One of the few pitfalls of TM Brother's boat tour in Nha Trang was drinking a wee bit too much of their free homemade fruit wine. This was an interesting photo of D as neither of us remembers me taking it nor do we remember the hat in question! The fruit wine was pretty awful though it went down easily enough and remember, if you say no, it means you drink more.
Crossing the road in Vietnam - an art unto itself!!!
Watch the locals first to see how they do it, it will look crazy and dangerous at the start, but it is not! It will not matter if you as pedestrians have a green light or a crossing marked on the road, in most instances, cars and bikes will NOT stop for you.
Take off from the sidwalk, walk arm in arm if there is more than one of you, walk slowly but in a straight direction and DO NOT STOP OR VERE OFF COURSE!!! Amazingly the traffic will (in most cases!) go around you. Traffic does not move that fast in congested city roads, so they have plenty of time to move around you. The first few times you do this, you are scared ***less, but after that, it feels normal, just like a local!!!
Traffic in HCMC and Hanoi is especially chaotic, but at the same time exciting. We went on a cyclo ride through the streets of the Old Quarter in Hanoi where we were staying, my goodness was that an experience! The cyclos in Vietnam have you sitting in the front with the guy peddling at the back, so basically YOU ARE A HUMAN TARGET!!! In some countries Ives noticed its the other way around, you are at the back and guy peddling at the front, I think I prefer that option better! As this guy peddled through traffic bedlam, Tracy took a video and all you can pretty much hear is me screaming as we were entering massive traffic chaos, usually head first and going in the wrong direction!!! Extremely funny Vietnam moment. The cyclo ride cost a whole $1AUD each but it is worth its weight in golden funny moments!!!
And they way the bikes and cars overtake is hilarious, they just beep their horn to let you know they are overtaking and off they go! Apparently, the beeping of horn means "Im coming through so get out of my way ok!!!"
One of the most familiar sights in Vietnam is a road packed with noisy little motorbikes, often carrying whole families. They seem impervious to danger. Motorbikes, with tiny babies wedged between mother and father, weave between cars and buses and ride head on into traffic on the wrong side of the road.
Be warned, it is quite commonplace for motorbikes to turn into the wrong lane, which if you are attempting to walk across the road at the same time, can really catch you by surprise. I saw several motorbike accidents and I am told that they are the biggest cause of death amongst young people in Vietnam.
Myself and a friend decided to take a motorbike taxi each from the Pham Ngu Lao area in Saigon, to the 'Apocalypse Now' bar. Our drivers took us straight there, only then to inform us that the bar was closed. Then rather than take us back as requested, the drivers rode around for a while until they arrived at a brothel. We realised the drivers had known the bar would be closed when they picked us up, but they hoped to get a 'cut' if we went into their (brother/cousin/uncle's etc) brothel.
Needless to say, we didn't want to go to a brothel, but then they were trying to charge us extra for riding around to find their brothel! It was only after much heated arguing that we got them to return us home for the agreed price.
I think perhaps late at night it is better to catch a metered taxi, and be very clear on your destination.
Before heading to South East Asia be sure to check with the Center for Disease Control or your local health department on recommended immunizations and Malaria Medications. Do this at least a month before you are scheduled to leave.
For the average traveler to Vietnam the current recommendations by the CDC are immunizations for Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid and Tetanus. If your traveling for over a month or working with animals or small children there are additional recommendations. The CDC link for SE Asia is http://www.cdc.gov/travel/seasia.htm
The Malaria medication they are currently recommending for SE Asia is Mefloquine (brand name: Lariam). I have taken Lariam numerous times and have never had a problem but it does have some potential psychotic side effects so you may want to read….
Although Vietnam is very safe it is always a good idea to check the travel warnings
Travel warnings http://travel.state.gov
Make sure you bring any prescription medication you need as well as insect repellent.
During my last visit to Vietnam I went to pay a visit to Australian friends who worked in Quang Ngai province( just south of Danang and Hoi An , central vietnam) Whilst I was there, I decided, as usual, to go for a 4 day bike ride inland. I cycled exactly 45 kms. On the way, I met wonderful people, as usual, and I arrived in SON HA where I offered a drink to 2 young guys. Then I decided to go on. I GOT ARRESTED STRAIGHT AWAY. They kept me and questionned me 3 hours.
Then they asked me to go back to where I came from and without taking photos. Which I did!!!
Here are a couple of advice:
1/ If you know a bit of Vietnamese, forget it all, if you have a language book, don't show it !!!! They tend to assume that if you speak a bit, you are fluent and they suspect you even more if you say you can't speak !!!
2/ Always have some cigarettes with you to offer to relax the atmosphere... It works !!
3/ SMILE, PLEASE SMILE even if you are so frightened!!!
Why did I get arrested?
Although my friends worked in the field in that area, they didn't think It'd be a problem to travel around. They explained to me that something very bad must have happened whilst I was there (some repression of ethnic minorities which still pay the price of having been on the US's side, or something like that).
Also, I was there in August, a period which is known, in the area, for being a time of hunger.....
Those of you who have been to Vietnam know that when you stay in a hotel, you have to fill a POLICE FORM in. This is also the case when you stay at people's home. However, if you stay with locals, you don't have to worry because they will report you to the police automatically and will make you fill in the form if need be.
NOW, if you stay with expats, make sure that they reported you to the owner of the house they rent. The owner has to report you to the police then. (In big cities, this does not seem to be so much of a rule, but in small provincial cities, do it or your friends may be in trouble
It is not safe for Westerns to drink the water in Vietnam. Be sure to use bottled water for everything, including brushing your teeth. Don’t assume Fruit Juices are made with bottled water – ASK before sipping to avoid Montezuma’s revenge.
The ICE in Vietnam has an especially deadly reputation and having seen the early morning ICE delivery process I now know why…………..
Big blocks of ice loosely wrapped in burlap (delivered by motorbike) are set directly on the sidewalk in front of the business (the same sidewalk that is used as a kitchen, bathroom and motorcycle parking lot during the day). The store owners drag the ice across the sidewalk into the restaurant and uses a large ice pick to break off ice during the day on an as needed basis
PICTURE: See the left hand side of the picture for the stack of ice from the morning delivery...next to the sleeping man...click on the picture to enlarge
I get this shot in Mui Ne. It seems like a little shop to make ice, which they make it from the moulded steel cube. As ice is required for cold drink to kill the heat, can you imagine this is the water you want to drink? But don't be terrified. Before I get this shot, all of us drink cups of cold drinks and we are all fine afterwards. So the conclusion is made: If you get sick, you get it at the first drink. If you don't, you should be completely fine with the local resource. And it's the fortune of you that you can enjoy everything here!
If you are cycling through Vietnam, then make sure that you don't get stuck on the highway after dark.
That happend to me once and i was attacked by a gang and only escaped narrowly with some big bruises to follow.
I have heard similar stories from other cyclists, but i would like to add that i have never heard of any danger during daytime hours, so just be sure to finish riding before darkness and you should be just fine.
Riding in the dark is also dangorous because of the traffic, so only cycle during daylight hours.
The Vietnamese still use human waste to fertilize their crops so the general rule when your in Vietnam is Peel it, boil it or forget it.
On a positive note...I didn't hear of any tourists getting deathly ill while I was in Vietnam (all of us had mild stomach complaints)...
Sanitation in Vietnam (for the tourists...not for the local people) has come a long way from a few years ago...but it is not worth ruining your trip
Motorist seldom stop at traffic lights so you need to be preety fearless. Most people in the coutnry ride motorcyles and its become a bit of a problem. In Hanoi alone they average about 20 fatalities from these things a day and ive seen one when i was there. It was not preety .
If you do decide to rent a bike, be carefull
We often never realize how important it is to sleep inside a mosquito net (i.e people from America)....It is a must in Vietnam. Without it....you'll lost a lot of blood for just one night...given if you could doze off peacefully. Otherwise, you can't even sleep if those mosquito stings causes itching discomfort.
Local markets sell all kinds of mosquito nets....pick a light one if you want to have a "reserve". This is your insurance in case your budget local motel doesn't have a fully patched mosquito nets. Yes, just a little tear in the net, you'll find yourself awake in the morning with a bunch of fat blooded mosquitoes inside the net buzzing around. Just slap them and you'll see how much blood you have lost in each (about one drop per mosquito). No net? Think of thousands and more!
Vietnam was only the second overseas trip for Tracy and I so it would be fair to say we were "travel virgins"! On checking into our Hanoi Hotel at some ungodly hour of the morning, we were asked to surrender our Passport to the staff for the duration of our stay. We did ask why, they just said it was Hotel policy, so we just assumed this was normal. Although we were not extremely happy to do this, having been told on numerous occasions that our Passport is like our lifeline and never to let it out of your sight! We knew we were stuck in Vietnam for a while if we lost it, so were not too happy about this "Hotel policy".
We then discovered at every Hotel we stayed at that the same thing happened. The worst scenario was when we did our overnight Junk cruise on Halong Bay. We handed our passports to our group leader, who then handed them to some other guy, who then handed them to yet another guy - WHO THEN DISAPPEARED!! Tracy and I are like "WTF have we just done!?" Well, needless to say, we did get our passports back each and every time.
So just wanted to warn future travellers to Vietnam that this does appear to be a common practice there. I have not encountered it in any of the other countries I have been to though.
You could try and hand them a photocopy of your passport as opposed to the original and see if they will be happy with that, this could solve the problem, but dont know if they will accept it.
Beware of groups of young boys (aged about 8-10) begging for money at Dong Ba market in Hue. With hungry hands being directed from all sides, I caught one slipping deftly into my trouser pocket in an attempt to remove whatever was inside (which would have been my mobile phone!).
Grabbing hold of his fingers I gave a squeeze, which elicited a small yelp and no further problems.
All rooms offer pool of City views with full luxury amenities. As true sense 5- Star hotel, it is...more
We booked 2 rooms and all of us simply loved it. We are given complementary drinks at the restaurant...more
It's worth the money to stay and enjoy the beach like in Victoria Hoi An. Price from 150$++ public...more
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