Ho Chi Minh, Hue and Hanoi...anywhere else with an H?
10.07.2012 - 15.07.2012 38 °C
So here I am writing from the only air conditioned room at the volunteers dorm.
It's a far cry away from the creature comforts of home or any hotel or hostel I have stayed at. I would go as far as saying its the most basic place I have ever seen (including the bunk rooms at anglesea slsc).
Sleeping means spooning a fan in your bunk bed to stay cool, as there are 4 in the room and it gets to a low outside of 30C.
Well I will get back to the volunteering shortly...
I have made my way from south to north over the last week from Ho Chi Minh to Hue to Hanoi.
In Ho Chi Minh I toured the cu chi tunnels, they were fascinating and I cannot believe that they were so small with intricate routes and even air holes disguised in ant hills. It was laid out well and enabled lots of groups to go through without feeling overwhelmed.
I returned that afternoon beyond excited for my first motorbike experience. There I was, in my room, pumping myself up to go for this amazing ride through such a busy city (singing the eye of the tiger in my head) when I got a phonecall...no bike riding tour tonight! It was cancelled. As much as I liked my room in HCMC its windowless nature had meant I didn't realize it was moonsoonaly raining outside...I was devastated (eye of the tiger started to fade into a sad melody).
The next day it was on the road to Hue from Ho Chi Minh.
I arrived in Hue feeling pretty good about my trip and my ability to stay ontop of a scam, but this was soon about to change.
I had read all about these great shuttle buses in the airport on my way to Hue, how they drop you at your hotel, and they are only $2.50 and are fantastic. So disembarking on the plane I knew what needed to be done! Hello shuttle bus. I merrily payed my money, showed the location of my hotel and CONFIRMED that I would be dropped at my hotel...well to my disbelief here i was, standing with my backpack and bag in the middle of a 5 way interesction being greeted by many taxis, motorbikes and cyclos. I wasn't having any of it...you've taken my money but you'll never take my freedooooommmmmmmmm. So there I was, 35C carrying a 18kg backpack through the street of Hue. I eventually got to my hotel after some good advice from a cameras store worker, and by the look on the staffs faces I must have been about to burst into flames. I can only imagine my face was as red as having 2 glasses of wine after being sunburnt.
So I was in my room and opened my curtains to the most amazing view...it was well worth it!
The next day I decided to walk to the citadel. It was the old imperial city that is being rebuilt after being ravaged by war and natural disasters. It's a beautifully big walled city with some amazing buildings and collections. It was a couple of kms walk but was beautiful, crossing the perfume river a couple of times to go over and come back.
After a long day of walking I did what was only right and ate plenty of vietnamese food and had a couple of beers before retiring to bed.
I had booked a motorbike tour of the surrounding area the next day and was keen to be up and ready for my 8am pickup.
There I was, ready to go on the motorbike...I was even so prepared to put my hair in a low braid so it could be helmet ready!!!
Off I went with my guide to visit the surrounding tombs and pagodas.
Khai Dinh tomb was by far my favourite. It was in the mountains and had the most amazing ornate mosaics on it. Super beautiful.
It's funny though because as much as I was enjoying my tour (especially the motorbike only paths down winding dirt alleyways) it seemed people were enjoying me touring far more. I sat for at least 6 different groups of photos, I cannot imagine what these people say when they get back to their homes and show pictures of this white brunette to all their friends. I wonder if the give me a name when they are showing the photos? One time I had to sit while doing up my shoelaces for 5 different members of a Japanese family! Hahaha.
The motorbike was awesome, the bike itself was really spacious and nice, and I always felt safe with my driver. After a day of pagodas and tombs we shared some fantastic food together and then it was back to the hotel.
Hue was lovely and had a relaxed feeling after the manic natural of HCMC. I had wished to get down to Hoi An but i didn't have enough time, I will need to save it for the next trip.
Next it was onto Hanoi - I arrived yesterday.
I am working with an organization called VPV. I am in a office space that takes up 3 floors that is made up of the offices, dorms, kitchen and bathrooms. The place is a little under the weather. Haha. There are quite a lot of people here (I think about 15 in total) with two other girls doing my program. There are people from all over the world. In my room there is a girl from sweden, another from hong kong and another from Ireland. Every time I travel I am reminded of how limited my knowledge of other languages is with almost everyone here speaking at least 2 languages.
The program I am on is for helping take care of children with disabilities. One of the girls here has just finished a month placement there and said it was challenging but enjoyable....
That is about all from here, Internet is patchy so expect the next update in a while.
All journeys have a secret destination of which the traveler is unaware - Martin Buber