Vietnam (April 3-April 10)

And it's one two three what are we fighting for, don't ask me I don't give a damn, next stop is Vietnam...

Hoi An (4-5 April)

As soon as I could, I got out of Danang. It was another big ugly city and I really wanted to just go to the beach. So another (scary) motorcycle ride and one more bus ride (only 45 mins! how nice is that?) got me to a small town called Hoi An, which is situated 5 km from the beach. I checked into a hotel which was quite nice considering the price and the amenities. For 7 dollars you get hot water, a bath, a TV and two huge beds. That is a lot of money to spend compared to say, Thailand, but in Thailand for about 4-5 dollars, you get a crappy toilet (sometimes shared) in a semi-smelly room. So this was like the Ritz Carlton to me!

First stop was the beach, for which I rented a bicycle and rode down to. It is about a 5 km ride which is not too bad, but the people in Vietnam drive like madmen (and women). Most people ride motorcycles and bicycles and the few cars that come through are honking and honking and passing in the middle, on the left, on the right... Another funny thing is that they carry everything on their bikes. So I am pedalling along next to...bananas, chickens, 4 people on one bike (the most I have seen is 5!), marquis, you name it! honk, honk, quack, quack...

Ahh the beach. The only problem is that there are people constantly trying to sell you something. If you talk to them at all, even to say "no thanks" they squat down next to you and make themselves at home. Not that that is so bad, but I really go to the beach to relax and read my book and it is hard for me to adjust to people trying to sell me stuff all the time. I don't like shopping and so when I want something I get in and out of the store asap. All this pressing me to buy something is not only quite foreign to my culture but to my own personal shopping style as well. I did meet a really nice lady who sat and chatted with me for a while however. But then in the end even she tried the same old lines... (she has a baby, she hasn't sold anything today, her boss is going to be upset, if I buy it will bring her good luck....) Games, games!!

The next day I went to the ruins of My Son, which are very old but have mostly been destroyed in the war (here it is called the "American War"). It was very cool, except after a while all the moss covered brick and stone structures start to look the same... It was also VERY hot that day; it was about 35 degrees C (95F).. I was pouring down sweat! I couldn't even hold my camera as my hands were so slippery! When we got back to Hoi An, I went to the beach again and then boarded an overnight bus (only 12 hrs..seems so nice now) to Nha Trang.

Nha Trang (6 April)

Ohmygod!! I have been violated! I was sitting on the beach at Nha Trang, reading my book, minding my own business, when... this man strode up to me and bent down and grabbed me in the crotch and walked away. I couldn't bring myself to do anything but just sit there, stunned, with my mouth open, trying not to look at him walking off but amazed at the nerve of him!!

Then I lie back down and start reading my book and he walks back up to me holding a beer in his hand as if it were a truce offering or some sort. Pffft. I smacked him with my book and shooed him off.. I still couldn't believe that had actually happened. I still can't!

Then four annoying little boys kept sitting right next to me and messing with my towel, my water, my hair, my book....so finally I decided that this beach just wasn't meant to be and I left...

Dalat/ Bus ride Dalat-Saigon (8 April)

Uunnnnnghhh...another crappy bus ride.

But first - Dalat is very beautiful; It is up in the mountains (seems very high, but I think they are only 1000 M - 3000 ft) and there are waterfalls and caves and hiking. The town of Dalat is easy to walk around and there is a lake and a really cool market. We walked around the market (I met a few people on the bus) and bought all kinds of weird things. They have the weirdest fruits... dragon fruits, jackfruits, custard apples... and more that I don't know what they even are. (I did take photos and will post later). They also have a great section with meats, one with flour etc, one with vegetables, one with herbs and spices... they even had a whole section with tofu and fake meats!! I love it! I learned how to say vegetarian right away - "chay". And I thought it would be hard to find "chay" food in Vietnam but it isn't.

So... the bus ride. I decided to go from Dalat to Saigon (which leaves at 7:30 am and gets into Saigon at 2 pm). Then I changed my mind and decided to go to a beach town called Mui Ne. What the tour operator told me was that I could take the bus to Mui Ne, arrive in Mui Ne around 2 and then another bus would leave for Saigon at 1 am arriving there at 6 am. That sounded great to me; I could have one more day on the beach and then still have a whole day in Saigon. I was a little worried about the 1 a.m. bus however. So I made him double check to make sure that it was going to be coming the next day. He called someone and apparently everything was fine.

The next day I got to Mui Ne and asked the tour operator there if I could leave my stuff with him until the 1 am bus... and he said "there is no 1 am bus. The only bus is at 2 pm" which was right at that moment. So... I had to get BACK on the bus and ride it for another 6 hours when I could have just taken the bus from Dalat and been there by now. I was very annoyed. AND I had to pay an extra charge for the next bus.

I took out my anger on the hotel operator in Saigon. She was so shrill and she kept yelling at me about taking off my shoes "YOU! shoes OFF!" and about leaving my key with her "YOU! KEY! KEY!" and about leaving my passport with her "YOU! PASSPORT or PAY!" and trying to sell me a tour for the next day in Saigon "I give discount!" I finally just snapped, yelled at her and went to bed...

Then I found another hotel for tonight and bought my tour from a much friendlier person...

I am ready to leave now.

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) (9 April)

Another big city. Some 10 Million people here. Although they do have a great market with fabulous vegetarian food! They make every kind of fake meat you can imagine. And it looks like real meat. In fact, the "vegetarian lamb curry" in Singapore was probably in fact, vegetarian, after all. Morning Star Farms, eat your heart out!
I had a near miss with a pick pocket today. She seemed like such a harmless old lady.. I opened my bag to get out a candy and accidentally left it a little open. I felt someone behind me jostle me and I whipped around but she was already crossing the street. I checked my bag, found it open and so checked to make sure everything was there. As far as I can tell, the only thing she got was the candy, which had been right on the top. Whew! I felt very lucky but also a bit scared after that. I kept watching my back and checking my bag to make sure it was closed all the way. Sneaky old lady! I hope she enjoys the candy!