A land of staggering natural beauty and culture, I remember when I booked this journey, now that time is more a dream a stranger in a future from another past, but now I am ready, ready to board the plane and start a new adventure, new experiences in a cultured country that's known for rocky islands, underground tunnels, floating markets, a war history of the ages and much more, Come join in my adventure and thanks to Vietnam Unique tours, Selena has done an awesome job organizing the very best of what Vietnam can offer..
Midnight at Brisbane international airport, I haven't been there since 2005 when I went on my London trip, But I'm off to Singapore for the first leg, the plane ride would have been one of the smoothest rides I've ever taken even tho I didn't catch any more than 2 hours sleep. I land in Singapore without a bump, a little wait there and it was off again, Good Morning Vietnam.. The first part of the getting through customs was well... I got my VISA, changed my coin and got a data card.. But have you ever had the dread about lost luggage, 6 passengers were feeling just that, over an hour waiting nothing came out, The thought of being in the same cloths that you've already been in 24 hours was not a happy one I had, for some reason if you come from connecting flights into Vietnam, you'll find your stuff in lost and found where I did, now I'm out the doors, and on my way to Acaica Saigon hotel in the heart of the of Ho Chi Minh city..
What a night, what a storm, It was coming down and it was still hot 33 degrees all day the temp didn't change, But I found the roof exit of my place and came up in the morning and watched the sunrise. Vietnam you have delivered already...
The day was a pond me and I thought I would hang out with the locals today and that's what I did, I spent most of the day in the Botanical gardens was a very relaxing day just what the doctor would have ordered..
Today I walked to the airport, yes even typing this I knew what a fool I was, but an experience, I saw some sights that tourist wouldn't normally get to see and crossed a few crazy roads, some people call this place Saigon others, Ho Chi Minh city, I'm going to call it the city of bikes, just checkout this video of me crossing a road (CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO)
But now I say goodnight tomorrow, I will be in Hanoi ready to travel the rest of Vietnam by boat, plane, car, bus and foot any means to travel 10 citys in 10 day..
Away from the hustle of the bike and into the green fields and mountains I have come, landing in Ha Noi seeing green fields and mountains as backdrops to the airport gave me a tear, I love the city life but there's something about hills maybe I'll to conquer them, maybe its the view from the top who knows, but tonight I fest as the some of the best meals I had and watached a water puppets show only to walk out side and see Hoan Kiem Lake all light up for me to shoot..
Tour day and we did it in style, air con style, no more walking it was great we got picked up from the hotel, saw some and learnt how they did Lacquer tree paintings, now I'm not going to complain saying my drawings take 6-10 hours, them 4 months for one painting WOW.. Then is was off to the museum and a few temples, learnt the history of Ho Chi Minh and how he made a independent Vietnam.. But the funniest thing I said today to my friends back home is that I felt cold in the air con set at 25 degrees I had to jump under the covers this afternoon & their but home freezing only 7 and wishing it was 26, most enjoyable was certainly grabbing a rickshaw back to the hotel, those guys peddle hard, however the best was topped already by making some good friends that are on the same trip we stuck in talking for hours tonight and they took me to their roof top bar Skyline, Hello views... and thank you..
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What can I say? I love this place Ha Long Bay such beauty, such landscape, such an amazing place, even on it's bad fogged up days there's a hint of blue skies, storms in the background, limestone cliffs everywhere, 1969 islands make the perfect backdrop, I have found home.. Right now it's 1 am and I'm sitting on top of a 3 story boat called the Bellezza listening to nothing but crickets, birds and the occasional splash of a fish, I've swan in the waters, kayaked around the islands I don't want to leave this place, pure gold you need to come here it is a world wonder...
Another beautiful day in Ha Long Bay, we had 5 more hours boating around where King Kong skull Island was filmed, adventured into a cave of one of the Islands, I have made some great friends on this cruise, A couple from Canada, and another from the Uk, a family from Italy, mates from the USA and sisters from Spain we had a ball good laughs over drinks, photos the best boat ride you could have asked for, but the day needed to be wound up off the boat for a 4 hour bus trip, 2 hour car ride and a flight to Da Nang, it all ran smoothly as I even got to catch up with the first couple from Melbourne that were on the same place, I just wish my luggage was too, yep lost luggage happen, I gave the airline 20kgs of cloths and personal things they gave me a piece of paper at the end, So no photos tonight Vietnam airlines you won this one..
It arrived my luggage arrived at 2:30am this morning happy days, it was like Christmas I've never felt so stressed before, so It's time to go to sleep as I have another big day off to see the My Son ruins and need to be transported for 3 hours to Hue the next destination, It was a packed day at the ruins even packed enough to run into a work collage from home, which was good to hear a familiar voice the Aussie voice is one of a kind after the tour the Vietnam unique tour people all 4 of us sat down to a nice meal the couple I've been catching up with along the way have one more night in Hoi No and a lady from NSW moving to Ha Noi tomorrow & for me I'm currently riding in the back of a police car, yes I wrote that right I am getting a lift to Hue by the police. It's VIP all the way for this traveler today no more lost baggage ..
Today was a good day to relax, just woke up had breakfast called the folks and then went for a boat cruise along the Perfume River to see the Mu Pagoda Temple, the Citadel and a King Minh Mang and King Khai Dinh tombs a vase different from old to new, then it was back to the hotel with a beer in hand after a huge feed that only cost 125,000 dong that eqauls to $7.23 dollars.. The life of a traveling photographer is a great one..
Vietnam airlines you did it again that's 2 for 2, I give you that you didn't lose my bags this time but how does an hour and a half flight turn into 5 hours and to the wrong airport I want to go to Ho Chi Minh not Nhg Trang I give you that its bad weather Nga Trang is a beautiful coastal city and you had to refill. What a mission I thought I'll have a relaxing day and just wake up late, jump on a plane and have lunch in a new city, I was so hungry when I landed 5 hour later. But I'm back in Ho Chi Minh to crawl through some tunnels.
Well today was fun at the Cu Chi Tunnels got dirty, got hot, and got excited, crawling around in underground tunnels was one thing to only experience in real, we all think oh a tunnel underground whats so amazing? Well first they lived in some for more than 20 years, second no westerner can fit imagine thousands of people crawling, living and fighting in a tunnel no taller than a meter, but all day we could hear gun fire.. At the end of the tour you get to chose a weapon and off load a few rounds, one of my Australian tour mates got to shoot his first gun, not to bad to be an M16 Assault riffle, my first was an air gun big difference, proud to be apart teaching him what I was taught in my training..
12 million people in Ho Chi Minh city over a squared area of 2,096 km you would think you never would see someone you know, but I was eating my breakfast in my hotel and sitting at the next table was my work mate from Australia, Its like wining the lotto the odds of being in the same hotel at the same time, in another country with millions of people in one city. After our laugh I had to head off to Mekong River for 2 days of cruising and floating market eating, today was Cobra wine, honey tea and paddle boats up the palm trees rivers seeing how the locals lived..
Can Tho a city that has shorelines of boats, boats and boats ready to take everyone to the floating markets its going to be one awesome day tomorrow early one 5 am wake call but the food, the atmosphere, the food, the sights, the food, did I say food? It's going to be a good way to end this trip...
Mekong Delta river, the last day of Vietnam and what a sunrise it was last day but an early one 4:30 am start for a boat ride to the floating Markets and factories along the river then a bike ride along the river to see some temples and try some authentic foods.. What a day what a trip now for the 4 hours bus ride to Ho Chi Minh city to jump of the plane home.. Thank you Vietnam for having me..
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