There's battle lines being drawn Nobody's right if everybody's wrong Young people speaking their minds Getting so much resistance from behind -Stephen Stills (Buffalo Springfield), 1966
11/25/2006 - 12/04/2006
After a slight delay in Saigon (waiting for Sonja and being sick), I've continued up the coast of Vietnam. I decided the basic itinerary early on, but in terms of a time frame, things have been a bit on the fly. I have to admit, I didn't love Saigon- but to be fair, I'm not sure if that's Saigon itself of the fact that I was (am) missing Cambodia and a bit sick for most of my time there.
I took a bus from Saigon to Mui Ne, which is a really awesome beach town with the most amazing sand dunes I have ever seen. They call it the Sahara of Vietnam- several km's of HUGE sand dunes, to the point where you could walk a bit and feel like you're in the middle of the desert! Mui Ne was also a nice stop because it's a beautiful beach w/out the hassels and crowds of Nha Trang.
After a couple nights in Mui Ne, I took another bus to Nha Trang and immediately got on the overnight train to Hoi An. It actually sounds a lot worse that it was. There was a bit of confusion when we walked out to where you wait for the train in the dark and there were 4 tracks and no signs about which was which (even the locals were confused!) Luckily, we worked it out and were pleased to find a fairly empty car so we could sleep on two seats!
Arriving in Hoi An at 5am was quite the experience. It was still dark and I was quite tired from the...well, lets just call it the "less than perfect sleeping accomodation" of the previous night. Anyway, with a bit of wandering and a lot of haggling, we actually ended up at a really nice hotel (for our standards!). The town of Hoi An is quite cute- a small vietnamese city mixed in with a quintessential french town!
I can't get over how different Vietnam is from Cambodia. I remember leaning out the window as we crossed the border, trying to get a first look at the country. Immediately, I laughed at myself, thinking: "jo, do you REALLY think it's going to be THAT different just across the border?!" But it WAS!! It was almost as if people traded in their Kramas for triangle hats as they crossed! There are also drastic differences in terms of the poverty and development...Cambodia has a long way to go. On the other hand, momentos of war are impossible to miss. I find myself constantly reminded as an American (through signs, museums, memorials, etc...) of the atrocities caused by the "American War" (a lot of countries refer to it as this- but the vietnamese do quite fervently.) The "American War", the "Vietnam War"- neither of us seem to want to claim it...