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Xin Chau Viet Nam

Hellooo dear everyone!

Oh my, it has been such a long time since my last update. Its not that I'm not experiencing nice things. On the contrary, I'm only doing fun things and hardly have time (want to make time) to sit down for 2 hours and type this blog! But now I have some time left before Ingeborg is arriving so let me make use of this opportunity and tell you a bit more about beautiful Vietnam!

I booked a 2-day Mekong Delta tour from Pnom Penh to Saigon as I heard so many positive stories about this tour (I think that just might be one of the causes why I experienced this tour with less excitement than all of my 'advisors'. My expectations were too high). We were drove to a town an hour away from P.P. and there we got on the boat that would bring us to Vietnam border. This is actually a fun experience. Imaging cruising on a boat down the Mekong river, docking at immigration for check out and, one minute later, dock again for check in: Welcome in Vietnam! And we continued cruising all the way down to Chau Doc where we would stay for the night. At the Vietnamese border we got a new tourguide Phisan and she would stay with us untill the next morning. It was interesting to see in how many ways the Mekong is used for everyday life: washing. bathing. washing the animals. drinking, cooking, cleaning, fun time, sewer, etc. Later I'd learn that this count for everyone living close to this life vesel of South East Asia. These first 24hours in Vietnam were a relief to us, Cambodia was in so many ways a poor country and seeing streets in tact, nice houses, people working, more than 2 types of vegetables in your dish is such a nice change! My and my sis had the luck that we arrived on Independence Day of Vietnam, april 30. That night our tourguide Phisan suggested to go out for a drink. Eventually, only me and my sister were up for it and this was heaps of fun! Imagine, being in a town that is not visited that much by tourist, standing in their local disco at 9PM (and the place was loaded!), everyone was waving at us and were trying to get a glimpse of Heleen in particular (tall, blond...). This  was definitely a good experience and a fun way to start my travels in Vietnam. After the disco (where they truly had good Vietnamese dance music!) we went to a Karaoke bar where we got a private room. We sang untill we had no voices left (really, my throat was soar next day

Wink
). Here we also met Dong, a friend of Phisan, who I met in Saigon later on as well.

Next day was a true dissapointment. We were promised to get a tour around the mekong and see how locals lived but our new tourguide couldn't speak English and it only lasted for an hour instead of the whole day. At noon we were already on the bus to Saigon. In Saigon we checked in at this very small guesthouse but the owner was such a sweet old lady! and the room was only 7 dollar a nite

Laughing
! Here we met also another Dutch Gijs and with him we went out for a drink later on. He also new a good coffee place close to where we were staying. Next morning we decided to have breakfast there and I can tell ya, that was a nice cup of coffee!!! I'm picky when it comes down to coffee and Asian coffee is not my cup of tea! This afternoon we packed our stuff already coz it was time to fly to Phu Quoc Island for some chillin time! Me and my sis had a great time on this island, chilling, snorkling tour (and yes, I caught a fish for the lunch), some more chilling. The island itself was not that very special. Again, high hopes as everyone was so very enthusiastic about this island but when we arrived it looked rather as a major construction site than a bounty island. Mental note: don't take that many advices from other travelers and just go with the flow!
Tongue out

The last few days we spend in Saigon. We still wanted to do the Cu Chi Tunnel tour and get our mani- and pedicure (so cheap!)! I love Saigon, the city is so vivid! The Cu Chi Tunnels I can definitely recommend to everyone visiting this city. It was very interesting to hear the Vietnamese side of the war story, it amazed me as we westerners learn about the war from the communist perspective but the Vietnamese didn't view it like that at all! Later in the War Renmant museum we learned more about the devastating power of Agent Orange and Napalm. Aweful! We left the museum with a nauseous feeling.

On the 8th of May it was time to say goodbye to my sister. This was a very sad moment. After three weeks of intense travelling together I had to say goodbye knowing that I wouldn't see her for the next 4 months! I decided to leave that night for Da Lat as well. I did meet Dong that night for dinner and we promised to stay in touch! I'm really bad at keeping contact with everyone but I'll try! Da Lat is beautiful by the way! I only stayed there one night as they were hardly any tourist up there and I was in need of some good fun, but the surrounding area is so different to the rest of Vietnam. Nice temperature, green all over, flowers and veggie plantations, hilly, locals who are not paying attention to you but just doing their thing! Love it!

So I decided to leave for Nha Trang that sunday and grant myself some beach time (again). That's when I met Lotte (Dutch) and Monica (Canadian) on the bus. We immediately got along and decided to check in the same hotel. Lotte and I also shared room. We were already setting some baseline rules, such as giving me-time, no hard feelings when I want to continue on my own, etc. but eventually none of us had the urge to continue travelling Vietnam alone.

Laughing
 Nha Trang is a very nice town to chill at a few days. We rented motorbikes, went to a Spa (5 euro's only), chilled on the beach, did a snorkling tour where I got a serenade of one of the tourguides! Ha ha, that was hilarious. The whole tour I can definitely recommend. You'll visit 4 islands and have lunch on the boat. Unfortunately, no fishing was needed for lunch (that was so much fun on Phu Quoc), but we did have a floating bar party. After that, the crew got out their guitar and sang songs in any language we requested. So when I said Dutch they were like: 'Ik heb een potje met vet, al op de tafel gezet...' His pronounciation was actually quite good! Here I was also pulled out of the crowd by the pretty boy of the crew and got my serenade on front of everyone!!! It was about boy totally in love with a girl, but lost his house, job, car so he couldn't offer anything but his love...

As we had similar travelling plans and we got along really well we decided to continue travelling together. Our next stop: Hoi An. I made a promise to myself not to spend a lot of money during this trip on things less necessary. I had only one exception to that rule: My million Dong shopping spree in Hoi An. It was actually more than one million dong eventually!

Tongue out
 I got three pair of shoes, a suit with both skirt and trousers, three blouss (always such a hassle in the netherlands), and two dresses (I can totally recommend our tailorshop: Hi!). Here's when I got my inspiration: some day, I'll book a ticket to Vietnam and go shopping again! You get sooo greedy because there's so many things that you can make and all very beautiful for good prices! I made this calculation in my head and if youre planning to buy quite a lot of things its even cheaper to have your shopping spree in beautiful Hoi An than lets say Amsterdam! Me likey, likey! We eventually stayed 5 days in Hoi An. Most of the time we spent shopping around and doing refittings, but on the fourth day we decided it was time to go cultural. So we decided to do the walking tour suggested by LP and was actually very nice. Its such a pretty riverside town! We also rented motorbikes (you know the horror story already) to see Marble Mountains and China beach. We got lucky again as it was sunday and all the locals came out to the beach (same thing happened in Nha Trang). No one is bothering you and you get the opportunity to observe the way the locals enjoy their sunday beach time. We got some good pictures from this! Then it was time to leave this lovely city behind us and continue our travels to Hue.

Hue is a nice and quiet city in the middle of Vietnam. I must say I expected more of this city as a tourist and therefore we decided to continue our travels very soon. We arrived in the morning and visited the imperial enclosure in the afternoon. At night we arranged our tickets to Hanoi and me and lotte booked a tour to the Phong Nha Caves for the next day. I'm glad I didn't book the tour to DMZ or anything like that coz the stories I heard so far were't that exciting. Phong Nha caves were really cool! The caves are flooded with water so you can experience the caves by boat. Many stalagmites and -tites could be seen. It was very touristy too as they had installed lights for the ambience here and there but I didn't mind. It was a good tour! As we booked bustickets to hanoi we asked if could be dropped somewhere halfway as the bus would pass here anyway. This was possible and yet another great experience. We arrived in this town where hardly, if not any, tourist are. No one is trying to sell you something, talk to you what so ever. Just locals and Lotte and I. Ordering food and not knowing what you get is of course a part of the experience. But the food in Vietnam is really good so I wasn't too worried and, in fact, it was better than most tourist places. Here we also observed that the women are the ones working in Vietnam. Only guys were sitting at foodstalls on the street drinking beer or tea. The women were working hard to serve those men. This is something you'll see a lot in Asia, women working and guys aren't (as much). Fortunately, we got picked up by the bus (that was something we were worried about) and continued our travels to Hanoi.

Hanoi is okay, can't realy recommend to stay here a couple of days hence why we immediately looked around for a halong bay tour and train tickets for Sapa. We found a great tour for Halong Bay which was unfortunately, quite pricey. It was a delux tour and instead of doing some sightseeing on Cat Ba Island we would have been kayaking the whole day through the bay. Yes, you're reading that correctly: would have been. The F*ckers at Sinh Cafe ripped us off putting us on a completely different, standard tour thereby earning 30 dollar a person (for a good complete story about this I'd suggest to see monica's blog: monica-allwhowanderarenotlost.blogspot.com, may section). Eventually, after shedding some tears (that really works here trust me girls!

Wink
), they understood that we were completely unhappy about the situation and that we didn't want to go into the stupid national park but have our kayak tour. So they arranged transport to the hotel where the manager Ba really helped us out. He arranged Kayaks, an early lunch (yes was almost lunch time by now), and arranged a guide for that day. At nite we had karaoke time and Ba joined us singing along. This was truly hilarious. I made a video of him singing Vietnamese songs. I hope I can manage uploading it so you can hear it yourself! Next day we went back to Hanoi and as we were waiting for the train to leave we went back to Sinh Cafe to get a total refund. Of course we didn;t get it, but we made sure they lost some customers! At least some justice...

The last few days before bordering to Laos I spend in Sapa with the girls. Sapa was truly my highlight of Vietnam! Its so amazingly beautiful, almost intoxicating! Rice paddies, rice paddies, rice paddies. They were working the field as we got there as rainy season was about to start which gave us some nice pictures. You'll also see true minority people up here. I've seen many offerings by tourist agencies to meet minority villages and these always turn out to be a dissapointment as they all look the same as any other Vietnamese, but here you can really see the difference. Their faces have a different contour and they are way smaller, I think about 1.50meters. and their clothing is sooo very cute! You prob think now, yes they wear that for the tourist but that's not true! They wear the outfits too when they are working the field or just in their houses. I do think that they received the incentive to not modernise their clothing so tourism would keep on coming, but still you can tell its their everyday outfit. The first day we just chilled around town and at our balcony at the Lotus Hotel (can totally recommend this hotel). We observed the everyday life of the locals. For instance, we saw this cute little boy carrying around his sibling on his back. He must have been younger than 5 and carrying around a huge responsibility already! He was playing with Lotte and Monica but and at a certain point he lost his balans and almost fell! But instead of falling on his back where he held his sibling he made sure he was only hurting himself. Wow, imagine a western child thinking like that... I don't know any! For the next few days we rented motorbikes to explore the area. It was such an amazing experience. We went to see, villages, waterfalls, and caves but we couldn't find them and instead found a great deserted mountain road with no tourist at all! Unfortunately, Monica had to leave us already on that second day. We did arranged a last massage together in Sapa town (thank you Monica!) and then it was time to say our goodbyes. So weird when you are travelling together for two weeks 24/7 and then one person has to leave the group. I myself left a couple of days later for Laos. It was said to say goodbye to Lotte.

Me and the girls had good fun, laughter, sereous conversations, some sad moments too and I learned a lot from them. We were all travelling for the same reasons which made them very good travelling partners. I'm sure I'm going to miss them heaps! Vietnam was a great country to travel in, friendly people and many amazing sites. I might come back some day as I have the feeling that I left so many things unexplored.

On the bus to Dien Bien Phu I found out that everyone in that minivan was heading for Laos. I was relieved as there were some negative blogs about this border crossing (which is open now for only 5 months) with Laos online. Next update will be about amazing Laos. My favourite country so far. I hope to bring it to you soon.

Hugs & kisses

--Suzanne

Reacties

Reacties

montgomerydonna@hotmail.com

Suzanne

Thanks for the update, what a trip!!!!! Thanks for keeping in touch, you have motivated the 'travel bug' in me!

From your Canadian ex-roomate!
Donna

tante Marian

Hey nichtje van me !!


Jemig Suus wat een verhaal weer !!
Leuk om weer wat van je te horen . Je maakt nogal wat mee. Wat een belevenis. Ik wist niet dat Heleen maar liefst 3 weken met en bij je heeft doorgebracht en het zal best emotioneel zijn geweest het afscheid.
Geweldig je verhalen. enne... wie is Gijs ???
Hoop gauw weer wat van je te horen !

tante Marian

Bijna vergeten!!!


Hele fijne tijd daar nog


Doei doei

Dikke knuf tante Marian

Marloes

Ik duik zo m'n bed in om morgen weer aan de 40-urige werkweek te beginnen en ik moet je zeggen dat jouw reisverhaal mij weer veel heimwee bezorgt... 'die goeie ouwe tijd'... Geniet meis, even dubbel zo hard als favour voor mij! :) X

Thijs

Hey Suzanne,

haha wat een verhaal :P Lijkt wel op een master thesis he (qua omvang) ^^ coole verhalen!
Have fun daar!

Grts

Thijs

olly

Yoooh heyie Vietam chicky can you digg- it still there poepske??!!
Lekker warm daar zeker??
Hier zwaar zomer in Amsterdam: Ben op zandvoort geweest en tuf lekker in tram 12 enz.
Neem je voor mij een Boa constrictor mee?? (vast voor de winter als sjaal) -grapje- hehehehe
Fax je ff naar Amsterdam als je tijd hebt op 020 7795500
Groetjes van Karel en kakel/olly Dikke kus

Olly

Hey charliegirl!!! liefs van mij

Charlie

Hey Darling Soesan!

Dus afscheid moeten nemen van Heleen.... Was vast niet leuk. Ik heb met Heleen op terras gezeten bij de kosterij en al een deel van jullie verhalen gehoord. Spannend allemaal hoor! Nu ook weer. Ik vind het maar knap van je!!! Toppertje van mij!
Dus nu Ingeborg bij je, ook heel gezellig! Ben je weer lekker saampjes en kun je samen dingen exploren ;)
Enne.... Die jurkjes? Als je echt een te gek jurkje tegenkomt... Denk dan maar aan je niet travelsis Charlie :-) hahaha grapje! Heeeeeel veeeeeel plezier! en pas goed op jezelf!!! Denk veeel aan je!!

Dikke dikke dikke dikste kus Charlie

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