Boat Cruisin' - Nha Trang was big backpacker destination. One of the main draws is a day long cruise to 4 islands with snorkeling, a nice beach and a Vietnamese feast. I went on the cruise with Sarah, the English girl we traveled with through 3 cities, and met quite a few other backpackers. When we went out to a bar at night with the people I met on the day cruise, I ran into a few Aussies I met in Mui Ne. Somewhere between walking drunk people back to their guest houses between 4 and 5 AM, I decided to set my alarm for 8AM and join the Aussies as they were doing the cruise the next day. 2 days of boat cruising made me pretty tired.
It was nice how Nha Trang accommodated Westerners, but there were all kinds of people out to get your money. A bar worker took a full drink off our table, and made us buy another drink. When we begrudgingly did this, they tried to keep our change. Also, there was a band of pickpockets that the police looked the other way about. The further north we got, the more crime there seemed to be.
Easy Riders– From Nha Trang, Andrew and I took a 3 day motorcycle tour through the central highlands. One of our guides was an ex-South Vietnamese soldier in the US-Vietnam war. He had an amazing life story. After the south lost the war, he was sent up to the north for 4 years of “re-education” camp to learn how to be a good communist. Afterwards he took his family on a tiny canoe, and tried to escape Vietnam. He got caught and was “re-educated” for another 4 years. He had a very different view of the US war effort. He thought that we were in there for the right reason, we were just hesitant and unorganized. He thinks that if the war had been popular back at home, history would be written differently.
All the pics except for the last 2 were on our easy rider tour:
The real back country -Some of the views on the passes were incredible. This ride really changed my view of Vietnam. There is so much untouched land. It was dry season, so there weren't as many swampy areas as I thought. Also, the government has spent a lot of resources replanting trees since 1975 because whole groves have been wiped out with Napalm
Hook and Line -For the amount of resources given to them, the Vietnamese are extremely clever. In America everything that can be automated is. In Vietnam, labor and cost of living are so cheap, many more things are done by hand. Also, they don't have the infrastructure to handle or create the mass production that we have in the states. Boats go out for up to 45 days at a time, but they do not have refrigeration. Instead, they load the boats up with 2000 pounds of ice to keep the catch cold until they get back to land. Obviously, the boats that go out for a month are on the left of the pic, not the right.
Buddha – Our guide told us this Buddha was smiling because he was bathing in the river and he saw a beautiful girl on the other side of the river so he cut off his “snake” and threw it at her. It fell in the water and now he has 7 mermaid kids. He could then spend the rest of his life being celibate and have less distractions as he searched for answers.
It was only a 50 foot drop- This bridge was made out of bamboo and rope. Some planks were missing. It swayed in all direction as we crossed it. It seemed like I could build something like this in my back yard.
Minority Village – The minority villages in Vietnam were treated similar to the Native Americans in the states. they were put on a land with very little help from the government. The houses were built in this fashion so tigers couldn't come into the houses. Instead the tiger would steal a (more easily replaceable) chicken or boar and head back into the jungle.
The scariest thing since passing semi-trucks on windy roads on motorcycles a few hours before - Andrew and I also did an elephant ride in the village. At this point our toes were in the water as the elephant crossed the deep part of the lake. We both thought our cameras were toast as the elephant stumbled on the lake floor. Elephants are such prehistoric creatures.
I almost got a fang shaped memory of this trip– One of the guide's friends owned a python, so we stopped by. After I took this picture, I took a closeup of the snake's face. I left the flash on and the snake lunged at me and tried to sink it's teeth into my arm. I don't like snakes much. I also assume Andrew was a little freaked out with an angry snake on him.
Guess what they were out of that day? - Instead we ordered Hedgehog. Other things I have eaten/been offered: snake heart, bat on a stick*, cubed chicken**, sea urchin soup
*They killed a bat, ripped off its wings, and put it on a skewer, skin and all.
** We thought that they were going to cube the meat, but they cubed the bird. We got a beak, neck slices, 2 feet, and who knows what else.
After the easy riders, we went to Hoi An. The touristy part is about a 1km x 1km, and there are over 200 custom tailored suit shops. For cheap, I got 2 nice suits. As long as I don't put on 20 pounds, they will still fit.