Saturday, September 3, 2011

Saigon is fecking mental!!!


After waiting at reception for our transport to take us to the bus station we were surprised a little when it turned up – One small moped, with a rider to take the two of us and backpacks! A fucking joke – especially when Nikki wouldn’t get on a motorbike anyhow as she doesn’t like them. Luckily as we stood there and pondered our next move a taxi stopped and asked if we needed a lift, which we readily accepted – He dropped us, not at the bus station, but at a set of traffic lights in town and told us the bus would stop here. We didn’t believe him until a couple of travellers from Poland turned up with the same story. A few minutes later we were happy to see the bus turn up and stop for us on the opposite side of the road. When we got on we saw the 'sleeping bus', Vietnamese style. 3 rows of bunk beds with a tiny aisle between them. Each 'bed', being a reclining back then goes nearly flat and a lower half that is flat where you put your legs, under the reclining part of the person in front. Its not as good as a flat bed, but better than a cramped seat and quite comfortable if you are under 5ft 8, which luckily we both are!

The bus started its journey and as usual with Asia, it wasn’t without incident. An hour or so in and we stopped by the side of the road to discover all our bags being unloaded onto the pavement – we were just about to ask what was going on when the motorbike that stood next to the bags on the pavement was picked up turned on its side and slid into the baggage compartment, before our bags were put back in!!! Then 20 minutes later we stopped again and a car bumper was loaded into the on board toilet while a complete car door, less the window, was loaded into the already cramped aisle and strapped in using a spare seatbelt. Obviously the bus driver and his mates must get a backhander for doing deliveries too!!
The rest of the journey was OK, I got a little sleep and we arrived on time in Nha Trang at 6am. A 10 minute walk to the hotel along the surprisingly nice sea front followed. We expected to drop our bags at the hotel and come back to book n at lunch time, but they were ready for us and by 7am, we had moved into our nice room and were having breakfast in a sea front café We were tired though so we had a couple of hours sleep before getting up around lunchtime. In the afternoon we vegged out on the rooftop by the swimming pool, with a great view over the ocean and the city.

Unfortunately we also had to plan our next move, so late in the afternoon we went out and booked the train to take us to Ho Chi Minh (To be known as Saigon, that’s what the locals call it) in 2 days and we also had a walk around the city, trying to find a book shop and also stopping at a 24m high Buddha on a hill overlooking the city itself. Its a nice place and we have a full day here tomorrow enjoying a rest in the sunshine. A good dinner in the evening and a couple of beers followed as we watched the Top Gear Vietnam, special – its really good watching it and seeing some of the sights that are just outside our window! Well, after we finally managed to get back into our room, which now has a broken lock. It locks fine but our electronic keys don’t work, so we take the security guard up with us and he lets us in!

Thursday came and we continued the holiday feeling and went to Vinpearl land. This is a water park/theme park on an Island just across the bay from Nha Trang. To get there its a walk or taxi along the coast (we walked) and then the longest cable car across water in the world at 3.2km, to get to the island itself. It costs about £10 for a whole day and for that you get entrance to everything there! We spent most of the afternoon riding the slides in the waterpark – The Black Hole, Tsunami and the raft rides were all good fun on a hot but cloudy afternoon. There are really weird showers there too- In the shape of a clown or a penguin. The showerheads are in their faces or hands and the taps to turn on the showers in the front of their trousers area – so basically you twist a clowns knob to get him to spit on you. Weird but cool!!
The pool in Hoi An

Cable car to Vinpoearl land

Its A SHOWER!!

Tsunami

I won!!


We then visited the aquarium, where a load of Koreans screamed so loud in the main tank we had to leave with our ears ringing. We then went to the arcade, where all the arcade games are free!! So we did some skiing, drove race cars and threw a few basketballs as well as rode a horse – all for free and all electronic arcade games just like you would see in Skeggy or Blackpool! Finally we went to ride the cable car home and the queue was massive. The 'locals', don’t seem to know about us westerners and our need for 'personal space' and I was getting really frustrated in the queue as they kept pushing me and prodding me to move every time the queue moved a millimetre. In the end I moved outside the queue and kept along with it, but there were a few strange looks. We also met a couple of nice northern girls from Manchester and Liverpool who were going through the same stresses with the queue. We ended up sharing a cable car with them and a taxi back into town in a downpour. All the while giving them tips on when they visit Australia and New Zealand on their travels.

Finally, at the end of a long day we went for dinner and were told that if we bought a pint of San Miguel we would be able to pick a wrapped prize from a basket. It sounded like a good deal but were were a little let down to find out that our prizes were just San Miguel ashtrays! I suppose its better than nothing though!

We are now back in the room (after the security guard let us in again) and packing our stuff to leave for Saigon, early tomorrow morning.

The train was an hour late leaving for Saigon and it was an uneventful trip apart from a couple of cute kids who we had a laugh with and one particular little 9 year old kid who was a right scrote! He is going to end up in jail when he grows up if he keeps screaming and playing hell with the people around him. We arrived in Saigon to find no railway station.... but then realised that because of other trains we had to get off on the other side of the train and walk along t=between the tracks and then around our train to reach the station. We got to the hotel in a taxi and after settling in we went out to book a tour for a couple of days and to celebrate Vietnamese independence day with the locals. This is quite simply the maddest city I have ever seen – it is on a par with India, but has less Elephants and cows in the road – but for sheer madness and for being so busy it takes the biscuit. Nikki even got a sore hand when one biker got too close. There are bikes everywhere – on the way back from our night out we rounded a corner to see thousands of bikes (No exaggeration needed) riding along the wide pavement towards us – Thousands of them!! It was impossible to walk along the pavement, utter madness and I LOVE it!! Crossing the road in India is a challenge – walking on the pavement here is harder!! It is so fooking mad it is brilliant!

We had spent the evening on a bridge overlooking the Saigon River with thousands of mad locals, eating dried squid and riding their bikes, waiting for the independence fireworks that started at 9pm and were pretty good to watch with the city skyline in the background...Then we walked home through the madness!!

Cool light!

Saigon madness

Vietnam independence fireworks

Me and Ho chi ming

Enough!!!

Vietnam so far has been a mix – I don’t like it as much as Laos or Cambodia but it is growing on me.....

Our second day in Saigon was a lot cooler than it has been recently – only about 31degrees celsius. So we wandered around to see Notre Dame Cathedral, The Independence Palace and the War Remnants museum. The palace has been left exactly like it was when it was taken over in et 70's, with the dodgy furniture and a Huey on the roof! The Remnants museum tells the story and aftermath of the Vietnam war and with planes, helicopters and various other military stuff to look at. It was a nice gentle day finished off with a wander down to the river before dinner in the evening. 

Get some....

With a Huey

Saigon River



Its a year since we left on Ozbus, so heres a few highlights from our trip to Sydney.....

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