Harley Davidson… Eat your heart out!!

“Get the motor running, ta da ta da, running on the high way… (okay god knows the rest, so I’m gonna skip to the chorus )…Born to be willlllldddddd!”

Okay enough with embarrassing myself…(Coz that’s so unlike me Anj is saying in the background)

Well before we get given the title of old foggies, it was time for some serious adventure…

It started with our first ever sleeper bus to Hoi An. Now a lot has been written about how uncomfortable these buses are, especially for tall people like me…but to be honest they aren’t that bad…okay they’re not 5 star, and agreed, you may get whiplash as you’re thrown up and down off the bed as the bus speeds over bumps…but you’re asleep for most of the journey…so another tick off the daring list for me and Anj!

Hoi An, if you don’t know is the clothes making capital of Vietnam, where you can get shoes, boots, suits, dresses…in fact even if you wanted a gorilla outfit they probably would have made that too…

However as cheap as it’s meant to be, its not really! Well for men’s suits anyway. In London, you can now get a tailor-made suit for under 100 quid, while Hoi An prices were around 50-70 and the material was not necessarily what they said it was. Hmm. Plus, with the reviews we had read about fitting, we decided it was better to stick to London where we can return it if it isn’t right!

After seeing the small number of sights and the main town (which only took half a day), have to say it truly is a beautiful, quaint little place. Absolutely loved the atmosphere.

Okay doesn’t sound too adventurous so far, I admit, but here’s where it gets fun…

During our bus journey to Hoi An, two girls we met from Germany told us about some wacky “easy rider trip” they took and told us we should take it too…

Now let me explain what easy rider is, and this will also explain my little intro song (as i sing it to myself again!)…

Easy rider is where you jump on the back of one of those random biker dude’s Harleys (okay…Honda) and they take you out on the open road..

You commit to staying in a random hostel chosen by them (god knows how bad that would be), eat where they eat (remember we’re veggies), do what they do, go where they go and literally give these strangers your lives in their hands…as they speed around remote places with you holding on to them for dear life…

…Well guess what we decided to do? Yep we booked it and not only for one measly day, but 2 days and 1 night… They would take us from Hoi An to Hue (another massive city in vietnam)…But instead of the normal, safe, city roads, they would take us through the mountains and villages so that we could see Vietnam in a completely different light (via the Ho Chi Minn trail)!

Those 2 days were the best part of Vietnam so far, without a doubt. Apart from just the pure adrenalin rush (and butt pains) you get from sitting on those bikes (head out of gutter again people…come on! :)); the views were spectacular and the things we experienced amazing.

We had the opportunity to see some breathtaking temples (including the hindu “My Son” temples), a few surrounded by beautiful serene lakes and wonderful forestry, that included pineapple trees, and other plants which close just from your touch.

We also crossed a lake on a motorbike ferry, met a cute family who make fresh rice paper like crepes….(mmm boy was that tasty), ate real cinnamon leaves, saw waterfalls, met 2 snakes and stopped at boiling hot water springs which are used by the locals to drink, shower and just have pure fun messing around in! Absolutely zero tourists, just real Vietnam life!

In fact, we also went to one village where the spice girls wouldn’t be too popular. In this village, after the men get married its apparently tradition that they do nothing but chill… the wife works and brings in the money, cooks, cleans, raises the children and does everything… so I did what every caring husband would do..I asked Anj if she wanted to move there… Don’t think I can repeat what she said here 🙂

…And how about the food…well it was proper street food, surprisingly tasty and didn’t make us ill…

Another surprise was the guest house, it was a lot cleaner then we expected too! What a relief, can’t imagine how Princess Sparkle would have dealt with it otherwise… Actually let me rephrase that, what she would have made me do otherwise! 🙂

But in all seriousness, one of the key things that truly hit us was the difference in the people we met…

Everywhere outside the city, people welcomed us with open arms, expected no money and even waved at us with a smile when we zoomed past. Stark contrast to many of the city people we had come across!

And getting to know our easy riders; Uncle 9 and Mr Trong was great. They were loads of fun, and they gave us some insight into really how people live in Vietnam, what they think and believe in. Was great!

If I could make one suggestion in vietnam…do Easy Rider, but make sure the drivers have a valid easy rider id!

(For those that want to know, here’s the people we used:

Truong Van Trong’s tour
Email: trongn59@yahoo.com
Tel: +84903597971)

Our easy rider trip ended in Hue, where they showed us some stunning pagodas and the massive citadel.

Here one tourist from China decided to run at me and hand me their baby and asked if they could take a picture! RANDOM (even though for some reason i did kinda feel chuffed :)).

Well after our previous few days adventures, Hue has provided a day of rest…especially before we hit the next sleeper bus to, the capital of vietnam, Hanoi in a couple of hours! Can’t wait…NOT!

We got ripped off… but hey there’s a beach!

We arrived in Nha trang after our first overnight bus.. Because of Tet (I.e. Chinese New Year) we had to get a sitting bus and pay a ridiculous price for it too! But it was a fun journey. We’d met a couple of girls from Denmark who were doing a similar journey to us. Mid way through the trip, I looked up to see one of the girls was missing and checked whether we were at a stop, but no, we were moving. As my eyes wandered down, there she was splayed out on the floor of the bus.. Not a bad idea to be fair..

It was 5.30am when the bus dropped us off in Nha Trang. After being offered a taxi for $2 to our guesthouse, we realised we were actually a 100m away from it and the taxi driver made a very speedy getaway without any passengers. Cheeky sod!

We woke up the guesthouse owner at the beautiful time of 5.30am! She didn’t actually seem too annoyed to see us… After a few moments, she suggested that we must be very tired and her guests obviously hadn’t checked out for the day, so she would do us a favour and take us to another brand new hotel instead so we could sleep… Hmm, how generous of her… So we walked with her to the new place and it was nice and clean plus available immediately so we accepted to stay there. She said it was the same price and quality as her guesthouse! As the hotel was new, they didn’t serve breakfast, which was included in price we were paying and so she suggested that every morning we walk back to hers for brekkie… Uh… No! I asked for discount instead and got a fabulous $6 per night discount – that’s for both mine AND rishi’s brekkie! That was after full force bartering!!

The new hotel was actually really good. Clean, simple and had the best shower we had so far… But didn’t quite add up to the $45 per night our lady was charging us. We got ready from our slumber to go and discover nha trang in its full sunshine glory and as we left asked the receptionist how much the room rate was… It was $30 per night!! Silly guesthouse lady was charging us 50% extra and the hotel didn’t even know about it!

We confronted her bout ripping us off, so she did what anyone in her situation would do …she called our hotel to shout at them!!… We did eventually come up with a sneaky plan with the hotel which involved us pretending we checked out; but can’t say was too impressed with the service so far (even though the hotel was really helpful, so quick shout out to ‘green peace hotel’)… There are many stories of being ripped off in Vietnam, but this tops them!

Aside from that saga, Nha Trang has a pretty beach (I mean don’t expect the Carribean but its good!)…

And a fabulous spa just outside of town where for $17 each you can go for a luxurious mud bath, have a quick hydrotherapy shower, relax in the baking hot mineral water pool and sit under a mineral water fall…o and then have a 45 minute massage followed by 15 mins in the steam room… Hmm, I can’t think of many better ways to spend a few hours for so cheap!

This part of the trip was purely chilling out on the beach, having the treatments and over eating from the wide choice of food options yet again…. It was so relaxed that we often were asleep by 9! I’m pretty sure I enjoyed 12 hours sleep for both the nights in Nha trang… To be fair I think we deserved it! Lol…

Rishi reading!!! :o I KNOOOO!
It’s a cool location for a break on the north/ south journey… Busy enough to keep you entertained but quiet enough to take a time out… Just don’t expect beaches like the Maldives cos you ain’t gonna get that. So keep that in mind and go visit Nha Trang!

Cu Chi, Fanny and Hung Hung Long…

It’s the 3rd day in saigon and over the past 2 days we have seen the dragons, gone DEEP into the cuchi tunnels, had a creamy fanny, and saw a hung hung long!

LOL! Okay get your minds out of the gutter people! Let me explain…

We first stopped at the peaceful Cai don temple. Just in case you’re wondering Cai don is a type of religon that worships multiple religons including budhism, hinduism, christianity etc.

The temple was like nothing we’ve seen before, with architechture consisting of spiraling dragons and “the all seeing eye” to which they worship.

We were lucky to be able to watch afternoon prayers and chanting, which were very calming. In my opinion, something you should see if you can…

However the best part is the famous underground cu chi tunnels that were used in the vietnam war by the guerrilas to protect themselves!

This is a MUST see! You get to see how the guerillas lived, see their barbaric traps with sharp, long bamboo spikes, their very own customized land mines they made from captured american weapons and also get the chance to crawl through 100ms of tunnels which were about 3ft high (back then it was something like 1.5ft high, god knows how they did it).

This is where anj gets a special shout out! Even though shes chlostrephobic she did it! So proud!

Anyway, they used these network of tunnels to build a full underground village, a way to suprise those incoming attackers and as a bomb shelter. Crazy stuff!

After that, We had an opportunity to shoot some guns, but we thought we’ll save that ak47 for a later date for those that decide to mess with us! You know what i’m sayin! Okay okay, enough of the gangsta talk.

Anywho, we got back to Saigon, having slept most of the bus journey to begin our search for dinner…. starving for food, we came across one restaurant called hung hung long, safe to say I refused to eat there…

So we quickly scooted along to the place next door to enjoy our favourite and obviously national dish here (sarcasm)…pizza and pasta!

After the few busy days we had, we decided to have a chill out day the next day (today)..

Just roamed the streets and ate.. We have noticed our meals our becoming fuller and fuller… However not satisfied by our three hearty meals..(baby, baby!), we decided to head to apparently the best deserts place in vietnam…”Fanny”……mmm, Sounded good so me and anj had “100% creamy ice cream” (again head out of the gutter people) of coffee, chocolate, vanilla and caramel…A great end to saigon…

Now we are on our first overnight bus to nha trang, a beach location… As its been so busy from Tet (chinese new year) we are spending the night on a sitting bus.. Anj has already made herself comfy with a pillow (i.e. Me!!) .. The bus is fully packed out with Vietnamese families who seem to be having some loud family reunion and some backpackers 3 guys who’ve already checked out the 3 girls next to us… This should be fun 🙂

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! 🙂