Vietnam is definitely distinctly its own country, and fighting Thailand for number 2 in asia…Bali will win it for Indo any time. All in all I’ll be here for about 3 weeks which is crazy quick…I almost considered staying the full month because the visa was so expensive (60 bucks!) but the show must go on to Laos next week.
So far I’ve been to Ho Chi Minh City….which everyone just calls Saigon still…Mui Ne, the king of fresh seafood; Nha Trang, the party; and now I am in Hoi An, the ancient village and tailor experts. The food so far has been good. Not phenomenal, but good. That being said, I keep forgetting how spoiled we are as Canadians in our multi-cultural land. My European friends are marvelling over the food while I still seem to think that Essence of Saigon in Calgary has better vermicelli than anything I’ve had here. However the street creme brule topped with vietnamese ice coffee for 50 cents reallllly wasn’t too shabby.
Anyway…I figure a brief blow by blow of lately is necessary.
HCMC: great place…ngu lao is where it’s all at. There are the BEST food places down the alleys that look like they’re straight out of a horror movie. Tip: when shopping prices for shakes always ask for the size of the cup! The war museum was impressive and definitely a much different perspective on the war, but perhaps necessary to totally understand figments of the culture in Vietnam. I didn’t bother with the Cuchi tunnels because most other people said they were overrated, and as a fact they aren’t even the real ones if you go on a tour. I also didn’t bother with a mekong home stay… still loved it and met a few random people that were pretty lovely friends for a a deuce of days.
Mui Ne: also Prat thani? or something like that…check out Samsara, it has a free gorgeous pool with an ocean view and ping pong! Drinks are pricey but its a great hang out spot (bonus! Free wifi!). They have like half a kilometer of fresh seafood restaurants. The lobster is still cheaper in Halifax, but the jumbo prawns are reasonable and to die for. Oh also….between Mui ne and nha trang I might as well have gone to Russia…literally more russian menus than English. Mui Ne also has red and white sand dunes…the ones in Peru are more impressive…Met up with a friend, Malou, from Singapore and headed to Nha Trang a couple days later.
Nha Trang: Why not bar…whattttta time. Also booze cruize (the bar) will play any sport you want ….including the Canucks getting crushed in the NHL playoffs. Found some groups of guys travelling in threes…boys always travel in threes…got some freebies…played some pool….Hap Ly greek food…GO!!! she hand makes the pitas every morning. Also go to the market farther from the back packer center…by yersin street! it is heaps better.
Hoi An: What a beauty. The river gets all lit up by lanterns at night and the UNESCO protected old town doesn’t allow motorized traffic. People have fake testimonials from past ‘clients’ about tailoring and restaurants…use your own judgement. The tailoring is sweet and all but i found most of it to be tacky…or the things i did like were too loose to invest in tailoring. Lots of people here speak English and will use it to con you. Also the beach is stunnnnnnna both of them. in between the two you will see tons of cheap but GREAt coffee shops with super friendly locals. I highly recommend getting a bike and pedalling around…its like 20 km if you do both islands and both beaches, but you feel like you’re seeing so much more of the area!
ta daaaaa, off to Hue tomorrow then Hanoi and Halong Bay. I’ve been struggling trying to finish my Indian visa to submit in Hanoi for days–fingers crossed!