTED with mosquitos – I mean OVER 100 mosquitos in the bathroom alone. Disgusting. But this place is good and I needed a break from the dirt and traffic and horns and stares and hard work. Now, if I can get 2 solid days in I’ll be in Nha Trang which is supposed to be a nice spot with good beaches. Looking forward to it.
So I’ve been to the market today to stock up on fruit for the ride tomorrow but other than that I hid in my room in the blissful air con all day, reading a book and listening to music. Unfortuneately I won’t be in Nha Trang for Tet (which is tomorrow) but I’m so sick of the Vietnamese people at this point that I don’t care where I’m at! Isn’t that horrible?
February 11th, 2002