Vietnam · 19 Days · 64 Moments · June 2014

Chris Rush

Chris's voyage in Vietnam

10 July 2014

Hanoi street train. I made a point of seeing this as I thought it would be cool. The streets temporarily pack up to allow trains to pass. Fun to watch (for weirdos like me 😊)
Flag tower of Hanoi. Part of the old citadel. Saw this as part of my last day run around of Hanoi. Couldn't get entry that day as it was shut - unsure if you can get public access. Regardless it's a cool piece to see, very iconic and close to many of the main sites.
The one pilar pagoda, Hanoi. Free to enter. Nice building to see, great example of architecture. Currently there's massive construction work happening around it - they seem to be building a new temple beside it. I had to sneak into the construction site to see it when I eventually realised it was inside!
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Impressive tribute to a man who had such a huge impact on the country. I think the only shame about this building is that they went against Ho Chi Minh's wishes to be cremated to creat this memorial. I didn't go in, it was shut both times I was in the area. It only opens for a few hours each morning, 5 days a week. There is a heavy guard presence at all times which is a wee bit intimidating! No photography or even bags are allowed inside.
Trấn Quốc Pagoda A Buddhist temple on a small island near the southeastern shore of Hanoi's West Lake. The temple itself offers nothing different to the others, but the Pagoda is pretty special. One of the nicest ones I saw. Free to see.

9 July 2014

Sofitel Plaza Hanoi Hotel. This place is cool. Bit upper end as a hotel but anyone can pop to the 20th floor bar for a cocktail. Cracking view of the city, nice vibe and easy enough to get to. 220,000 Dong per cocktail, so about £6. Not for the average backpacker but a cool treat. Was a recommendation by the hotel receptionist. Address: Sofitel Plaza Hanoi Hotel, 1 Thanh Nien Road, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, Vietnam, Thanh Niên, Trúc Bạch, Ba Đình, Hà Nội, Vietnam
The Cruise. The ship was decent if around 30 years old. It was clean and the rooms were much nicer than I expected. Food was of a good standard throughout, but no drinks were included which I thought was a little cheeky, especially at mealtime. A bottle of water would have been adequate. The cruise itself could have been better. This was the general vibe of everyone I spoke to. Good points: It gave us a mini tour of the bay. It wasn't a party boat. Bad points: It only showed us a fraction of the bay. We moored on the evening close to a party boat meaning all we could hear was their (shite) music. We spent way to long harboured waiting to pick up and drop off various people who were staying on the island overnight - the entire second day was spent in harbour before we went to the mainland to get off. It felt like we had to entertain ourselves when a simple drive around the bay & more opportunities to swim (we had 1) would have been easy for them to offer.

8 July 2014

Ha Long Bay - over all thoughts. Stunning place. Natural wonders all around you, and just when you think it can't be more beautiful the sun begins to set. Phenomenal colours. Spending an evening under the stars on a clear night is beautiful too, especially if you get to watch a storm rolling in like I did! It has to be a must see area, but the absolute key factor is finding the right boat cruise that suits the traveller. There should be two very distinct options for me. Party and wonder. Party is for the people that want to go to the bay and get bladdered listening to blaring music. Wonder is a quieter option allowing you to really appreciate and explore the natural beauty the place offers.
Street sellers on Halong Bay. I just loved this - wee boats full of treats paddling up alongside each cruise ship to try and make a sale. Brilliant to watch.
Kayaking around the floating village. Cool thing to do. BUT. The gave us only 20 mins in the kayak - and there was a chap keeping time with the threat of a late penalty!! They offered an additional 25mins for 60,000 dong. General feeling of everyone was, we've paid for this why should we have to pay more? Equipment supplied was fine and safe enough. 2 people per boat. I didn't see any help offered for kayaking newbies, and there was no real safety instructions or 'stay with in this area' Was nice enough to look around the village. No information offered though. Would be so easy to make that better. But regardless of time constraints it's was cool to kayak there.
Halong bus. Turned up at the hotel as booked and guided me to the bus. Seated around 25 in total when the additional fold down seats are used. Air conditioned but a wee bit cramped when full. The journey took around 4h with one 20 minute stop. Slightly chaotic on arrival though, no one seemed able to connect myself and a few fellow cruisers to our ship on arrival, meaning we ended up standing on the roadside for about 45 mins.
The cave. We were on the ship 30mins before we were off again at the cave island. We had 45 mins to walk through before getting on the boat again. The cave was very pretty and very well lot to enhance the natural light available inside. The floor of the cave has been modified for visitors so it's very easy to get around. The 45 mins was enough to see the cave but there was a second cave on the island which we weren't given time to see. We had to pass the entrance to this to get back to the boat, so I was a little disappointed not to go. Unsure what the rush wasn't exactly an action packed itinerary.

7 July 2014

Mai Chau home stay. Nice place. Traditional mattress on floor style bed. Mosquito net provided. Not the best bathroom facilities but fine. Food was really good here, and varied each meal. Hosts were pleasant but kept themselves to themselves. Would have been nice to interact more but they weren't up for it. Just as well it was nice as we spent far too much time here.
Mai Chau day 2. We went on a motorbike ride to a nearby lake. The ride was fairly uneventful apart from my minor fall. Nice scenery on the way. One of the girls rode solo, which looked more fun. We stopped at a waterfall the rode to the lake where we boarded a small boat. The boat travelled for about 20mins then we were given the option to swim. We all did, but the water was a bit murky...and orange (clay) so we were all a bit worried! Was fun enough to swim around before taking the boat and bikes back. Activity time about 3 hours. We then sat at the homestay for the last few hours waiting for our bus back.

6 July 2014

Mai Chau motorbike 'lesson'. The first night we were offered a motorbike lesson ahead of the next days activity where, if we wanted to, we could ride solo on a bike. I did the lesson. Actually loved giving it a go, and was actually pretty good at it (if I do say so myself). They showed us the controls and then we were off one by one, riding up the road by the homestay. But zero insurance and promise that we would have to pay for a new bike should we break it made me decide against riding solo. Incidentally I regretted this the next day as my driver tipped us off the bike part way. Couldn't help but think if have been safer alone!!
Mai Chau - overall impressions. Beautiful place. So few tourists which is nice. Wanted to explore it much more. Too much time was spent sitting around. We had max 5 hours of planned activity over the day and a half there. They just built a tourist 'resort' there which looked to hold a lot of people. Saw no other tourists while there other than those I was with. Done properly this could be really cool, but going off the opinion of both travellers and travelling locals, Mai Chau isn't as iconic as Sapa.
Mai Chau bike ride. This was ok. We sat around for the first 4 hours after we arrived so I was happy to just get out. Bikes were average. Guide was a bit rubbish at being a guide. Little to no knowledge shared. And he cycled off ahead quite a bit. Felt like all he wanted to do was take us to places where we could spend money. A point made by one of the girls I was with. Gave us the chance to see a bit of the town, which is pretty. But the tour was below par. We met a weaver who showed us the process before trying to sell us lots. The went to a market street full of tourist tat. The most interesting part was the tropical storm that hit us part way round! Could have been so much better.

5 July 2014

Water Puppet Theatre, Hanoi. A spot of culture at the local theatre. This was really good fun, even though for the most part it's in Vietnamese. There's a brief greeting in several languages. Tickets are 100,000 Dong and there are 3 performances per night at 3pm 5.30pm and 8pm. The puppets are accompanied with live traditional music. The puppets themselves are in water as you'd expect and it is incredible the controlled movement and actions they manage. Each puppet is controlled by sticks beneath the water that connects them to the puppeteer behind the curtain. The stories themselves don't really need words, you can follow what's going on by the actions alone. Good fun.
Hanoi city sights: Ho Chi Minh museum. It's a beautiful building in tribute to an important guy from their history. There's a huge statue of him inside which is presented in a big space on the top floor. Beyond that there are various personal affects, letters and photos on display. Half of the exhibition rooms are translated to English. The top floor is a bit weird... Various sculptures which are obviously meant to depict sections of his life. But one giant fruit was completely lost on me! The area where his body is kept is only open for a few hours each morning 5 days a week. But the rest of the display is open all day. Entry was 25,000 dong.

4 July 2014

Farmstay. This was amazing. First up, incredible view of the valley behind the rice fields and gorgeous sunsets each night. The room had a four poster bed complete with mozzy net. Very comfy room with aircon. Food was ace. The second night turned out to be the owners wife's Birthday. So they threw a huge BBQ party and invited all the Easy tiger Hostel stayers too. (This by the way could be a better option for bus about. It's owned by the same folk, but in town. Brilliant night. From the owners, right down to the maids everyone was super super friendly. They show an outdoor cinema movie each night and have a swimming pool. Easily the best place I've stayed so far. Summary: YES.
Cycling with Shi. 900k dong. 8am to 5pm. Usually minimum 2 people, but I made it clear how keen I was to do this so he obliged. Shi is an awesome guide. He is setting up and running a mountain biking tour. He is a local guy but splits his time between here and Hue. Incidentally he runs a walking tour there which includes the Citadel. I have his email and Facebook. So I can introduce you at some point if you like. The tour began from the cavern bar. He supplied me a top notch mountain bike for the day. We cycled 40km in total. He tailored the ride around what i was after. He has multiple routes. I asked for great views and for him to introduce me to locals and help me get permission to shoot. He did good. One of my favourite days. He's one to watch. Works closely with Ben (farmstay owner) who actually persuaded him to do tours.

3 July 2014

The National Park tour.

2 July 2014

Biking around Hue. Recommended. The hostel is lovely but it's quite a hike to the main sites. They have bikes for rent for a few dollars per day. It really makes everything a lot more accessible. It's bloody hot work though. Take gallons of water. And some hand wipes - the chain came off the bike a few times leaving my hands well oiled after each repair!
Backpackers Hostel Hue. Good vibe here. Big party atmosphere. Perfect for backpackers as the name would imply. Lots of lone travellers up for chat. Rooms are nice. Compact but good. And very comfortable. There's a secure locker with each bed. The hostel is a bit far from sites so you need to hire a push bike really. Walking to the citadel for example took me 45 mins. I rented a bike the next day. Lots of bars, clubs and places to eat around it though. Which adds to the part atmosphere. Each night at the hostel bar has a theme, e.g. ladies night. And there are two happy hours 5-6 and 8-9pm where it's BOGOFF on certain drinks. And food is good there. Staff were also very helpful when it came to organising stuff too. Overall a good choice!
The Thiên Mụ Pagoda It has seven storeys and is the tallest in Vietnam. I cycled to it as it was a bit of a trek from the hostel. Took around half an hour by bike. There's a car park where you can secure the bike on arrival too. The pagoda is cool. Big, obviously. The temple behind it is interesting too, enjoyed wandering around it. There were no tickets, so this was a free activity. Well worth the travel to get there. Great views too.
The Thiên Mụ Pagoda It has seven storeys and is the tallest in Vietnam. I cycled to it as it was a bit of a trek from the hostel. Took around half an hour by bike. There's a car park where you can secure the bike on arrival too. The pagoda is cool. Big, obviously. The temple behind it is interesting too, enjoyed wandering around it. There were no tickets, so this was a free activity. Well worth the travel to get there. Great views too.

1 July 2014

Boomerang bus to Hue. So, after the mixup over where to go for the bus I ended up in the right place when the bus arrived. The bus itself was big, 50 ish seats, of which only 6 were filled. I was really surprised the bus had zero branding. In fact boomerang wasn't mentioned once. And tickets weren't checked. I spent the first half of the journey wondering if I was experiencing a scam of epic proportions. The folk running it spoke limited English, which is fine, but they didn't announce stops or anything. I kept track with my map and I'm sure they would have told me if asked...but you shouldn't have to ask that. People hopped on and off from various locations. The bus also avoided the iconic beautiful mountain pass road, which I was gutted about as I wanted to take in the view! Instead we went through a tunnel! Unlike all of the other buses I've been on we were supplied nothing, thankfully I had water with me for the trip. Comfortable, modern bus. It took 3 hours.
The Citadel, Hue. 105,000 dong entry. Seemed steep at the door, then I realised how huge it was. Easily spent 4 hours wandering around the place. It's vast and mostly beautiful. I particularly liked the main palace and some of the buildings that had fallen into disrepair. The one thing that annoyed me was the fact that for the most part I didn't know what I was looking at. There were no maps on entry and you're just left to wander. Can't help but feel a guide would be useful. You'd get more out of a visit that way. Fantastic place. Probably the main reason to visit.

30 June 2014

Lost in translation. I've been enjoying giggling at a few signs :)
The river side, Hoi An. It springs to life here when it gets dark. All of the restaurants and bars are beautifully lit and it just looks, well, pretty. There are a lot of floating candle sellers around, should you feel inclined. There's also a lot of loud music blaring out of ships and bars. Mostly Westlife for some bizarre reason! The rest of the town is still alive too. Each shop displays lanterns and remains open beyond 8pm. It's lovely just to wander through.
ATMs are air conditioned. This is vital, life saving knowledge. :)
Rice fields of Hoi An. I had a wander out of Hoi An to a rice field I spied during the taxi ride. Took about half an hour to get there on foot. Watched the locals tend the fields, saw some buffalo and got the snaps I was after.
Thuy Duong 3 hotel. Lovely place. Very comfortable hotel with great facilities including a swimming pool. Very quiet here which has been a welcome break! Aircon, safe, minibar and even an umbrella thrown in too. No chance to mingle here though, there's families and older couples staying mostly. Central location, easy to get everywhere in a ten minute walk really. Friendly staff too, very helpful and on hand whatever you need.
The Hoi An markets. Absolutely loved these. Got up at 5 and ran to the fish market. Amazing to see the set up and process they go through to prepare food. Great to mingle with the locals. The vibe at the market is brilliant. From fish to meat to veggies. It's all there. The people there hated having photos taken, they're clearly sick of tourists! The silk market is more low key but still brilliant in it's own way. Love how they cram everything in there too. By about 10am it starts to frazzle out.

29 June 2014

Hoi An - overall thoughts. Love it. Such a quaint wee town. Beautifully lit at night. Lovely buzz about. So easy to get everywhere on foot, but easy to rent bikes for a small fee too. Generally lovely welcoming people, though there are a few scams to watch out for. Really loved the time there. Note, there are a lot of cookery classes offered here. The timings clashed with the things I wanted to do but I spoke with a traveller who said he had a fantastic time with: They take you out to fields to collect ingredients then back to cook.
The Japanese Covered Bridge, Hoi An. Beautiful wooden structure, though it must be under danger of collapsing with all the tourists that are on it each day. Beautiful views from the little bridge. And being covered, it protects from both sun and rain. Win and indeed win.
5.36am train Nha Trang - Da Nang (with connecting taxi to hoi an). Arriving at 14.06pm Taxi to the station from the hotel cost 40,000 dong. Ticket cost 663,000 Dong. Taxi to the hotel (arranged by the hotel) from Da Nang adds a further 315,000. Spaces were only available as sleeper on this when I booked. So on I got, bleary eyes from my 415am start! The train itself is ok. I would say it's reasonably comfortable but nowhere near as well organised as the bus for tourists. I turned up at the station and didn't have a clue where to go, everything is written in Vietnamese and there's no easy to understand departure board. Staff spoke limited English. The bed itself is a little cramped with my luggage + me, but there is nowhere secure to leave it. I've been harassed and woken up by locals trying to sell me stuff too. Oh and they allow smoking onboard, with air conditioning and locked windows...that makes sense! All in all I would say take the bus!

28 June 2014

Snorkelling with Arranged by hotel. $15. Brilliant day out. Full day trip which allowed time for 3 x 45m-1h dives. The reefs are decent with lots of fish around. The dive locations are dictated by weather and current strength. The guides were friendly and thorough in explaining dos and donts. Even dictating the area to swim around in. Lunch (a banquet) was supplied on board as was water, snorkel mask, flippers and towel. There was an optional scuba extra too, but I don't have a licence. Tour lasted 9am - 4pm. We were collected and returned to the hotel by the guides.
Nightlife. Lots of bars and clubs around here. And loud music wherever you go, especially the beach. There's a beach party at the Sailors Club on the beach each Saturday. It's the 'place to be' apparently. I went along, it was rammed. Big venue with multiple bars and seating areas. The main draw is the live DJ set with the sand dance floor in front of it. It's ticketed, but you pay on the door. Aside from that there are various night markets and many other pubs and restaurants. The only thing missing for me was the street food.
Vien Dong hotel. Checked this out as requested. Felt a lot more up market hotel rather than a backpacker place. Staff were very stand offish and unhelpful when questioned really! It's certainly a big hotel with plenty of facilities. Centrally located, in an ideal spot really. Totally different vibe to Mojzo, and Mojzo would be my number one choice. But this would probably suit an older traveller.
Nah Trang beach. Looks gorgeous with picturesque views of the islands. Unfortunately the whole time I was there it was overcast! It even rained day 2 :( No chance for the 'iconic' beach shot I'm afraid due to this weather. The sand is pristine and regularly cleaned by attendants. Facilities are geared towards the tourists as you'd expect with drinks and food easily available. It's not a place to relax though, even on overcast days the music is blaring at various points along the coast and I struggled to find even a moderately quiet spot.

27 June 2014

Smiley backpacker hostel. Good vibe, great friendly people staying here. Super friendly owner. And they are great at organising stuff. 5 story building. Lots of dorm rooms and 2 private top floor rooms. Rooms are basic but fine. Great views from the top floor too. And it's reasonably close to the good bits of town. A 40,000 dong taxi from the bus drop off point got me there. Couple of things let it down - general decor isn't great and they smoke downstairs which comes into the rooms. I'm not a hostel stayer usually though so that might just be me being overly expectant. The people staying at the same time make it too. Note point. The owner also offers an 'easy rider' package. These range from day trips that take you to your next city right up to 90 day packages. Details attached. I don't know if it's possible, but thought might be appealing to offer a 'meet your bag there' package. Let the traveller deposit their bag on the bus then bike to the next city to meet it
Nah Trang - overall impressions. Wasn't struck by it. Its waaaaay too touristy. Full people who rarely care about local culture and instead just want to get drunk and eat their western food. I was harassed by locals constantly who are clearly so used to tourists buying things from them. And worse than that were the beggars that followed you up the street. It's a real shame as the area itself is gorgeous. Loved snorkelling the reef and generally the view out to the ocean is stunning. But for me it is the Blackpool of 'nam. I'm sure some tourists will love it for the westernisation, beach and partying, but I'm not one of them.
Open tour bus Da lat - Nha Trang. 60 seater bus. Comfortable. Much more modern than the previous one. Water provided on board. Only around 12 seats occupied. The Da Lat pick up point is a bit chaotic, no where near as good as HCMC. Also note point. The bus you are allocated is determined by the party size. We almost got put on a older looking cramped van... Bad point A bag was lost by a girl on my bus. Baring in mind only 12 people were onboard that is surprising and a little worrying that they weren't very vigilant. Da Lat had a lot of people hanging around while we were boarding.
Mojzo hotel. Fantastic place to stay, favourite so far. Staff are helpful beyond belief and make everything so easy for you. They are also all the happiest people I have ever met. They organise everything from tours to train tickets. The room I was in was lovely. Air-conditioned and comfortable. There was also a safe in the room. I spoke to some other travellers who told me the dorms were equally comfortable. They have a restaurant on the 6th floor that serves western food. Again people I spoke to said it was great. Really impressed by it.

26 June 2014

Central market. The centre of Da Lat is bustling day and night with markets. Great food street available and some brilliant sights - it's amazing how much stuff they manage to cram into tiny stalls!
Canyoning. Ok, I wasn't great at this but I loved it anyway! It cost $22 and was arranged by the hostel. All equipment, food and water included. It ran from 8am-3pm. My group had about 20 people in it, which was mostly fine but it did lead to a fair bit of sitting around waiting. A group of 10 would be a better size. Pretty thorough safety talk and practice at the start and their gear is top notch. Over the day there were two water slides, 3 abseils (2of which are in waterfalls) and 1 free fall jump. The jump almost ended me. Really fun day, highly recommended.
Da Lat - overall impressions. Weird little town for Vietnam but has a good vibe about it. Loved the central market and it is generally a very pretty town. Distinct buzz about the place no matter the time of day. The activities available from there make it cool. And it is cool, which is a great break from the heat. Friendly town, and everyone I spoke with enjoyed their time there.
Da Lat Plaza hotel. Popped in to check it out. Totally different vibe, looks like a decent place but not one that screams backpackers. Picked up some leaflets for you too.

25 June 2014

Au Lac hotel. Overall a good place to stay. Decent room with aircon, comfy bed and good shower. What more could you want. I was in one of the on street rooms which was a little noisy from 5am with traffic. Nothing that bothered me, but may annoy some people. Breakfast included offered a buffet that consisted of more western cereal and fruit, to more Asian noodles, rice and pho. It wasn't slap bang in the middle of the action, so you do need to walk a wee bit. I couldn't find much street food etc in the immediate area, the palace is near by though. It is a 30min walk to TNK. Incidentally the pin for TNK travels office on Google is wrong. It's actually 2 doors down from the Sinh Tourist Cafe.
Independence palace - better to visit with a tour guide who can explain things to you. My guide from TNK was good, he made it a more interesting experience. There are info boards throughout in English, but it's heavy going. For me, although it's an iconic building with lots of history surrounding it, I wouldn't rank it highly as a 'must see'. You can run around it in an hour. I think the most devastating thing is that rather than restoring the beautiful original building (French architecture I believe) they chose to level the entire building after a bomb damaged a section of it during the war. Architecturally the new version lacks the character of the old.
Open bus to Dalat. Busses in total for both open tours were $14. The bus I go held around 25. So it's small. Air conditioned, water and hand cleaner provided. Zero chat or reassurance from the driver and co pilot that you're in the right place. But you do leave from the Sinh cafe, so they keep you right. There was a ten minute break 2h in and a 40min lunch 6 hours in. Only 8 people on the bus. They do have bigger more modern busses than this from what I saw too. The driver seemed to like 80s love ballads. He tortured me for about an hour with them. Roads were being resurfaced for miles on along the way. Adding steamrollers to the crazy mix of traffic on the roads is unsurprisingly not a good plan. Also makes sitting difficult as you get flung about on the uneven surface. For hours.

24 June 2014

'Saigon by Night' bike tour with with XO Tours. Found this online the night before and booked. $40 so a bit more upper end, but great fun. They send a white bike to your hotel to pick you up 15m before your meet up time, I'm my case 1745 for 1800. The guides are all local young girls, very chatty and knowledgeable about the city. My guide, Nhung, was brilliant. We went through several of the districts where they offered insights into the city from a local perspective. All interesting stuff. We stopped off for street food half way - Devine. Also riding through the city at night with a local that you can trust is a brilliant experience in itself, I loved it. They offer a 'foodie tour' during the day which is worth looking at. Based on the night tour I think it would be great. They have around 60 drivers in total, though they don't work all at the same time. They seem to allocate your driver based on your nationality, though each of the driver spoke very good English.
HCMC - overall impressions. Love the city. Great vibe throughout. Tonnes to do and see. The biking is incredible. To cross a road you have to switch off all safeties in your mind that say 'wait' and just walk! (Can't wait to tell mother that!) From my point of view I could have easily spent a few more days here exploring, I spent most of my time on day trips rather than checking it out! Generally friendly people. Though there are a few to many people trying to flog items and services to tourists, especially in areas where tour companies are. Top city.
Mekong Delta day trip with TNK. Ace day. 2.5h there with a break half way for refreshments. The bus sated around 60 and was almost full. Water provided. First stop was a Buddhist temple. HUGE Buddha statues there. Not much time to take it in (about 40mins) before moving on but the statues alone are incredible. The air is fresh and the country beautiful out here. Next a quick 2k boat ride across the river followed by a banquet lunch buffet. Amazing food and lovely hosts. On to a local honey farm that provided samples and showed the process to make their sweets. I also tried a snake and scorpion infused rice wine and held a python there. Then a paddle boat down the river before returning to HCMC. Fun. Would be a lot better with smaller groups. Back for 5pm prompt.

23 June 2014

Night wander. Walked around the city for a few hours before a thunder storm and jet lag forced me to give up. Traffic is just as mentally brilliant at night. Unfortunately most of the buildings I wanted to see weren't lot up at night so they were difficult to spot, like this pagoda. Oh and by rain storm I mean I would have been dryer sitting in the ocean.
Cu chi tunnels. Interesting day out. Incredible innovation brought out through some of the toughest times in Vietnam. The tunnels are tiny, well hidden and hard to breathe in! And that was the widened 'tourist tunnel'. I had enough of the tunnel after 40m (don't judge me until you go there - it's tough going!) no one on my tour went beyond the 40m point, many refused to even go in. I dread to think what the original tunnels are like based on that Then came the traps. Concealed, brutal and deadly. All in all a decent afternoon, though it does feel like it takes a long time to get there. Good way to learn about the war. 1.5 hours on a coach either way. Coach is big, holding around 60. My tour only had around 20 on it, but the morning was full. For reference the guide mentioned tours are quieter in the afternoon. There were a few groups around but we had plenty of time to see everything. Water provided on board. Coach was comfy. They played a DVD about the tunnels on the way.
TNK morning HCMC tour. $6 to be driven around a few sites. The sites are within walking distance of each other, but for the money you also get an English speaking guide who was brilliant for brining places to life. Itinerary: TNK > war museum > independence palace > cathedral > the post office > lunch (included in price) War museum. Good translations for English visitors who have the stomach to look at some of the harrowing images. Could be laid out better, but worth a peek for the 15,000 Dong. It's split over 3 levels, start at the top and work yourself down. I ran around it in just an hour as part of the morning city tour with TNK. I didn't feel I missed much through rushing. , you can easily get around it thoroughly in 2hours.

22 June 2014

Stepped outside and the heat hit me
30 minute wait off the plane for my visa. Not too long but I was shattered off the travel.
Quick coffee in Dubai. He almost spelt my name right too...and in fairness, probably way closer than how I'd is spell his

21 June 2014

The mighty steed
Next stop Gatwick
It all starts here. Taxi for the train to London