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Vietnam-Saigon, Nah Trang, Jungle Beach, Hoi An

Well after hours of researching flight and visa information we finally made it to Vietnam via Bali-our bags bigger and 1 surfboard heavier. Arriving in Saigon is a baptism in chaos-it makes Bangkok look organized! Motorbike madness everywhere...on the sidewalks, in the cafe's, on top of each other. Instead of issuing driving licenses the Vietnamese train their citizens in street crossing on foot. The basic rule is to walk INTO traffic and pretend like you are not about to get run over. As long as you stay calm you won't get hit. As soon as you rely on your western conditioned reflex to avoid danger...you're either dead or you're still waiting on the side of the street to cross. In Saigon we went out to the many "Bia Hoi" or fresh beer bars, which are basically kindergarten stools set up on the sidewalk where you are served glass after glass of cheap beer for about 30 cents each. There we met a lot of cool traveling folks who we traded stories and travel recommendations. We also went to the Vietnam War Museum in Saigon where on display are hundreds of US planes, tanks, and artillery left behind from the war. It also had a great, but very graphic photography gallery that showed the destruction that took place during the 8 years of fighting. Not surprisingly, the photos primarily showed the atrocities carried out against the Vietnamese and they were pretty gruesome. The Vietnamese suffered 3 million causalities, 2 million of those were civilian deaths. American casualties were around 55,000, but the US lost??!! We took a cool trip to the Mekong Delta where we paddled through jungle canals, visited a village where coconut candy and honey was made, wrapped a large Boa Constrictor around Erik's neck, and watched traditional Vietnamese musicians play music. We had a Rickshaw bike take us though the heart of Saigon during rush hour traffic, which would make any NY cab driver tremble. After 4 days in Saigon we traveled north to a place called Jungle Beach which is an amazing secluded beach. For only $22 per day we were fed with homemade Vietnamese food, sleep in straw huts, visited waterfalls, surfed, and lazed the day away on the beach. We met and partied with many cool people here and were bummed to leave. Now we find ourselves in a town called Hoi An that is filled with cloth and silk shops that will Taylor make ANYTHING you want-shoes, socks, shirts, dresses, suits. We spent a lot of time getting our worn out (and lost) duds replaced for super cheap. They will make an exact copy of your favorite item or create a new article from a photo. Although once you step into the shop they will not let you leave until you have put in an order. The bus rides from town to town have been funny. We booked overnight bus rides from town to town to save on hotel accommodations. However, these "sleeper" buses are built for 5'5" Asians, not 5'9" Germans. The seats are set up like bunk beds and your feet are inserted into a cavernous tube with no room to move. The drivers only travel about 30 mph because they are swerving over pot holes, endlessly honking there horns as they play chicken with on coming trucks. I swear to God Asian drivers have 9 lives. All in all the bus trips are convenient b/c we save time as we make our way north up the coast to Hanoi. Because we have enjoyed Vietnam so much, and b/c we are short on time we will probably skip Laos and Cambodia hoping we can visit those countries in the future with more time. We'll keep you posted from Northern Vietnam.

PANDE
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Posted by PANDE 19:42

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