Vietnam and into Cambodia.
14.06.2011 34 °C
Next stop - Siem Reap! But to catch up until this point...
So we left Hue and headed to Hoi An. Hue was great but the sights are so far apart we didn't have the energy to try to see anymore 'toms' (as the locals pronounce 'tombs') so we stuck around our hostel most of the time. Had a disgusting encounter when entering our room on the last night, what did we find on my bag? A massive, 2 inch long cockroach. Yes. That was just the beginning of our insect spottings on this trip. Apparently, Derek does not enjoy killing these bugs either... they are really big and make a huge 'crunch'. EW!
We made it to Hoi An after a 4 hour bus ride to get picked up by our hostel (something everyone should get in the habit of doing - if you book your hostel in advance, email them and ask if you can get a pickup at the bus stop/airport/train station - cheaper than getting a taxi/tuk-tuk/moto). We stayed at a hostel called Nhi Trung and it was awesome. I would definitely stay there again... breakfast included, room with A/C, fan, balcony, our own bathroom. Plus it was right in the middle of the old part of Hoi An so extremely convenient for us!
Now, Hoi An is very popular for one particular thing... custom made clothing. Let's just say we cleaned up. Derek and I both bought entire new wardrobes... I bought several dresses, boots, work shoes, sandals, a purse, 3 pairs pants, and 2 fall/spring jackets. Here's the kicker - YOU pick out the design, material, basically anything to do with the clothes and the tailors make it based on your measurements. We felt pretty bad about spending so much money but in reality it's nothing compared to what we would've spent on the same things in Canada. Plus, we hardly spent any money the 3 years leading up to this, so why not?
We bummed around Hoi An for 6 days - hitting up the amazing beach which was a 20 minute bike ride away (cost $1.00 to rent a bike for the whole day) and checking out the old parts of the city by the river. We have realize quite quickly that we prefer smaller towns to big cities. I guess coming from Charlottetown you learn to appreciate the character and charm of the east coast and swimming in the salt water sure reminded us of where our hearts belong! It doesn't mean that we want to come back any sooner or are homesick but it just makes us realize how lucky we are to have grown up in a place like PEI (or anywhere on the east coast). It's just a totally different culture and way of life and I love it.
One thing we saw a lot of on the streets at night were cockroaches... brought back memories to Hue and our encounter in the room. Ew. They flit around so quickly, you almost don't want to wear sandals in case they touch you in any way (Shudder). Unfortunately we were also present for a bad accident between a motorbike and a girl on a bicycle one evening right outside our hostel... we were on the internet and heard a huge crash, ran outside to this poor girl who was convulsing on the pavement... we started yelling for someone to call for help so a local man called and minutes later a taxi rolls up... and a man picks the girl up from the pavement (to our horror) and puts her in the back of the cab... we tried to get them to leave her until an ambulance came but they said no it's ok... ah! Frustrating! I sure wish I had one of my trusty nursing friends with me. Jaclyn and MC would've been all over that scene (as I've seen them in action many times before!).
Next, we left on a flight for Saigon (saved us from an 18 hour bus ride) but not before packing up all of our clothes and sending them air mail to dad's house on PEI. Cannot wait to see the things we bought when we get back! Our flight was great and when we got to Saigon, our hostel picked us up to take us into the city. Now this city is HUGE. It has about 5.5 million people and I'm sure it would take a couple hours to drive across the city itself. My friend Maria had told me she loved this city so we wanted to give it a chance, but after being in Hanoi and not enjoying it, we were skeptical. Turns out, Maria was right, we were only there for one night but it's completely different than Hanoi. The organization of the city is organized really well, there are parks everywhere, monuments, and yes - crazy traffic but it's orderly. Hanoi was a whole other story. When we come back to Vietnam we will definitely spend more time there.
So we are now in Phnom Penh. I feel this experience deserves its own journal entry so will write about it soon...