A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: radish

Long time ago, already

Did it really even happen?

Just a short note - most of you won't read this, but...

Been home for nearly 2 weeks. And it feels like the trip didn't happen. I'm still being asked by people how the trip was - I'll be having breakfast with my brother this morning and I'm sure it will be a main topic discussed, but it feels so distant already. I feel like I'm explaining a tv show or movie I saw instead of something I experienced. I do, however, get a dreamy look in my eyes and a warm glow when I talk about it, so the magic is not gone. It just ended so easily.

I've posted most of my pictures on flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/radishranch/
Amy is sending me hers and I'll put those there too. So far I only have them divided into 2 categories - Vietnam and Thailand. I have the ability to put notes on every picture and explain what you see, and I may get to that some day, or I will organize them better, but for those of you who want to see some pictures now, go there and check them out. You will notice lots of pictures of dogs. Amy and I decided the stray dog population in both countries was fascinating and started trying to document every one we saw (an impossible feat - there are so many). I don't know how these dogs manage daily life in the hot hot weather having to scrounge for every meal. Most of the time the dogs were seen just lying on the ground in a bit of shade. They always looked thirsty, tired, and dirty. And I loved all of them.

Last thoughts about the trip - the best thing was spending time with Amy. She and I have been friends for a LONG time, and our time spent together has dwindled in recent years. She and I both had horrible things happen in our lives this past year, and it was nice to get away. We did discuss our feelings, sorrows, etc, but the new experiences we had lessened our heartbreak a bit. And for 2 girls who've never been to Asia, and really had very little help in planning for this trip - I think we did amazingly well. We didn't get lost or in trouble. We didn't get robbed or mugged. We didn't get sick. We didn't run out of money (yes, the ATM machine did eat my card on our last day in Vietnam...). And most importantly, we didn't end up hating each other. Sure, there were times of stress - being tired, hot, hungry makes one cranky, but overall, I think the trip was an outrageous success. And I want to thank Amy for making it all possible. She helped me financially, emotionally and spiritually, and for that I will always be grateful.

Posted by radish 05:48 Comments (2)

stupid taxi driver

i had to smack him

Amy just recently referred to a taxi driver story that I don't think we talked about so I will just briefly explain it -
At the train station in Da Nang, we were trying to share a ride with 2 dutch? guys to Hoi An, but the cars are too small to fit any more than 2 people with luggage, so in the confusion, we ended up at another taxi and got in. We assumed that since the meter was on in the car, we would pay a fair price, but this didn't happen. Our driver took the slowest, longest way possible and drove no more than 35mph, I swear. I started looking at him through the rear view mirror and realized that he was actually falling asleep as he was driving. He did things like open the windows and wash his face and move his arms weirdly to keep awake, but his eyes kept closing, so I had to wake him up! Anyway, he charged us too much, tried to take us to Hotel we didn't want to go to and we just didn't like him. Sour taste left in the mouth after this experience. We know we are partly to blame, but nevertheless - you are a jerk, taxi driver!

Posted by radish 21:40 Archived in Vietnam Tagged transportation Comments (5)

I haven't read the news for weeks!

sunny

It's hot and sunny today, so Amy and I are taking a break in an internet "cafe" (really, just a room with old computers) for a bit. We've been walking around this morning checking out fabric shops, a food market (vietnamese coffee is in a bag ready to come home with me) and an artisan workshop. Not sure what the rest of the day holds for us - we may actually be fitted for a piece of clothing, as this is the best place in Vietnam for that sort of thing. And, there's a huge delicious sounding beach not far away, so we may rent bicycles and go there too.
hoi_an_3.jpg
hoi_an_2.jpg
We are staying in the old part of Hoi An, and the streets are so narrow that automobiles are not allowed on the streets! That is SUCH a nice feature, and quite opposite of what we've become accustomed to. Crossing the streets in both Thailand and Vietnam is like playing Russian Roulette (not that bad, really), and although Amy and I are fantastic at dodging cars now, its nice not to have to. If anybody wants to challenge us to a game of Frogger when we get home, do it. You'll be shamed!

Like I said yesterday, we decided to extend our time in Hoi An by one day. We purchased a train ticket from here to Ho Chi Minh City (Sai Gon) and should have boarded the train already, but instead we purchased a plane ticket which leaves tomorrow evening instead. So, yes, we wasted money, but we didn't like the train much at all - and it takes 13 hours by train and only 1 hour by plane...It cost $60 which we decided was ok. Speaking of the train - here's the scoop about that. It was pretty unsavory. I adore train travel and was very excited about being able to watch Vietnam go by while relaxing and perhaps sipping coffee. That didn't happen, really. I mentioned Jason and Cait - they were (are) wonderful and they saved us from going crazy. We were cramped up in a tiny room that barely fit the 4 beds inside of it. The train had no observation car, no dining car, no anything-car. We were trapped either in our room or in the cars' aisle ways. And, really, it was quite dingy. They brought us "dinner" at around 9pm but it looked just awful, like gruel (I don't know what that looks like, but if I had to guess..). And breakfast was ramen noodles (ok). Amy and I thought ahead and brought sandwiches for dinner, but the bread had turned hard before we ate them. While trying to eat them, we actually hit heads because of the strength we had to use to bite them! And, the bathrooms...not so bad, overall, but in the morning - so bad.. yikes.
vietnam_train_3.jpg

About the countryside that we did see - simply beautiful. We passed through villages and the ocean and mountains. Lovely lovely. Its so interesting to see how simply people live. Makes me feel like a glutton.

Tomorrow - Ho Chi Minh City, and we stay for 2 nights then off to Singapore for less than 24 hours and then home. It's coming so quickly. I will be sad to leave here. Of course home is home, but I'm really enjoying my time away!

And, mom - yes we took separate motorbikes to the train station! Ha.

And Momi - say what?! about your broken leg??????????????????????

Posted by radish 21:00 Archived in Vietnam Tagged train_travel Comments (11)

bumps in the night mean a bandage on the head

hopefully

overcast

We took the night train from Ha Noi to Da Nang and arrived around noon today. After being brought to the WRONG train station by a taxi arranged by our hotel, we were rushed by motorbike to the RIGHT train station, luggage and all. I thought it would be horrifying to ride on a motorbike in the middle of all the traffic we keep talking about, but it was actually A BLAST and wish that I had taken more rides! YIKES!! but totally fun--and probably seriously dangerous, but these people know what they are doing.
train_vietnam.jpg
Anyway, so we board the train and find that we are roommates (our soft berth had room for 4) were 2 Aussies named Jason and Cait. They were the very very very best roommates we could have asked for. We drank warm beer together and while we were chatting, and while Cait was on her way to the water closet (as they call it here) we felt quite a thud and then the brakes squealed the train to a quick and jerky stop. Turns out the train actually hit a motorbike. We were all horrified but looking out the window revealed a non-smashed bike being pulled away from the train and a man with a white bandage on his head. Now, we don't know if the scenario is really that simple - that we just nicked the bike and everybody is ok - but, that's what we are choosing to believe. There are things that don't match that scenario, such as the swiftness of the placement of the bandage on the head, and the fact that we felt the bump all the way back in the 10th car...We just don't really want to think about those things. (Plus, if it had been serious, it seems that the train would have had to wait around much longer than the 15 minutes that we were stopped, right? Unless this is a common occurence.. Enough!)train_vietnam2.jpg

Anyway, we are now in Hoi An, a much quainter town than Ha Noi.
Smaller, quieter.
IMG_1115.jpgWe ate the best food ever this afternoon - Cao Lao (a dish special to this area because the water comes from a well here) and the most fantastic fried wontons ever. Seriously. Holy moly!
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Time is running out - more later. And, Jase and Cait, if you are reading this, we stayed in Hoi An one extra day so find us at Vinh Hung 1 on Tran Phu road. We should drink some COLD beer together on Friday if possible!

Posted by radish 03:12 Archived in Vietnam Comments (5)

Traffic wherever you are is nothing like it is here

I promise...

We arrived savely in Ha Noi yesterday afternoon. Our taxi ride from the airport to the hotel (Golden Sun Hotel) was exciting to say the least. Closer to the airport, it was interesting to see stray cows and big bulls all over the place - some were being led by a man or woman on a trail near the road, others were just wherever they chose to be. As we got closer to Ha Noi, traffic became crazy. The streets are FULL of cars, motorbikes, and bicycles - all swerving around each other, seemingly in chaos, yet nobody was killed. Everybody, aside from the bicyclists - who are not riding sleek road bikes, but rather just ordinary bikes - uses their horns excessively. It is the craziest thing I've seen. The very very few traffic lights are ignored by at least half of the road population, and lanes are non-existent. We tried to take pictures, but pictures couldn't do justice to that scene.

Today, we will visit Halong Bay. It will be an all day affair. We will write about that later, I'm sure.

And, I'll just mention that our last night in Bangkok, we saw a traditional Thai puppet theater production. The previous night, Amy and I went to the night market and got hungry. We, unknowingly, decided to eat at the place where these productions take place and Amy happened to win tickets to a show (900 baht/$30 dollar value). We waffled about going because, come on, its puppets, but we went, and it was spectacular.

Ok - there's plenty more to write, but its time to eat some pho.

Posted by radish 17:17 Archived in Vietnam Comments (11)

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