Thursday, September 30, 2010

Poor People, Rice Paddies, Water Buffalo's and Snakes

Well where should I start?
I'm gonna say be thankful for what you have!
Visiting a poor country like Vietnam is a real eye opener, and wallet opener for that matter!
These people on average make 3-5 US dollars a day, and ya know what I have never met such a happy group of people. By a day I mean like 15hrs of work.
As far as Im concerned it's unbelievable,unimaginable and sad but true!

Ignore the grammar errors, I'm just gonna type here:

I arrived in Hanoi Sept 12 and am working my way south to Saigon (Ho Chi Min city) till I skip over to Cambodia(yet another poor country)
Hanoi was great, met some great people, and saw Halong bay for 3 days 2 nights. Saw some monkeys on an island...for the record monkey's look better in trees than on the beach, but cool nonetheless!
I booked a open end bus ticket with Trekking Travel from Hanoi to Saigon where I could stop along the way and stay whereever I wanted, for as long as I wanted, good for a month....good deal right $42 USD
I get on the "sleeping bus" in Hanoi and I am going 600km to Hue a 13hr ride because the roads are the shitz!
Well I climb into the seat and #1 I don't fit #2 my feet have nowhere to go and #3 evertime the bus hit a bump my head would hit the roof. I ended up standing for about 300km out of 600. After quite possibly the worst ride ever I get to Hue and cancel my ticket. I one way ticket from Hanoi to Hue costs $10 USD so I figured I would get some money back minus the penalty and such...Well THANK YOU Trekking Travel for the 12 USD refund. In reality I paid for 3 flippin tickets!
Hue was nice, people there are great and I ended up hiring an "easy rider" which translates to a dude who drives you around on his motorcyle to show you stuff. Anyway, I saw some temples, a old US army bunker and a remote fishing village where I was like a celeberty in the middle of a very poor village on a lake. I was taking pics and when I turned around there were about 40 kids there all yelling "Hello" in english...I took some pics of them too. Following the Hellos they would say something in Vietnamese, I asked my driver when we got back on the bike what they were saying and it basically translated to "hello, give me a dollar" LOL
He was a great guide, and I hired him to take me 150km south to a town, to a beach town called Hoi ann. I spent one more night in Hue and met some ppl from Australia and England. The English dude worked for a travel company where he is a tour guide. I sent the company an email in hopes of a job here in SE Asia but no response so far :(
Anyhooo Fast forward, my guide picks me up his name is "Bi" we get on the bike and start heading south to Hoi Ann. We stopped a few places along the way, but by far the coolest was a mountain waterfall with a huge rock shaped like an elephant.. trunk, tusks and all! Crystal clear water and in +30 weather I had to go for a swim. We were hungry by this point and Bi says "hey do ya like chicken and rice?" I say sure sounds good, thinking to myself we are in the middle of the bush where the fuck we gonna get chicken and rice? So...I ask him that, and he says pointing at some chickens running around "pick your chicken" Ummm Ok that one I guess?? The lady who was lounging around got to work and made us a fantastic meal complete with chili peppers and veggies!
Back on the bike, we head out and continue south. In Vietnam there are basically two landscapes; jungle filled mountains and beach. There is a pass over one mountain called "Hi van" pass and the view for this road and peak was amazing! At the top, yet another US army bunker sits and rots while ladies try to sell you everything under the sun...remember I told you it's a poor country, so no work= No eat.
We start heading down the pass toward the city of Danang, this is where the US army first set foot in Vietnam during the war. We pass through Danang, not much there but a bunch of beach front hotels/resorts and an airport. Only 48km to Hoi ann where I planned to spend my next three days. We get there I pay Bi $ 75 USD for the two days. I check in to my hotel, and go for a walk around, what a nice place I think to myself, walking along the river with old french buildings in the background. I go to bed. The next day because Hoi ann is so small I rented a scooter to go to the beach(it's 5km outta town)The beach is beautiful, clean and there is nobody there maybe 100 ppl on like 6km of whitsand!
Hoi ann is famous for the many many tailor shops that make any kind of custom clothing you can wish for! Long story short I ended up staying a week, buying a suit and 4 casual shirts, partying with great people and getting a sunburn! Now it's time to go I catch a flight(not getting on a bus) 600km south to Na Trang for $40 USD and decided to check out the beach and town for a few days. I get there and the beach is the shitz, things are overpriced, and the people are not that friendly like in small town Hoi ann. I decide to stay 2 days. Now because of my great experience with "easyrider Bi" I decide to hire another easyrider to take me to Munaei (another beach town about 450km away) Well I meet this guy named "dong" he seemed like a good guy and we worked out a price. Next day we leave Na trang and start heading south. He was a good guide showed me lots of interesting things like waterfalls, silk work farms and factories, minority villages, coffee plantations, pepper farms, currie trees, and tapiocca trees. Who knew Tapiocca grew on trees??
We stayed at Lak lake the first night, a nice resort and the next day we drive to Delat. On the way there I saw farms and farmers on mountain sides.I also saw animals that shouldn't be on the road like:
cows, chickens, pigs, water buffalos, snakes, dogs, cats and ducks. Im sure there were more but I cant remember LOL
Anyhoo,He tells me there is lots to see in Delat, and it's very easy to get a flight or bus or train to Saigon(HCMC) from there, where Munaei is very difficult to gain onward travel by bus and train because they are 20km outta town and the airport is 60km out. I think well OK I'll check out Delat, a mountain town with cool temples and farms. I paid him for 3 days and 2 nights and thinking to myself we only went half the distance and stopped we're even right....Wrong!
Halfway through day 3 (later than the check out time at the hotel) he says I owe him for one more day. I told him I paid you for 3 days, I bought all your food and you want more...kiss my ass! Trip finished!
He was a great guide, and I was actually going to tip him until he pulled that shiznit! He is a very poor man the bike we were riding is like a 1975 model and like I said he was good so I felt bad threw him 200,000 dong (10USD) and told him he should learn how to do business and don't ask ppl for money after the fact! he was very greatful, I never saw him agian!
All that being said, I still HIGHLY recommend hiring a motorcycle guide as the only real way to see the place your in is with the help of a local!!
Delat was not that great, it is a cold mountain town that is spread out, I really didn't care for it much. I took a flight to Saigon(HCMC) this morning and the place is flippin crazy. I thought Hanoi was nuts, but this takes the cake! Went to the war museum this afternoon WOW what a depressing way to spend the day!
I can't post any of my 1000 pics yeat because my computer is in Bangkok but thats all I got so far...time to get lost in the madness of HCMC on this Friday night!
Be back soon :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Good Morning Vietnam!

Been awhile eh! yeah I keep meaning to write on here, but somedays I just keep my thoughts to my self. The brain has been busy, let me tell you beer Larue!
Compared to Korea, the internet in this part of the world is sketch at best!
Where do I start? How about with the saying that never gets old here:

U buy something from me?
very cheap, ahhh common u buy from me!

I hear this 90000000 times a day in my Vietnam travels, but Im having alot of fun!
Spending too much $$, but ya only live once!
People in poor countries want one thing and one thing only
The cash in your wallet!
I have become quite good at the "haggle" or so I think :)

Let me tell you a story about a little company called Trekking travel
You can purchase an open ended bus ticket, which means I can go from Hanoi to Ho Chi min city and get off at any town in between for a few days, then get on the next bus heading south till I want to stop again and so on until I get to the last stop Ho Chi Min city. The bus is called a sleeping bus, in the picture it looks fantastic so I think to my self I'll bite. I buy a ticket $42 US for the open ended deal. I get on the luxury liner in Hanoi and my planned stop is Hue about 600km away. This is where it gets good. First I don't fit in the seats, the road is like a wagon trail and the bus moves at about 50km/hr. I tried to sleep NOPE not happening I tried to get comfortabel NOPE not happening so I stood up most of the ride.. 13 fuckin hours later I get to Hue! If I was to buy a one way ticket on the bus from Hanoi to Hue it would cost $10. I go to the travel place to get a refund they gave me $12 so in reality I paid $30 for the ride or the equivilant of three tickets! Fuckers!
It worked out well though, I hired a motorcyle guide to take me around Hue and 150km to Hoi ann where I am now. He showed me lots of tourist stuff and even more non tourist off the beaten path things like US military bunkers, a remote fishing village, one of the coolest views I have ever seen from way up in the mountains of Hivan pass and a crystal clear waterfall and pool that has a huge rock elephant above it, I went swimming there and wow was it nice! He made some money off me I treated him well because I was happy so I made sure he was too I think with dinner and lunch (plus the driving) he made $75 off me...I don't mind because I saw stuff I never would have seen from the shitbus! When we went to the fishing village, I was taking pics of the water and the boats, when I turned around there were about 40 kids surrounding me like I was George clooney or something LOL They all said Hello in English and then some vietnamese words which I found out after translated to" give me a dollar please" LOL Anyway I tlked with them and took some pics!
I am going to a lantern festival tonight here and I booked a flight to my next beach town on Thursday for $50 Not going by bus thats for sure 615 km.
I do miss Korea believe it or not I find myself thinking or speaking of it often. I miss the people I met there, the food I ate there and of course Teri and the cats. I am coming home in November to TBay but I may head out again in January unless some job god throws me something that would be to hard to let go. I guess time will tell! Well I am signing off here and will try to be back when I can Hope all is well with you and come back soon...u buy something from me?