“Stephen Cummins.. I command you to update your blog!” So says the great Lauren Murphy via Facebook. Okay. I have been particularly bad over the last month at blogging. If yee have given up on me, I can totally see why. It’s just the amount of fun I’ve had over the past month has been ridiculous! Traveling is simple amazing. So where to begin……
At the moment I’m sitting in a net cafe in bustling Saigon. Jimmy is gone to eat a cobra (the snake) and drink it’s blood. Yeah, that’s what I thought too. Over the last month we’ve bumped into lots of Laos friends and made a host of new traveling buddies along the way. We’ve travelled from Han Oi up to Halong Bay, then down to Hue, Dannang, China Beach, Hoi An, Nha Thrang, Dalat and finally Saigon.
I’ll try fill you in on everything since over the last month.
Pretty much straight after my last blog, we went on a boat trip to Halong Bay. It was myself, Jimmy, Kirsty from Manchester and Amy Wino (Newcastle) and Tien from Sydney and his Aussie crew. Halong Bay is north of Han Oi and something like 4,000 rocks sticking out of the sea. The morning of the trip was eventful and hilarious. Jimmy arrived home to our dorm at 5:30am (about two hours before we were due to leave) steaming drunk, only to find a naked girl in his bed! Having none of it he drunkenly screamed “Get the fuck out of my bed, what u doing in my bed. Get the fuck out” waking everyone in the process. Turned out the girl had wandered into the wrong dorm. Total mistake and big regret for her to be fucked out by a drunken Irish man! Funny as hell for me! Anyhow so Jimmy was still steaming on the way up. We got there anyhow for our two nights, one of which was on the boat. Halong Bay is amazing. Really stunning and though the weather was overcast, it didn’t take away from it’s natural beauty. Anyhow we went canoeing and into a cool cave on day one and all was good. However the guys on our boat were assholes and on night one, I accidently locked our key in the room. They said they had no spare and refushed to open the door. Told us to sleep up on the deck, the riotten bastards. They were pissed off I think cause we were sneakily dring viodka and the had a shit corkage charge which there was no way we were going to pay. (It was like $5 which was about 5 times the price of the bottle of vodka). Anyhow the two girls put us up in there room for the night. Nice one. The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful and not as good as it could have been. Still, we had bags of fun and that’s all that matters.
We then headed back to Hoi An. It was a Tuesday I think. James and I made the decision to leave on the night sleeper bus to Hue on the Wednesday night so we had a big piss up in Han oi with the girls and a few others on the Tuesday night. Drank cheap local beer, known as Bia Hoi, for about 15cent a glass, which was top!
As it happened, we left Han Oi just in the nick of time. That night on the bus down it pissed it down and the next day Han Oi was flooded. The lake near where we were staying overflooded and from the reports we heard the water on the streets was quite high. A few people were killed in the floods and it was near impossible to get a bus or train out of the place. Pure dumb luck for us to leave the night before. Arriving in Hue the next morn at 6am, we were unmercifully hasslelled by street touts and hawkers trying to drank you to their hotel. At one stage we were followed down two streets by 7 of them. Like paparazzi. Met a cool Danish couple there and hung with them. On day one (day we arrived) we did an afternoon motorbike tour around the city’s major sights. That was good fun. The driver was our tour guide, though it was a tiny bit rushed. On Day Two we agin had a 6am start as we went on a bus tour of the De-Militrised Zone from during the Vietnam war. That started off with some cool underground tunnels which the locals hid in to avoid bombings, etc during the war years. The rest of it was pretty shit. That night was Halloween night and we went out to a bar where the locals all dressed up as ghosts, etc. Was great fun to see them get so much joy out of the night without feeling the need to booze. Actually, since arriving in Hue we noticed how much friendlier the people were. We met an Aussie guy, named Nick, on the tour and we made a plan to get the train to Danang together the following morn.
Danang/ China Beach
So another early start and because of the floods in Han Oi, the 6am train we had headed for was cancelled. We got a bus to Danang, cheap as chips, and made our way to China Beach. China Beach was where the first US troops landed and where they would hang out for some R&R time during the war. It’s pretty stunning – 30km of white sandy beaches. We stayed in a place called ‘Hoe’s Place’, run by Hoe, who was a local but spoke English like an American. He was pretty cool and there was next to no other Westerners on the beach. Maybe like 4 other people. His place was a 30 second walk to the beach so we hug out there for three days, climed Marble Mountain (which involved some reasonably difficult rock climbing) and generally worked on trying to cover our t-shirt tans. It was exactly what was needed. Some R&R time and very little boozing, especially because of what lay ahead…..
About half an hour from where we stayed on China Beach is Hoi An, which is a beautiful looking town and a world away from much else of Vietnam. It’s famous for tailor-made clothes so it would have been stupid if we didn’t get some stuff. So I bought two shirts, a suit, a casual jacket, a long winter coat and a tie – all fitted and tailor made – for about 120 Euro. So cheap. We were in Hoi An for maybe 3 or 4 days. I can’t really remember. Did nothing but buy stuff and hang out. Oh I got hit my a motorbike. That sucked. What was worse was I was walking on the foot path, minding my own business, when I got hit from behind. Anyhow, there we met some more cool folk. Tosca and Louise from Vientienne Flight/ Han Oi were there, as was Jorgen from Norway who we met while watching footie in Han Oi (Polite Bar). He introduced as to Marlou (who is sat behind me in the net cafe, finishing an article and awaiting beers) and Evi (both from Holland) and also Joe from Oz.
Right Marlou is now calling for beers. It’s 10:56pm and I could do with a beer too. I’ll keep the update flowing in the morn and re-edit this so check back.