A Travellerspoint blog

Saigon

Vietnam

sunny 34 °C

It's been ages since I've been on this site and thought it might be time to backtrack and update. Next stop was saigon where we stayed for 10 days I. District 1 which is where the backpackers stay. It was close to the markets and loads of bars and restaurants. Most people spoke a bit of English and it seemed like there were a few expats that hung out there. On our first day out we were approached my 'mr tung' who offered to take us on a tour around Saigon, so Josh hopped on the back of his bike and I hopped on the back of his friends bike. He had a book full of recommendations from other travelers who had been on tours with him and it seemed like a good way to see the city (there was NO-WAY we were hiring bikes and driving them ourselves in the Saigon traffic!

DSC00014.JPG

First stop was lunch at a local restaurant which was on the second floor, the were only locals and you could buy whole BBQ chickens for just over a couple of bucks, local beer was a about .50c and pretty good. The beer is served in a handle with a giant cyllander shaped block of ice that takes up most of the glass so you have to drink quick to avoid watery beer. Then once the ice has melted a little the waitress will come over with ice tongs, pull the ice out and replace it with another huge block. BBQ chicken was cut into many small pieces, each with a bone and eaten with your fingers, it was sever with leaves that tasted a little like coriander and chicken sprinkle and lime - delicious. We also had fried rice for the table.

After lunch we saw a couple of very smoky temples, they basically make wishes on incense then light a whole bunch. But there'd are so many smoking away you can hardly see or breathe, theres also a chap that goes round putting the incense out and taking them away so theres room for others. I wonder if they know their wishes and prayers get stubbed out!? He also took us to a coffee house, they mostly drink coffee cold here with ice and condensed milk. It's too hot for hot coffee. Most of the waitresses we wearing clubbing outfits as it's so hot and few shaved their legs so we saw a few surprisingly hairly ankles and calves. Wasn't covert enough to get pics sorry.

Pho was the main food there which is noodles in broth, often the chicken is in bones and all, it's served with local herbs sometimes lettuce as well and you add it to the broth then eat it, really healthy and yum. The markets had many food stalls selling this as well as clothes, souvinears etc, the meat just sits out in the open and the smell is not great. The traffic in the city is horrific, and there'd seems to be no road rules except toot if your breaking the rules, toot if your passing or toot if you're coming. That's what the tour guide to the cu chi tunnels reckons any way.

DSC00012.JPG

The cu chi tunnels took a couple of hours to travel to by bus, on the way we stopped at a church in the middle of no where. The Cowdye (spelling, bur thats how you say it). It's basically a combo of Hinduism, Muslims and confusionism. They pray 4 times a day with ceremony 6 am midday 6 pm and midnight. Shoes had to be taken off to enter and men and women had separate doors on each side of the church to enter. All wore white except a few leader type figures. There'd was signing and drum banging and violins playing during prayer. They sat in perfect lines on the floor. Te whole town belongs to the religion and it is expected that people go there once a year like Mecca. Are that we got to the tunnels, the tunnels have since been widened by about 60% to let in westerners and our big asses. Even then they were tiny! The tunnels had whole villages live under there with kitchens and three floor levels. At night the Vietnamese would dig more and build traps to injure the Americans. There were huge red or black centipedes everywhere while we walked.

DSC00095.JPGDSC00133.JPG

I liked Saigon, there was a huge well maintained park in the middle of the city and everyone was friendly. Lots of motor bike toters though.

Posted by Tamarillo 07:03 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Macau

rain 28 °C

Stayed at the Lisboa (the oldest hotel in Macau) for 3 days, got upgraded to a room with a view of the harbour as it was my 30th and the staff at reception sent up a free chocolate mousse cake - it was delicious. Hotel was great - very opulent inside, jade carvings and mosaic tiles everywhere and the shower/spa bath/sauna in our room had so many functions it was operated by a small computer. The hotel was huge and everytime I entered it, I seemed to get lost and couldn't find the lift up to my room. To the east there were also around 20 prostitutes, but they were very well dressed and didn't seem to bother westerners. They just walked backwards and forwards inside the hotel and every once and a while a businessman would pick one up and take them upstairs. Had there not been so many of them and had I not been forewarned I would have thought there were just a lot of women in short dresses getting ready for a night out - they were nothing like the street walkers of Australia.
Prostitutes

Prostitutes


For my birthday went to a show called house of dancing water - by far the most amazing show I've ever seen (the trailer is on u tube). Then dined at the Wynn's restaurant where we had an 8 course degustaton matched with wines - service and food was amazing. The Wynn also has 'dancing fountains' that run every 15 minutes which was great to watch over dinner.

Macau is made up of 3 islands that are all joined by huge bridges that run across the ocean. Taipa also has a lot of the casinos from America and new ones are being built all the time. We also had a guide take us round for a history tour and he basically told us the whole place is run by the mafia and the money is mostly from money laundering and prostitution which hard to believe when you see the sheer volume of gamblers in each casino. One of the bridges to Taipa

One of the bridges to Taipa

Crazy place - great for a holiday, wouldn't want to live there.

Interesting side note - there is a huge Portuguese influence in Macau as the Island was only recently returned to China after being governed by the Portuguese, so there is a lot of Portuguese food floating about.
Wynn's water fountain with Lisboa hotels in background

Wynn's water fountain with Lisboa hotels in background

inside the Venetian Casino

inside the Venetian Casino

Venetian

Venetian

St Pauls Cathedral Ruins

St Pauls Cathedral Ruins

Fish inside our hotel

Fish inside our hotel

Posted by Tamarillo 09:22 Comments (0)

Hong Kong

semi-overcast 28 °C

Hong Kong was our next stop and it is the complete opposite of Thailand. We stayed in the Hong Kong Gold Coast which is about 25 minutes out of the city, but there is a bus that runs hourly every day which costs about $3 each way. The hotel was about $70 American a night and had a large balcony that looked out over the sea and parts of the city. It's definitely a family hotel and there were kids everywhere and waterslides around the pool.

The city was very clean, much like Singapore and the shopping is mostly high end brands, but it is worth scoping out the markets which run at night. There are heaps of bargains and you can barter with the sellers, you can buy almost anything there from imitation high end brands, shoes, clothes jewellery and food. Food in Hong Kong is delicious if you just follow the locals, just look for the ones that are busy, they sell great peking bbq pork, chicken and duck and menus are printed in English as well as Chinese.Markets

Markets


Hong Kongs focus seems to be all about the shopping - the Chinese seem obsessed with buying Gucci, Prada etc and are happy to save up to buy it. There are a few wealthy businessmen floating about too, as we saw a couple of Bentley's ferrying around what must have been wives and girlfriends. The cable car was worth taking up - its a little terrifying on the way up because it runs almost vertical up the hill but one you get to the top the view is amazing - and there's also a madame toussade's up there.

High density living

High density living

P1010473

P1010473

P1010497

P1010497

Madame Toussard's

Madame Toussard's

P1010607

P1010607

Posted by Tamarillo 08:58 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

Nai Harn

semi-overcast 32 °C

After almost 3 weeks at Kata beach, Phuket. We have moved to the sleepy, tiny village – if you can call it that of - Nai Harn. Nai Harn has a clean beach, with a fairly decent swell and a great lookout point from the nearby mountain. There’s not much to do here, there are about 6 restaurants set up under umbrellas along the beach, a couple of 7/11’s and a few places selling bikinis and lilo’s etc. Our hotel is situated across the rd from the beach and is owned by French people, there are 3 restaurants and a couple of bars,t it’s all very quiet. There is a free ‘bus’ into town which is basically a ute with a roof on the back and seats. The rooms are spacious with private bathrooms, air con etc. For about $35 a night and there’s a couple of pools in case the sea is rough – which it currently is.

To be honest we haven’t done a lot since we’ve been here. Josh has made enough in poker to pay for both Singapore and the Thailand part of the holiday so far and I’ve read 7 books since the holiday started just over 1 month ago. Glyn (an old school/uni flatmate) has just had a baby boy called Theo, so that been exciting to hear about and its kinda just now hit home that we’re all getting to the age where we need to grow up. Or will have adulthood thrust upon us. Josh and I are getting married and I have a lot to organise and many of our once close friends have gone their different ways and are getting on with their own lives now. I find myself suddenly shopping for baby clothes a gifts for not one but 2 of my previous flatmates.

Water here is still totally undrinkable, but the local Rum is pleasantly drinkable and at 135 Baht or $4 for a hipflask it is a great substitute for H20 when mixed with soda. It tastes a bit like kahlua but very watered down. I’ve bought dad a hippie and will be sending it across as soon as I find a post office which may be in Hong Kong which is 3 days away.
Chances are my next post will be once we get to Hong kong and Macau for the big 30!!!P1010409

P1010409

Posted by Tamarillo 07:57 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Dysentry

So after the excitement of the Songkran festival we decided to retreat back to quieter Kata, we're now staying in a hotel on the other side of town in a small gated hotel community. Its the down season so there are not many people about. On friday we decided to go out and see some of the local bars, a few had poles out the front with girls dancing on them, we met several Aussies and it total visited 3 bars before I had to walk a very young and drunk Russian girl back to her hotel after I watched her fall over in the street, then some seedy guy started to follow her. She couldn't speak a word of English only, 'drunk' and 'very good' which is what she said after I took her shoes off while we were walking so she'd stop falling over. We managed to get her back to her hotel where randomly another guy who happened to speak Russian was outside, he said a few words to her but couldn't speak English either.

The next day I woke up and could not stop throwing up I'd also had to use the bathroom about 20 times a day for the past 2 days but this was different, my stomach cramped so badly that it made me want to throw up more and I'd often be on the toilet and throwing up into the basin next to me. Every time I took a sip of water, my stomach would cramp up again and away I would go to the bathroom. I was getting really thirsty but couldn't hold anything down and stayed in the room with the curtains shut trying to sleep for 2 days, but day 3 I was still getting worse and there was now blood when I went to the bathroom - this could not be a good sign I thought, so we called a doctor to come and visit me, they asked Josh about my symptoms and told me to go to the hospital so with plastic bag in hand I jumped into a cab and drove 1/2 an hour to the Bangkok Phuket hospital.

The service was nothing short of amazing. I felt like a rock-star at a hotel. The cab pulled up a man in uniform helped me out of the cab, asked if I needed the bathroom and then put me in a wheel chair and wheeled me to get the first set of tests, they took my photo, copied passports, I signed a few forms, then it was off to get ultrasounds, prodded by a doctor and then wheeled into my private, spacious room with a balcony, views private bathroom shower, flat screen tv with cable channels and a large couch for Josh to sleep on. Within an hour I was hooked up to a drip and been given 3 types of medication and intravenous antibiotics. 5 nurses and 1 doctor popped in and both days and the night changing asking questions, changing meds, drips etc every couple of hours and when the buzzer was pressed they were in my room in under 30 seconds. Australian and NZ hospitals take note! By the end of the second day I was no longer throwing up, cramps had eased and I had to use the bathroom less, they let me go with a bundle of drugs and now I'm comfortably back at the hotel. I got the feeling this was not the first time they'd had some 'farang' (foreigner) come in with that problem!Feeling better

Feeling better

Posted by Tamarillo 07:55 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

(Entries 11 - 15 of 18) « Page 1 2 [3] 4 »