Tuesday, 24 July 2007


After a longer than expected stay in Phnom Penh, I've finally made it to Vietnam.
Apart from ubiquitous comical conical hats, theres not such a huge change from Cambodia - a little more chaotic traffic (in Saigon at least), slightly more persistent peddlers of goods (and bikes) and a slightly sillier currency (16000 Dong instead of 4000 real to the us dollar). In general, the people are probably a tad less friendly than the Cambodians, but having said that, many are really nice and helpful.

I'm staying in the backpacker ghetto of Pham Ngu Lao, though even here it's still easy to access real Vietnam, with tons of cheap authentic Vietnamese food stalls around a street or 2 away - a bit reminiscent of Kao San Rd in Bangkok.
Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh City to give it it's correct commie name) is a bit of a mad place, pretty chaotic (mental traffic), but charming enough in it's own way. So far I've been sampling the food, the local beers and one or 2 museums - the war remnants one was pretty cool - it used to be called the museum of Chinese and American war crimes - which didn't endear it to well to all the tourists:) I've also been playing a lot of pool, as every bar seems to have a table. I've even become a bit of a shark at 9 ball.

To take a break from the city I also visited the beach of Mui Ne - a really lovely laid back place to spend a couple of days, with nice almost empty beaches, palm trees and cute restaurants. It also boasts fairly impressive sand dunes where the local kids pretty much force you to slide down on their homemade sleds for small tips. And its a good place to cruise around on a rented motorbike without taking your life in your hands, with some nice fishing villages to stop off in.

Exiting Cambodia I decided to plump for the fast boat along the Mekong, which made a nice way to enter Vietnam - with almost no border delays or hassles. Instead of going straight to HCMC, I stayed in the town of Chau Doc, a nice little place with good views from the little Sam mountain outside of town, and some great little food stalls, even if the street lamps attracted insects in unimaginable numbers outside of a swarm of locusts. Ordering food was a bit of a challenge as the vendors hadn't a word of English, but its amazing what some sign language and animal sounds can convey.

The onward bus trip through the Mekong delta towards HCMC was memorable for the number of bridges crossed en route spanning the various tributaries of the great river, and for the repeated pucking of several of the passengers, despite the road not being all that winding at all. I think my flip flops are still sticky from the results of their expulsions, I might have to relent to one of the ever present shoe shine kids calls.



michael said...

Hope ur well, have you been to allez boo, i hear its a popular packpacker hangout, have u had any cheap cocktails. Chi's Cafe looks like a nice place to have breakfast. Joey.

seanmullins said...

U must have a copy of the LP? Or else maybe Pats advisising?
Yeah I was at allez boo the other night, its pretty good alright. Havent been to Chi's (yet), last night was in Go2 (same owners as allez), finished up at 6am after spending most of the night bitching about Irish girls with John from Meath