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Vietnam - To the South

Hoi An to the Mekong Delta

...and so my journey continues. Vietnam is a place to meet travellers and then 'bump' into them again in the next place. It is a country where everyone travels to the same places. The only question is North to South? Or South to North? I met people going in both directions however the ones going in my direction, well, in the end it was like meeting up with old friends.

I had heard different things about Vietnam before I came here; people either enjoyed it or didnt. love / hate. From the stories I heard this mainly centred around the vietnamese people. Yes they are pushy when they want you to buy from them however this forward trait is very endearing when you meet and spend time with the ones who dont want your money....

The Sunflower Spa, Hoi An:- I decided to treat my toes and scoped out good spas, i found a nice looking one down the street from my room and waved to the girl saying i would be back in the evening. When I went back for a pedicure the girl ran out with a towel as i was soaking wet due to the torrential rain which had come from no where. Next came a bowl of steamy hot water for my feet to soak in, she left me soaking my tootsies i am sure, far longer than normal. It was great to be dry and warm. Her husband came out and poured a cup of Vietnamese Tea and gave me chom chom's to eat (delious small fruits). After a lovely pedicure i made to leave, only it was still raining so the girl ran back into the spa and came out with a traditional vitnamese hat for me, to keep the rain off. The next night i decided to indulge further and I wanted to return the hat. At this point it was not raining. The husband came out brandishing a small tea pot with Spring tea. The night before we had got into a conversation about the different teas so i was looking forward to trying it. It tasted of spring! It really did. I was given a mangosteen (another delious fruit) to try. I opted for a Vietnamese massage, which was fantastic. (I am sampling the traditional massages in each country i visit however that is for another entry). When I left it had started to rain...again. this time the not only produced a hat (much to my protestations, as the rain wasnt going to harm me) but a poncho as well. They then gave me with a tub of spring tea and a tub of vietnamese tea. I was touched by their kindness and generosity. This is a young couple, not long married who are expecting a baby in 5 months time. A mere thank you didnt seem to convey how touched i was so i gave them each a hug, i think they were a little taken a back but they smiled broadly and waved as i left.

Hoi An is an charming place, full of old houses and meeting halls with lanterns lighting up the river at night. Everyone who has been has a good story to tell and a wish to return. From here I caught the night bus to Nha Trang, a popular beach resort where I took in the local mud baths, beaches, islands, took a dip in the China Sea and caught up with friends. I travelled onto Da Lat, in the mountains. The French influence is in evidence here. I took an easy rider tour foraging into the countryside surrounding Da Lat and came across a Buddah made entirely of flowers (and it was taller than your house!). After spending a day I continued on to Saigon. Saigon is fun, i sat in alley ways chowing down on noddle soup and drinking fresh ice cold juices. I took a trip out to the Cu Chi tunnels which was were the Viet Cong dug down and made a stand against the Americans. It was pretty sobering to see the conditions that people lived in and died in (on both sides).

I enjoyed Christmas Eve in Saigon, it is something to see the roads so full of motobikes with 3 or 4 people a piece (I kid you not), practically staionary that you do not realise for a moment that it is a road and not a car park. Saigon celebrated with lights, and lots of Vietnamese out in force. I left Saigon on Christmas Day and started a 3 day tour of the Mekong Delta. I went first to My Tho and saw the islands and stayed in a homestay on Christmas Night enjoying a homecooked Vietnamese dinner. I visited the floating market at Can Tho, which is where the local traders get tehir wholesale they want to sell on the markets later on. Each boat sells one thing, like pineapples, and hosits the item up on a pole above their boat so everyone can see what they are selling. I ended my Mekong Tour at Chau Doc where my time in Vietnam finished. From here i go by boat up the Mekong and arrive in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I have enjoyed my travels in Vietnam and the firends i have met.

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Most religious moment - sitting in a bell while a monk chanted a prayer for me and chimed it three times. My hearing is still intact. For picture see my 'Merry Christmas' entry

Most thankful moment - hands down this goes to the lady who took one look a my mosquito bites and pulled out a small bottle of tiger balm. it really does help, taking the itch away and letting them 'go' at a quicker rate. i have used it a lot since then and still this small bottle barely looks used. Tiger Balm is a micrale cure ;)

Posted by TravellingGirl 03:27 Archived in Vietnam

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Happy New Year Liz, it sounds like you are really getting the best out of Vietnam! Keep the updates coming - they take my mind off the bleak winter drizzle that Streatham has to offer!

by James Fraser

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