The porn star and the scientist went into 'Nam

Ho Chi Minh City Travel Blog

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Today, we leave Cambodia. Mixed emotions about it really, the place really took me by surprise. Before I left Thailand, I imagined Cambodia to be full of kids with AK's, with starving, deprived people, most of which were landmine victims. I was wrong. The only guns I saw were at a shooting range, OK there were some beggars, but once you get past that, you realise that everyone is really hospitable and just trying to get on. I really advise everyone to visit the places I went to, whilst there is relatively little high-scale development. Apparently it's what Thailand was like 20 years ago, before 7/11's and Smacker's. Even PP wasn't scary. At all. As long as you have some city sense, and don't wander down dark alleys at night, you will be fine. And the riverside has some fantastic restaurants and bars, with numerous happy "hours" (more like 4!), where the already ridiculously low priced alcohol, gets even cheaper! Definitely recommend the Sunday G/H, where we stayed, for friendliness of staff etc, but the location was a bit annoying. It would be better to stay nearer the river, if you can!

Anyways, we get up. (Again, no hangover!) This whisky is good! Have breakfast and check out, we paid the equivalent of about a tenner a day (English money), for food, i/net, board, and a tour, so I think that's reasonable!

We get a minibus to the bus station, and hop straight on to the waiting bus, which will take us to HCMC city, or Saigon. It take 3 hours to get to Bavet, on the border, and leaving Cambodia is as easy as remembering your name, as our driver reads out our passports. Upon the visa form, (which is getting a bit repetitive now, we put our professions as a scientist and a porn star). I remember the Vietnamese being legendary for burearucracy, but they seem willing to let in a blue-movie actor, and a budding Albert Einstein. After a little wait, of course!

As soon as we get into Nam, into Moc Bai, we see paddy fields of rice, and the women wearing the traditional triangular hats. We've arrived! We are now in 'Nam...sorry the Socialist Republic of Vietnam! We had heard there was bad weather in Nam, but that was up north. Apparently, it is now in the south too, as after about 30 minutes, there is a HUGE electrical storm, which seems to send lightning forks right and left of the bus! It POURS down...the whole ride, so that at points you can't even see what's in front of the bus...I hoped the driver could.

It's another 2 hours to the outskirts of Saigon from Moc Bai. The first thing that hits you is the number of bikes. I must have seen a million, coming into the city. I'm exaggerating, of course. But not much. There are 8m people in HCMC, and 6m bikes! Another thing that hits you is the neon lights, advertising karaoke mainly, but it's like Times Square in places!

The funniest thing though, was seeing Colonel Sanders face, as we get closer to the centre of Saigon. KFC's are EVERYWHERE!!!! So funny, having a symbol of western capitalism in a communist country. And he does kinda look like Ho Chi Minh....

It had stopped raining for a while. But not for long. As soon as we get dropped off in Pham Ngu Lao (the backpacker area) it starts again. Finding the hostel is tricky, and annyoing when wet, but a kind lady helps us. So we check in, and then, due to hunger and the urge to explore a new city, don our ponchos, and hit the town. Which is now a lake. No joke, the water is now up to our ankles, perhaps higher. We grab some food locally, some sweet n sour prawns, which are delicious!

Afterwards, still bucketing it down, we head down Pham Ngu Lao, and see the Guns 'n' Roses bar, and mistakenly head in. This place is a SHITHOLE! The diviest, most dingy rat-ridden scum-hole. Well, it's not that bad, but don't go! It's in the lonely planet Vietnam guide (the new one!) but God knows why. The portrait of G N R on the wall, looks like  5 year old did it, there is a portrait of Patrick Swyze next to it, and Happy new Year decorations on the walls. To top it off, the beer is warm, and served by an arsehole. An actual arsehole. SO we leave. Quickly.

We traipse back to the hostel, and our ponchos have saved us being soaked to the skin...funily enough, we meet Kylie, who we met in Sihanoukville, as she is staying in the same hostel! What are the chances...

It stops raining, and half and hour later, after the town had previously been flooded, it's dry. The drainage system here is incredible! Admiring that...we go to sleep...

 

 

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