Ho Chi Minh
The border crossing from Cambodia to Vietnam was nothing but eventful. Not only were the seats like coffins in a sauna, but once we made it through customs, some old man arrived at the seat of Chris and I and began shouting for us to move. We thought he want to maybe sit under our seat which we were not too happy about. So the driver intervened and told us to move. “You’re the boss”. The old man popped up our seat and began to take out a bag he had just smuggled across the border. Accessories to smuggling…that’s a new one for the Boys in Green!
Anyway we rolled into Ho Chi Minh City after our 16 hour trek at around 11am and the very moody men went straight to Burger King for some brekkie (staying health conscious and all that). Once checked into the hostel, we wasted no time and headed to the War Museum which was extremely interesting in relation to the Vietnam War. After that we went for a little stroll in the city which was one of the most challenging things known to man. I’ve never seen so many motorbikes in my entire life. You literally just had to go for it and walk across the street not thinking about the thousands of bikes circling around you. After some grub it was back to the ranch and an early night was on the cards.
We were up early the next day for our trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels, which are a set of amazing underground tunnels used by the North Vietnamese army during the war to hide from the South/American forces. The tour itself was pretty decent, apart from one English arse that wouldn’t stop mouthing off the whole time. Shame he didn’t get stuck. While there, we got the chance to crawl through the tunnels, climb into the sniper holes and also fire some guns.
After a little lie in the following day we headed to another market to buy some sunglasses (gotta look good) and walked our arses off to find the Vietnamese Superquinn. Absolute Heaven! After some lunch there we headed back to the hostel, grabbed the bags and hopped on the night bus to Nha Trang on the east coast. The bus was by far the best we’ve been on in Asia!
We arrive in the town at 7am and headed straight to hostel. The hostel itself was very nice but we couldn’t check in until 2pm which was a bit of a pain in the arse to say the least. Once checked in we headed to the beach which consisted of a load of Russians. We hadn’t done our research and apparently it is now THE place to go for Russians on holiday. After a quick kick around we grabbed some dinner and went out for a few beers at the local place. It was quite a tame night until it kicked off towards the end when a bunch of Russian lads started beating the holy bejaysus out of each other. Glasses were smashed, baseball bats appeared and not one security guard was in sight. Needless to say we scarpered fairly pronto as we couldn’t risk getting any injuries to our money makers…aka our faces.
The following day we just chillaxed on the beach for the day as we gathered it would be the safest place to be away from the agro heads! In the evening we headed for some Indian food which without doubt was the best food I’ve had in Asia bar none. We absolutely stuffed ourselves for €5 and waddled back to the hotel for an early one.
The next morning we checked out and booked our bus that evening to Hoi An further up the coast. To be honest we were delighted to be getting out of the town. Apart from the class waterpark it was just full of agro lads. All the best!
We rolled into Hoi An at 7am and got a shuttle bus directly to our hostel which was handy enough. The hostel was fairly decent and we tucked into the best buffet breakfast we have had in months. Afterwards as we waited to check in we went for a walk down to the central market and around the town itself, which is extremely picturesque (sounds like a love poem). A little midday nap was on the cards as we were wrecked, then rented some bicycles for the afternoon to go see a bit more of the town. En route I fixed my fairly wrecked bag for the grand price of €0.30. Result!
In the evening Sam and I headed off in search of a game of footy and came across what we thought were a group of 8 year olds. They turned out to be 15-20 years of age. They seriously need their veggies! After an hour or so we were off for some food and evening pool before hitting the best bar in town. Sure it could have been the George in Dublin. Not a woman in sight! So instead we hit the pool table and managed to go on a winning streak of 10 games much to the annoyance of everyone else in the bar. We hopped on some mopeds and hit the hay not long after.
We arrived in Hanoi again at 7am and hoped in a taxi to the hostel. We killed a few hours playing pool and then checked in. Sam and I again decided to go in search of a game of football with the locals which turned out to be one of the most surreal situations of the trip. The taxi man drove over a huge bridge in the city and dropped us mid-way and told us to go down the stairs and trek through a jungle island for 10 minutes and eventually we would come across a pitch. After 5 minutes we began to notice something in the distance. Yes indeed a pitch…and yes with locals playing football. “But wait a second…are they in the nip?!”. As we drew level with the pitch our worst fears were realise. They were all bleeding naked! As Sam and I were beginning to get our kit off to join the game a diseased looking dog began running over the pitch in hunt of the white lads. Picking up our belongings we absolutely sprinted down the island and back to the bridge much to the amusements of the locals. Gutted we got no game. It would have brought a new meaning to the term “Big man up front”.
We had a relatively easy night by our standards that night as we had booked the Ha Long Bay trip for the following morning.
Ha Long Bay
We were up again circa 6am, wolfed down some scrambled eggs and hoped on the bus along with 70 other backpackers for 2 night of utter madness. 2 hours later we arrived at the port, took a short speed boat across to our main boat where we would stay for the first night. The boat itself was better equipped than some hostels! We kicked off with a few beers on deck along with lunch and in the afternoon did some kayaking around some amazing caves. After some dinner the beers kept on rolling and we met a good crew of Irish and English lads, including the infamous Mike. The night itself was nothing too wild and ended around 3am.
We arose at 7am broken men...but that didn’t stop the party continuing. On the boat back we kept the party rolling with some One Direction tunes and once we made it back to the hostel in Hanoi we headed to the nearest karaoke bar to sing…well, you can imagine what. And what a performance we put it!
After the three days of cultural activities, we were very tired men the following day and managed to check out on time and book our bus to Laos for that evening. We even managed to get the visa photos taken and an Irish dancing video done. Talk about productivity! At 5pm we hoped on the bus and bid goodbye to the crew we had assembled in Vietnam and we were on our way, trapped like sardines in the back row. It is important to add that Sam made an early morning disappearance to Thailand without a goodbye to 2 of the BIG, which was tough to get over. But we move on.
To be honest Vietnam really surprised us. We had not expected the local people to be so friendly, welcoming and interested in where we came from. The country itself is extremely interesting and picturesque. If we could go again (and with a serious AIB loan) we would definitely recommend biking the whole country. Just wear your helmet! Big thanks to all the locals we met who made it so easy to travel around and also all the backpackers with whom we shared some serious craic.
Off to Laos,