April 2nd, 2012
I’m pretty sure Travis harbors secret dreams of being a model. The following post is my evidence. As well as a short history of our travels through Vietnam…
Exhibit #2. Notice how he accessorizes with a furry feline. And now he has fleas.
But back to Vietnam. Our first impression was a rather bumpy one, literally. After crossing the border at Dien Bien Phu in the north, we bought a bus ticket to the tourist hotspot, Sa Pa. What followed could possibly be described as my four-wheeled nightmare. It wasn’t a bus of course, but a minivan. And once all the seats had been filled the guy in charge decides we are all too comfortable and squeezes in 10 more people. Our row was lucky enough to seat 5 people on 2.5 seats. Our luck continues, as the trip only took about 10 hours. On windy and bumpy roads. One guy in the back had to open the window a few times in order to vomit. But through all of this the only thing I could concentrate on was the handful of hairs growing out of a mole on the guy next to us. They were about 8 inches long and blowing in the wind…
One thing I loved though was how they grow food in every space possible: empty lots, next to the sidewalk, even in public parks. This “urban agriculture’ that is becoming so hip in western cities is to them, common sense. As it should be.
After exploring Hanoi, we headed south to Ninh Binh and was rowed down a little river to see Tam Coc (a place that is described as Halong Bay without the water). This lovely old Vietnamese couple were to be our guides and we’re pretty sure asked Travis if he had given me a baby yet (oh my god). Well, she turned out to be quite nasty in the end when she screamed we didn’t tip her enough.
Travis and his iphone, Ninh Binh.
Travis without his iphone, Na Trang. Poor guy is in complete shock after having his phone stolen only a few hours prior. We took a sleeper bus down from Hoi An and never suspected someone would go through our bags right next to us. The bus ride itself was terrible too, but at this point we expected it. But some sneaker on the bus had the nerve to take the cash out of my wallet and an iphone out of Travis’s shoulder bag laying by our feet. We definitely learned our lesson. This isn’t New Zealand.
At least the view that morning was nice! Na Trang definitely isn’t the prettiest town in Vietnam, but I actually quite liked it. We had some delicious food (as everywhere else I guess) and the beach was surprisingly deserted.
Activities in Na Trang include the natural hot springs and mudbath. Travis was a little grossed out by the latter, which was more of a thin muddy soup that had been reused a questionable amount. But what can I say, I liked it as a child and still like playing in the mud today.
We also went on $15, all day snorkeling and fishing trip. It was fun, but in Vietnam you get what you pay for. At least I can now say I have successfully been snorkeling without having a slight mental breakdown (Carrie, you would be proud). Once we came in from the water, we were handed a fishing line to then try to kill the pretty little fish we had just been admiring.
If all else fails in Asia, at least there is plenty of entertainment to be had in English translations. Unfortunately, Travis was not verified as Prince quality.
To me, Vietnam in a nutshell means delicious food, beautiful scenery, super friendly people (as long as they’re not trying to sell you something, but most of them are), polluted as hell, and a constant rip-off. I guess we liked it almost as much as we didn’t. But then, if you’re not on such a strict budget I can see how it could be the best place ever.