Monday, April 27, 2009

Travelogues - Day 2, Saigon, Vietnam

So day 2 was reserved for 'Floating Market' of Can Tho. Like I mentioned earlier, we were waiting in Saigon for Anna to catch up with us. Alot of travel blogs had mentioned Can Tho, some said you must visit it and others bashed it. We had time on our hands!
Now, for those of you who read this and are planning to goto Vietnam (and since that's never gonna happen i'll add a third condition, those of you who have three legs), I personally would recommend going to Can Tho but get there the previous night and stay in that town for the night. Get up by 5 AM the next day and take a boat / tour out to see the real floating market in action... not just remnants which we saw at 11 AM. But inspite of that the boat ride through the villages was pretty quaint. I had a great time and was thrilled coz Can Tho had loads of 'Love Apple' trees... my favourite fruit... i plucked a couple of huge ass ones and munched the juicy fruit on the way back.. it was awesome.. coz it was reallllllllllllllly hot... we went in March.... and i had these huge juicy love apples to munch on! heavenly!
It's usually advisable to go to this place with a tour operator... your best bet is Sinh Cafe... the cheapest rates and the most widely networked tour operator... they have a lil restaurant where they take you for a crappy song and dance performance (too shrill and slow for my liking) and free lunch (well no such thing as a free lunch.. but still... free lunch). Also at this place there is a crocodile pond in which you can pay 15000 dong (i think) to feed the crocs... personally i think its really cruel coz invariably people tease the crocs... and i think its wrong to tease anybody with food... also there is one croc who's super lazy... just lay there with its mouth open for the longest time.. i was there for about 20 minutes.. thru;out the 20 minutes, the croc had its mouth open!!!
Don't buy stuff from the stores there.. .unless you're doing it to boost local trade... if you want a good bargain... goto Hanoi!
So that's it for Mekong Delta floating market... by the way.. my friend Ashish din't like it at all!

Travelogues - Day 0

I forgot to mention in my earlier post that the 4 of us were travelling to Vietnam and Cambodia (originally Laos too, altho' I've boycotted Laos now) after completing our Term 3 at the Asian Institute of Management. After our trip we were all headed back home (India) for our internships... so obviously we had a lotta luggage to take back.. now this is the crappiest thing for budget travellers... so we had to pay a lil extra for more allowance on Tiger Airways and it wasn't so bad... but instead of going straight to Ho Chi Minh City, we had to goto Singapore to drop off our luggage at our friend's cousin's place! Phew!
One crazy trip!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Travelogues-Saigon, Vietnam - Day 1

Get ready for a volley of posts since I've been MIA once again... but this time I've been upto interesting stuff...

Three of my classmates and me backpacked thru Vietnam and Cambodia and I really recommend both those places to people... at least Vietnam if not Cambodia!

We started our trip in HoChiMinh City where we immediately set off to go to the Cu Chi tunnels... this is the network of guerilla tunnels built by the Vietnamese to kick the U.S.'s ass big time... they're so freakishly tiny and go on for kilometers together in a labrynthine manner... my god.. its crazy the kind of things adversity forces you to come up with and face day in and day out... those tunnels are so bloody tiny that to enter one of them, the Vietnamese soldier has to jump in with his/her hands straight above their heads and wriggle in and then crawl along in a rodent and roach infested area!!!! And just think if one soldier suddenly panicked... everybody'd be stuck....i went into one of the ahem 'enlarged for Caucasians' tunnels and still was a bit freaked out!

But more than what I saw I was over-awed by the feeling of what transpired along those very same steps I had taken in Saigon 40-50 years ago... the number of wars that have ravaged our planet are just so many and I don't think they'll ever stop! Sometimes wars are faught coz people don't have their basic roti-kapda-makan (food, clothing,shelter) but there have also been times when its a sport! And that's when I wonder if all the people in the world have their basic needs met, will inhuman atrocities stop? Sadly the answer is naught! I guess its just human nature... we need something to kick us in the ass, or frighten us to make us feel alive... to make us feel!

Anyway coming back to Saigon... the place is so well organized for travellers... as soon as you get off at the airport you can either catch a cab or get onto a bus which takes you to De Tham which is the backpackers area... and that area is sooooooooo alive... to compare it to another alive pulsating place... I'd say it was like Malate in the Philippines... Malate which is home to my favourite bar in the world.. Penguin...

So at De Tham or one of the streets off it, there are tons of hotels to stay at... I loved this placed called Xinh that we stayed at for about 5$ a night, with AC, hot water and free internet and the hotel guy, Wen, was really sweet as well... he told us about how he visited Cambodia every year at a particular time to meet his best friend and that its a really nice place...

Anyway.. shopping wise Saigons pretty nice but Hanoi is better... there's not much to do in Saigon except chill, go see the Cu Chi tunnels on motorbike (is most fun) and go stay the night on the Mekong Delta to go out at 5 AM to catch the floating market!

I've realized (at least for myself) that more than the places publicized by tour guides and agencies, its the experience of getting there and the journey which is sometimes much better than the place itself!

Cambodia in my next post