Leaving Vietnam

To sum up Vietnam is quite a hard thing to do. Of course we have only had a too short, 3 weeks here and as we have stayed in real luxury with Mum and Paul for 2 of them that has made it a fantastic holiday. Before we came to Vietnam we heard many people say it is very beautiful and I’m sorry that we didn’t have the time to experience some of the most picturesque areas of central and northern Vietnam.

The biggest impact Vietnam made on our family is the friendly, gentle and welcoming nature of the Vietnamese people. Without exception, everywhere we visited we have been treated to smiles, laughter and interest in us. We all admitted that prior to our visit here we had some pre conceived thoughts about Vietnam, having witnessed how American history portrayed the war here but from the minute we arrived here all those images were swept away. On reflection it’s very hard to understand the American war here and the use of chemical agents such as napalm was a terrible crime against the Vietnamese people.

My image of HCMC will always be of thousands of motorcycles. Weaving in and out of each other with amazing dexterity, we witnessed lots of minor bumps that we sorted out in seconds. I will always picture the Vietnamese women in their beautiful national dress. They are absolutely stylish, elegant and graceful with their conical hats and long silk gloves clutching a magazine and sheltering their faces from the sun.

The weather here has been at times overwhelmingly hot. In Mui Ne we were so lucky with clear blue skies and bright sunshine everyday. Paul said it is the only place he has ever been where the aircon causes condensation on the outside of the bungalow windows in the morning! I read before we started our trip that only the hardiest of travellers come to SE Asia in the killer month of April and feel proud to now class myself as one of the toughest of the tough! Come On!

The food in Vietnam has been nothing short of awesome. I have absolutely loved our diet of steamed rice with “something else” laid on top and we have certainly had our minds broadened as to the possibilities of what can constitute “edible”

I will be sorry to leave, of all the countries we have visited so far in Asia, I feel like we have seen the least of Vietnam. It has been an education for us all, particularly I think in forgiveness, pulling together and getting on with it. Despite the terror of the war that tore the country apart and only ended 35 years ago the Vietnamese people really do seem to have rebuilt Vietnam. It is a lovely country and I think we all leave here admiring the spirit of the place and hoping that we will come back one day.

Mum and Paul go home

Woke up with a massive headache and feeling slightly sick. Ali was sleeping in Mum and Paul’s room and I stumbled across the corridor to check they were up. Of course they were all bright and breezy and after a quick shower I joined them for breakfast which I then found I didn’t want.

We have decided to go shopping this morning but when we asked The Kindo Hotel if we could stay for another night they informed us they were full, leaving us with the problem of finding somewhere to stay tonight. In the end we decide the best thing to do would be to send the kids with Mum and Paul whilst we check out some rooms for tonight. As I’m not feeling too great I just can’t face staying in a crappy dive tonight and we phone a midrange place for 40 dollars.

When we arrive in the taxi I’m a bit gutted to see that it looks like a bit of a shithole and I sit on the pile of rucksacks while Simon goes up the road to find somewhere better. After about 15 mins he comes back and we walk to the 2 star Hanh Hoa Hotel. What a great find, the rooms are lovely, freshly painted with massive windows and pretty bamboo furniture. At 15 dollars per night I’m really pleased and we chuck our gear in and head back to Dong Khoi.

We have arranged to meet everyone at 1pm and they are already weighted down with shopping bags when we arrive. Mum and Paul have given the kids some money and Ali shows us his MP4 player he has bought. Maisie, Mum and I head straight off for the mall and I take advantage of the fact that we can buy some souvenirs without worrying about carrying them. I get some chopsticks, a miniature Chinese tea set and a lacquered poster of “Tintin in Vietnam”. I ‘m worried that Simon won’t like this and his look of disgust when I show him confirms it! We ring home and speak to my brother it’s his birthday today and Mum and I sing down the phone. Happy Birthday Will!

The afternoon passes too quickly and soon it is time for Mum and Paul to start preparing for their flight home. We sit in a cafe listening to The Carpenters and getting very emotional and all end up laughing when mum tells us how she cried over Rolf Harris’s Two Little Boys on the way up to Birmingham one day. Its starts me off crying also and we must have looked like a bunch of crazy people to the Vietnamese waiters all laughing our heads off with tears running down our faces!

We get in taxi and make our way to The Hanh Hoa Hotel where they have a quick freshen up. Ali has a terrible headache and it gets worse on the way to the airport. Poor Ali, I think he is worried about saying goodbye and feeling stressed out. We say our goodbyes and it’s horrible. I feel very sad that they are going, in some ways worse than when we left as we know what it’s like now. There are a few tears as we wave them off. We get back into a taxi and Ali falls asleep within 10 minutes.

Back at the hotel and Ali gets straight in bed. Hope he feels better tomorrow, we are flying to Singapore and then to China. I am looking forward to it but feeling a bit down really. We watch Robots and eat take out pizza for dinner. I guess I’ll feel better tomorrow. Ready for the next bit of action.