Friday, February 27, 2009

Indochina Trip - Vietnam part 1

Indochina Trip to Vietnam

Sorry for such a late post.. Was busy and not in the mood in writing past few weeks. Anyway, Vietnam is a very big country and we spent 3 weeks travelling all the way from Ho Chi Minh, Mui Ne, Dalat, Nha Thrang, Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi, Halong Bay and Sapa. 

Ho Chi Minh(Saigon) – A developed city!

 The first destination when we arrived in Vietnam is Saigon. The weather is hot like Malaysia since it is at the South. It really opened our eyes when we reached Saigon. It is very modern and developed. I could say it is as developed as or more developed than our Penang island in Malaysia. Of course, it couldn’t beat Kuala Lumpur (in my opinion). However, we arrived at Saigon with worries and fear. 


some photos of Saigon city.

Worries and fear.
When we reached Saigon, it was already late at night. One of our greatest worries was accommodation. We didn’t have any idea on where to stay and it was very late already. On the way to the location the bus ‘dumped’ us, we didn’t see any guest houses available. All of them were hotels, and of course, based on Laos and Cambodia standard (as well as Malaysia’s) hotels ARE EXPENSIVE. We had a hard time communicate with the local in order to find the accommodation. Luckily, there’s still one popular street for the backpackers. Many ‘hotels’ are available there. They aren’t very expensive, but they are comparatively more expensive than Laos and Cambodia guest house.

  Another worry was money. But this was a small problem compared to the previous one. We had no Vietnam currency and we knew without the local money, we will be ‘blood sucked’ by the evil vampires. We had to do some research on the currency exchange and best places to change money. (FYI, 1 USD = 17000 Vietnam Dong)

“Cheap cheap backpackers”
 Besides going to the shopping malls that we love very much (because they aren’t many malls in previous places), we encountered quite a funny incident in a tourist information centre. Well, me and Calvin were rather bored at that time and we decided to ask the Tourist Information Centre (TIC) on the places to visit in Saigon and Vietnam. And there was a service offered by the TIC which they help you to organize your trip by selecting your destination, tours, transportation and etc.. They customize your need and create a package for you. And me and Calvin went to ‘try’ using their services. We didn’t know it was meant for High Class people at first. We just intended to ask around. However, when they recommended us to use plane instead of using bus, and recommend us 4 stars and 3 stars hotels, we knew this service is not for us. And we had to ACT, act to be rich.. or at least not poor. Lying that we stayed in a high class hotel and pretend to be high class. However, the funny part was the lady at the counter mentioned that their service was not for the cheap cheap backpackers who stay at the ‘popular street for backpackers’ I mentioned just now. Calvin and I were looking at each other, and tried very hard not to laugh. We were staying at that ‘cheap cheap backpackers’ place and we were indeed BACKPACKERs. lol. Besides feeling a bit embarrassed, we had to continue acting until the end; we asked her to customize some packages for us and we told her that we would come back again to see. (And we would never come back again..wahaha) Lol.. that was the original plan, but we, as kind people finally felt very guilty for cheating her to create a package for us (which requires few hours). We went back there and asked her to cancel the package by giving some lame excuses. So fish… (embarrassed)

Mui Ne – The blazing hot beaches
 There weren’t much to say about Mui Ne. It was a peaceful place to visit though. To me, it seems that Mui Ne is just one long road with shophouses and beaches at the sides. The weather is extremely hot, I dunno why. And I guess our skins were pretty ‘injured’ by the blazing sun. 
 There weren’t many low class food stores. So we had to eat something more expensive. Lol. (around RM 5?) But it was fun to spend more in eating, we have been in hunger for dunno how many weeks… It was the first time so many days since the trip that we finally could eat pork chop. :P (sorry for muslims).

 We decided to follow a tour when we reached Mui Ne. The places we went including white sand dune (see sunrise), red sand dune (not really interesting, just have a different colour) and fairy stream. Something happened when we visited the fairy stream.. hehe..

sunrise at white sand dune..

Fairy Stream
 Fairy stream was one of the more interesting places to visit. It was a stream which is colourful (will show you the pic later). Well, it’s not really very beautiful view. The interesting part was the process to get there. Unlike other tourism spots where we would be fetched to the spot directly or we had to climbed(walked) quite a distance up the hill to see the scenery. This fairy stream, requires ‘river’ tracking. All of us didn’t prepare to ‘get into water’ and it made us a little bit surprised. We took off the shoes and started the ‘river’ tracking. We walked on the river, for quite some distance, until we reached the spot. Forget to mention, there were two young boys who were about 6 – 9 years old, took us and ‘give advices & directions’ to us on the way to the fairy stream. As I said earlier, it was not an amazing scenery view; it is not breathtaking at all. But since we visited here, we might as well take some pictures. We asked the ‘kind’ boys to help us take a few pictures and we started to leave. Ok, here was the fun part. When we were on the way going back to our mini jeep to go back hotel, the 2 kind boys started to be ‘not kind’. They asked us for money. Well, to be honest to them, we weren’t rich people and we were suffered from hunger. Therefore, we didn’t want to give them any money. They kept asking for money, and later demand for money and lastly intimidate for money. Well, as a kind person again, I offered them 2000 dong. lol.. Which approximately worth around RM0.50.. haha. The boys didn’t want to take it, they said: “too little, too small”. I told them: “ take or leave.” with a not really polite face. They didn’t want to take at first, but they didn’t want to lose any money even RM0.50, so at the end, they took the money. I wonder if they collaborate with the jeep driver or not. The jeep and its driver was missing.. We waited for sometime and out of furious, we decided to walk back to hotel since we hadn’t pay the driver. When we were leaving, got a different group of boys holding a club intimidating us to pay. Well, they had around 4 persons, and we too had 4 persons. They were around 9-12 years old, and we? we were almost 20. Sorry to say that, I was not afraid AT ALL. We continued our journey, totally ignored their existence.. kaka… Lesson learned: When someone approached and be nice to you, say: “I have no money”, then you can prevent several problems from happening.  

the 'water' beside there is the fairy stream.. lol. look amazing? dun think so.