Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Travels: Saigon & Mui Ne, Vietnam

Vietnam was the country that I was the most excited for before we began our journey. Unfortunately, it was the biggest disappointment of our trip.
After the warm and friendly people of Cambodia and Laos we felt harassed and bullied by taxi drivers, street hawkers and hotel staff upon our arrival in HCMC (Saigon).
The traffic in Saigon was crazy and overwhelming, but also really amazing (for the first hour anyways). Crossing the road there required you to just walk out into a sea of moving motorbikes, who just parted, and flowed around you. It was terrifying but also really cool.
We took a day trip to the Cu Chi tunnels, a place where communist soldiers lived during the war. It was shocking to hear all of the comments about "crazy devil evil Americans" or the communist fighters who won special awards for killing the most Americans. I quickly realized that we would only be getting one side of the story! Interestingly enough, the Southern Vietnamese who fought alongside the Americans were not mentioned.
After leaving Saigon we went to Mui Ne, famed for it's beach and sand dunes. After a run-in with an extremely rude hotel/restaurant worker, we settled into a decent room and went out to erplore the town. The beach was not great ... at all, but the sand dunes were awesome. We went on a tour to the Fairy Stream, a fishing village and the red sand dunes. Well worth the time, money and the trip to Mui Ne.
From Mui Ne we took our first sleeper bus ... and that's when we really started to regret our decision to visit Vietnam.
To be continued ... I have a flight to catch!

Travels: Phnom Pehn, Cambodia

After an amazing time in Siem Reap we went to Cambodia's capital, Phnom Pehn.
Bigger, louder, dirtier and more confusing than Siem Reap, but still full of really lovely people.
We visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields. Both very upsetting, but informative and important to understanding Cambodia's recent history. They gave me a better understanding of the atrocities suffered, and of the amazing growth that has been made since the genocide occurred.
After 2 nights in Phnom Pehn we were ready for our next destination - Vietnam!