Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cu chi coo and the lack of a toilet door....

The day after Nikki had left, I went down to the bus stop to meet Buffy at about 1.30 and after a short while, the bus finally turned up and we made our way back to the hotel in a cool rain shower.
After settling her in, we went back out for dinner and a quick look around town to shown her some of the sights. We did the opera house again and the market, before settling into a nice back street cafĂ©, where we had a beer and some dinner – plus a random massage from a bloke, who just walked up and started to knead my shoulders. I was about to tell him to stop, but it was a really good massage and after he had also massaged Buffy, we paid him a bit of dosh and he went on his way.

Back at the hotel we watched Top Gears Vietnam Special again and noted the places we had seen in real life.

On the next morning we woke up with no air-con and a hot hot room. We were off out again though, so told the reception and then went for my second look around the Re-Unification Palace. It was better the 2nd time as I knew more about what I was looking at and I could tour guide for Buffy.
Then after lunch and booking a tour for tomorrow to see the Cu Chi Tunnels, we did a little shopping in Ben Thanh Market before Buffy went to see the War Remnants Museum and I had a lazy afternoon on my bed! I had spent 2 hours there only a couple of days ago and Buffy was more than happy to spend time there on her own, without worrying about me being bored!

In the evening we went out to the tour office from earlier and picked up Buffys ereader that she had left behind when we were there in the afternoon, before dinner in Phattys sports bar just around the corner from the hotel, Then I went home and spent a while in the massive, jacuzzi corner bath – Its the biggest bath I have seen in ages and it would have been a waste not to have a good soak -Plus it has a Dolphin shaped tap, which is tacky, but cool at the same time.
massage at dinner

neck cracking


Nikki goes home

Buffy arrives

The next morning, we were on the bus to the Cu Chi Tunnel complex by just after 8am. This is a 200km maze of underground tunnels, used by the Vietnamese during the American War, to hide, sleep, cook and generally live in for months at a time, all within a short distance to the American bases that were searching for them and it also allowed the soldiers to pop up and fight at any time against a much larger and well equipped enemy. It is a really really cool place to visit as all around are original tunnel entrances – sometimes on the ground and other times 2-3 metres down a vertical shaft. The tunnels also had large bunkers that used to be underground and was were they used to do all their admin – from schools for the kids, to eating, sleeping and cooking. These bunkers have now had the ground removed from the top of them and you go inside them to learn about the traps, equipment and watch a video on what happened here. In the corners of the bunkers are still tiny 2-3 foot high tunnel entrances.

In teh cu chi tunnels

tank

traps

how the vietnamese got into the tunnels

We visited a shooting range where you could fire American M16 or Vietnamese AK47, but I have fired enough weapons in my time and it was about £1 per shot! So we watched as the other group members had a go and then it was our turn to actually go into the tunnels themselves. We climbed down the entrance and then into the tiny dark hole. It was boiling hot, but lit by small bulbs, so we could just see where we were going...at first. I followed Buffy as she clambered up and down steps and around sharp corners, al the time passing other tunnels from right and left. Every 20 metres was an exit you could leave by if you didn’t like it and after every one the tunnel got darker, steeper and smaller, till at one point we had to slide around a corner and down a slope on our backs. It was really really hot by now and quite claustrophobic and I was happy to see light ahead and the end of the tunnel. I was really glad to have done it though as it was a good experience.



Back in town, we had a spot of lunch and watched, still amazed, at the variety of stuff carried by the locals on their motorbikes. It really is crazy.

Later in the evening, after another nice soak in the bath, we went out for dinner and as soon as we hit the street, it started to piss down really hard. We waited for it to stop, but it didn’t, so we jumped in a taxi and were taken to a Vietnamese restaurant right near to the Re-unification palace. It was a cool place, based on the street food that we see being cooked and eaten on every street corner here. The inside of the rastaurant has lots of small counters, each with a single cook siting on a small stool like you find on the street here, but set up inside a restaurant setting. The food looks a lot better than the stuff we see people eating omn the street and obviously it has a much better cleanliness rating than the women who was the dishes in the gutter as we have seen them doing many time. We chose a pork meatball dish, that comes on sticks and then you have to roll the meat with what lookes like nettle leaves and bits of fruit and veg and some things we didn’t know what they were, into a piece of rice paper in a spring roll type shape and then dunk it into chilli dip before eating it. It was pretty nice to eat and a good choice.

We finished off and it was pissing even harder than before, so we decided to go back to the hotel and watch a bit of TV. We leave Saigon tomorrow and head back up the coast to a place called Mui Ne, where we hope for a bit more sun as there is a beach and a pool!!

In the morning my mouth had an aftertaste from the meqal last night, like a mix of garlic and stuff I cant name, so I brushed my teeth extra hard and then had a good breakfast before we made our way to the tour office to await the arrival of our bus to Mui Ne. We had the usual hassle from street sellers trying to offload sunglasses (it was raining) and a bloke selling doughnutsfrom a silver platter perched on his head – but that is all normal now. We got the bus and headed off, stopping just over 2 hours later for a 'Happy Room', stop, where I noticed that fresh milk was on sale in the fridges – It was called ' Bong Milk' a cool name I think. I also noticed that the stop had wifi – so I quickly got my netbook open and opened about 40 different pages of news on the internet, which kept me busy for the next hour, reading about what’s going on in the world.

Testing the smile detection on my camera

Bong milk!

Our home for the next few days - the top balcony is ours!


We arrived in Mui Ne on time and after a little walk up a small hill, we got to the Mui Ne Hills guest house quite quickly. We were really surprised at our room – We already knew that we had been upgraded as the rest of the guesthouse was full, to the Royal suite – But we didn’t expect a massive room, with 2 showers, a great big bed with an ocean view and a view over the pool and a lovely thatched roof. The only strange thing is that the showers and toilet are wide open – no doors at all. (We spoke with Erik, who owns the place and he says he doesn’t like doors!) We ended up hanging on of our hammocks, so that we can get a little privacy when we use the toilet.

In the evening we took a walk down along the beach and to a small burger place called 'Phattys', where we had a nice cheap dinner. My burger was great and Buffys was so good it fell apart in her hands! We then took a slow walk back, looking at the fresh fish, lobsters and shark, available to choose and eat in some of the restaurants. This is a really nice little beach side resort and a lovely change from the madness of Ho Chi Minh. We plan to relax tomorrow and maybe get a bike to have a look around and see some of the sights over the next couple of days.

Not Skegness...its Vietnam

Shark for dinner - no thanks

Dinnet ar Phat burgers

We sat up and watched yet another good Man United match before a good nights sleep. Unfortunately though, we woke up this morning to a wall of cloud and no view of the sea due to the rain, so its a proper Sunday here. Vegging out and doing nowt, maybe watch a movie or two and then get dinner later (The guesthouse owner also owns a restaurant and will deliver food to the house for nothing!!) A nice lazy sunday suits me fine!!



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