Probably a good time to reflect on Vietnam since we leave tomorrow and I reckon Saigon might just be the the best place to sum up all the good and bad about Vietnam for a tourist. Firstly I have to say our time here has been a great experience. We loved Ha noi for the old city and the architecture, French balconies everywhere and the food was pretty good. Any one who knows Patti and I know we love food and old stuff so Hanoi got the thumbs up! As we expected the bakeries were pretty damn fine. It was our first experience of Vietnam and we found the people friendly if a little bit distant but the accommodation was good and everything is so cheap. Had a ball there and learned how to dodge traffic. The Sapa tour was awesome, highlight of the visit and definately worth re-visiting. To see people trying to live their lives as they did a thousand years ago but seeing the young ones wanting technology you have to tip your hat to them. Funny thing was hearing house music and seeing satellite dishes outside mud huts. We met people that had never been outside their immediate village area. We followed the coast and did the usual things like buying clothes and lounging on beaches but i believe we saved one of the best experiences until last.
The first thing you should understand about Vietnam is that life is hard here, not just work hard and you'll be well rewarded but work hard and you just might survive. I don't think you can grasp the the work ethic that these people have until you have seen it in action. At first you think their trying to rip you off and taking the piss but the fact is they can sum up your wealth in an instant and give you a price commensurate with that scale. Commendable but by Christ it can wear you down. When you know their trying to charge you double the price for something and then you have to haggle down it can be a little frustrating for people not used to it but it's their country , not mine so when in Rome... I find myself bartering a price for just about anything. I pity the next poor bastard I buy a car from. You just have to sharpen' up as they say. Much respect then! No problem.
Vietnam can be a little bit frustrating for independent travellers because of the severe lack of English speaking people and signs, but that's what travelling is about. I've sat with people and had a conversation without understanding a word but understanding gestures, Brenton and Matt have played shuttle cock with complete strangers and had a ball and Patti has given impromptu English lessons to young people and children in parks . All of these things make up the experience that was Vietnam. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow but always a challenge. Andiamo Cole's