So it's been quite a while since I last posted really and so much has happened I'm going to struggle to remember it all...Well I think I was in Hanoi debating on whether or not to eat a live snakes heart. My decision was 'yes'. I signed up and around 8pm hopped on a bus with about 10 other people and they deposited us in snake village. We were invited to take a seat, have a beer, and they would bring out the snakes. A few minutes later, a man brought out a sack of live snakes and dumped them on the floor in front of us. The first person was beckoned, a young lass from Glasgow, and the man proceeded to pull the snake straight, slit it open about 2 inches down from the head, and pull out its little heart. At this point, it's still attached and the person is supposed to bite the beating heart clean out of the snake (whilst its tongue still flickered in and out might I add!). After about 8 people had done this, it was now my turn. A girl I now refer to as Grottbags took my pictures for me. It was definitely the single most disgusting thing I have ever done. On the plus side though, I felt like my snake looked quite pleased about the whole thing.
After the hearts are eaten, the snakes are tossed into a bucket where they writhe around for about 3 more minutes. The women assisting the man appeared to be really scared of the snakes and were constantly shrieking and on occasions picked up the heartless snakes by the tail, and bashed them onto the floor to make them stop wriggling about!! The evening was completed by drinking a shot of snakes blood, a shot of snakes bile, and about 5 different snake dishes as a meal - snake ribs, snake balls, snake spring rolls, snake bones....yummy!
I was happy that none went to waste but it wasnt the most pleasant experience. Still, it's something to add to my list of crazy things I've done. After we got back to the hostel, the whole gang had a bit of a wild night out, me included obviously, and I didnt get home till around 2am. I also didnt set an alarm. My bus was picking me up at 8am.
I woke up at 7:45, panicked, shoved about 50% of my things in my bag and ran half way across Hanoi to get my bus.
On the bus I was sat next to a really douchey couple - the guy was from England and the girl was from Germany but had a stupid posh English accent, and she had this stupidly loud asshole-like laugh. After about 10 mins I was already seriously pissed off. The bus to Ninh Binh should take 2 hours. Mid journey I was advised that I was on a tour bus, i.e. an organised tour that took people on day trips to Ninh Binh, with activities included but that I was unable to do as I had only paid for them to take me to Ninh Binh. Apparently I was to wait by the bus while the other passengers pissed about doing whatever. Annoyingly there was to be 2 stops before we reached there, and we werent due to arrive until 5pm. What a joke!!
We arrived in Hao Lu, the old capital of Vietnam, and were told to go and wander around the old citadel and pagodas etc. Feeling as rough as I was, I paid a man on a motorbike to take me to Ninh Binh town centre. When I got there I found a nice hotel for the night, had a shower and meandered around town. There isnt that much to do in Ninh Binh, its more the surrounding area, so after a bowl of Bun Bo, I rented a motorbike and drove to Tam Coc, which is famed for its Ha Long Bay-esque limstone kasts sticking out of the rice paddies. It really was very rural and away from all the tourists, it was so quiet there was even an echo. Whilst there, I bumped into a little lady who very much wanted me to pay her 50,000vd (about one pound fifty) to take me on a 2hr boat trip. I obliged and she rowed me all over the damn place, showed me some awesome spots, caves, old temples etc. It was well worth the money and afterwards I paid her double. I headed back to my hotel and started feeling really rough with a sore throat, headache etc. As I was feeling bad, I didnt have the energy to walk around and settled for eating in the hotel. I ordered some rice and was then approached by 2 young Vietnamese boys. They asked if I could teach them English whilst I was here so of course I agreed. I asked them to have dinner with me and they told me their names were Ho and Lucan, they were 16. We talked for about an hour and I learned some things from them also. I think it was a nice surprise for them to find someone from England as the only other people I could find in town were the damned French! After that, I went to bed, watched a couple of films and generally felt a bit sorry for myself.
Next morning, I checked out, left my bag and went and got some soup for breakfast. I'd started feeling better so things were looking up. Afterwards, there was a really heavy rain and thunderstorm so I took shelter in the hotel and had a read of my book. By lunch time, the rain had gone off and I paid a very sweet doddery old Vietnamese man on a motorbike to take me to Hoa Lu. I walked around there and hiked up a limestone lump 80 meters for an awesome view of the place. An old lady who was probably in her 70's assisted me back down and when I didnt give her money, took my water bottle and shouted what was probably a Vietnamese obscenity at me. Who cares...
Decided to have some goat fried rice for lunch, which was really yummy, then headed back to Ninh Binh and bummed around until my bus came. I met Ho and Lucan again, helped them with their English for about an hour then they took me for a walk and showed me their school etc. Nice
The bus was an hour and a half late but it was a sleeper bus and had bunks on it so I fell asleep for the entire 5hr trip to Dong Hoi. We arrived at 5am and one other person got off the bus with me, his name was Neils and he was from Holland. Isnt that vvvvieeerd?! We went to the same hotel and I had another nap until 10am. When I got up, he'd gone off somewhere so being the first beach I'd seen since I left home, I took a walk up there. Unfortunately, either the town didnt have sunscreen, or they didnt want to sell me it. I tried to stay in the shade, honestly I did, but I got burnt to a crisp while I was there.. There were absolutely no tourists at all, so I was pretty much stared at the entire time, but the people were friendly and when I decided to hit a beach bar for some lunch, remembered that nobody could speak English. I relied on my small amount of Vietnamese, along with a dictionary and ordered what I expected was calamari. WRONG. I orded whole squids, guts n all still intact. Oh god it was horrible and when it became clear I didnt know how to eat them, the woman brought over some kitchen scissors?!?! I was then charged about 4 quid for the whole thing....probably worth it to any other person but I felt gutted at paying so much. My hotel was cheaper! Back at the hotel I showered and went for a walk, and for dinner later I had the best pho I ever had. sooooo good! I then met Neils back at the hotel and a woman called Lisa who was in her late 40's. They hadnt eaten so I suggested a place with food and drink and we took a walk. Everywhere we stopped at wasnt satisfactory though....either it was a street stall (good god who would eat at one of them!), there was no vegetarian options, there were no menus in English... it went on for ages. Eventually we stopped in a cocktail bar where the staff were really nice, but got shouted at by both Neils and Lisa for serving beer with ice (a regular custom in Vietnam). I just wanted to get the hell outta there and was quite thankful to go back to the hotel.
Next morning Neils and I rented motorbikes and drove 80km to the Vinh Moc tunnels. They were amazing, much better than the Cu Chi tunnels down southern Vietnam. People lived in these tunnels for about 5 years. About 16 babies were born in them, and it was just a maze to get around. We were lost and bumped into 2 nice Vietnamese boys so we stuck together but after 45 mins still couldnt find a way out! There are no signs or lights so it was pretty claustrophobic! Eventually we got out and we made our way back to Dong Hoi. No sooner had we got back , our bus was waiting and I was pleased to see that it was a local Vietnamese bus. A lot of tourist shops book you on big air conditioned tourist buses which are usually thrice the price, and this bus was fine anyway. About half an hour into our journey, we saw a woman with a child and baby on a motorbike crash into a van so everyone got out to help and thankfully everyone was ok.
We arrived in Hue around 8pm and I managed to find a cube of a room in a hotel, with no air con, no frills, but for $5 I didnt care! Opposite was the Hue Backpackers Hostel so Neils and I headed over there for drinks, where I bumped into none other than ol' Grotbags (Tania) from the snake village! We all joined up and also met a guy from England called Harvey who had been travelling for a year to date. As you can imagine it ended up being a bit of a bender and I didnt crawl back until the small hours. We made a few local friends along our crawl also, including cyclo drivers who wanted us to buy their marijuana, motorbike guys who woulnt take no for an answer, and bar staff who just wanted to boogie with us. It was great fun...Back at the hotel, for some inexplicable reason there was a man in a tent in reception who came and let me in looking highly pissed off.
Next morning, I dragged myself over to the backpackers and met the guys in there having breakfast. Neils had left at this stage and I hadnt bothered to try and see him before he went as he kinda did my head in anyway. And so it became the 3 stooges. We decided we needed to swim our hangovers away and tried to find a hotel pool or something around town. No chance. We were fannying aboutin the most extreme manner trying to find somewhere and in the end I just paid the $6 for a man on a motorbike to take me to the beach, wait for me for 2 hours, and take me back. It was great! so Glad I went! I got there and there were no tourists, so I sat down under a shade and after a load of curious looks from the local women and some young chaps, went for a swim in the sea. It was so good.....I met 2 Vietnamese guys in the sea who spoke a bit of English so talked to them for while and they acted as translators for three 16yr old lads who wanted them to tell me 'I was very funny'...??? Eventually I left the beach, went back and met up with the stooges for Happy Hour (buy 1 get 1 free cocktails for less than a quid). I started to notice we were being stalked by a motorbike guy who seemed to pop up outside every bar we went to and continually beckoned to us to come out. I dont even know what he wanted but everything he said, I just responded with 'Maybe' which really pissed him off lol That night was another heavy one and we ended in a bar called 'Brown Eyes' (I know!) There, I met one of the guys from DMZ bar called Thinh (really cute) and had a bit of a dance with him before getting in around 2am. Fast forward, the next day I was walking around and met Vinh who was an Easy Rider tour guide. He took me for some tea by the river and showed me some trips I could do and I said I would think about it and let him know. After that, he insisted I let him take me to 2 houses that Ho Chi Minh lived in while he studied in Hue, along with the Ho Chi Minh museum....for freeeeeeeeee! And it really was for free...which confused me. Anyway, there was a massive thunder and lightening storm after that and I got completely soaked so dashed back to town and went to see Thinh in DMZ. After, I headed back to the room and had a shower then went to the backpackers and met with Tania and Harvey for Happy Hour once again! Fastforward another night of awesome conversation (including full details on Harveys stiont living in a crack den in south Australia where everything was, and I quote, ''fucked up'') hassling and bantering with the locals, card games, king cup etc and ending in Brown Eyes, where I met Thinh again - another good night.
The following day Tania left for Lang Co but we promised to meet in Hoi An again. I phoned Vinh and he took me to a locals cafe where we talked business and agreed on a good price for a 2 day motorbike tour to Hoi An. I was happy. After that I went back to the Backpackers and met Harvey and an Indian guy called Gerald and all decided to hit the beach again. We went over to the motorbike/taxi rank station and were immediately surrounded by silly men shouting prices at us. Vinh's friends were there so he turned up and was pissed off at me for not calling him (despite the fact that his friends were offering better prices!) In the end, Gerald ran away scared out of his wits at the attack, and Harvey and I went to the beach on our own. We had a couple of beers down there, nice little chill out and after a couple of hours headed back to town. After a shower, I went for a walk on my own and was flagged down by none other than my motorbike stalker. As it was my last night, I actually agreed to go for a drink with him so he took me to some local place where they sold us stupidly cheap beer (cause he was Vietnamese) and it was actually quite fun. After that he took me back and I met up with Harvey and a couple of others again, played a few games of ring of fire etc. Another pretty big night out we ended in Brown Eyes where I waited for Thinh to come after work. Unfortunately he didnt turn up because he thought I was meeting him at DMZ bar so I didnt see him again but I left him a message the next day in the bar, along with my number to call me
At 8:30am I was picked up by Vinh and we began our journey up into the hills. We stopped off at 'Blood Waterfall' for a swim, lots of other spots, and drove the Ho Chi Minh trail, which is an amazing road. All along the way we'd pass kids who'd run along side us shouting 'hellooo!' and other motorbikers passing us with big cheesy grins on. It was a great experience and we arrived in Prao around 5pm. The hotel room had 2 beds in it but was just for me and Vinh said he'd sleep on the floor in reception as the hotel was full. Was this some kind of ploy??? I mean what the hell....so as you can imagine me being the kind generous person that I am, told him to take the other bed. Anyway, it was fine. We had some beers and chatted then went to find a karaoke bar but couldnt get in as they were full...but by that time it was around 10pm anyway so just went to bed.
Next morning, up and early we left and headed to China Beach. I've read about China Beach and I know where it is and that's not where we went. We went to Danang beach. Same stretch I know but...why? I was a little annoyed. and my patience was tested further when we went to marble mountain. He took me to a bleeding marble shop. I was like, where the hell are the mountains. He pointed to a hill next to the marble shop and said that was it. It looked pretty small to me but it was like the photos but he didnt offer to go up it or anything and when I asked him he said it would be very boring. By this time I just wanted shot of the guy so we continued to Hoi An where he conveniently dropped me outside his sisters dress shop. I insisted that under no circumstances did I want clothes making, and left him there to go find a hostel. I was allowed 1 night in the Hop Yen hostel as they had a booking so knew I'd have to find somewhere else the following day. Anyway, I did a few jobs and went for some Bia Hoi across the river, where I met Johnny, Jack and Tammi who I'd seen in Hanoi. We had some drinks together during which I received a phonecall from none other than motorbike stalker telling me he was in Danang and would be in Hoi An in an hour!! I hoped he wasnt coming all that way just for me - its 4 hours from Hue! I agreed to meet him when he got here and so he picked me up and we went for a couple of drinks and a meal (all of which he paid for :-s) and then called it a night - It was about 11 and I was tired and feeling a bit ill again. Next day he picked me up, took me for breakfast and after went to the beach to chill out. I wanted to get back to the hotel around 4pm and he needed to go back to Hue so first he helped me swap hostels, then we said goodbye.
I was wandering around later and found that I had a message from Tania who had arrived in Hoi An, so we met up along the river and caught up over food and drinks. There we met 'cheeky monkey', a 17 yr old Vietnamese girl who had some uncontrollable urge to tickle me and pinch me...I really do think weirdos are attracted towards me! I started feeling even shittier, blaming all the drinking having pickled my body and decided I better go back to the hostel, keep myself fresh for the following night. Had a nice leisurely walk back and more or less fell asleep straight away...Think I needed it!
The next morning I got up and went for a walk around the old town, had some breakfast and headed up to An Binh beach, for lack of a better thing to do on a piping hot day, with an empty wallet. I returned back around tea time, had a wash and wandered over to the river to wait for Grotbags who was on a tour of Cham Island that day. I had myself a couple of mojitos and eventually Tania joined, and Cheeky Monkey turned up again asking me 'how long have you had them for?' and pointing at my boobs! Really she is a very cheeky monkey....
Later we also met up with a guy from Israel, and also Jonny and Jack again who we arranged to meet in Bar Why Not later. After a bucket in the Aussie bar (which was more of a jam jar) we headed over there, played some drinking games, and had a pretty awesome night!
Next morning I was up early and went for a walk over to the river for some hungover bastard food. After which I ended up at the beach again (I knew I would be in Hoi An a while and didnt wanna spend spend spend all day!) Anyway, I only lasteda couple of hours then I decided I needed more sleep and virtually slept the entire afternoon away! Grotbags had left that day so I was feeling a bit lonesome again, not to mention crappy from the hangover and lack of sleep so I had kinda an early night that night. There was a new guy in my hostel called Hayden from New Zealand so I was no longer alone in the grotty disgusting dorm.
I had a trip booked today fopr Cham Island and was picked up at 8am and taken to a speed boat which I thought would be full of tourists. Well...it was....but not your usual tourists. They were ALL Vietnamese except for one guy. Three girls (dont ask the names) spoke very good English so we teamed up for the day and it was really great. We walked around the island, speedboated around the island, and stopped for about 2 hrs of snorkelling on a really awesome reef. Afterwards we were taken to a secluded beach and had a seafood BBQ....ahhh....all for a mere $20! I asked the driver to drop me off on Cua Dai beach as we were taken back around 2pm, I then walked up 3km to An Binh beach, stayed for about an hour, then walk back. I stayed down there until dark as all the Vietnamese families come down for picnics at sunset and I got talking to some of them.
I got back to my room and Hayden was there and asked if I was going for the 3 free cocktails. I was like...say what? Apparently our hotel gives you 3 free cocktails every day between 7-8. Hells yeh I was! So we met up with 4 other English bumholes; Tim, Hannah, Isaac, and Patrick. All of whom were very nice and not bumholey at all. We went out for some dinner, then hut Aussie bar and a club called Volcano bar which had only been open 5 days. It really was a club and I didnt feel like I was in Vietnam at all so I didnt stay too long there. I mean, it was already 2am anyway so I headed back to the hotel. Unfortunately for me, the gates had been locked. I tried ringin a bell that didnt work and tried to climb up a wall but in the end I had to scale the fence, which wasnt easy in flipflops. I cut my foot and hobbled back to the stinkin dorm and was followed by Hayden about half an hour later.
Next morning, I decided to be productive and got up early to have some Cao Lau breakfast, then sort of my travel plans. I'd found a flight from Saigon to Hanoi in 2 weeks time for about 45pounds so I went to a travel shop and booked a bus to Quy Nhon, and a visa extension. I'd arranged to meet a Syrian/American guy called Brenden for some chilling out at the beach so met him and he took me on his Honda Win over to Cua Dai. We chatted, swam and slept for a couple of hours then decided to head off around 3pm asI was quickly developing a full blown cold (somehow?!) I was feeling really crappy after that and had a little lie down in the room with my leaky nose then walked over to a street food place and had some com ga (chicken rice) while reading a book. After, I decided to treat m,yself to some tailor made suade boots from a shop near my hotel. We agreed on a good price and I get to pick them up today! I had to have an early night as I really wasnt well. Still not much better today but getting on with it. Havent really taken any photos here yet so gonna have a day walking about, maybe hire a motorbike then tomorrow I'm up at 6am on a bus to Quy Nhon (pronounced Hwee Nyon) so only a few beers tonight
Will post some photos soon, facebook is banned in vietnam for some gay reason and you can only get on using the proxy sites and cant remember them
Wibbly wobbly x