If Thailand blared neon and screamed in lights, Vietnam whispers sweet nothings in your ear until your heart opens.
So began our adventure into the country of Vietnam. A country where you can get run over by a line of determined and beeping mopeds and bicycles, ripped off by a mango seller, and munch on the most mouthwatering kebab sandwich in your enter life. Vietnam.
Day 1: Our evening flight left us at Golden Time Hostel with Tony, the flirtatious and good-humoured hostel owner. He offered us some instant coffee before showing us to our rather spacious rooms. With memory foam mattresses, flatscreen LED TVs with international cable, and AC, we had it made under $20 USD per night. Beautiful. We indulged in magnificent, cheap pho at a local diner.
Then, trudging through the rain, we went to the street markets to find them closed due to the drippy weather. Instead, we got street food. I happened to get ripped off on spiced green mangos…typical.
Day 2: We went to a rather depressing prison museum suggested by Tony. With a bright yellow exterior, the interior was rather dreary and the story line awful – a people oppressed. Saw a guillotine and walked into condemned death row prisons…not what I call a fun morning at all.
Food enlivened everyone, and we visited the Confucious Temple of Literature. Intriguing landscaping with crane-shaped trees…
After a quick stop at a weird turkey/water park, we went to this authentic little shop called Craft Link. I bought some beautiful silk scarves in burgundy-maroon and laguna blue for a complete steal, less than 10 USD each!
Fell asleep to Europeans swaying a boat with awful Karaoke.
Day 4: Missed swimming in the water at 7am, but we went kayaking to a fishing village after a breakfast of toast and sunyside up eggs and Vietnamese drip coffee. Awesome end to the boat trip.
Had to move hostels when back in Hanoi due to an ant infestation. The new hostel was much larger and had much nicer amneties, including a beast shower….beautiful pressure and heat. Hot, hot, HOT. We went to explore the lakeside, and ended up eating pho again. Also, discovered this scrumptious little lakeside ice cream place called Fanny’s. I had chocolate-coffee and salted caramel ice cream…oooh….so good.
Day 5: Went to neighboring Cafe de Paris and found it to be pretty mediocre. Had a mango lukwarm “milkshake,” beef fillet with potatoes, and a coconut pastry. Sub par, at best.
The lazy afternoon was filled with more full body massages, buying weasel-poo Vietnamese drip coffee, backpacks, backpacker pants, and exploring the street markets.
We spent the evening at the water puppet show and eating more pho…of course.
We returned to the hostel, only to be startled half to death by a scuttling red cockroach in our room. The receptionist stabbed it to death with a broom handle and chuckled at my trembling roommate. Last night in Hanoi, we ate some Vietnamese dessert and…snails…and I got creeped out by some quail eggs which were more quail than egg.
Quiet night, hot shower.
Day 6: Went to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum…quite creepy with a laughable security checkpoint. End? More pho, of course. & another visit to Tony at Golden Time before our flight back.
Vietnam – if Thailand was a land of smiles and hospitality, Vietnam is for the hardcore backpacker able to navigate a sea of stares and catcalls. Vietnam is for the young at heart and sure of will. Vietnam is for the lovers, fighters, and those who just enjoy a good laugh.