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tappers’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 27 Sep 2006

Location: Hop Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

MapArrived in Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon) which i expected to be very cultural and quaint like the capital city of Hanoi. Saigon turned out to be the complete opposite and is actually a modern city full of life - the streets are full of motorcycles, the sky is lit by an incessant neon glow, and the wide boulevards made me feel as though we were in Paris! Our arrival in Saigon was met with the biggest downpour i have ever seen in which the roads turned into a running river which took away anything in its path (Including motorcycles) and caused all of the sewers to back up!

We spent our time in the city browsing the huge markets for all of our Vietnamese gifts and found bizzare items such as bottles full of snakes and scorpions! Saigon is a nice city but there is little of interest to see and do other than to eat and drink yourself silly! We did visit the war remnants museum which was a powerful and eye-opening experience! The museum showed all of the atrocities committed by Americans upon innocent civilians during the Vietnam war. The displays of photos were harowing and depicted the massacres of children, and just the general horror of war. We also saw the effects of chemical weapons such as agent orange which included jars of pickled, deformed babies! It was absolutely horrifying!

During our time in Saigon we took a day trip to the Mekong River whihc is one of the most famous in the world running through China, Laos, and Cambodia, before arriving in Vietnam and flowing out to the sea. The river is a life force for so many people across the region and in the Vietnamese delta it is known as the rice bowl because of the production of that very crop. Our trip on the Mekong was nice enough as we got to visit lots of small islands and witness how the villagers live. The ground was full of flurocent blue amphibians known as mud skippers and we manouvered through layers of plam trees and mangroves in tiny canoes. We visited a bee farm where we drank honey tea, we ate tropical dragon fruit from an orchard, and we watched sweets being made from coconut. All in all it was an interesting day and made a nice break from the city!

Myself and Lana had been dreading the 48 hour journey to Laos, but managed to save some time by flying back up to Hue (because it was cheaper than the train). From Hue we took the bus to Laos. The bus journey can only be described as HELL - the bus was hot and smelt like vomit and randomly stopped for six hour periods for no reason at all! It was the most uncomfortable and unenjoyable experience of my life, and i am suprised that we survived it at all! Arriving in Laos it immeditaely reminded me of being back in Burma with the undeveloped countryside and the super friendly people!

We arrived in Laos capital city Vientiene last night which is the strangest place because it is just so quiet here! I don't know how long we will be staying in Laos for but we are headed north to Vang Vieng tomorrow which is a riverside town known for its outdoor activities and party atmosphere! I will check back in again as soon as possible, but once again my mobile phone is not working!