Vietnam was the last country on this trip, which started in Singapore, then up through Malaysia, Thailand and Laos. After the drama I had in Laos getting the visa for Vietnam (just in time before Tet), I found out that there were no buses going into Vietnam for at least 10 days. The only option I had was to fly, though luckily I had enough in the budget to do so.
I flew into Hanoi, expecting a terrible immigration procedure, but it was actually one of the easiest I’d ever encountered. Much easier than Laos, Thailand or Indonesia. I was whisked through, then was picked up by a car I’d arranged earlier. Because of the earlier dramas in Laos, I wasn’t about to risk being stranded at the airport in Hanoi. I needn’t have worried though. Hanoi was a very modern airport, incredibly clean and they had plenty of taxi options.
Along the way from the airport to the hostel, we drove along this imposing bridge, which looked very communist/futuristic! I was immediately transported to 1984.
After a couple of days in Hanoi, I went on a 2 day cruise on Halong Bay. It was incredibly beautiful, and the cabin very luxurious.
When I got back to Hanoi, I saw the aftermath of Tet everywhere. Rubbish and old toys were piled up in the streets. I assume children are given new toys on Tet, and throw the old ones away. A child playing on the sidewalk nearby used an old truck to have some fun. I used the fact that the streets were quieter than usual to explore Hanoi.
Hoi An was incredible. I really enjoyed it and it would be the place I’d most likely go back to. There I enjoyed massages, delicious food, colourful markets and had some clothes and shoes tailored for me. I also drank Vietnamese egg coffee, which is the best coffee I’ve ever had. It’s like drinking coffee mousse.
The bus from Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh would have been over 19 hours, and I didn’t think I could manage anther long haul bus trip. I looked online, but all the trains were booked solid, and there was only Business Class left on the planes. So I sucked it up and shelled out $200 for a Business Class ticket for what turned out to be a 1.5 hour flight. I was the only backpacker in the business lounge. I looked like a hobo, but at least there was free breakfast.
I didn’t really like Ho Chi Minh City. It was interesting, and I’m glad I saw it, but overall I couldn’t wait to leave it. I decided to seed Deadpool at the cinema, but apparently they censor their movies (the sex scenes especially). Afterwards, I was really confused when people were discussing certain scenes in the movie on Facebook. I had thought the movie was a bit ‘choppy’, so now I know why.
Then I was off, flying back to Australia via Kuala Lumpur (along with the inevitable delay, although we ended up arriving pretty much on time). So long South East Asia – till we meet again.