Feb
11
2013

Good morning Vietnam!

Ok so before I start with Vietnam, I just want to let you know I have upgraded my blog site to get rid of a few bugs and to allow me to add video to future posts (as per Dan’s Vine request). So if anyone is experiencing any issues, it’s worth pressing the CTRL and F5 buttons on your keyboard to make sure you are getting the latest pages from the server. Also, if the videos don’t work for some people, let me know as it’s still a bit experimental.

I have only added 2 videos to previous posts (links below), so don’t feel you need to revisit everything blog post looking for videos, as you will only be disappointed.

Sri Lanka - The Hill Country
India - Punjab

So, Vietnam... best place in Asia we’ve been so far! We have found the Vietnamese to be a friendly, welcoming lot who love to drink (heavily) and eat at really random times of the day. There is no real breakfast, lunch and dinner times here, if they’re hungry, they’ll eat! The scenery has been breath-taking which you will see below and the driving is no crazier than other Asia countries.

However, Vietnam is the only real place we have seen crime while being away and we have been warned by many other travellers to be extra careful with our bags while out and about. While in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC – the old name for Saigon) we saw a few motorbikes riding really close to women and grabbing their bags and then riding away. In one particular incident, the girl had her bag over her opposite shoulder, so when they grabbed it and rode off, she just got dragged into the road until they let go. I went over to see if she was uninjured, which she was, just a little shaken up.

So, our timing has been impeccable as always and we arrived in HCMC the day before New Year’s Eve. As Vietnam share the same new years as China and Korea, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to celebrate with them. The major downside was that the whole country pretty much closed down for 7 days after so not much was open and worth visiting while we were in HCMC. Bummer! Still there were quite a few bars and restaurants open and the Vietnamese food was quite similar to Thai food so both Abby and I were in our element.

Also grabbed a picture of the overhead power cables as I’m sure Nige would enjoy working on these!

On New Years’s Eve, we met up with a load of guys and girls from the USA, Australia and London so ended up just hanging out with them playing drinking games for most of the night. I’ve noticed it seems to be the international standard now to only be allowed to drink with your left hand, and if caught drinking from your right, you have to drink up. I introduced the Aussies and Yanks (and also the Londoners) to the game I’ve been playing for most of my life, first introduced by my good mate ‘Bully’ on one of our Quid’s In nights out in the George. The game pretty much has the same outcome but the main difference is as follows. When the minute hand is on the right hand side of your watch, you drink with your right hand and when the minute hand is on the left, you drink with your left. Simple really! Nobody dares take a swig around half past or o’clock as it’s just not worth it! It was a good night as hardly anyone was wearing a watch.

Oh I must also mention we weren’t allowed to say the words ‘TEN’ or ‘MINE’ and the consequence of saying either of these was 10 press-ups regardless of where you were or traffic conditions. Abby turned out to be really bad at this part of the game and everyone was really impressed by the number of press-ups she did during the night in the middle of the road. And none of those girly press-ups either! Well done love!

So New Year’s Eve was pretty mental, and I think all of HCMC’s 7.5 million motorbikes were out on the streets at the same time. It made quite a sight!

Abby also let me buy a motorbike while in HCMC and I picked up a little Honda Win 100cc for just over six million Dong. We planned to copy Top Gear and drive it up north saving on bus and train costs. This turned out to be a great idea as we saw some of the amazing parts of Vietnam we wouldn’t have got to see and also there wasn’t many trains or buses running (if any) because of the new year holiday. I’m sure we both looked like Harry and Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber!

We managed to find a shop that sold decent helmets although by UK standards they were still quite illegal but I felt better than just the baseball cap style the local’s wear. So having got all geared up, we headed north with no road maps as there were no shops open to buy any! The poor bike did very well given its severe lack of power and although it was carrying around 3.5 people in weight, it didn’t struggle that much.

The ride out of HCMC was crazy. We left early hoping the traffic would be quite but it was just mental and we found that to be the case all times of the day! Abby took about 30 minutes to get into it and from then on she loved it which surprised me. She’s even considering letting me have one now when we get home.

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