It started with a rather interesting flight from Phnom Phen. As we departed in our vintage 737, (I think it must have been one of the first 737's to roll out of the Boeing plant, a real collectors item) we immediately banked so hard over to make our turn that with my face pressed up against the "high-side" window, I was unable to see the ground . Not quite a "first world" permitted maneuver at any altitude let alone 30 seconds after takeoff. "No Trace it is a perfectly normal maneuver, don't worry" I replied with my fingers crossed thinking about how I really had been looking forward to seeing Vietnam and was sad we may never see it after all. Thankfully, we landed safely in Saigon (or Ho Chi Mihn as it is now called aftert he North won) 30 minutes later. Saigon is crazy! Got out early the next morning. Hired a driver to take us 1200km up the coast over the next 6 days.
Highlights of VIETNAM:
- Stayed in a 5 star beach resort. We were not guests (initially...read on), we were only there to use the facilities (believe it or not if you're a foreigner you can use all the facilities for free even if you are not a paying guest.) The beach attendant laid out towels for us on beach chairs all free of charge. We were sad as we knew we could not stay there because it was too expensive for our budget (Very cheap by N American standards). Suddenly poor Trace was running down to the ocean where she began to throw up for the next few hours. As it was her birthday the next day and she would have to get in the car (which turned out to have a flat tire) to go to our cheap accommodation, Mike made an executive decision and checked us into the 5star beach resort! The best $70 we have spent so far! Trace had a rapid recovery after 4 hours and we both got to enjoy the lovely resort...ahhhh
- Buffet breakfast (included in the $70) with food we had not had since we left home. Swim-up bar and a beachfront luxury bungalow. Overall a GREAT Birthday.
- A fishing village just down the beach tucked into the palm trees.
-Crawled through the actual tunnels used by the Viet Con in the Vietnam war. Pretty small and very ingenious.
- Trace had a new wardrobe made in a Hoian, a town famous for its inexpensive tailors. 21 pieces of clothing for less than the cost of one suit back home.
-More snorkeling on coral beds. .
-Trekking through the jungles of an island in Halong Bay. An area of thousands of the classic limestone islands made famous in a James Bond movie.
-Women in "china" hats working in the rice fields.
-Even more crazy drivers. The traffic continuously flows through the intersections. No lights just a LOT of horn blowing not out of frustration simply to say here I am get out of my way.
The horns are getting on our nerves. Hard to believe we almost skipped Vietnam because we were hearing mixed reports from fellow travelers. The beggars and people on the streets that try to sell you things you don't need are VERY stubborn and this can get on ones nerves. But over all Vietnam is great. By far the most beautiful country we have visited so far.