Good Morning Vietnam

wow, that was some baller status bus we took right there…okay maybe i’m exaggerating a little but so far the best bus journey we’ve taken…it included water, a latest hollywood filum, reclining seats, air conditioning and a person leading us through the whole border process all for 12 bucks! (So use mekong express shuttle buses if you can)

Yes we arrived in hoi chi minh city a.k.a saigon in vietnam on the eve of chinese new year!

This is the first place we had a real nice hotel upgrade by the chance of half price due to there being only half the normal staff working there! (We’ll take whatever we can but well done anj for the clever spot :))

Neway enough about us being cheapos…So off we went to explore this beatuiful city!

We started with the amazing sight of highlands coffee house (mmmm chocolate milkshake, mango smoothie) followed by the street of flowers.

This street stretches nearly a mile long and was planted with some of the most beautiful flower displays we’ve ever seen, and all dedicated to the cat (year of the cat).

After many posed photographs, (well that’s what everyone else was doing and as they say when in rome…)… off we headed to quickly see the amazing architechture of the post office, the cathedral and the war remenants museum.

To be honest the post office and cathedral in my view were…well okay…the war museum on the other hand had tanks, war planes and helicopters but it wasn’t till we walked into the museum and saw the gruesome pictures from the war that it really shocked us!

It really does make you question, if this happened so recently, where else in the world is it happening now? And why?! There truly is no need for such attrocities in this world! Peace and love can reside if we have respect for one another!

Neway after that we strolled back towards the flower street in anticipation for the massive celebrations that were about to happen!

The streets were packed, rammed and filled with motorbikes! The flower street was jammed with people, it was like normal new years but an amazing new experience!

We talked with locals, sat on the dirty pavement, wedged between loooads of motorcycles and bought a pink balloons as we waited in one tight spot for 3 hours for the fireworks! Was well worth the wait though…at 12 am we were bomblasted with an amazing array of colors in the sky with the crowd cheering each bang! Wow! Seriously words cannot describe!

After a good 20 mins they finished…and then came the bigger task of the night, our survival (thanks for warning Neera – you were right, its mental). Me and jackie bauer (anj) were on the move, as we had people, cars and motorbikes coming at us from all angles, we swiftly dodged all of them and moved in between the small gaps to get out! This bit is NOT an exaggeration!

Was one of the craziest things ever! Well we’re now back at the hotel its 2.23am! Time for sleeeepp but what an amazing day, can’t wait till tomorrow! 🙂

I’m in Phnom Penh B*?!+

You wouldn’t believe where you were as you walk down by the riverside in Phnom Penh, especially in the evening… Loads of people just relaxing on the riverside, with tons of bars and restaurants lining the strip. The crowd is mixed with many locals admiring the views as well as tourists and what appears to be a high volume of ex-pats who definitely seem to be enjoying the Cambodian lifestyle.

The real fun kicks off around 6-7 o clock and the place really reminds you off South Beach in Miami! An exercise class kicks off on the riverside walkway!! Yeup, that’s right, a random dude sets up his speakers and off they go. Passers by join in but there were quite a few people who looked like they had come specifically for the exercise routine!! And then come out the breakdancers… Like a G6, like a G6.. Admittedly not the best dancing, but still amusing to watch.. The little kids near there were even better!!

At the same time, we thought we’d check out the fishing boats which were chilling out on the river… And what better opportunity to perv on some little kids who were very photogenic… So we (ok I – Rishi pretending he didn’t want the photos) took a few photos of kids playing using the powerful zoom on our camera. Knew it would come in handy one day! Lol

My real aim was to catch the ladies who wear pyjamas as normal daily clothing. Now, you may think that this is a rare occurrence which is why I didn’t get a photo, but in fact its a very popular choice of clothing for the ladies in Phnom Penh!! The only reason I couldn’t get one is when you stare at them in their rather unusual choice of clothing, they stare back at you!! Odd ei?

We did however get pictures in yet another market… But it wasn’t very nice because they had poor live lil chickens just lying on the floor pretty much on top of each other, waiting to be sold and then…hmm… I was wondering why they weren’t moving around much but Rish has explained they were probably sedated! One little chicken tried to move and then the little girl watching it just smacked it on the head!! Hmm

Ok there is more to Phnom Penh than the above ‘interesting’ aspects… The main ‘attractions’ are; S-21, the school where people were prisoned and tortured under the Khmer regime from 1975 to 1979; the killing fields, where over 20,000 people were killed; the National Museum and the Golden Palace!

(I have a separate post for the Khmer regime related visits).

Now be warned if you go to the Royal Palace, make sure you wear long trousers and a t-shirt that has little sleeves at least. A scarf to cover your shoulders is not allowed but is ok to cover your legs!! Grr.. So if you don’t have the right clothing you have to buy an attractive t-shirt with a big picture of the palace on it. So, you may be able to tell that I was distressed at having to buy this silly t-shirt, but grr, it was sooo blatantly just to make money.. Anywho, the palace is very grand and beautiful. Huge elaborate crystal chandeliers in the main central building with opulent materials used for decoration. Around one of the courtyards, there are paintings all the way around the walls which tell the story of the Ramayan. There is also a pretty large Bhudda statue made of Emerald in the Silver pagoda and my favourite Bhudda statue made of Gold and encrusted with over 2000 diamonds!! That’s my kind of praying. 🙂

The food is surprisingly varied here too! After trying the local cuisine, yummy veggie amok (mitan’s suggestion), noodles and veggies, we went to check out Dosa corner on recommendation from Hinal! It’s a cute little restaurant near the Independence monument and the road we renamed Linkin Road, because it looked just like the Mumbai street! The food compared well to home… Rishi wanted to order everything on the menu, but we had to restrain ourselves.. I’m certain we are coming back broke and fat!