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Pointy Hats & Scooter Madness

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I got the bus from Cambodia across the boarder into Vietnam to Hồ Chí Minh City. The language barrier was a bit of an issue with our driver as I asked him if we could leave our things on the bus and get it the other side and he said yes. But no, this wasn't the case. We were met the other side by another bus so I had to kiss goodbye to my travel pillow, book and headphones lol. We literally walked through the boarder and it was as easy as that. That was until I got to customs. I thought I could pay the fee in Dong (lol that's the name of their currency). But alas no and I didn't have any dollars left eeek! I tried to go to the cash point but they were all down and the boarder force wouldn't accept anything else! What a nightmare. They held onto my passport and let me through the gate to get my bag and come back. I was so tearful in the queue. This lovely couple next to me had seen what had happened and pulled me aside. They gave me $40, enough to cover my entry and I was so grateful I hugged them both!! My faith in humanity was restored lol. I gave them the equivalent in Laos currency I had left over as they were heading there next. I literally don't know what I would have done without them! - Lesson number 2, don't arrive without at least $40 American dollars for a 2 week visa in Vietnam.


When we got through to the other side of the boarder there was a small restaurant with a chicken running round the front. The owner grabbed the bird by its feet and the poor thing screamed. You heard it being battered by the woman who owned the restaurant which was really chilling. Two of the girls who were on the mini bus who sat next to me burst into tears. It put a bit of a weird atmosphere on things to start. Welcome to Vietnam.

I the overnight bus to meet Drew as he told me he was also in Hồ Chí Minh. The driver was such a bully and clearly didn't like backpackers. He squished me and another tourist to the back under the low part of the roof. As the bus was quite empty we tried to move to another seat but he pulled the bus over and yelled at us in Vietnamese so we moved back to the cramped seats at the back.

I arrived at like 3am and stayed at the same hotel as Drew. I slept out in the foyer until one of the hotel staff arrived and I bartered for a cheaper room rate as it was basically morning and they hadn't filled the bed anyway. - I was getting good at this bartering thing now! It was a pretty grubby place but it was a bed! I was surprised to see ash trays in the room, as it's crazy that smoking was still permitted in the rooms over here.

Drew hired a scooter and we explored the city, checked out the bars and ate the local cuisine which was a-mazing. There was ducks all hanging up in the windows, people on scooters left right and centre and locals walking around with baskets on sticks selling produce. I couldn't believe how dangerous and nuts it was on the scooters in the city. Kids without helmets, children riding scooters, whole families piled onto one scooter, crazy, crazy.


We flew up to Hà Nội to explore another city and visit the unmissable Halong Bay. Hà Nội really came alive at night with all the lights, bars, restaurants and street acts. Alleys were lined with tables and almost hidden street food stalls. There was a bar with lots of different levels overlooking the city, serving an array of cocktails and local beverages.


The next day we went to explore the eerie Hỏa Lò Prison.
It was heartbreaking seeing the conditions that the prisoners were kept in and for so long. Many even died here. There were cells for women and children, men all chained together, some who couldn't even see the light. A lot of people were only there because they rebelled against the corrupt government. It was so interesting to see but really pulled on my heart strings.
This is the actual sewer where some prisoners escaped from!

After the prison we booked a 2 night, 3 day boat tour to Halong Bay, a more lighthearted experience.
The rooms on the boat were small but clean and livable. We even had our own private bathroom horray. - it's the small things!
We sailed through the night to the bay. We had dinner and drinks and met the other tourists on the trip. We visited the famous Fish Rock formation at Halong Bay. It was overcast for the entire tour which was a bit sad but at least it didn't rain!


The next day we went to explore the Amazing Cave up in the cliffs.


We also climbed Ti Top to the greatest lookout at Halong Bay. We rewarded ourselves with a drink for making it in one piece and had a paddle in the sea afterwards to cool off before getting back on the boat for dinner made by the crew.


That night we did night fishing with hand made bamboo fishing rods. We were there for hours trying to catch squid for our dinner (well, not mine, I'm actually allergic lol). We saw massive jellyfish reflecting the glow from our night light and I was so chuffed that I caught a squid! I gave it to the crew to eat who were dining on the bottom deck. I sat with them for a bit and tried to get them to join us but they declined.


On the final morning we all did Tai Chi on the top deck before breakfast. It was so zen and such a great way to kick start the morning. We spent the last part of our tour visiting the Oyster Market. I felt like my whole life was a lie when I found out that Oysters are farmed and artificially inseminated by humans lol. It was so interesting to visit the factory to see what was involved in making pearls.


We had a cookery class where me made Vietamese Rolls for lunch before we docked at the end of the tour.

On our last day we explored more of the city before I made my way to Laos alone.

(this woman flicked the scales of the fish at me! LOL)


Posted by Travel__Tease 05:56 Archived in Vietnam Tagged fishing boat vietnam sailing prison scooters caving ho_chi_minh halong_bay amazing_cave hà_nội Comments (0)

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