Monday, December 03, 2007

It's all about Nam man

Hi it's Dan, in Vietnam!

We seem to have neglected you all some what in the month of November, sorry we do have a few excuses though...In the south we couldn't get onto the site for some reason (censorship apparently), and then we have been out on boats and up mountains in the north so we have been a bit busy!

We have really loved being in Vietnam. We had heard lots of stories about how horrible people were and how disapointing the country was from people we have met on our trip, so we had been a lottle apprehensive. But we have absolutely loved it, it is one of our top countries and the people are lovely!

We spent a couple of weeks in the south around the Mekong delta, Saigon and Mui Ne beach and then took a flight up North to Hanoi, running away from a big storm, and visisted Halong Bay and the hill tribes in Sapa.

One of the most exciting things that you can do in Saigon is cross the road! There are millions of motorbikes there that come in a constant stream along the roads about 10-15 bikes wide in both directions. The accepted wisdom when trying to cross the road is to just keep moving and praying to the traffic gods! Drivers prefer to use the horn than the breaks, so woe betide any pedestrian that stops, stumbles, or hesitates, and causes a motor bike to actually slow down! It does seem to work quite well though, we move steadily forward, everyone swerves around you and each other, we get to the otherside, nobody uses their breaks and everyone is happy!

I got to go windsurfing finally, yeah! In Mui Ne beach there were load of windsurfers and kite surfers and top of the range equipment to hire. It was so great to get out on the water, there was wind, waves everything! It is a really great beach warm sea and lovely sand and no sellers harassing you. There were also some cool sand dunes there which we went to see one day. It is amazing how much fun you can have leaping off sanddunes into umm lower down sanddunes! We have got some good pictures which I'm sure will make there way onto flickr soon.

We want to give Vietnam a big thumbs up on the food stakes as we keep on talking to peole here who think it is bland and rubbish, but it is not, it is fantastic, if you eat the right stuff. Unfortunately lots of the hotels and some tourist restaurants seem to think that westerners like bland flavourless food which unfortunately is all some people get to try. The food isn't that spicy here, it is very fresh tasing and uses lots of fresh veg and herbs instead of spice. So if you come here make sure you eat at the busier street stalls and little signless cafes, they generally only sell one thing, so you don't have to worry about choosing what to have, and it is so tasty and cheap, you can't go wrong. You just have to accept that sometimes you have no idea what you are eating! Also there are great baguettes and cakes and coffee, all remnantes of the French occupation that everybody welcomes! Oh and Bia Hoi is fantastic, it is fresh beer that they sell in little street side bars for about 6p a glass! It is apparently free from any chemicals or preservatives so it only has a 24hour shelf life, it tastes great and doesn't give you a hangover, ace!

We have just got back from a few days up in the mountains in a town called Sapa which was frickin freezin! It was 14C but it felt like minus 14C. What was wierd is that it is always like that there but nobody and no buildings were equipt for it! Everyone has to wear big puffer jackets all day and night as there is no heating in any of the buildings! So all the locals and tourists were shivering together. We had to sleep in all our clothes with big duvets and a fire to try and keep warm. We did some treking in the moutains which have been carved into amazing rice terraces by the local ethnic minorities. They all wear cool costumes and are really friendly and welcoming, they too don't have much in the way of heating or appropriate clothing!

We have been on a few organised tours in Vietnam which has made a nice change from doing everything alone, and has allowed us to meet some really lovely people from all over the world! We are already planning our visits to Ireland, Germany, San Francisco and Australia!

We are off to Malaysia in a few days to meet Jenni's Cousin and his wife for a few days in Penang, and then we will nip up the coast to Thailands most southern islands for a bit of sunbathing, before heading back down to Malaysia for Christmas with our friends Taru and Ville who have just moved there from Turku. So we have quite a hectic shedule, and lots of stamps in our passports ahead of us!

Lots of love
Dan & Jenni


sister muggs said...

with all this nipping about across countries and continents i think i will have to get a map and some pins out soon to see what your route looks like, glad to here your new news and sounds like your not short of friends for some hot festive fun! I wonder what it will feel like to go back to places already? or are they new bits of thailand and malaysia?
lots of love from us

Nick & Ce said...

Good to see a blog update again. Please check safety of new places you're planning to visit in S. Thailand; I heard a dodgy news item about somewhere down there ... take care eh!

Anonymous said...

We were wondering where you had got to. How wonderful that Vietnam has been such a positive experience for you. We look forward to seeing the photos. Glad that you will be spending christmas with some friends. I know you will be greatly missed in England and Finland. We'll raise our glasses to you on christmas day, which will be fun this year with the little guys. Take care of yourselves and we'll think about you in the sun while we shiver in teh ice and snow. And you think 14 degrees is cold!!
Love Rosemary and Chris

sister muggs said...

hi its just me again, but i know how much i wanted to know that people were looking at my blog, so just so you know, love the pics, the boat trips look amazing and i love the masts of veg brill idea, the soap as well what a giggle, i wonder what special ingrediant that has in it?
we got your postcard yesterday, thank you and that coupled with the pics of you two in your conacal hats is just perfect, jen you wear it well, dan i am not sure it will work for you when you get home but i can see the practical advantages for where you are!
we have had our first frost and it might snow aparently but believe ti when i see it, but thats ok its all a good excuse for some mulled wine and treats

lots of love to you both
xxx sorrel

Mark & Jean said...

Hi Dan,
Thanks for the Christmas card - only the most unusual by a long way, although your sisters envelope takes some beating! We now know we won't starve if we go to Vietnam, though I think that is highly unlikely knowing how Jean loves creepy-crawlies and creature comforts. Have a lovely Christmas with your Finnish friends - syrup for ever!
Mark & Jean