Ho Chi Minh City

Swankles!

Hello!

Well i am sad to say that we will be leaving the wonderful city of ho chi minh tonight and venture off north to the beach town of Nha Trang. Today we spent visiting the meekong delta, it was amazing. We canoed through mangrove canals, held a python and listened to some traditional vietnamese music. The Delta is so big that is has over 4 islands 3 of which we visited. i am having writing block at the moment so i will have to cut my entry short but i see over my shoulder that bec and paul have both written extensively so i am probably just repeating anyway.

oh yeah, my ankles and feet have swolen up to twice their size, if anyone knows of a cure please help as it is very uncomfortable, i hope it is because of the heat and humidity and not because i have caught some deadly tropical disease, though i am on the look out for and further symptoms.

bye for now
Claire
- saigon

Nha Trang Tomorrow

We have successfully organised train tickets to Nha Trang, which we have been pronouncing SO incorrectly that Paul's family member Ngân, whose name we can barely pronounce either, laughed at us for about five minutes. She is lovely and treated us to a fantastic dinner with all the extras: coconut jelly drink stuff and wine drinken sticky rice for dessert. We are disappointed we only met her the night before we are leaving Saigon, and would love to see her again, but we have to keep moving etc.

Our tickets are for the night train, which leaves at 11pm. We went for the air-con soft seat as it was cheaper than the hard and/or soft sleeper. Our ticket tells us we will arrive at 6am in Nha Trang, but we won't count on it. We already checked out of our Saigon guesthouse so as not to pay for the day, and they are kindly holding our packs for us so we didn't have to cart them too and from the Meekong.

Which was fabulous! $7 got us an air/con bus there and back, about eight boats to and from markets and islands and through canals, and a row boat along a smaller canal. And a performance by some musicians, and an introduction to coconut candy, and honey tea and all sorts of great stuff. We tipped our tour guide as he was very friendly and funny and spoke to us about where to go in Vietnam. He was happy.

AND! I rode on the back of Ngân's scooter-mobile all the way to her house. This traffic is insane but I can imagine doing a better job of scootering around myself in Saigon than in Let's-All-Obey-The-Road-Rules-Australia. You kind of take it as it comes, and no-one goes very fast and you beep the Everything-Is-Okay-Horn all the time!

This post is completely out of order but hey, we're busy busy beavers. I am now addicted to coconut candy - we bought some at the workshop on the tour - but am steering clear of banana wine.

The only reason this post is so long is that i'm charging my iPod and i'm only paying 8000vnd and hour. So 11900vnd is equivilant to 1aud so you work it out. I spotted an internet cafe near Ngân's house - away from the tourists - which was only charging 3000 dong per gia, which i assume is hour, but hey, we're tourists. We deserve what we get!

So i've run out of things to report, You'll probably hear it twice more as Claire and Paul are posting as we speak. Or as I type, really.

And to everyone at home, hi! Hope all is well. Please water my Bonsai and feed my cat. Tabby cat, you know the one.

By the way - the gardens here are super manicured bonsai setup. Everything is in pots, and the grass is really special - no-one steps on it. This might interest Stephen . . . so i'll be sure to take photos.

So it's quarter past seven now. We figure we'll head on over to the Train Station at ten. It should be interesting to see how we handle it. We learnt inter-district wandering quickly enough, now we're on to inter . . . province? I think that's it.

Wish us luck!
Bec
Saigon

Our last night in Saigon

We're all at the internet cafe killing time before we go back to pick up our bags and get a taxi over to the train station. This is our last night in Saigon, tomorrow morning we'll arrive at Nha Trang and wander around looking for new accomodation. I've given up trying to control my hair as it has taken on a life of it's own. I now have a full on afro.
Last night (as I'm sure the others are explaining simultaneously) we visited Peter's relatives at their home and went out for dinner with Ngân (Teresa) at a proper fancy restaurant.
Everyone was very friendly and we got on incredibly well with Ngân especially. We were having trouble trying to pronounce her name properly, so we stuck with using 'Teresa' for the most part. She gave us each a ride on the back of her Scooter through the streets of Saigon, which was the single most exhilirating moment of my trip so far. Although the streets are utter chaos, no one ever gets up any speed so it's really very safe. We've finally got the hang of crossing the roads and I'm feeling very comfortable here already. It's a pity we have to leave so quickly. We're already planning our return.
We have an open invitation to visit Ngân and the family when we all come over next year, so I hope the tour that you guys had planned isn't too rigid, it would be really nice to spend a couple of days extra in Saigon.
Earlier on we went to the market. When I say 'the market' I mean THE market. Although I forget the name, it is apparently the largest market in Saigon. Haggling over the price of pants is lots of fun, especially when it isn't your money or your pants that are involved. Ngân told us that 70,000 Dong is a very good deal for pants, so the Bec did alright there, but apparently we got ripped off on the Tin Tin T-shirt. Anyway, I figure we came out about even.
The food here is great. It's amazing being able to eat out at a restaurant for every single meal of every single day, and still be able to afford it. Although we are paying tourist prices (far more than the restaurants that the locals go to), we can feed the three of us for about $5 AUS.
Today we took a $7 (US) tour to the Mee Kong Delta. It was a 2 hour bus trip (bad suspension, but air-conditioned) out, and then a whole day on the river and various canals. We ate lunch (included in the price) in the middle of some 'jungle' and had fun with snakes.
Anyway, I'm sure the others are posting extremely similar posts right now. So I'll leave it at that. Lucky you, getting to read about the same thing from three different points of view.
Next post will be from Nha Trang.

- Paul
Saigon

day 3

Hi there all

It is approx 11pm and we have just arrived back to our hotel. This evening we spent with the lovely Theresa, a relative of pauls. We visited her family at their home and she also took us to their shop where we met some more of her family. We then went out to dinner at a beautiful coconut-themed restaurant and we ate the most amazing vietamese food. Theresa suggested we try the braised snails but apparently it is a very popular dish and they were all out tonight, damn!
It is a shame we have to leave saigon tomorrow, we would have loved to spent more time with Theresa and her family.
Well it is off to the Meekong delta tomorrow at 8am then the night train north to continue the next leg of our journey. I am sad to leave saigon, it is such a huge city and i feel like we haven't even scratched the surface, but there is plenty more to see in the rest of the country.

bye for now
Claire
- Saigon

convincing literature

I honestly thought I would be able to come up with some really good literature to post once I got here, and that I would even have time to do so. So far I've been too exhausted to even think, let alone write a blog. We've spent only two nights here so far and basically we've all just crashed into bed at the end of the day and slept. But there is stuff to write about, so much has happened in a day and a half, I just don't have the time or energy to sit down and go through it all. It's the heat, and the humidity. My brain just can't take it. The brief moments of rain are welcome when they come, and they do come randomly. The weather here is probably even more random than Melbourne, which is nice. My hair has gone weird, it's never been curlier, it's like a basket of noodles on my head (sorry about the simile, we had fried noodles last night).
Thankyou everyone who commented, make sure you guys keep reading this! I promise it will get more interesting.

- Paul

We Live!

So we successfully navigated our way around three airports and made it to our guesthouse in Saigon. It's down a small alley which is frequented by people on bikes singing about what they have to sell. Water bread fruit etc. Not far from a park where heaps of kids play a mutated form of hackey sack involving springs and feathers. I know I've seen this doo-hicky somewhere else either Nepal or Melbourne . . .

It is hot hot hot and who would have thought? My fingers are sticking to the keys. The rain we heard so much about has come and we might need to buy an umbrella or maybe a garbage bag.

Our room is nice and there IS room to swing a cat, so we're happy. Navigtion is a bit wierd, but we're only new so we might catch on. Inter-district travel is our next hurdle.

Hot and Sticky,
Bec,
Saigon

wow!

So we are in Vietnam...

there is so much to say; When we arrived we were picked up by our a driver and taken to our hotel....and it was CRAZY!! there were bikes flying everywhere, no 'right' side of the road, the only road rule is drive moderatly slowly and beep your horn because no one looks where they are going. We saw one accident and no one seemed to care. As i speak, a monsoonal rain has just drifted over...and now it has finished...oh it has started again...well at least i feel at home with the weather!

love Claire
Saigon.