the street/alley our hotel was on
The only thing that I wish would have been different about my recent
trip to Vietnam is that it was longer. Just over two days was not
nearly enough timem to explore all of the wonders of the countrys'
capital, Ho Chi Minh City (commonly known as Saigon), or the small,
beautiful beach town of Mui Ne
. The group (which consisted of my core
group of 7 and about another 7 more, had to get up balls early on
Saturday to make it for the 7:15am flight. This was after a celebratory
night after our final test in Singapore. Two people actually slept in
and missed the place, but I'll leave out their names to protect the
innocent. Once we landed in the airport, there was a complicated
process involving payment for our visas, but we were finally able to
get out and find our van driver to take us to the Bi Saigon Hotel.
Demby going into a tunnel
was just after taking in a large quantity of dong. Before you get the wrong idea, note that "dong" is the Vietnamese currency which is valued at about 16,000 to US$1. So were were pretty much rolling around in a sea of dong. Tons of dong. Sorry, it just doesn't get old!
Our hotel was in a cool little street, much like an alleyway, near the "backpacker" district. It was therefore a cool area that catered somewhat to Westerners and had a bunch of bars and such. During check in, Demby, Tribbles, and I met up with Trey Lawrence, one of our fraternity brothers who had just graduated and was just finishing up his tour of Asia before starting work. He suggested booking a group tour to so see the Cu Chi tunnels, an outdoor museum of sorts chronicling the scrappy guerrilla warfare of the Vietnamese peasants.
me & Tribbles' butt in the tunnel
We all throught it would be fun and took the 2 hour van ride to the site. It was much more than I had imagined! First off, the video they showed at the beginning was a little eye-opening. It spoke of heroic tales of young soldiers killing the "American devils." Let's just say we never hear that side of the story in the US. But they are fully justified in thinking that way; a bunch of outsiders invaded their land and they fought to the death to protect it. They take great pride that they were able to beat and outsmart the mighty American army. The movie was a little intense, so I had to whip out some dong and get an ice cream cone before we went to see the tunnels.
Our guide took us around and showed us how small the tunnel entrances were, even letting a few people try to get down in there.
seeing the booby-traps
The system runs for many kilometers, all the way into Saigon and surrounding areas. There was even one part where we all got down in a tunnel and crawled our way about 30 meters to the next exit. They have expanded the tunnel to about double its original size for tourists, but it was still tough to get around in! It reminded me a lot of the cave tours I used to take as a kid. But the coolest part of the day was yet to come! There was a little shooting range about halfway through the tour, and they were selling us bullets to shoot. When I saw the AK-47, I jumped on that opportunity. I happily whipped out my dong for about 10 shells, and got to shoot them at some targets. It was incredibly loud! I had no idea where my bullets were flying, since the recoil was so hard, but it was fun to do.
me firing the AK-47
We then went to an exhibition which showed all of the booby traps which were effectively killing and trapping American soldiers. Scary stuff. It was really interesting to see exactly how they were able to be successful. No trained army would stand a chance against all that. Our soldiers are not trained for that kind of fighting. No wonder so many Vietnam vets came back crazy; they had to be extremely paranoid about traps and being shot from behind to stay alive. Same thing seems to be happening today...but I won't get into that now.
After the tour, we relaxed for a bit at the hotel before going out for dinner to a nice Vietnamese place that Trey had suggested. The food was delicious! We were a little confused ordering at first, but once we realized they were bringing out dishes family style, we just went to town and kept ordering more.
David at the rest stop
Afterwards, we four Delta Chis decided to go out and try some bars in town. We fist went to Saigon Saigon, a rooftop bar on top of a nice hotel. The drink prices were comparable to American prices, really expensive for Vietnamese standards! A few others from the group met up with us there as well, and we had a good time sitting above the city and enjoying two ladies sing covers of typical American songs. We then decided to hit up Apocolypse Now, which isa pretty cool club in town. We had a lot of fun there, and I was even able to watch Russia beat the Netherlands in the Euro 2008 tournament. After another place or two, we said goodbye to Trey and headed for bed.
The next morning, the 7 of us got on a van for the 3 hour ride to Mui Ne, a nice little strip of beach resorts not far from a fishing village.
view of our resort
Our bungalows were awesome! I really wish we had another day there. The beach was not quite as nice as the Phi Phi Islands, but it would have been a lot better for surfing with all of the ways. Most of us just got in a chair under an umbrella and passed out on the beach for a while (we hadn't gotten much sleep the past couple of nights). There was also a nice warm pool to get into, as long as you could avoid the other Asian tourists staying there. That night, we had a nice Vietnamese dinner in a restaurant down the road, with plenty of cheap beer, and then headed for a bar. We ended up finding Snow, a trendy bar/club which had a cool atmosphere and pool tables. So we sere pretty satisfied with chilling there for a while. They were also able to make nice fancy cocktails.
By the end of the night, we had run up a 1,000,000d bill. We hit a mil on the dot! That is more dong than anyone can handle! After paying the bill, we headed back to the bungalow, went for a late-night swim and watched the Italy-Spain soccer game.
It really hurt my heart to have to leave early the next morning, but we had a lot of fun there. After travelling the whole day to get back to Singapore, it was time to pack up and get my stuff together to get ready to go to China! Being in Singapore and travelling to the various countries of Southeast Asia was a great experience, but I am definitely ready for a new, exciting adventure. Stay tuned for more!