planning a trip to Vietnam and are having difficulties
deciding where to go and what to do, what you cannot miss
and what to skip. From the feedbacks of our customers,
Vietnam Spirit Travel would like to recommend some
activities considered by travellers as must-do's when you
are in Vietnam....
Back in 'nam'
Decided to stay an extra day in Bangkok but the train was fully booked to Ko Samui
so have another day to kill. Getting night bus instead now in 5 hours. Sadly that
does mean missing the Scotland match :( Anyway, back in 'nam...
The 24hr bus to
was harmless (the hardened road tripper am I). "Greeted" by
many peering faces knocking on the window of the bus and mouthing 'motorbike' or
'taxi', I had my first experience of what marred Hanoi for me. The second we
stepped out the bus we had a taxi driver clasped to each wrist and several more
infront. This aggressive touting was rife in Hanoi. They'd holler from the other
side of the street and deliberately block your path. On one occassion I pulled a
guy off his parked motorbike because he just wouldn't let go of me.
Now, why Hanoi was so good: chaos! Motorbikes outnumber cars 20+ to 1 so crossing
the road is a nightmare if you don't know how. Food is served on every single
corner: a temporary stall is set up and with it plastic stools and tables. At 30p a
meal and bloody good food at that I found myself here a lot with a nice cold Hanoi
beer watching the street go by. Lakes were dotted around the city and were a nice
break from the squeeze of the old town. It was a nice size as well (4 million).
One day I got a motorbike taxi out to Le Mat in search of snake meat. What an
experience. Welcomed by the restaurants four fingered owner (a cobra had had one of
them) he showed me into the back and to the cage. He stirred them up with a stick
to which he got a lot of angry hisses in return. The door was left ajar and one
slithered out sending me and my driver jumping for cover. Quite scary.
Once one of the common cobras (stressing it wasn't endangered) and after some tough
and long haggling (65 USD down to 30) we went upstairs to the restaurant. Taking it
out the bag he hit its head off the floor to stun it. He then took a knife down the
length of its body and pulled the main artery and the heart away from the body.
Cutting above the heart it pumped all the blood into a glass of vodka and continued
to pump when completely removed from the body. The guest of honour (me) was then to
eat it. Feeling it beat against the roof of my mouth I swallowed it whole and
downed the blood. I could taste the iron but other than that it wasn't like
anything familiar to me. Snake soup and grilled snake followed. They tasted strange
and foriegn, like I guess snake would taste but I dont really know how to explain
Afterwards we took a trip to the dog meat restaurants. Trays of dog paws ready for
frying lay beside doggy torso. This was a bit too freaky though and I decided not
to. That I didn't get a photo was probably a good thing.
From Hanoi I went out to
Bay. Sadly photos will have to wait as my mp3
player isn't compatible here but it has to be one of the most stunning natural
landscapes on earth. Thousands of limestone islands rise sheerly from the clear and
calm turqouise water. The best part of the 3 day trip was kayaking. Low tide
granted us entry through an archway low enough to touch the roof of and wide as a
car. It opened up to a lagoon the size of a large stadium surrounded all sides by
cliff and jungle, the sound of cicada's and the paddle all that could be heard. A
swim was too tempting to turn down.
After a day at
Cuc Phuong national park
I got a 29hr train to Saigon (aka Ho Chi
Minh City). I shared a cabin with two research scientists who could speak some
English. At every station a brief history was described on the loud speaker in
Vietnamese and then in English. Coming into Saigon the description was followed by
what I thought to be a 'silly' song - some sort of keyboard instrumental from the
70s (so I thought). Regretfully I voiced my opinion, the girls politely smiled back
only to then start singing along. The lyrics translated must have been along the
lines of 'We love Ho Chi Minh, we love Ho Chi Minh city'. Knowing that I had just
insulted a national song about the country's hero I wanted the ground to swallow me
Saigon was wicked: modern, huge, plenty of sights and the people were a lot more
friendly. Had some cool nights out as well. After a night in a rather posh club (a
plate of exotic and elaborately cut up fruits was complementary upon arrival) I was
invited for karaoke (nothing dodgey I assure you). I sat in slight amazement at the
amount of passion they muster for singing karaoke to just 3 other people (this was
after embaressing myself with some crappy 80s tune).
Sadly I decided not to see the Cu Chi tunnels (the ones the Vietcong used during
the war) and go to the Mekong Delta instead which was a disappointing tourist trail
and nothing in comparison to Halong or Cuc Phuong. Coconut candy still warm from
the pan was heavenly though.
Best thing about travelling on your tod is meeting more travelers and meeting more
locals on nights out. Bad thing about not traveling on the truck is having your
friends with you. Maybe I just need to learn to strike a better balance.
From Saigon I hopped on a bus and met the truck 2 hours later at the Cambodian
here to chat live with
one of our tour advisors!