04.04.2012 - 11.04.2012 35 °C
We last left you off with an update of our travels through northern Vietnam, now we'll catch you up on southern Vietnam where we found the people to be much friendlier than their northern counterparts.
We arrived in Hoi An after a long bus journey and at first we were underwhelmed by the small city. After settling ourselves in our rather luxurious hotel we went into town and quickly fell in love with the city's charm. We walked the narrow cobblestone streets and watched the thousands of floating candles, purchased by tourists, that were set out along the river. We were craving some more western food so we went to an Italian restaurant and indulged in a large pizza topped with lots of veggies. After dinner we met up with our friends Mike and Celia for a drink that soon turned into multiple drinks and many games of pool. We ended up shutting down the bar and most of the city and we were lucky to find a cab to take us back to our hotel. The next morning we ate the buffet breakfast provided by our hotel, the food ranged to include everything from classic Vietnamese to continental to pasta and stir-fry. It was delicious! Afterwards we rented bikes and rode into town to find one of the hundreds of tailors to get some custom-made clothes designed. This was quite the experience for both of us. We browsed the many catalogs to figure out what we both might like, and to our surprise we came out with way too many options to choose from. We took a break to meet up with our friends and to talk over which two pieces of clothing we wanted. Jess decided on a custom made button-down shirt and a pair of casual pants, while Sarah chose a fitted tweed skirt and a silk blouse. Back at the tailors we spent about half an hour going over the exact specifications with the tailor and then we were sized and measured. Once the total amount of fabric was decided the price was quoted at only $140 USD - a pretty good deal for custom fitted clothing. We left the shop both excited and a little bit anxious with only a few hours until our first fitting. That afternoon we relaxed by the hotel pool with Mike and Celia and played a few rounds of cards. Before dinner we stopped by the tailor for our first fitting to iron out any flaws and design changes. Jess's clothes were more or less right on, with only a few adjustments, and Sarah's skirt needed only a few tweaks as well. The blouse however, was a different story. It was a complete re-do as the tailors had added random stitches in weird places with an overall look somewhere between hotel bell-boy and Japanese geisha. The tailor was quick to realize the mistakes and we scheduled a second fitting for the following morning. We went to a small Vietnamese restaurant for dinner and Sarah had some of the local specialties - White Rose, which consists of prawns and vegetables wrapped in rice paper and Wonton Salad, which is a mixed green salad served over deep fried wontons. The next morning we woke early to get to the tailor's for our second fitting and grabbed a delicious coffee from Cargo along the way. When we go there we both tried on our clothes with the new adjustments made. Jess's were perfect and fit like... a shirt and pants and Sarah's were great as well with the shirt having been completely redone. We left the shop with our new clothes and headed back to our hotel to finish packing. That night we took an overnight bus to the beach side town of Nah Trang.
We arrived too early in the morning but luckily we were able to catch a few hours of sleep in our guesthouse. We went for lunch and then hit the beach for a relaxing afternoon complete with Vietnamese beach massages. That evening we headed to a classic Vietnamese BBQ restaurant where we were able to cook our own food over a table side BBQ. Our order came with Vietnamese beef, local calamari, and a plate of mixed vegetables as well as a bowl of rice. It was definitely an awesome experience and the food was exceptionally tasty. After dinner we met up with another friend that we had met in Laos for a drink at one of the local bars. We chatted about our travels through Vietnam and she gave us some good tips about Cambodia. The following day started off very relaxed with some more beach time and naps as well as some book time. That afternoon we met up once again with Mike and Celia at a local pub serving beer they brewed in house, which was some of the best beer we had in a long time. While we drank we planned a boat trip the following day and then we went for a tasty cheap dinner and a few more drinks. The morning of April 8th we woke up early for our scuba diving day trip just off the coast of Nah Trang. This was a much better experience than our scuba diving in Australia as we each had a 45 minute one-on-one session with a dive master, and the scenery was just as nice. Jess opted for a second dive while Sarah and Celia chose to snorkel at the next location. Overall we had an awesome day and it was a great diving experience. We left that evening on another night bus to Saigon.
We arrived in Saigon early the next morning and we were guided to our guest house through a narrow alley off of the main road.We went for an early breakfast and then we visited the War Museum, where we gained a new appreciation for the atrocities inflicted in the Vietnamese people during the war. By this time we were pretty tired so we went back to catch up on a couple of hours of sleep. That night we visited the local night market and then went for dinner at small Vietnamese restaurant. The next day we left for our day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels, an imperative piece of land just outside the main city used by the Cu Chi Guerrillas during the Vietnam War. During our visit we were able to crawl through some of the tunnels and walk around the land that was used by the Viet Cong in order to successfully exercise their mental warfare tactics. We saw examples of the traps that were made by the guerrillas as well as how they reused American bombs to create their own land mines and tank explosives. Our guide was a Vietnamese man who fought with the Americans against the Communist VC and he explained to us the differing perspectives the Vietnamese had on the war and America's involvement. We finished the tour by watching a ridiculously one-sided propaganda film that was both interesting and amusing. The rest of the evening was quiet with a delicious lunch at a local cafe and some time spent in our air conditioned room.
We head out tomorrow on a six hour bus ride over the border into Phnom Penh, Cambodia where we will spend three nights before making our way west through the country to our final destination - Bangkok, Thailand. We're looking forward to a new country and some new experiences before coming home. We plan on posting some new pictures in a few days so keep an eye out and as always continue to comment!
We love and miss you all and we'll see you soon!
S & J xoxo