Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon)
Well when I left you last I was just about to board a plane for an ‘easy’ two hour flight down to the south of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh city to be precise…. Without doubt the worst experience myself and Matty have endured on a flight. With a child to the left of us and what can only be described nicely as a screaming infant behind. Never have I heard such a loud noise come from such a small thing, this was not just hysterical crying wanting attention, this was full blown tearing the roof off howling to which the parent was just happy to sit there and leave it to do so… Safe to say she got a few glares and there was no chance I was letting her off the plane before me as I ran for the exit. Pain over…
With Hanoi being ‘cold’ at about 20C – we knew Ho Chi Minh was expected to get us back to normality of mid 30s and it didn’t disappoint. We picked a fantastic hotel with a rooftop pool and bar which was just what the doctor ordered, plenty of vitamin C!
On first impressions, Saigon was very much like London… Absolutely gigantic. Bikes everywhere yet again and all fighting for that small bit of road to sneak in and get around. It soon captured my heart as my favourite city I’ve visited on my travels, including Sydney and a place shall definitely be returning too and recommending! It had it all, obviously a good hotel helped but just being able to walk to the local markets, some lovely street food on our doorstep (THE best seafood spring rolls you could ever wish for) and all for a very reputable price.
First night we met a couple from New Zealand on the rooftop and things started to escalate, I personally took a step back when we went to the shop and I said I wasn’t drinking. I forgot what the Aussie way of life was like and what the locals were like – try to be macho and win at everything. Never have I seen someone empty a fridge before just to show off… So it was an absolute pleasure to see him throwing it all back up later on in the night when I popped my head in !
The next day, Matty nursed a hangover so me, Alex and Marcus decided to have a productive day, head for food and explore some of the local sights on our doorstep. We headed to the local market, a huge place and time to get our haggle on. The key (which I still haven’t mastered at all – because I’m too nice) is to basically laugh at what the stall owner says is the price and undercut by at least half or just walk off, they soon run back. So myself, marcus and Alex fancied getting an under armour T-shirt, we were quoted 300’000 Vietnamese for 1 shirt.. (About £10).. No chance. As soon as we walk off it suddenly gets lower to 200’000, still not good enough we thought. How about a 3 way deal? We walked away with 3 for 450’000 so 150 each and half of what they started at.
With the sun pelting down on us we caught the Rays walking around the city, trying out the local food and drinks.. One thing that continued from Hanoi was the friendliness of the people. Hello’s and waves coming from all angles which is nice to get and not even hellos to try and get us to buy there stuff or go in their Tuk Tuk. The lifestyle still baffles me and how they live, I really don’t know how they do it but got a lot of respect for them. Many families live or work in one room which is there ‘shop’ and goes onto the street. They have a stall set out the front and you look in and see people sleeping or watching TV and not in the greatest of conditions at all and you probably can see why as they’re only selling rice for example and can’t make money at all. Lots of people sleep in the day in front of their shops because they open at 6am and won’t close until midnight just hoping for that one sale and so if you get a shop owner asleep and you want to buy something you just give a sly little cough, they soon wake up and will happily serve you then nod back off haha.
One of the main reasons for going to Ho Chi Minh was to see the Cu Chi tunnels and it didn’t disappoint. What the Vietnamese people went through to avoid the US army as well as their own civil war meant they had to build over 250km of tunnels underground to live, sleep but also use as tactics in the fight of the war.
Here are the pictures I took, it’s hell of a lot tighter than expected and some of the traps set up in place were absolutely brutal but hey they had to protect themselves as they were unable to afford many weapons or bullets.
We also took a slight detour and decided to take advantage of the shooting range on site – we just had too right!? From all the years of playing call of duty on the Xbox and the real deal was right there in front of us. We took 5 shots each other and got nowhere near the target but hey I’ve shot an AK-47 and I loved it.
We continued to indulge in the local delicacies and take in the amazing views from the rooftop bar and I vowed to return at some point. Matty unfortunately left us at this part of the journey to return home whist we caught a bus over the border and to Phnom Penh.
Now we have Cambodia… I’ll save this for my next blog in a few days once it’s all be explored and I’m sat on the plane home all depressed!!