Day 2 down, 6 months to go!
09.07.2012 32 °C
So here I am, sitting at my lovely computer that is provided by my ridiculously cheap hotel in HCMC.
I can't believe my last blog entry was in February, but it really does feel like I have been planning this trip for eternity, well I guess it has been in the back of my head for a long time.
So while everything didn't turn out quite as I planned from my initial blog, I do live by the philosophy that everything happens for a reason, and I think if Camp America had come off I wouldn't be able to get to London in time to see Rowie at the Olympics which would have been rather tragic.
It is funny that all the stuff started for Camp America back in October last year, and the day after final cutoff for getting into a program...and the day I committed to this trip Camp America called me with a place. Sometimes the world does play some cruel jokes on you. Hahaha.
Ok...now lets get this party started.
Sunday I arrive at Melbourne Airport after packing up my life in Melbourne (albeit the washing still in the washing machine...sorry mum) and am ready and raring to go on the plane after a moment of panic the day before...and the plane is delayed. Haha.
While in the airport I became a millionaire as quickly as my mind has always desired...and with as much effort as I have desired, becoming a Vietnamese millionaire, and I certainly feel like it here.
Eventually it got going and we were in the air. My seatmate was a man with a particularly strong odour...oh and he chewed with his mouth open. None of this dampened my spirits (it did drain the battery of my iPod though trying to cover up the sound of chewing), I arrived in Singapore to be greeted by an air conditioned airport terminal that was still warmer than Melbourne has felt in months.
After a short layover in Singapore it was onto the quick 1 1/2 hour flight to Ho Chi Minh. By this point I was trying to fashion my bobby pins into little toothpicks to hold my eyes open. It was painful so I took them out and just convinced myself that I wasn't that tired.
Off the plane I was hit by the kind of security and border control that I have seen crossing the NSW/VIC border. Lets just say they weren't too concerned what I was bringing in, as long as it was some cash to boost the economy.
I quickly got a taxi voucher and jumped in a cab to take me to the hotel.
While I was feeling sleepy from the flight I quickly woke up when I got in the cab, how I am not the witness to at least 30 culpable driving charges I will never know. There was a bump here and there as scooters scrapped the side of the taxi, and all I could think was "how cool is it that the taxi has a fold down TV in it".
So I arrived at my $25AUD a night PALACE. Seriously, I get breakfast cooked for me every morning, my room has its own computer and tv, my own bathroom, air conditioner and safe. Its all happening here! I will post some photos of it when I get a chance. Its pretty phenomenal what money gets you over here. It really does give you an understanding of the poverty that people must be under.
Today I did a lot of walking around, I got lost about 3 times and had to ask the workers at two hotels and KFC for directions. Haha, anything to avoid getting carted around in one of those stupid bike things.
I went to the main markets, the war museum, Notre Dame cathedral, walked the streets and my feet are burning as a result.
I wanted to go to the Reunification Palace, which I saw from the front, but RUDELY it was closed for the next two days. Supposedly the interior is phenomenal...SIGH.
I got caught in a large rain storm so I thought that was time to get lunch and have a beer, which hit the spot, for the expensive cost of $4.
It didn't let up for quite a while which meant I got stuck with this American guy (no offence to my american friends, you know I love you) - seriously though, this jerk could have been from anywhere, but he was from NYC and he spent most of the time I was sitting eating lunch telling me that he came to Vietnam on a whim, and he doesn't like it and he is not going to leave HCMC because he can't imagine anything else is worth seeing (even after I told him Ha Long bay is on the 7 natural wonders of the world list). He also talked about how he is so rich and he loves spending money and that he came here with two friends (both of which were mysteriously not there...they clearly learnt quicker than I did), he also spent time telling me how well travelled he was (but didn't know where Malaysia was and couldn't remember if he had heard of it before)..............all in all, it made me greatful for people with a positive attitude, because for this guy he was stuck in a place he hated, surrounded by noone, telling the story of how rich he was to a girl he just met. WOW.
Anyways, onto more exciting things.
Tomorrow I am doing a tour of the Cu Chi tunnels which will be awesome, I have wanted to see them for a while, then tomorrow night I have read about this awesome tour on motorbikes through Saigon at night, so at 6pm tomorrow night I will be heading off with a guide on a motorbike into the streets of HCMC. Fingers crossed for my survival. I have read some amazing things about it though and I am really excited. So that will be a pretty full on day. The next day I will head to Hue for 3 days before heading off to Hanoi to start my volunteer placement on the 14th.
This place is such a culture shock, it makes Bangkok look like the most organised city in the world, and Mexico look like a 1st world country.
I am enjoying it though, and will shortly head out for a drink and at least 2 serves of spring rolls! hahaha.
Ok, that is me done. 1st post on the road complete...many more to come. Next will probably be after volunteering. Fingers crossed for me to get some Mother Teresa spirit in the meantime for my volunteer work.
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime. ~Mark Twain