Thursday, April 18, 2013

xin chao

Yes, I know, it has been a while since the last post - thank you for your patience. Here is a new one, another desperate effort, trying to summarize the countless experiences of the past days... I shall start with a nice picture, to make you all jealous:
What you can see is Ostres Beach, close to Sihanoukville, Cambodia and our boat, on which we left soon after to a island and snorkeling tour. Sihanoukville was our last stop in Cambodia, before heading to Vietnamese boarder. To sum it up in brief; don't stay there. If you want to see beaches and enjoy remote sandbanks, you should rather go directly on one of the islands (e.g. Koh Rong). Sihanoukville left an unsympathic impression on us, weird people from all over the world come here to party, although nothing really makes you feel like party. As the weather was not solely delightful either, we soon decided to take a Bus towards Ha Tien, Vietnam.
The border-crossing procedure was quite an event as well, we were measured our temperature and then had to pay 1 Dollar each (of corse its one dollaa), as our temparatures (both 36.5 degrees celcius) were apparently too high for Vietnamese standards. Once in Ha Tien, funny hotel names like the one in the picture remembered us of delicious food experiences during Khmer New Year festives in Sihanoukville. Yes, dog does taste very good, I can only recommend it. Its best with a Cambodian curry like the ''a mok''.
Back to Vietnam; Ha Tien is a very untouristic destination, kids and other people of all age came to us in order to greet us and because they wanted to compare their height with mine. It was very sympathic to have people around who just wanted to talk, and who did not offer you something disturbing for one dollaa.
We had dinner with two old ladies who did not talk a word of english - still, we had a great time and loughed a lot.

The day after we travelled from Ha Tien to Vinh Long, on the Mekong Delta. The bus driver forgot about us and only let us out after we somehow realized that we must have passed Vinh Long. So we ended up once again on the back of two scooters who took us back to Vinh Long downtown. For some 100'000.- Dong they rushed with us to the riverside, where we found a contact for a home stay on the Mekong Delta. By ferry we reached the home of a local family, who rents out some of their rooms as a kind of guesthouse to travellers. Here is what they prepared for us as dinner:

Mmmmh, fishy fishy fresh from the incredibly busy and more or less dirty Mekong.
The next day began for us at 5 am. when we were driven by a ferry to a floating market on the Mekong. To see the river and the surrounding villages awakening in the early morning sun was a remarkable experience of its very own kind. All of this was accompanied by the ''beatiful'' sound of the two-cycle boat engines.

Now we have arrived in scooter-town, Ho Chi Minh City. The town has its very own and special rhythm; its incredibly busy in mornings, days and evenings, but almost dead silent at night. Communism does not allow you to party all night long, unless you pay a fortune to get in one of the newly opened and hyper fancy roof-top clubs. Since we can get plenty of posh-clubbing back home, we preferred to have some Saigon beers on the Bui Vien street, the place where the action happens. Fire-spitting kids, ruthless drivers of any kind of vehicle, grilled-on-the-spot calamaris and angry old women - you have it all, in Bui Vien street. What you can also find there are quite a bunch of backpackers, some of them also willing to sell their motorbike. We talked to many guys and tested quite a number of bikes and could in the end make a good deal (we think). We managed to buy two Honda Win 110cc bikes for a total cost of $600. We will hit the road tomorrow and try to make our way up to Ha Noi within some 2-3 weeks. Biggest challenge will be to get out of Ho Chi Minh... here the streets are full of the typical South-East-Asian scooter madness and almost no street and direction labels can be found. Per day, 40 people die on Vietnamese streets, we will do our best to ride save.

Today we visited the War Remnants Museum in Saigon. After what we saw in the Khmer Rouge Museum in Phnom Penh, we were once more shocked by what we got to see. We both knew more or less what happened in the Vietnam War (1957-1975), but what you get to see in western documentaries and school books is unfortunately a varnished reality. The war crimes conducted here by the French and US Army were of indescribable brutality. Especially the effects of the toxic attacks conducted by the US Air Force, are beyond any measure. Some American visitors were fist posing like roosters outside of the museum, in front of various tanks and airplanes. Once those guys were inside the museum, their false pride subtly gave way to mere feelings of guilt. When we were still in Vinh Long, we saw a second-generation victim of Agent Orange attacks, collecting money for his charity organization - his head was about twice to three times the size of a 'normal' head. Also in the museum, I found the girl in the picture below. She obviously had no clue where she was going, otherwise she surely would have changed her dress code. I think she thought I liked her beauty, when I took the picture. Instead, I liked her dullness.

Now, evening is breaking in and our stomachs are grumbling for some cat. We will see what Saigon has to offer...

Until then, stay tuned, GH.


  1. Remember: the only way to survive in the traffic is driving more arrogantly than the other vehicles!

    1. Coming from an Italian, it take this advice as words of wisdom! You are right, we fought our way out of Ho Chi Minh, without getting run over or running one over... Now: Bao Lac. Cheers