A Travellerspoint blog

January 2014

Vietnam #1 A month in dot points because I'm lazy


Ha Tien:
- The border town near Cambodia
- Did not see another westerner in the entire time I was there
- Spent a lovely day cycling through local fishing villages
- Got what I thought was an ear infection and brought some ear drops that later turned out to be water
- Ear got worse so got on bus to Saigon (HCMC)

- Arrived super late and went straight to international medical clinic. Not an infection but don't know what it is. Brilliant.
- World food festival on opposite my hostel...so much good food! And singing and dancing

- War Museum - so moving. I didn't find it as propagandist as I had been told to expect, the photos just speak for themselves. And I had to sit down a few times.
- Ben Thanh Market
- Met the lovely Sammie and her family for dinner

- Best Bahn Mi and ca phe sua da for breakfast
- Post office (designed by same guy as the Eiffel Tower), Notre Dame, local mosque and Reunification palace.
- The Reunification Palace was great, but quite surreal as it still seems as though someone is living there
- It was amazing going through the basement, used as a bomb shelter and seeing the actual maps and communication technology used to run and command the war.
- Japanese! for lunch and highlands coffee
- Snails and squid for dinner (still the best meal I've had to date)
- GO2, cocktails and shisha
- Opening a corked bottle of wine with a knife, nail file and scissors

- Crab soup in the Chinese quarter for breakfast (yeah not a fan)
- Korean food for lunch with Sammie and her family
- Back to GO2 for copious amounts of cocktails
- Ear magically better now

- Tour de Jours bakery (worth the walk) and the Jade Emperor pagoda (not so worth the walk)

- Tour of the cu chi tunnels - very touristy and more guns, tanks and weapons than tunnels. Nevertheless, glad I've seen it!
- Drinking games, pho and dancing with half the hostel, crazy!

Mui Ne:
- Quiet beach town with so many wind and kite surfers
- There's no hostel here, so got a good deal on a room at an actually decent hotel (thanks agoda!) with a pool! and it was lovely to have my own space for a bit, however after a night, I realised how much l loved having people around me and meeting other people and was just lonely
- So I skyped everyone at home
- And did a tour of the sand dunes, driving a 4WD dirt bike type thing over them was amazing!! So impressive!
- And of the fairy stream...where you can walk down a little river, through a canyon to the waterfall.
- And then got the bus to Dalat


- Former French Hill station
- So much colder than the rest of the country due to the elevation - a welcome change.
- Absolutely beautiful architecture and cobbled alleyways - so easy to get lost which happened a lot!
- The beds at Enjoy Dalat hostel are described among backpackers as being 'like a morgue' - and they are set into the wall, but I actually really liked the fact that it was like you had you own little room.
- Did an motorbike tour of the countryside tour with Briar from NZ. Bo our guide was fantastic, highlights were trying weasel poop coffee, standing under and getting soaked by the elephant waterfalls, running into Jesse and Amy again, trying 80% alcohol rice wine and surviving the 'Chicken village', which for anyone who knows me was my own personal nightmare.
- Went out with Bo, everyone from the hostel and the gorgeous family who run it for dinner at the most local place. We had what was basically a cook it yourself BBQ to make into rice paper rolls, so much rice wine and beer. Amazing!
- In the absence of anything resembling a bar, we got some beer and sat by the lake sharing stories and playing games...before one of the hostel owners brothers remembered he had an exam at 7.30am and had to be taken home.

- Next day Briar, Zorsia and I visited the crazy house (Gaudi-esqe architecture in the weirdest location) took a cable car across the valley and had corn icy poles by the lake
- After another local family dinner we had the most crazy session of karaoke ever! It's taken really seriously over here and is really sophisticatedly set up with private rooms, sounds systems, a TV, lighting and an iPad to control songs all
linked in. So bad but so good.

Nha Trang:

- To Russians what Bali is to Aussies
- You could pay hundreds of dollars and stay at the highest class hotel and I bet you wouldn't get service even near equal to the lovely staff at Mojzo Inn. They remembered everyones name from the word go, we so concerned, helpful and questioning and made you feel so at home.
- So that was nice
- Unfortunately the weather wasn't exactly beach appropriate so day 1 was spent being a typical tourist at the Cham Towers and White Buddha.
0BE502B82219AC6817F5DC15D5A4243F.jpg - 0BE58E962219AC68177003478CD27CDE.jpg I also went to the gallery of photographer Long Tan. He's quite well known and had an exhibit in Melbourne a while back, and it was amazing talking to him about Melbourne and how he found it. His B+W portraits of people and Vietnamese life are incredibly moving, and something he said really stuck with me. "When you take a photo in colour you photograph someone's clothes, when you take it in B+W you capture their soul".

- Next day I went on a snorkel trip to surrounding islands. It was cold but so worth it. It was so beautiful and full of life. Oh and everyone else only spoke Russian.

Hoi An:

- Spent a few days here just relaxing, as I'd been to the main sights when I was here with the fam a couple of years ago.
- Ran into Amy and Jesse again and had a afternoon Bia Hoi bar crawl
- Did an evening cooking class and now can cook spring rolls, beef and banana leaf salad and lemongrass marinated fish in banana leaf...ok not actually..but it was fun...and I realised how much I missed having a kitchen.
- Got up for a 5am for a tour to the MySon ruins..so worthwhile as the fog rose out of the valley and the sun rose. it was very atmospheric, albeit small. And we were the only people there, so that was cool.
- The old town of Hoi An is heritage listed and so beautiful and charming, easily killed a couple of hours just wondering around taking it all in.

...and then I got on the bus to Hanoi

...to be continued.

Posted by isabellepurcell 03:25 Archived in Vietnam Tagged travel vietnam asia backpacking Comments (0)

Photos from Cambodia

Koh Rong

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Posted by isabellepurcell 23:42 Archived in Cambodia Tagged islands cambodia kampot photos asia backpacking kep kohrong Comments (0)

Finding Paradise in Cambodia

Koh Rong, Kampot and Kep

View Isabelle vs the world on isabellepurcell's travel map.

So many people have already asked me where my favorite place has been. To date, I absolutely have to say the South of Cambodia. Except not Sihanoukville. Its weird. And full of drunken backpackers (say nothing!) and prostitutes. Although Otres beach about 30mins from the main town is beautiful, a lot quieter and I do regret not taking my camera in a bout of 'oh I'm by myself and might want to swim.'
It's absolutely worth passing through though to jump on the boat to Koh Rong Island, which is absolute paradise on earth. Eline, a girl from Utretcht and I shared a bungalow literally right on the beach and despite planning to stay only for a night, ended up staying for three. There is not a lot there, just a few shack like bars and bungalows, giving it a real 'adventure deserted island life' feel. The beach is stunning and the water so clear that you could stand up to your neck and still see your feet.
We had a extremely relaxing few days going from the hammock to the water and to stop ourselves feeling too lazy, hired a kayak and paddled out to the 'little island' where there was some of the best snorkeling I've ever seen.
We mayyyy have had the same thing for dinner all three nights. BBQ chicken and barracuda on the beach...couldn't have asked for better! And then spent the nights playing cards in open aired shacks and watching insane lightning shows while it thunder stormed outside.
Another highlight here, was the bio luminescent plankton, which after the power is turned off at midnight glow in the dark in reaction to movement. Its hard to explain, but essentially if you swim or move the water around, it lights up and glows like there are tiny fairy lights under the water. Absolutely beautiful.
Back on the mainland, I headed to Bodhi Villa in Kampot, where I again ended up staying longer than expected and spent my birthday with the best bunch of people!
Kampot is a really chilled out town based around the river, with a distinctly French feel. The first night I was there was their live music night, and with face painting = free tequila shots, was a really fun night. The next day was my birthday which was spent cycling around town, skyping everyone at home and relaxing on the riverside deck. I was so lucky to be surrounded by such a a gorgeous group of people, including Jesse and Amy from QLD, who I've continued to bump into all the way through Vietnam, which has been lovely. Red wine, rum balls and a distinctly quieter night later, I was officially 20!
The next day I headed up to Bokor Moutain on a motorbike to find the elusive 'abandoned hill station.' We didn't find it but had an awesome day, taking in the views all the way to Thailand and exploring the area. Yes, I did fall off, nothing too nasty, but enough to make me extremely careful!
Finally it was time to say goodbye to Cambodia, with my last night in Kep, right on the border of Vietnam. Its a lovely seaside town with amazing seafood and watching the sun go down over the coast of both Cambodia and Vietnam I was looking forward to moving on.

Posted by isabellepurcell 22:39 Archived in Cambodia Tagged travel cambodia kampot vietnam island asia backpacking kep Comments (0)

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