Vietnam – let the games begin

Hi everybody,

as I promised I will keep track with weekly (at least that is my intention – but don’t hold me for a word) blogs. This is my first one ever so please don’t hesitate to comment, criticize, advice, laugh, cry, share…

The 1st week in Vietnam is behind us. So many nice people, places, experiences and cuisine that we have experienced that I can’t even express my eagerness about what there is still to come.

In a short resume I will chronologically present the 800 km that we have done in past week.

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HO CHI MINH (SAIGON)

Fasten your seatbelts as Ho Chi Minh City is a metropolis on the move – and we’re not just talking about the motorbikes that throng the streets. Saigon, as it’s known to all but city officials, is Vietnam at its most dizzying: a high-octane city of commerce and culture that has driven the whole country forward with its limitless energy.

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The metropolitan area is populated by more than 9,000,000 people making it the most populous metropolitan area in Vietnam.  There are approximated 500,000 cars and 5 million motorcycles in the city, which is almost double compare to Hanoi. The growing number of motorcycles tend to cause gridlocks and pollute the air. These are two reasons why the government develops plans to reduce the number of motorcycles and to improve public transportation besides other measures to reduce traffic, lately specially with imposing 100 – 300 % taxes on cars.

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I have to admit that Saigon surprised me in a very positive way. You can find a place to stay from  3-4 eur on, you can eat from 3-4 eur on (although on the streets we could eat even cheaper, but we didn’t want to risk it already the first week) and you can get a beer for 0,5 eur, Saigon is definitely a city I would recommend to visit.

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CU CHI TUNNELS

While staying in  Saigon, we took a half day tour to Cu Chi Tunnels, which are an 1,5 h bus drive from Saigon.

The tunnels of Củ Chi are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels and are part of a much larger network of tunnels that underlie much of the country. The Củ Chi tunnels were the location of several military campaigns during the Vietnam War.

The tunnels were used by Viet Cong soldiers as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters. The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Viet Cong in their resistance to American forces, and helped to counter the growing American military effort. They consist of a 250 km network of tunnels located all around the South Vietnam.

I had a chance to meet an American war veteran, that returned back to Vietnam after almost 40 years to make peace with himself. He was an helicopter machine gun operator and shared some fascinating stories from war with me. Richard I appreciate for those moments!!!

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DELTA OF MEKONG RIVER (CAN THO and MY THO)

Vietnam’s ‘rice basket’, the Mekong Delta is a watery landscape of green fields and sleepy villages, everywhere crisscrossed by the brown canals and rivulets fed by the mighty Mekong River.

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We took a  2 day tour which took 2 h drive the first day and we stopped at My Tho, where we took the bout ride around Mekong delta. I have to say that the tour was a bit too “instant tourism” but it’s the only way to do it if you have short period of time. We still saw nice places – specially the visit of the islands, canoe ride and the  “highlight” staying with the family for the night where they served us home made food which was great.

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The  second day we took a boat ride around famous floating markets, stopped at the rice noodle factory and at the end we visited a restaurant where you could eat fresh fruits and there speciality snakes, frogs and rats on BBQ.

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DA LAT

Da lat is Vietnam’s alter-ego. The weather is a bit colder than everywhere else (actually was raining the whole day) and the farms surrounding the city are fool with flowers and fruits and not rice, typical for Vietnam.

Da Lat is a big domestic tourist destination, cheesy and tacky honey moon capital for vietnamese (don’t worry we didn’t get married).

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NHA TRANG

We took a very interesting 5 h bus drive too Nha Trang, through Vietnamese mountains with beautiful views and half of the bus throwing up (Vietnamese don’t handle curves too good).

Nha Trang is the beach capital of the country. It has a beautiful beaches but it’s becoming too hectic with all the Russian tourists flooding the city. It’s perfect place to learn scuba diving and snorkeling. Also a great spot to try exquisite local cuisine in plenty of restaurants scattered around the city.

We spent 3 amazing days on the beach taking sun, snorkeling around nearby islands and tasting pineapple boat with beef, chicken in coconut jar and plenty more, with our new german friends.

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Ok guys, these is it for this week.  We are heading up north to Hoi  An, Hanoi…. Soon I will keep you posted with new adventures and experiences. Until than love each other and don’t be to jealous at us 🙂

Love Maja & Andrej

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