So not that much to tell about this new years eve. A bunch of folks came round to mine, made lots of mulled wine and watched the fireworks from the roof (they set off a bunch for about 10 minutes).
My secret santa gift was a weird magnetic fishing set. Obviously the lake in this case was someone's bosom. Girls will always be girls ha. Afterwards headed downtown in my kilt (I don't get enough opportunities / excuses to wear it! In related news, I've become progressively better at removing bum photos from facebook before my family sees them.. Anyway, enjoy the cheesy gifs.
Monday, 31 December 2012
Saturday, 29 December 2012
|3D Popup Cards|
Dinner was an expensive but delicious buffet at Buffet Rinh, kinda expensive at 280k but definitely worth it for the hot stone bbq, fresh fish and lime chilli sauce. Grabbed a few Beerlao darks and headed to the nearby park to check out the new years eve stuff. There were a few stages, traditional vietnamese theatre as well as singing and dancing. So much delicious food at the market there too - even saw a "Seoul Deli" although only one person there who was Korean and the makgeolli was super expensive.
Friday, 28 December 2012
The bus stopped off on the way at a craft workshop for victims of agent orange. We watched some of them working with mother of pearl and browsed some of the plates and giant vases. A few were really weird with Disney characters and Smurfs.
The actual tunnels are deep in the woods, really hard to spot any of the trapdoors which are definitely Vietnamese sized and not fat yank tourist friendly. At one we stopped and a few kids tried hiding in the camouflaged door. See if you can spot where it opens in the video. There was a great Vietnam War-era propaganda film about "American imperialists" and how they lost.
The tunnel complex was essentially an entire war village underground, with about 121km of passages over 3 different layers. They were built too small for the larger Americans to come in and constantly twisted about - in case any enemy soldiers followed them in their guns were too big for them to turn and they had to retreat with them facing backwards. There were medical rooms, ovens, storage rooms, armoury, wells etc. There was also a tank the Vietcongs destroyed and a huge section on the ingenius traps they came up with - I'd always known that folding chairs were dangerous!
After exploring the tunnels (if you're interested there is a full length movie here) we headed out through the rubber trees to explore the forest AND FIRE AN AK47. Got a video of Matthew shooting here. Can't remember how he did but I managed to hit the target on only one of my 5 rounds.
Back in Ho Chi Minh city we got dropped off with a few others at the Cho Ben Thanh night market (every Saturday and Sunday. Went for a huge pot of shabu shabu, best I've ever had!
Decided against monkey island on Saturday and instead gonna sort out my new tattoo and Matt's suit. Nice relaxing day planned!
Thursday, 27 December 2012
Thursday we three got up and onto a boat at 5:30, lots of stilt houses and boats selling giant fruit. Our guide didn't speak much English but was cheerful enough. Ate lots of fresh fruit from the market, bought sweet coffee from a boat, our guide made us some insects and flowers out of leaves. Think plant origami. Grabbed lunch (and beer), stole some milkmelon from the restaurant garden and saw lots of other fruit growing - did everyone else realise pineapple grows straight up out of the ground?! Maybe I'm the last to know..
Got talking to another boat group by the market when one of the other boat ladies started hitting me! So here I am, floating along a river in rural Vietnam, being slapped by an old toothless lady boat driver, despite the language difficulties I decided to deal with this carefully and quietly. Not. I actually started shouting to her about our children and that a bad honeymoon night wasn't the end of our marriage. I don't know if she understood but next time she saw us she hit me again. I think that means she liked me :-P
Next stop was the rice paper factory where we found out how they make the round wraps. Lots of the kids only go to school in the morning still so they can help out their parents at their work. It was cool to see the rice paper drying out in the sun. Back onto the river and we made our way back into town.
Grabbed a couple beers and then got a late bus back into Saigon and immediately went back for beer and DELICIOUS PUMPKIN JUNGLE CURRY! Wow, it was good. Sat in the warm evening drinking cold beer and fending off street venders - whatever they offered first they'd switch to something else if you refused. "You wan book?" Nope "Lady?" Nope "Marijuana?" Well.... The restaurants and bars in the backpack area had set up kids tables and chairs along a road, it was fun and super busy for a Thursday. Until the police showed up and everyone scrambled!
Wednesday, 26 December 2012
|Rach Gia to Can Tho|
Booze, cigarettes and a minibus
Back on the bike, zoomed down the new roads out past the north eastern beaches and back into Duong Dong. I think that whilst everyone laughed at them the Italians were always right - they way to a mans heart is on the back of a Vespa! Looking back at the port at Phu Quoc I was sad to leave. If I ever return this quiet little island will be completely changed by things like the new roads and airport. Hopefully it can retain it's charm and tranquility.
Back to Rach Gia and things were far from peaceful, all the proper buses were full so Ryan, Matt and I ended up going to My Tho in a big minibus, surrounded by people and their chickens, smoking and drinking. Apart from fearing for my life, and the cramped conditions it was actually fun! Got into Can Tho late and found a cheap place in the backpacker area (Ninh Kieu). Decided on a big long dinner of Shabu shabu (so so so good) and Vietnamese wine (umm.. so so cheap!). Booked a boat tour of the floating markets (for early of course!) and headed into bed.
Tuesday, 25 December 2012
Tuesday - we got up bright and early and exchanged presents. Enjoyed the sunrise from the balcony and the hot weather while eating a quick snack breakfast. A van picked us up super early then to head out snorkelling. First stop on the way was a pearl farm - I hadn't realised that they open them up when they're young and insert a "nucleus bead" around which the pearl shell forms. After a couple years they open them again, remove the pearl and insert another bead. That's it for this weeks Pearl Farming Lecture!
Next we hit the boat, headed up to the top to sunbathe and went out to a few floating villages. At one we stopped and hopped onto a floating market boat which had big nets floating out in the water full of fish. Our guide got us sea urchins and we headed out to this lovely bay to fish. For first time fishermen Matt and I weren't bad - he caught 2 and I caught 4! Guess the little fishies wanted to be on my little dishie!
It was a first for me snorkelling too, felt great to be out amongst the reefs and to see all the fish in their natural habitat. Lunch consisted of honey glazed fish (including those we'd caught) and sea urchin (if you don't know it's that prickly thing). I don't know whose idea it was originally that the animal inside might be delicious with peanuts if you manage to cut it open without spiking yourself in the hand. It was certainly tasty. We moved around, saw more floating villages, scuba diving and then landed back on shore.
Last stop for the tour was the south-eastern tip called Sao Beach. It was spectacular, took a couple funny panoramic photos, had a beer on the beach and relaxed. A little swimming to cool off and it was back to the main town.
Again we went to the night market, met up with a fellow traveller (he'd got himself in a motorcycle accident and definitely needed a beer!) and enjoyed the best fish and chips I've ever eaten. Walked along the beach at sunset and booked a moped for the next morning. Update: Worked out how to upload panoramic photos. Enjoy!
Monday, 24 December 2012
Monday - Slept quite well on the night bus. At first we thought that the tiny little minibus we were dropped off at was it, luckily it wasn't and the coach was comfortable. Woke up when the bus took a short ferry across the Mekong river and again as we got into Rach Gia. Befriended Ryan on the bus so we ignored the taxi people and walked the short distance between the bus station and ferry terminal. The ferry took almost 3 hours due to rough seas (they really should have designed the bathroom to withstand the constant rocking. Gross).
Most of the resorts are located on the far western side of the island just south of Duong Dong (the biggest town). Matt bartered down the price of our hotel and got us a room upgrade to one with a balcony and sea view! After unpacking we grabbed a few beers and took a walk along the beach. Napped on a lounger with a beer and book. Talked to a few places on the way back to town and managed to book a Christmas snorkelling trip for about 5USD. Explored a temple in a lighthouse and the night market where we ate an amazing fish supper.