We leave Ho Chi Minh City by bus for a 7 hour drive across the border into Cambodia towards the capital, Phnom Penh.
Instantly the people look different, the land looks different and the language is different! Stephen gets reprimanded at border control for saying “thank you” in Vietnamese and not the National language of Cambodia – Khmer. We escape a shock when the bus almost leaves without us on the border…
We are last through the border control point and find that our bus has driven away. Eventually the bus conductor realises and stops the bus driver from continuing off as we chase it down the road.
The land is very flat and very green!
People work out in the blistering heat.
There is a lot of rubbish around but the poor animals don't seem to mind 😦
Our bus boards a ferry to cross a section of the famous Mekong River, which stretches from Tibet to Vietnam.
As we near Cambodia's capital, it gets more dense but still as makeshift!
We take a taxi to Da Nang, have a quick lunch and then board the train. Another overnight journey, another dirty train! We take the 18 hour ride from Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh City (also known as “Saigon”), leaving at 1:30pm in the afternoon and arriving at around 7am. Fortunately this should be our last Vietnamese train ride! Once in Saigon, we manage to find a bus into the city and walk the rest of the way to the hotel.
We decide our taxi driver has misunderstood the concept of a seatbelt
At lunch, before the train, we met Bettina. It took 24 hours to get rid of her, but we managed eventually.
One of the many rice paddies we saw out from the train window
The sheets haven't been washed, and neither have our Vietnamese cabin-mates. This is first class and we settle in for another sleepless night on the train.
We arrive into Saigon an hour late. Health and safety is yet to arrive in Vietnam, as the train delivers us onto the adjacent train track, complete with moving train charging forward.
We're the only tourists who have caught the bus instead of a taxi. With a cost saving of about 5000%, and a priceless saving in stressful negotiations with the ever-dishonest Vietnamese taxi drivers.
We leave Ha Noi to head South down Vietnam’s coast for Hoi An – easy to mix up. A single sleeper train takes us to Da Nang and then a car picks us up to the historic Hoi An.
It is so dirty on this train that we dont want to touch a thing
Some remote and beautiful houses hide beside the train tracks
Our French train-mates leave us on the train as they head for Hue
We see rice fields in the foreground and the South China sea behind
Cuisine sold on the train consists of rice and tofu with lettuce for 60 pence. Not bad!
We get off the train and get in a taxi to our hostel. The Central Vietnamese coast is being destroyed by resorts!
Temperature – 22 degreesC
Our first stop in Vietnam is Ha Noi – the capital of Vietnam and the country’s second largest city with a population of 6.5 million. 2010 travel guides describe it as one of the world’s “Top Destinations”, but is it?…
- We couldnt find the train station so we walked along the tracks
- Crossing any road at any time in any place is absolute chaos
- We sample street food – at local prices (50p a meal)
- Hoan Kiem Lake, meaning “Lake of the Returned Sword” or “Lake of the Restored Sword” in the historical center of Hanoi
- Chloe in traditional Vietnamese dress
Chloe and Kangaroo catch the light in the Temple of Literature - constructed in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius, sages and scholars
Chloe advertises a not-so-classic Vietnamese drink
Everyone in Vietnam is apparently employed - even this guy
The opening sale at a Ha Noi superstore consists of a stack of open shipping containers on the street