Vietnam Trip: Last stop Long Xuyen

Arriving back from Sa Pa to Hanoi on the worst train ride of my life, we grabbed a quick bite to eat and then  headed to Hanoi Airport and got a flight back to Ho Chi Minh city.  By this time we were exhausted but on our travel agenda, was a stop over in Long Xuyen to visit my father and brother. So when arriving to Ho Chi Minh city, we had to catch a 4 hour bus ride to Long Xuyen. I must say the bus we booked was a massive bus with a TV… so I couldn’t complain. But keep in mind its all Viet comedy… so if you don’t understand Vietnamese bring your tablet or mp3 player.Bus-to-Saigon-1

The journey there may have been long but you get to see the scenery and countryside of Vietnam. Nothing crazy but it was just nice to relax on the bus and with the air-conditioning blasting away.

Finally got to Long Xuyen and saw my old man and my brother, it was a joy to see them as I only get to see them once a year. We went straight to the hotel and dropped off all our things and went straight to eat.. Again…  In Long Xuyen it was similar to Hanoi, just a calm feeling and a lot of shops. Just catching up with my old man was something that was long time needed.

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We tried some new food while we were there…

These are a must try… but you do need a strong stomach, my friend couldn’t take down some of these foods…

Duck fetus: Hột vịt lộn

This is one of Vietnams delicacies and you will see them everywhere. At the start you will just think of it as a chicken egg with the yoke inside. This delicacy is mainly found where all the bars are or at home drinking gathering. What you will notice is it will look like a normal egg, but once you start to crack it open… Be Warned!.. You will get a shock. You will see the full fetus; they would normally have it boiled for around 10 minutes before it can be eaten. What I would recommend if you can’t look at it… just close your eyes and swallow it. You will taste a strange texture but all you need to do is swallow it. After trying it… I must admit it tasted pretty nice; it was sweat and a gutsy food to eat.

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Ducks Blood: Tiết canh

The ducks blood on the other hand, if you can’t look at other people bleed I wouldn’t recommend this for you. What they do is cut the ducks neck and pour it on a plate with meats and nuts and then freeze it. The plate looks disgusting but after trying it while your drinking and with prawn crackers… its quiet nice. Very flavorsome and definitely hits the spot while drinking, but don’t drink to the point that you will throw up cause it will not be a pretty site… Trust me.

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So after staying in Long Xuyen for a few days, we started to head back to Ho Chi Minh city to go back home to Melbourne. Honestly I was exhausted but I didn’t want to leave as I was having an awesome time with my mate, but every holiday has an end.

Thanks for reading my blogs

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Thanks Rob

Vietnam Trip: Sa Pa!

Arriving in Sa Pa the next morning, we spontaneously joined a tour of the city, which would take us on a tour of the city. So we got picked up at 11am for our tour and our first stop was into the city. Before we went on our tour, we got to the hotel and I must say it was the best view I have ever had in a hotel balcony. I was on the edge of the mountain. This was a priceless view.

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It was quite interesting to learn the culture in Sa Pa as the culture there was completely different from what I was expecting. There was a lot of poverty there but also the dialect was different and it was very hard to understand. But the thing that hit me the most was the weather… it was cold… freezing cold… I always thought everywhere around Vietnam would be hot… so make sure you bring your umbrella and jacket.

We first traveled around the city and it was actually quiet small, nothing crazy and exciting besides bars and street food. I must say that Sa Pa had the most amount of variety of skewer food… it was off the hook… and it was cheap. I think I spent around $5 and we got like 20 – 30 skewers.

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 We went passed a lot of homes, which were simple and small with clotheslines hanging outside and little old ladies washing clothes or cooking. There were little kids running around playing soccer. But when I started to look carefully they weren’t playing with a soccer ball, it was a ball they made from paper and rubbish on the floor. You would think that in Ho Chi Minh City you would see a lot of poverty there… but Sa Pa there were kids running around naked, no electricity, no much vehicles or any type of transport. This was quiet the culture shock; it makes us think back on what we have and how we should appreciate what we have.

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We then started our hiking trip up and down massive mountains and checked out the scenery and the people living styles. There were small homes, one school over kilometers of land and the farming. The type of farming they do is not your ordinary hectare of land but its all in layers, this is a must see when you go there. Truly something different from your ordinary farming … this is a must see.

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While trekking around Sa Pa, there was these ladies that kept following us. At the start I wasn’t sure what they were doing and then more and more of them started to come… then we got ambushed by them. What they were trying to do was sell home made jewllery and give assistance to trek the mountain. Keep in mind any time they help you and which ever one helps you… YOU MUST TIP THEM… as they are working for the money. But lovely and friendly people even if I don’t understand them. We did thisfor 2 days so you can imagine the work out to my legs.

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After doing all the trekking there wasn’t much of a night life there as there was only 1 bar and 2-3 small skewer shops. After relaxing a day we decided to catch a train back to Hanoi …. This was the worst experience on the train ever! Air-con is full blast all night, small cabins for 4 people and if they snore for 11 hours straight … believe me you will not enjoy it.

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Sa Pa is definitely worth the travel

Feel free to leave any comments… =) 

 

Trip around Vietnam: Ha Long bay

Upon arriving in Ha Long Bay, we jumped on a minibus that took us to our hotel, which faced an amazing beach. There were a lot of tourists and restaurants on the beach as well clubs and bars. So after settling ourselves into our hotels we decided to go and explore a bit.

Everywhere we went all we could hear was reggae music and people offering cheap massages and after the long flight that we had had we decided a cheap massage was exactly what we needed. 

For about $5 we got a full hour’s worth of massage and despite the size of the little ladies, the massage was anything but relaxing! It was definitely not relaxing and all I could do was not scream. After that painful massage we decided to explore the island more and walking along the beach we noticed all the water activities that were going on so we went over and booked it for the next morning.

Once we had that sorted, we moved along the beach and started taking pictures of the amazing stretch of ocean before us, which consisted of blue and green crystal clear water. It was tempting to go for a swim, however our growling stomachs decided it was time for some food.

There were plenty to choose from but the one with the sizzling barbeque stood out the most so we went in there. Even though it was a little bit pricier than the other restaurants the quality of the food was great. This wasn’t your average sizzling barbeque… it was skewers with all this awesome flavored meats… it’s a must try! ImageImage

We then headed onto the boats that would bring us to these caves and mountains. To be honest I was not expecting much as I was thinking “what’s so good about a cave?” but when I got there… I new why it was such a popular place. It places that you must experience and words can’t describe it. When you look up in the caves you start to see images of dragons, but you have to use your imagination. After an exhausting day of travel by boat to one destination to another we headed back to the hotel.

Sung Sot Cave

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 The next morning we went down to breakfast and ate as much as possible from the blend of traditional Vietnamese fried rice and traditional American breakfast of bacon and egg. Since it was a buffet breakfast we were pretty full by the time breakfast was finished.

We ended up walking the town to explore around and realized that they had a market place there. It was a huge market but the only crap thing I realized was that all the stores were selling the same thing… but it was nice to be hustled by the market people. It was a fun experience.

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We also ended up on another boat, which had a restaurant on it. It was a nice end to Ha Long Bay. After a few drinks on the boat we decided to turn in so we could pack and get ready for our train ride that night.

 

Please comment, as more blogs will be coming shortly!

Vietnam trip continues to Hanoi

Waking up to the early noises in Ho Chi Minh, with horns beeping and everyone up and going at 7am, was such a different culture shock compared to Melbourne. At 7am in Melbourne people aren’t even getting out of their beds as yet. 

Well we were ready and packed to get to the airport to go to Hanoi, traffic was crazy as always in any direction but eventually we finally got to the airport and started to travel to Hanoi. After an hour of flying, the first thing I noticed was the cultural differences and the buildings and everyone seemed more relax. This was unlike Ho Chi Minh, which was hectic! 

Arriving at our hotel, we went to the closest travel agent we could find to find tour groups to explore Hanoi. We were only there for 2 days because had an organized tour to help us travel from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Keep in mind if you go to this mausoleum, you must wear long pants, no thongs and possibly a button shirt as they were very strict with the respect of Ho Chi Minh. Even though my friend and I did all of that, the mausoleum was closed. So all I had were photos of the outside.

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The image above is of Ho Chi Minh, this was taken online as this is what I would have seen if I was aloud access.

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All the food we tried was basically street food or if you wanted, you could go into a restaurant and eat. We didn’t see the fun of that so we did a lot of pit stops all around the city to try all these different dishes. The main ones that came to mind were; Xoi Xeo, Banh cuon and Pho. 

Xoi Xeo

This dish is sticky rice that’s topped with grounded mung beans and friend onions. It wasn’t the best dish to me but my friend enjoyed it.

 

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Banh Cuon

Hanoi is proud of their steamed crepe from rice flour and water. It contains grounded pork and other seasonings. This dish definitely left a memory, it was very different from your traditional rice dishes you see everywhere. This is a must try in Hanoi.

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Pho

This dish is common in Melbourne but I had to test it over Vietnam and honestly I prefer the Melbourne one more. The flavors and everything was good, but when it came to the meat it just didn’t taste right, but still worth trying.

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We discovered this dish when we were exploring the city and came across a small restaurant that looked very busy therefore we decided it must be good. I wanted to try something different so I decided to try this meal and it turned out to be amazing. The service was not that great but it was understandable due to the amount of customers that they had to accommodate. The best part of the meal was the fact that it was really cheap! After we had our meal we walked around the city for a while before heading back to the hotel for our next adventure the next day.

More blogs to come… stay tuned!