Sunday, October 16, 2011

The end of Vietnam and onwards to Hong Kong

This is what happened on the last few days in Vietnam....

On my last day in Dalat I decided to take a walk down to the old Railway Station – the oldest one in Vietnam and have a look around. I ended up taking a long way round as the map I had was pretty shite, but when I got there I spent a nice 20 minutes looking around the station and the trains that are kept on the track. In particular there is an old Steam engine that you can climb aboard and look at where the driver used to sit and stoke the fire to make the steam. It was fun to clamber around and worth the long walk. The station itself is well looked after and they even have short trips to a local village, but that is all that runs from here nowadays. I can tell that on a busy day, there would be lots of families and kids enjoying the ride out.

The old steam train

From the front

In the cab

I headed back into town in the rain and took some pictures of one of the other sights in the town. A radio mast behind the post office that resembles the Eiffel Tower and which means Dalat has become known as the Paris of Vietnam. I also helped a local woman in distress – She couldn’t start her moped – so I hopped on and gave it the welly! Started first time!!

It started to rain even heavier than normal in the afternoon, so I retired to my room, with the window open listening to the rain and planning more for the next few weeks -including starting to learn a couple of Chinese phrases...

The station - outside

The bus trip to Saigon was pretty good. I got chatting to a few people – A couple from Canadia, who gave me hints on what to expect there in Winter as well as a few tips on where to see the Pandas in China, plus a couple of girls from CaliforNIA! Who gave me tips on what to see in San Francisco and what not to see in L.A. I also showed them a lot of my pics from my trip and gave them all hints on Thailand and Cambodia. I’m a proper travelling encyclopaedia now.

The station - inside

Paris or Dalat?

Hmmmm Dalat - Paris is probably dirtier!

Also on the bus, when we stopped, we were really nicely surprised by the rest area. Normally on these bus trips in Asia, the bus company either stops as some tiny dump of a place in the middle of nowhere, where food is crap and the facilities have a hole in the ground and a door, if you are lucky. But today we stopped at a massive, modern, brand new shopping centre. There were choices of caf├ęs and food, a few shops and the cleanest most modern toilets I have seen in months. It was fantastic!! Its a pity we were only there for 15 minutes and then back on the bus – Then our next stop was the usual – It did have a door and a hole in the ground, no paper, sink or anywhere to 'hang your hat'!!

On arrival in Saigon it was raining as usual, and a lot of the roads were flooded, so I made my way to the hotel, got my laundry put in and relaxed for the night.

On Saturday morning I completed my quest to get a load of photos of the weird and wonderful things you see on Vietnamese motorbikes and mopeds and then I spent a while making a short video of them. Its here on the blog – I hope you like it and the music I chose!! I also found a Canadian hotel. Them bloody Canadians get everywhere! You cant get away from the bugars!!

Nice place...... stop


Saturday evening, was spent in a good sports bar, watching the Man United v Liverpool game and eating some great Western food. The bar was packed and it felt like being at home again.

Sunday arrived and I was up and out early on for a last look around Saigon. Then I got my stuff packed and headed off to a hotel right next to the airport. I have just been out for a pizza and am now heading off for an early nights sleep.
I fly at 5.50am and need to be there about 4am, so its gonna be a long day tomorrow!

It has been the most mellow week or two since I started travelling nearly 14 months ago and its now over. I’m just off to bed and when I get up I leave Vietnam for good. Its a great Country, even though a lot of it really gets annoying after a while. The noise and traffic just goes on in the background now and you don’t really notice it. The people asking you to buy something, just get ignored and I tend to get left alone now for much of the time as I tend to blend in more than the average newby tourist.

I will miss the place though –I have been here over 7 weeks now and I still dont know what it is about Vietnam – The weather, the locals who just come up and chat to you without trying to sell you stuff are great. Going off the tourist routes and you get to see real peoples lives, like when we saw the duck being killed in the front room, one rainy morning in Hanoi. The accommodation is excellent as are the days out and the variety of stuff to see and do. Its not everywhere you can ride a roller coaster to a waterfall and then a lift down another one. If you asked me the best place I have been, it has to be Sapa. It was a wonderful week, in a great hotel in a fantastic little mellow city. Halong Bay was amazing, but is spoiled a bit by the tourist boats and there lack of 'being bothered'.

The night trains are fun as are the buses and the Country is easy to get around, day or night. Even with all the madness it still feels safe. There is a lot of stuff to see about the war and everywhere you go you see disabled people begging, with arms and legs missing. The country only started having real tourists in the 90's and has come a long way since then. People like Su, my easy rider buddy are immensely proud of how far they have come since then and pointed out things that have been built in the last few years, with money from tourism. I have spent more time here than Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, which was just long enough. Id love to go back and see more of Laos and Cambodia, but I head onwards and upwards – Tomorrow ill be in Hong Kong after my 1t ever flight on a Jumbo jet! Then visa allowing, I have a month in China, before heading across the Pacific and hitting the west coast of the USA!! Bring it on.......

As a last note on Vietnam, it has to be said, its the rules.....

'Vietnam?? you don't know man, you weren't there!'

This video will show you a lot about the bikes in Vietnam.....

mental... and Yes, I did see 3 dead pigs on the back of a bike once!!

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