Good morning, Vietnam!Thursday February 15th, 2007 by edvar
After a loooong but fine flight, we finally arrived in Hanoi (or to be precise: Ha Noi) in Vietnam. It started yesterday, when we woke up at 6:30 AM to take our train to Schiphol, followed by a 12-hour flight to Singapore. We arrived at 6 AM (local time) and decided to walk around and to grab a cup of coffee/chocolate. Around 10 AM we had our flight to Ha Noi, where we arrived at 12:30 PM, local time. No problems with our luggage or with customs, so that was perfect.
We were picked up from the airport and brought to our hotel in the centre of Ha Noi. Renting your own car (or even crossing a street!) is almost equal to commiting suicide, as there are thousands of motorcycles racing on the streets. Ha Noi has 3+ million inhabitants and probably a lot more motorcycles …
Our hotel (A to Z Queen Hostel) is simple but OK. After a refreshing shower we went into town through the maze of small alleys, including the thousands of motorcycles which created a crazy chaos.
The ATMs first didn’t work, but after a while we could call ourselves real millionaires. The Vietnamese Dong isn’t worth ****, so 50 euro will give you around 1.000.000 Dong. We used a part of that fortune to buy some water. Tampons were also on the list (no, not for Edvar ), but apparently they don’t know them over here …
In the evening we had a nice Vietnamese meal and as Daniëlle almost fell asleep, she quickly went to bed. Edvar decided to read some stuff and to type this message. By the way, see the “Where are we now?” page (menu at the right) for the local weather …
Tomorrow we will explore the town and we will probably book a trip to Sapa (Sa Pa) and/or Halong Bay. We will see! And now …
Edvar will also go to bed …
6 Responses to “Good morning, Vietnam!”
Chuc Mung Nam Moi!Saturday February 17th, 2007 by Daniëlle
With other words: Happy New Year! A little late you might think? This is not the case, since the Chinese New Year was celebrated in Vietnam yesterday. Abba with their well known song “Happy New Year” was played all day long. During the evening there were some festivities like acrobats and at midnight wonderfull fireworks. The latter is forbidden and therefore the gouvernment arranges the fireworks. Fireworks are therefore very special and were welcomed with a lot of ahhh’s and ohh’s and applause by the people…..
Yesterday we relaxed and had a simple, but oke breakfast and booked our tours to Sa Pa and Halong bay and walked through the old town (Old Quarter). Enjoying the little shops with all kinds of merchandises such as: Tin cans, Red Lampoons, Shoes etc. At the end of the day we were cursing the honking of the horns and thousands of scooters rushing by to get the last merchandises before New Years Eve.
Edvar has succeeded to put the first pictures of Ha Noi on our website (Please click on Photo Gallery on the right menu and enjoy). Here you can find the different New Year trees, that are transported on the scooters by the Vietnamese people. Some of them really have difficulty to see the street through the branches .
Tomorrow we will visit the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh and will visit the water puppets theatre in the afternoon. At night we will catch the nighttrain to Sa Pa (close to the Chinese border), where we will stay for two days before we go to Halong Bay (Shores with Limerock Islands)
Thank you for the reactions from all around the world, we really enjoy reading them. Dear Ju I am sure you will be very slim again, everything will be fine and remember you will receive a lovely little treasure back for this inconvenience.
Dad did you already receive a message from the broker from the person who would come and see my house today? Was it the same guy whose parents visited my house during the open house route?
Neither one of us already has the feeling we have started a trip around the world, but it feels more like the start of a long holiday, but maybe this will change….
We will keep you posted about our adventures!
11 Responses to “Chuc Mung Nam Moi!”
Sapa and Halong BaySaturday February 24th, 2007 by Daniëlle
After some fun trips to Sapa and Halong Bay, we have arrived back in Hanoi! We really enjoyed it, had some good weather and although we had some problems with our stomachs and also had to use our First Aid Kit twice (don’t worry ), our health is very good again. Let’s update you about the things we did in the last week …
Last Sunday morning, we took a cyclo (a kind of riksja) to the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, who is very famous here in Vietnam. He looked good, although there are plenty of stories that Madame Tussaud is having a good deal here . We continued to a small temple (One-Pillar Pagoda) and to a museum about Ho Chi Minh. We also relaxed a bit at the Botanical Gardens, spotting squirrels and a few monkeys in cages.
Afterwards we walked back to the Old Quarter, we visited the Waterpuppets Theatre. Very funny!
We took a shower in our hotel and went to the trainstation to catch the night train to Lao Cai (close to the Chinese border). It seemed that they put us in different cabins, but somehow they arranged it that we could sleep together. The Vietnamese way to arange things is still a bit new to us (you only hear “it’s OK”), which made us after a while a little nervous, but somehow it works …
On the train we met Vuong, a Vietnamese guy from Ho Chi Minh City, who spoke English very well (he studied in Australia) and who had some nice music with him. We enjoyed that very much.
The night was not fantastic for Daniëlle, as she didn’t sleep well and had to throw up probably because of a rotten banana. A bit sleepy, we arrived at Lao Cai (map: [GP:VT Sapa]) at 7 AM, where a small bus was waiting for us to bring us to Sapa in one hour.
In Sapa we took another shower and had some breakfast, before we started with our walking tour, together with our guide Sumiya. The weather was beautiful, a bit foggy, but warm. We enjoyed walking through all the rice fields. There’s not much to see regarding nature (just some farm animals, but lovely little chicks and puppydogs), but a bit more regarding culture, as there are several hilltribes in the area, including the Black H’mong, Tay and the Dzao. They all have their own customs and clothes. It was nice to see, although we went crazy because of their “stalking”, just to sell stuff to us … (What’s your name? Ah beautiful name! How old are you? Ah very young! Where are you from? Ah Holland small country!)
In a small village called Ta Van we had arranged a homestay. The house was simple, just with the necessary stuff to sleep and eat, but also with a TV (?!). We didn’t feel very welcome all the time, because sometime we were ignored a little bit. At least the dogs and cats liked us . But the homestay still was fun, also beacuse of the fantastic dinner. Ten plates with different kind of food and some ricewine as desert. After that, we were both tired, so we quickly went to the attic to sleep on some simple matrasses.
The next day we had a nice breakfast and gave a small tip to the family, who were quite surprised to see that. We continued with some more walking and again visited a Tay local house, where our guide told us about their customs. We also tasted some local spice, which is also being used as medicine against stomachache and headache. Around noon a bus picked us up to go to Sapa, where we could take a shower again. While waiting for the next bus, a man from France had cut himself in his fingers, so we took our First Aid Kit and helped him a little bit. So, Daniëlle could play doctor .
Then we took the bus to Lao Cai and waited at a restaurant for our train tickets. Again, this happened on the Vietnamese way, but now we got used to it, so just “go with the flow” …
While entering the train, Daniëlle had a small accident, which resulted in a small wound on her leg. So, we took our First Aid Kit again, bit everything was quite OK. This time the train ride was a bit better, as we could sleep quite well. Around 5 AM we arrived in Hanoi to be picked up by the hotel staff. Surprise, nobody was there, so after 30 minutes we took a cab (paid too much for it). Back at the hotel, they were still asleep (lazy guys!), but we were soon given a chamber for another shower.
Around 8 AM we already left again, now to Halong Bay (map: [GP:VT Halong Bay]). The trip took three hours. We got onto a classic boat (junk), together with 15 other persons and headed for the islands. It was a bit foggy, but still very beautiful. Between the different boat rides, we visited a large cave, did some kayaking and several persons decided to swim for a couple of minutes. After dinner we played some poker with five other people and around 11 PM we went to our “honeymoon suite” for a good night of sleep.
The next morning we picked up some persons from another boat, including some Dutch persons from Holland (Gerrit and Annie) living in …. Borne (near where we live)! Sometimes it’s a small world …
We headed to the island of Cat Ba, where we visited a nice cave, this time including some bats. Had a great lunch and at that same spot Daniëlle saw some beautiful Kingfishers, with beautiful colours, just like in Europe.
We drove to a small town, checked in at the luxury hotel and left immediately by boat to a small beach where we could swim for an hour or so. After the swimming, we returned to the hotel and were surprised by a large amount of fog.
At the hotel we had another shower (almost no water pressure, so hardly any water coming out of it on the sixth floor), had a nice dinner and in the evening joined the rest of the group for some beer, rice wine and karaoke (Edvar didn’t participated in the last part). And then some sleep again …
On friday, we only drove back to Hanoi, where we arrived at 4 PM. The ride in the bus made Daniëlle very sleepy .
In Hanoi we had a great pizza, together with Marc and Lisa, whom we met on the boat at Halong Bay. They are travelling for 6 months already and still have 7 months to go! Read about their adventures on the great website at : 2HeadedTurtle.com.
Today, we just relaxed a bit here in Hanoi. Sleeping, reading, writing our diary and updating our website. Don’t forget to visit the Photo Gallery for 50 new pictures.
This evening we will take the night train to Hue (map: [GP:VT Hue]), where we will stay a day or two. Then we will continue to Hoi An and Nha Trang. And as usual, we will do our best to keep you updated about our stories!
6 Responses to “Sapa and Halong Bay”
How to rip of tourists in Vietnam?Tuesday February 27th, 2007 by Daniëlle
Again an update from Vietnam, this time from Hoi An a little city in the central part of Vietnam. We both have a little bit mixed feelings about Vietnam, some people are very friendly and some have really discovered how they can squeeze the maxium amount of money out of tourists staying in Vietnam for their holidays. In the following summary we will explain this statement with a few examples.
Typing our last update on the website in our hotel in Hanoi, we overheard (hard not to with the screaming) a fierce discussion between the manager of the hotel and a girl from Spain regarding the laundry service. According to her she paid 12 dollars for the washing of three skirts, four tops, 12 pair of underwear and a short. When her clothes were returned to her she only received one top, one pair of underwear and one short and the top that once had been lovely white now was grey and ruined. She wanted a solution for this problem and her money back.
The manager on the other hand, just said it was not his fault since he did not do the laundry and he could not give her her money back. In the end she was near to tears and said to him that if he offered laundry service at his hotel he was responsible for the outcome, but he just got angry and walked away ……
Saturday evening we took the nighttrain from Hanoi to Hue. We were dropped off at the trainstation and the guy (about twelve years old) from the hotel said we should pay for the taxi, because he had no money. After an angry look from Edvar and a “No way we are going to pay for the taxi. You are paying!”, he quickly paid the taxi ……, this same guy should have picked us up after we returned from Sapa and did not show up. He probably gets a large amount of pocket money this way everytime this little scam succeeds …
Edvar did not sleep very well in the train, because he had a cold and had to blow his nose every ten minutes. When we arrived in Hue we were harassed by taxi drivers and cyclo guys insisting to offer us a ride. With our sleepy heads we got so irritated by them that we got rid of our irritation by walking from the station to our hotel Thai Binh Hotel number II. The hotel was recommended to us by a guy who promoted it in the train.
The prices in Hue were raised a lot compared to the ones stated in the Lonely Planet. For example a hotel which according to the Lonely Planet should be between 5-20 dollar now had her cheapest room for 50 dollar. The bus from Hue to Hoi An was supposed to be 2 dollar, on the signs the price was 3 dollars, but according to the three places we checked the price was raised to 5 dollars since the starting of the new year, nice increase ……
The first day in Hue we visited the Citadel, which was quite impressive, we spent about 4 hours over there. Some parts were very well restaurated with help from the Canadians, which gave you a good impression how it should have been in the time of the emperrors. Other parts were very old and not restaurated at all and supported by wooden poles to prevent the buildings from caving in, which gave a mystic impression of old glory faded away due to the test of time.
The second day we rented bikes, not for the 10.000 vietnamese dong expected, but for 15.000 dong with a map of the area, at least cheaper than the first offer of 20.000 dong. Slowly we are getting the hang of lowering prices. With the bikes we visited an old japanese covered footbridge, Thanh Toan bridge, the bridge was nice and so was the road through the ricefields with beautiful white egrets. People were very helpfull in showing us the way and we were greeted everytime by a nice hello, sometimes with some Vietnamese words followed by laughter, which of course we could not understand, but might have been a little less nice … We talked for a while with a vietnamese man who now lives for about six years in the United States and got lovely ginger and small nuts with our drinks.
After that we visited a temple Nam Giao. The entrance was free or at least it seemed to be, we should park our bike and a guard gave us a metal thing and wrote a number with chalk on our saddles. Stupid tourists, of course the alarm bells should have gone of, but it didn’t. There was not much to see since the temple was completely destroyed, after five minutes we came back and had to pay 4000 dongs for the parking of our bikes …… At least we tried to make clear that it was not very polite that he did not mention that before, but maybe we should have asked …
After that we visited one of the tombs just outside the city: the tomb of Tu Duc, which was very nice. Edvar spotted another kingfisher. We also saw Tim again, one of the guys from the poker game in Halong Bay and in the evening we had a few drinks with him and Isabel, who had been ill that day. The whole area around the tombs consists of graveyards, which is quite impressive. Bundles of incense can easily be bought in this area. After that we returned to Hue and visited the little island north of the citadel, but there was not much to see.
This morning we took the bus from Hue to Hoi An and were again ripped of because the busride should have been 6 hours with at least four stops, with one of them at the marble mountains, but we were already in Hoi An after three hours with only one stop in Danang to let some people off …… no return of the money, of course still 5 dollars ……
In Vietnam people do not seem to take the responsiblity, or feel like they, as a service to customers, need to help them. One thing is sure, do not get angry at them, because then they just walk away … Luckily we did not experience this ourselves, but have seen a few examples during our stay in Vietnam.
Sometimes it seems silly to get angry about a few bucks (for your information: 20.000 dong is equal to 1 euro), but it is just the principle that you do not want to be scammed. Since we are not only on holiday for a few weeks, these few bucks will sum up to be a lot of bucks in the end, which might in the make the difference during our 8 to 9 months trip.
Oke thank you for your listening ear, writing this has relieved us from our irratation. So Hoi An, here we come we are ready to explore the old town! Again 34 new pictures for people who are interested in the photo gallery!
7 Responses to “How to rip of tourists in Vietnam?”
Sun, ocean, beach and diving in Nha TrangSunday March 4th, 2007 by Daniëlle
After a day wandering around in Hoi An and buying our souvenir from Vietnam (Vietnamese chopsticks) we took the nightbus to Nha Trang.
According to the little travel agency, where we bought our busticket, the seats would not be adjustable, the bus would be without airconditioning and a video would not be available, but except for the video everything was there anyway. The bus was fourtyfive minutes late and they booked our ticket on the wrong day, but after a telephone call from the lovely receptionist at our hotel we were able to catch our bus as planned afterall. The bustrip was fine except for a flat tire.
Shortly after our arrival in Nha Trang we found a nice little hotel were we will be staying for six nights, so Edvar will be able to get his Open Water diving license, which will take four days. The first day we just relaxed and wandered around Nha Trang a bit. Yesterday and today Edvar will learn the theorie of diving and will practice his skills in the swimming pool. Monday and Tuesday we will go for the real deal diving in the ocean. We will leave from the diving school at 7:00 AM. I will also join the boat and do a dive each day to practice my own diving.
During the time Edvar is diving, I have the time to relax and read a book. Yesterday I spent all day on the beach. The weather is lovely, pretty warm in the sun, but with the breeze coming in from the ocean it stays nice and cool. Beware because even in the shadow you get lobstered alive, that’s why I will stay out of the sun for today .
The people in the south of Vietnam are much more friendly and do not have the tendency to stalk you as much as the people in the north of Vietnam. If everything goes well with the diving, we want to visit Ho Lao (Monkey Island) and travel to Dalat and book a tour to the Cat Tien National Park. After that we will travel to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels and a full day to explore Ho Chi Minh City. After that our time is running out in Vietnam and we will fly on March 14th from Ho Chi Minh City to Christchurch in New Zealand.
3 Responses to “Sun, ocean, beach and diving in Nha Trang”
Rain in DalatThursday March 8th, 2007 by Daniëlle
Indeed even in Vietnam rain can fall down. We just arrived in Dalat ([GP:VT Dalat]). The rain gives us the opportunity to update you about everything and upload our photos so you will be able to admire them again.
In Hue we noticed them for the first time, but after that we have seen them everywhere. Little geckos hanging upside down on the wall. At dusk they appear and start to catch flies, which they are by the way very good at. Interesting to watch for a while.
In Nha Trang Edvar has been very busy to get his Open Water diving license. Honey I want to congratulate you, because you made it without drowning! In the future you can take care of me above and below the surface of the water . I myself also have made four dives which was a great experience. The only thing I was a little less excited about, was my little cave adventure, since our Belgium diving instructor neglected to brief us about it.
The fauna of the ocean is nice, I have seen better (for instance in Egypt), but it is worthwhile to take a peak under the surface. Beautiful blue starfish, Sea urchins with long stings, lots of colourful fish, including Nemo, a few Morays and I have even seen a Seasnake, that was very cool.
The following people were in the dive team of Edvar: Pete from England, Cheryl from Scotland and Akihiro from Japan. Clara and Sven tought them all their diving skills. In the beginning, Edvar was still a little bit insecure, but this got better after a while. The first day my diving buddy was Danny from Nijmegen the Netherlands. Very nice girl, we did some headrolls under the water . The second day I have been diving with an Australian couple Kellie and Jason.
I also spent some time trying to provide a dating service for some people, but discovered I do not know a good match for Pete yet. We thought about letting Vanessa, a girl from Australia, who works in Tokyo get a drink with Tom, but we can only arrange this if she puts a message on our blog!
It’s a shame that people in Vietnam throw away their garbage everywhere, on the street and in the water. Maybe they only do this to create jobs for the streetsweepers and the people in boats, cleaning the streets and the water? During our last afternoon in Nha Trang we experienced this ourselves during our swim in the ocean. Hats, coconuts, all kinds of things slithering and sliding past your legs, when you get out of the water.
Even on Monkey Island you can find monkeys poking between the garbage. To get to Monkey Island we jumped on the motorbikes of Dan and Bamboo, the Vietnamese Riders of Nha Trang, this is a group who separeted themselves from the Easy Riders of Dalat. Very nice guys, who are very capable to drive safely through the traffic chaos of Vietnam.
On the way to Monkey Island we were dropped of at a Cham Tower (Po Nagar), so our helmets could be arranged, which are required by law on the highways. Nice to view, but watch out not to choke because of the smoke of the incense sticks, which are lit here continuously.
Monkey Island was a funny nice alernative after our diving adventure. The show with the bears we avoided deliberately. The monkeys are clever little fellows, since they know exactly how to spot the people with ’monkeyfood’. Some monkeys even try to snatch the food if you lower your guard for a short moment. One tried this with me, but this monkey was launched through the air and I still had my monkeyfood. Another impatient dominant male monkey, tried to steal my corn. In the end he used my head to launch himself on the steel bar above our heads from the bench we were sitting on trying to show off. But we were not impressed.
Our bustrip to Dalat went well and we found a small hotel to stay the night. Tomorrow we will travel to Cat Tien National Park, hopefully to spot a lot of wildlife.
7 Responses to “Rain in Dalat”
Oh boy, oh boy, we have already been travelling for a month!Friday March 16th, 2007 by Daniëlle
No, we can no longer use the phrase: “Good Morning Vietnam” (nice cocktail by the way), because we arrived yesterday in a wonderful, very friendly and sunny New Zealand!
You can hardly believe it, but we have already been travelling for a month, time flies when you’re having fun. First of all, we would like to thank everyone for all nice, lovely, and informative messages and of course for the congratulations to Edvar for his diving license. We enjoy it very much when there is a message from friends and family. Mom and Dad and of course also the rest of you: I am really starting to miss you. But to be honest, in general we have hardly the time to dwell with homesickness, so luckily it is not really an issue .
We will meet the parents of Edvar soon in New Zealand and we are really looking forward to see them, because it will be nice to see some familiar faces! Spoke to my own Mom and Dad this morning and it was really nice to hear your voices again.
Alright, lets start with the final update and photos of our last days in Vietnam. By Jeep we drove to Cat Tien National Park. Along the way we made a few stops, one at a coffeeplantage and a phony coffee factory, where we were served coffee and tea for free, which was very nice. When we arrived in the afternoon at the National Park we followed a trail through the jungle with our guide. Our guide was a real mountainbiker, who himself admitted that he preferred this above hiking. He was affraid of all big mammals and therefore very happy that they were not living in this area of the National Park . We on the other hand would have loved to see some rhinos, elephants or tigers. However, the area with big mammals doesn’t seem to be accessible for tourists.
We did see a lot of beautiful birds (again kingfishers), large and small squirrels and lizards. At night we participated in a night spotting, where animals are tracked down by shining with a big torch so you can see the reflection of their eyes. Deers and Civetcats (I was not able to distinguish a cat … but well) showed themselves to us. The management of the park changes every three months and you can notice, that Vietnam has a lot to learn, also how to sell a National Park to tourists. The Vietnamese people experience nature in a completely different way than we do. They are just not brought up to admire the wonders of nature.
The next morning we took another trail through the jungle and had a break at the riverbank. Due to the dry season we could only see rocks and no water, but we could hear it at a short distance. With permission of our guide we climbed the rocks to reach the water and doing so had an encounter with a snake (some kind of Cobra snake), which was hiding in the shade against the sun.
In the afternoon we left for Crocodile Lake, a hike of about 6 km. 50-60 Crocodiles have been released in this lake, since the original population was extinct. In the rainy season some of the animals dispers to the nearby rivers and therefore no one knows how many animals are still in the lake. The National Park hopes to find a nest with crocodile eggs one day, which would mean the population would be able to reproduce on their own. At the trail towards the lake we saw lizards, big old tropical trees and a yellow frog.
After arriving at Crocodile Lake Edvar and I went kayaking and were able to spot a lot of birds up close (white egrets, sort of waterhens, kingfishers). In the distance we could see a group of monkeys close to the water. After the kayaking we strawled along the banks and again saw some monkeys near the treeline and almost stumbled over a deer with big antlers! Since we did not know the testosterone level of the deer we backed away and took a little detour to get back to the lodge.
At night we were able to follow the deer with a big spotlight and also saw the red eyes of about five crocodiles in the lake. In the morning we stood up early, but did not see much new things. Back at basecamp we were taken by boat and on the back of a motorbike to the mainroad to catch our bus to Ho Chi Minh City.
While driving to the mainroad my motorbike driver hit a dog. Stupid asshole, he had a lot of time to pass the animal on the left side. At least he could have lowered his speed or used his horn. He did not stop, but just kept on driving and the only thing he said was: “Me stupid”. Yes indeed, you can say that again!
In Ho Chi Minh City we quickly were able to find a hotel. The people in the South really are much friendlier, more modern and speak better English. The influence of the Western world is larger here. In the park we were approached by about five girls, who asked us friendly if they could practice their English pronunciation with us, really cute .
The first day we wandered around Ho Chi Minh City, the terraces are very nice, at some places you even get served water or ice tea extra for free. Edvar had some stomach problems so we took it easy that day.
We booked a tour to a Cao Dai temple, where we were allowed to attend a mass, and to the Cu Chi Tunnels. The Cu Chi Tunnels were very impressive. You can hardly imagine that people can crawl through such narrow spaces. The American tunnelrats must have been tiny men. Edvar and I would get stuck for sure .
A part of the tunnels has been enlarged especially for tourists (twice as big as the original ones), so they can get some idea how live in the tunnels must have been like. How shall I describe it …… Moist, difficult to breath, warm, little or no light, chance to encouter scorpions or snakes. Filled with boobytraps and emergency exits in the Saigon river. There’s no place like home …
The Vietnamese people were very inventive in making weapons and were supplied with food by the farmers. Women also were members of the Viet Cong, to cook, to sow clothes and to sharpen bamboospikes for the boobytraps. Women also carried a gun and were able to stand their ground.
At night we had a meet and greet with Pete, Edvar’s diving buddy. Had dinner together and updated each other with the final news. After four weeks of Vietnam we both had a little bit the feeling: “been there, done that”. To finalize our Vietnam adventure we will write a short summary about Vietnam in a different article …
4 Responses to “Oh boy, oh boy, we have already been travelling for a month!”
One more time about VietnamFriday March 16th, 2007 by edvar
To wrap up our visit to Vietnam, we would like to post one more message as a kind of “summary”, including tips for future travellers and a bit of humour to keep it funny .
Vietnam has been involved in many, many wars (until 1980!) and is now working hard to get back up its feet again. Tourism is becoming more and more important and the Vietnamese people know that it’s a good way to quickly earn money. As most tourists won’t stay at a single spot for a long time, they don’t care about customer service, but just about a quick sale. An example:
“Shoe shine, sir?” (looking at your left shoe).
No thank you.
“Shoe shine number one!”
No thank you.
“Shoe shine, sir?” (looking at your right shoe, you never know!)
No thank you!
“But sir, look, I can repair this for you! Look, I have glue!”
NO THANK YOU!!!!!
- Look them straight in the eyes (if possible, as they mainly keep looking at your shoes) and maybe they understand that you’re serious..
- Say that you don’t have any money (they will quickly disappear)
- Say you want to finish your book (to booksalesmen)
- Say that you just want to read your book (to massages, food and drink at the beach)
We really believe you could earn some decent money if you could teach those salesmen some better sales techniques (focussed on western people) …
Traffic is a horrific. Crossing the road is dangerous, mainly because of the chaos caused by scooters. Daniëlle was hit by scooters two times (no injuries) and was a passenger on one when the driver hit a dog. Another thing that drives you crazy: drivers use their horns all the time! We really don’t want to see any scooters anymore !
People are very friendly, just a bit unfamiliar and goofy when dealing with western persons. English is hard for them and is communication in general. In the north, people are less friendly and we had several occasions when persons tried to rip us off, in a “sneaky” way. And we’re not talking about bargaining, but about situations where you keep paying for all kinds of things.
Nature is almost absent Vietnam. They have no idea about nature, throwing their trash away just about everywhere and animals are only seen as food. The garbage produces terrible smells, and cockroaches and rats really like it.
The food is really delicious: Springrolls, but also noodle soup and meals with squid are fantastic. You can make your own coffee and they have dozens of types of vegetables and fruit that are unknown in The Netherlands.
Travelling in Vietnam is very cheap. A night at a simple hotel costs around US$ 10. A meal for two persons, including drinks, costs between US$ 5 and US$ 10. For most distances between touristic towns, a bus ticket costs around US$ 10, the train is a bit more expensive. However, everything seems to get a bit more expensive, as the prices in our Lonely Planet (edition 2006) are often too low. On average, we spent around US$ 30 per person per day, including (quite expensive) tours to Sapa, Halong Bay and Cat Tien National Park (mbut excluding the flights and the diving).
One more summary about the different locations in Vietnam (read our old messages for detailled info):
- Hanoi: Nice town for a couple of days, a bit busy, but the Old Quarter, the Water Puppets and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum are worth a visit.
- Sapa: Fun to walk through the rice fields, but don’t expect great nature. The minority groups are mainly busy bothering you to sell stuff …
- Halong Bay: Beautiful rocks rising up from the sea.
- Hue: Nice old town (Citadel) and the surroundings of Hue are nice for cycling.
- Hoi An: Interesting for many persons to buy custom made clothes (we didn’t do that), but also a nice cosy town.
- Nha Trang: Good for some diving, but not much else to do.
- Cat Tien National Park: Beautiful nature. Don’t expect rhinos, elephants or tigers, but focus on animals like deer, civet cats, monkeys, crocodiles, squirrels, snakes and lots of beautiful birds.
- Ho Chi Minh City: The city itself is not so interesting, but certainly try to visit the Cao Dai temple and the Cu Chi tunnels. We don’t know anything about the Mekong Delta.
So, this was our last article about Vietnam. If you want to know more or if you want to ask some questions, just let us know. Add a comment to this article, or contact us by using the contact form …