The Veteran does Nam

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Cu Chi tunnels
Cu Chi tunnels

After saying a sad goodbye to Lloyd I headed back into Bangkok where I managed to get some cheap accomodation. The next day it was off to the Vietnam embassy first thing to try to sort my visa. Thankfully they were very nice and efficient and I managed to pick it up that afternoon. I risked heading straight for the airport where I managed to get on the same flight only a day late!

It was great to be in Hanoi but unfortunately I had missed the start of the tour where they headed to Halong Bay (gutted Id been really looking forward to that) and had to wait for them to come back. Not really knowing where I was going I grabbed a bus into town and managed to find my way to a hostel unfortunately it was full so I wandered round before finding a lovely hotel where I got a stunning room for only $12.

The next morning I met up again with James and Anna and caught up on the gossip of the last few weeks. Anna wanted to get her hair dyed so deciding this sounded like a fab idea we both went to the hairdressers.  2 hours and a tenner later Anna had flaming red hair and my own mother wouldnt have been able to tell mine was dyed (aside from the fact the greys had gone). We had a chilled out day before I headed over to the hotel to meet my group (Vanda, Sarah, Sophie, Richard, Jessica, Posh Richard and Louise). They all seemed nice but my first impression was that they were all (Oli tour leader included) so very young. Deciding to be anti-social (Ive got 7 weeks with them) I went out for dinner with J&A not knowing when I would see them again as they were heading off that night.
Joining the group the next day we went to the water puppet show (def not recommended it was an hour of screeching Chinese style opera with a few puppets in a pond).
Our next stop was Hue reached by an overnight train. I found this oddly comforting and was happy but most of the other werent too impressed. We attracted a lot of attention especially from the children and one very sweet little girl sang us some songs. It was Jessicas 21st birthday so she got more than a little drunk on the gin Oli had bought her.

On arrival in Hue I again bumped into J&A we had breakfast before they left. We had just one night there so rented motorbikes. I was still not feeling confident so went pillion with Richard who had never ridden before! He did ok after he finally learnt how to turn. The Vietnamese traffic is a nightmare of 1000s motorbikes so he was braver than me. We went to a Pagoda and then out into the countryside where we saw lots of rice fields being harvested and were entertained at a small museum by a tooth-less old woman showing us how to make rice flour. From there we visited the tiny house Ho Chi Minh had briefly lived in.

Once back in town a few us headed to the local Market getting poled across the river by some funny locals before heading to the fort for a look around. We found an array of tanks and other military items left over from the American war.

Cu Chi tunnels
Cu Chi tunnels

The next day we headed to Hoi An via theHai van Pass perhaps one of the most stunning roads I have ever travelled along. We stopped for  a short time at the beach with its red hot sand burning our feet worth it though for the deserted beach, crystal waters and stunning scenery. We then climbed Marble Mountain where I obviously managed to fall down and hurt my arm (not seriously thankfully). Hoi An is a UNESCO world heritage site mainly known for having over 600 tailor shops. Whilst there it seemed rude not to have clothes made so I treated myself to a top, dress, jeans, sandals and boots! I met up with J&A again and we ended up having a rather drunken but hilarious night consuming a lot of vodka!
After a late breakfast the next day the three of us were still worse for wear so it was a quiet day exploring the town and having a couple of fittings for my clothes.
We then caught the day train to Nha Trang. It was an entertaining journey due to a couple of mice who obviously live on the carriage and Posh Richards complete panic over them! I managed to get a couple of dives in whilst there. Not a stunning place to dive but I did see Lion and Scorpion fish. This was followed

in the afternoon by a hot stone massage for just £4. Then dinner at a local restaurant (complete with very large black rats) with J&A and Cherie and Susan (from Hong Kong). We made up for the rats by treating ourselves to baileys ice cream sundaes!
We were then back onto motorbikes again for a trip to a fishing village, a quiet cove and a mud baths. The mud bath was great (well I always was a messy child!) unfortunately Richard and I didnt do so well on the bike this time and came off after being hit by another bike on a busy junction. No serious harm done just a few cuts and bruises but of shook us both up a bit.
We took the overnight train to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) where we drank the £2 bottle of champagne me and Richard had managed to buy in a local supermarket (to cheer ourselves up). It tasted ok once mixed with a strange orange yoghurt drink I had bought.

From HCMC we headed out to the Cu Chi tunnels where 1000s of Viet Cong had lived underground for decades during the American war. It was a scary thought as I got claustrophobic just travelling 50m along one. Vanda and I had a go at shooting one of the AK 47s left over, loved it!

Cu Chi tunnels
Cu Chi tunnels

Our last stop for Vietnam was to head into the Mekong Delta. This turned out to be a fun packed couple of days where we learnt how locals made tiles, rooves, bricks, rice cakes etc etc. We got to have a go at feeding some crocs (great fun taunting them and making them work for the meat). We drank copious amounts of rice wine (a very strong spirit) and snake wine (same as rice wine but with a dead snake in the jar). We then got to hold a huge python before heading to our home stay where we were entertained with traditional singing and music. More rice wine flowed throughout the night making getting back in the boat the next morning fun!
After a trip to a large floating vegetable Market and a chance to make rice paper we were headed back to the citywhere we went to the War Remnants Museum, I was in tears reading about horrific details of the American war and the effects of Agent Orange. Very moving!

It was then time to great new arrivals Barbara, Alycia, Kaitlyn and Mandy and say bye to Louise before heading to Cambodia.

Bloger: Sarah Roberts