THE THREE ALPHA TRAVEL

… Africa, Australia (+ New Zealand) and Asia

South & Central Vietnam

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Trying to CS in Saigon, I contacted Stephen, a Canadian that has been there for nearly threee years. He is a friend of the Stephen I met CSing in Kenya so he told me about him. The world is small. He could not host us but we did go out fot a beer or two. Nicely enough  he gave us information about Saigon and generally Vietnam. He has been teaching English there, something I have thought of myself as a solution for working and travelling. We stayed in Saigon for 3 days. During this period we walked a lot (like there is no tomorrow as the a Greek would say). We saw the “must-sees” including the War Remnants museum. It is basically a propaganda against the American propaganda on the war of Vietnam. When left we both had a very good feeling over Saigon.

Saigon

Saigon

The next logical thing to do from there was to visit places in the Mekong Delta. The thought of a tour did not appeal to us at first but as it seems the things are done easier this way on the huge river. The first thought was to jump to Pho Quoc island on the west coast and do not come back to Saigon as part of the tour. Finally we thought we’d better get going for the north soon, as it was from the beginning our main focus. We arranged a 3 day / 2 night tour for the Mekong river but I would personally recommend the 2 day tour if you have limited time in Vietnam. The third day resulted to be all return to Saigon. The Mekong delta is a beautiful place, its people nice, gentle and poor but even then the smile is always on their lips. One of the highlights was the floating market – hundreds of boats exchanging goods and communicating in an incredible and unique way between them. Also my first contact with the Cham minority group was very interesting. It is true that with the tour some places are getting more tourism than others but travelling independently in the Delta is not easy. Some use of the Vietnamese language is needed and some more time to be spend also when doing the latter. I was to understand that the “tour” in Vietnam was not such a bad word afterall – not like in Thailand anyway. Still though I was to try and travel as independently as possible in the most of the cases.

Mekong lady

Mekong lady

Dalat (or Da Lat on the Vietnamese maps), was next. It was a long bus from Saigon through the mountains of the central highlands of Vietnam. We stay in Peace Hotel I (as always in Vietnam there are many versions of the same hotel), Arriving we are tired but we have time to go around a bit after having a short sleep. The next day we are renting a motorbike and we visit the Ankroet Falls and the lake near there. The Lat village and the Long Bian mountain are a bit of a let down but the nature arund them is beatiful. On going back to Dalat we are satisfied that we visited this place on our way up. The same night we take the bus to Danang with the intension to reach Hoi An as soon as possible. There we were to spend our most days so far in Vietnam.

Dalat (or Da Lat on the Vietnamese maps), was next. It was a long bus from Saigon through the mountains of the central highlands of Vietnam. We stay in Peace Hotel I (as always in Vietnam there are many versions of the same hotel), Arriving we are tired but we have time to go around a bit after having a short sleep. The next day we are renting a motorbike and we visit the Ankroet Falls and the lake near there. The Lat village and the Long Bian mountain are a bit of a let down but the nature arund them is beatiful. On going back to Dalat we are satisfied that we visited this place on our way up. The same night we take the bus to Danang with the intension to reach Hoi An as soon as possible. There we were to spend our most days so far in Vietnam.

Buddha Bay

Buddha Bay

From Danang to Hoi An we realized once more that getting a normal price in Vietnam is almost impossible (we had not been to the north hill tribes yet). In any case from Danang we took a public bus to Hoi An and headed straight for the old town. It is a touristic place, especially now that July has entered and all Europeans begin their vacation. I had forgotten about that having been travelling for 9 months now! Anyway the old town of Hoi An is one of the Cultural Heritage Unesco Sites and it deserves it. I remembered that I always wanted to visit Vietnam just because of movies like “The Scent Of The Green Papaya” and Hoi An resulted to be very similar to those images. We met some people that they told us to stay in Danang and head off for day trips and explore Hoi An but we just could not resist Hoi An’s (or Faifo as it is known to the locals) beauty. Being one of the few places not bombed by the American in the Vietnam war, Hoi An can be a bit tiring when in the rest of the city but in the old quarter there is a beautiful sign saying “Only bicycles and primitive vehicles allowed”. I thought it was an excellent way to put it! We stayed there for five days and enjoyed every moment of it. Doing day trips to Buddha Bay near Danang, the beaches, another Heritage site; Myson or simply driving around the rice fields was just excellent. We were also lucky to have stayed in an 200 year old house run by two lovely ladies. For 10 USD a day for two people we could not ask for more. The climate was excellent too and we had one of the best night sleeps in whole of Vietnam.

Performance in Hoi An

Performance in Hoi An

A quick visit to Hue was next. We cought the train that everybody was trying to hide from us when asking about it and in about four hours we were in Vietnam’s ex capital. The basic thing to see here; the Citadel and emperors’ tombs. The first day it was seriously hot but we still made it to explore the Citadel. Many of its parts are being restored right now so I felt a bit like having the luck I had in Beijing’s Forbidden City. Nevertheless it is a beatiful structure with may buildings and temples to see and visit. Also around it, many old neighborhoods are scattered giving Hue a lot of character and making worth walking and exploring. The second day we did just that but only after we had a tour to the fishing village, the Garden House (a Vietnamese kung fu exhibition included), Hon Chen temple, Thien Mu pagoda, Minh Mang tomb and the famous Tu Duc tomb. The transition to Hanoi was to be made by plane, as we found a cheap flight we Vietnam Airlines for 750000 Dong and thus saving about a day’s travel. The north was ahead and they real excitements of the trip were yet to come…

Citadel of Hue

Citadel of Hue

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Written by csm2mk

August 11, 2009 at 2:45 AM

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