After my amazing time in Cambodia came to an end, I bid farewell to the country I fell in love with and I hopped on an overnight bus which landed me at the border crossing into Vietnam. Hiring a taxi to take me to the next chapter of South East Asia.
Ho Chi Minh City was my first destination point. A city buzzing with people, cars and bikes, the traffic was non-stop. With my life flashing before my eyes while attempting to cross the busy round-about to the Ben Thanh Market, I cautiously headed onward. A local man who was laughing at my clumsy indecisiveness “should I cross now? no, how about now!” came over and gave me a tip. He said “never hesitate, it’s safer to just be confident, step out off the curb and walk without looking and stopping. The cars, buses and the bikes will go around you.” My first thought was “this man is trying to get me killed” but as I looked around, studying the locals, it was true, they never looked before crossing. They just walked. All the rules my parents had imprinted in my brain as a child about to always look both ways before crossing the street, did not apply here. Away I went, walking blind into oncoming traffic.
The Famous Cu Chi Tunnels were my next attraction. A 75 mile long underground maze of connecting tunnels used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. The tunnels are opened by a tiny square latch in the ground hidden by leaves and dirt to disguise the base where the Viet Cong would live. Tourists are given the opportunity to climb in and experience what it was like to be in such a confined space.
After spending time in Ho Chi Minh, I headed north to Hanoi, This turned out to be my favourite part of Vietnam. I decided on a 3 night sailing tour of Halong Bay. Climbing aboard a beautiful wood boat called a “Junk”, we headed to sea!
The waters were a lovely blue/green (although i’m told despite the beautiful colours, they are not the cleanest water to swim in) and the sunsets were breathtaking. We ate a lunch buffet of delicious Vietnamese food while sailing through Halong Bay before docking at our first destination point. Bo Hon Island, The Sung Sot Cave.
The Limestone caves are these miraculously deep caves that you can trek through, Because they have become such a high trafficked tourist destination, they’ve build stairways and pathways through the larger caves to make it more accessible for tourists. though they’ve been altered to make it more appealing to the general public with tacky coloured spot lighting, they were still beautiful and a must see.
Exhausted from hiking in an out of caves all day, we anchored at sea and ate fried fish in black bean sauce and drank terrible tasting beer on top of our Junk boat. We kayaked through the waters at sunset and laid on deck while a refreshing rain storm passed over head. Lightning lit up the sky and changed the clouds from greys to pinks and purples. Not a bad way to end the day.