Craig’s Travel Diary

Friday, 08 Jun 2007

Location: Mui Ne, Vietnam

MapSoi Chow!

I'm slowly making my up the Vietnam coast but have become stuck on a beach!

The home stay from my last blog got a little weird. As I was saying I helped the guy set up his e-mail and then he said he wanted to see a web page his friend recommended and wanted help running the 'video' - think you can all imagine what I mean and with his wife running around behind me I've never felt like I'd wanted to be somewhere else so bad! Some more people came later on thank god so had a good night in the end. The next day was spent roaming around the Mekong Delta in a boat seeing the floating villages and fish farms etc, pretty interesting but I kind of did this in Cambodia. Was glad to get to Saigon, the big city in the South. Met a few Ozzy's so sampled Vietnam nightlife with a couple bottles of Vietnamese rum - not recommended!

I booked a trip the next day to go and see the Chu ci tunnels which is a network of underground tunnels which the Vietnamese used to thwart American attacks. Apparently most Americans who were killed didn't even see the enemy as they'd pop up from small 'rabbit holes' and shoot. We had the chance to go down one of these holes which had been widened for westerners but it was still incredibly small and claustrophobic, especially as in the middle it becomes really tight and takes about 10 minutes to get from one end to the other. We saw a lot of traps for US soldiers, mostly involving a false floor, spikes and a very painful death. Was really interesting to see how the Vietnamese lived at this time and for example how they still had to plant crops so they had food to eat. Living in the tunnels 24/7 must have been tough. I also had the opportunity to shoot a gun. Of course I couldn't resist and chose the classic AK47. I had 10 bullets and a target about 70 feet away - I managed to hit it once so I guess my ambitions in the Vietnamese army have come to a sharp end!

The day after and it was a full day of museums. Firstly went to the fine arts museum which had some really cool pieces. I know what your all thinking, I can't possibly be cultured enough for fine art but since seeing a few places in India I'm hooked - even bought a piece from a gallery in Saigon which I'm hauling around with me! In the afternoon I went to the war remnants museum where they house old pieces of artillery like planes, tanks and mortar guns etc. Inside hundreds of photographs from the battle field with names and how the soldier in the picture later died. I've seen many Vietnamese war films in my time but it brings it a lot closer when the pictures are real. The next section has heart renching pictures of babies with birth defects caused by the USA's use of defoliants like agent orange. They have even preserved a foetus extracted and kept it in a jar to see how it affects unborn babies. This was followed by pictures of prisoner torture and how prisoners were kept in small cages packed together. The final section was completely dedicated to how many people were against the Vietnam war, all kinds of people, all ages, every country in the world was represented yet the war still went on - sounds familiar to today...

I've now made my way to a beach town called Mui Ne which has a really beautiful beach and I've managed to acquire a cheap bungalow on the shore line. It's really quite here with not a lot to do which is why I think I like it! Yesterday I went to see the sand dunes it is famous for and had a go at 'riding the dunes' which is basically where you get a sheet of plastic with a couple of handles, run for your life and jump off the edge of a dune - a lot of fun!

Forcing myself to move on tomorrow and going into the central highlands to a place called Dalat - 'the city of eternal spring'. As it's nearly 1,500m above sea level it's hopefully going to be a little cooler which is good as it's touching 100 everyday at the moment.

Well cheerio for now, I've uploaded a few more pictures of Vietnam so far.