Day 1: I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City and was met by a wonderful photographer named Mai Huong and a Vietnamese friend of hers from the US. I had arranged previously that Mai would take me around from HCMC to Hue, about half way up Vietnam. Mai booked me into a hotel in the city and we spent that night and the next day just sightseeing – me with my Galaxy Notepad! Mai and Tom took me to dinner and then Tom and I went for a walk around the city.
My first and I think my longest lasting memory of Vietnam will be the traffic! Horns blaring, Mopeds by the millions (or so it seems!) and Chaos!! However, this chaos seems to work – in a city of 10,000,000 people the traffic flows pretty well – albeit a little scary too! I haven’t stopped laughing since I arrived – mopeds everywhere, going seemingly wherever they want – road, right hand side (the norm here), left hand side, footpath, in shops, in homes – they’re everywhere! And not only the sheer volume, but 1, 2, 3, 4 or more people on 1 moped, mopeds carrying amazing loads – car parts, plants, lengths of conduit, bottled water and tonight – the best one I’ve seen yet – a guy on a moped carrying a large sheet of glass, riding down the wrong side of the road (and a pretty main road it was too).
Day 2: The next morning I went for an early morning stroll through the markets across from the hotel. At 6:30am these markets are already a bustling hive of activity! Fresh fruit and meats (some recognizable, many not so!), cooked meals and all sorts of items for sale. A typical Asian market.
Mai, Tom and I then headed out for breakfast. I had told Mai that I wanted to eat local food so off we went to a local restaurant for some Pho (pronounced Ferh).
The rest of the day was spent sightseeing and enjoying the local scenery. I also picked up a new tripod which was a great deal (thanks Mai) and then we decided to leave for Phan Rang that afternoon instead of spending more time in Ho Chi Minh City. Originally we were going to take Mai’s little Honda i10 but her husband was worried it wouldn’t handle the roads (in hindsight I think he was right) so somehow Mai organized a bus for us! SO, instead of the 3 of us it was now 5 – the bus came with a driver and co-driver. Hue the driver did the right thing and found an Australian flag to display in the front of the bus.
So, after a bit of toing and froing, off we set for the 8 hr drive to Phan Rang Province. What a fantastic start to my 18 day trip in Vietnam. I’ll try and post every day but it is a bit hard because we are normally in a bus travelling along some not so great roads!