I've been back almost a week...still feeling jet lag. Computer problems on my end made posting along the way difficult - sorry. Hope you enjoyed what are now (mostly) wonderful memories of our trip.
Thurs - 24 July 2014
Another HUST Summer Camp session came to an end with the same mixed feelings as last year. We were excited to start new travels but sad to be saying “until we meet again” to our students and Wuhan. We know now that that statement is true.
Fresh was waiting in the lobby to say goodbye. We were originally told that TA's would not be able to go to the airport with us. Fortunately, that situation changed and we were traveling in a van not just a car. She was very happy to be able to go with us: always taking care of me. The Wuhan International Airport is much smaller than the Domestic, so getting to our gate for our trip to Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon or HCMC) was very easy. We flew through Bangkok and arrived in HCMC with the dark skies threatening rain.
With our “Invitation Letter” (obtained while we were still in the US) the VOA (Visa on Arrival) process was very easy. $45 and a passport photo in hand, we filled out the applications and within ten minutes our names were called. With visa in hand, we passed through immigration, picked up our bags and located our driver and it was off to Hotel Luan Vu. Even though it was 2330ish, Bien Vue (which is a major backpacker area) was hoppin’. No problem getting something to eat and a cold beer…holiday had begun.
Luan Vue Hotel
Friday - Our stay in the HCMC area is a little chill time for us but adventure for Brenda. She headed off on moto tour of the city,which we did on a previous trip. JB had done his homework and found us a nice place for lunch: Temple Bar and then off for a little spa time at Glow. Oh..we're loving Luan Vue - staff is great and the beds are SOOOO comfy.
A rather tough decision was made today was to head home from our trip early. We got news from home that my Mom had fallen and after a short hospital stay and pacemaker tweak, she was heading to a rehab facility to regain her strength. I was receiving regular emails from friends (angels) at home who were checking in on her. BUT....I found that I really felt "home" was where I should be. Friends at home convinced me that I didn't need to rush home and that Mom was being well taken care of so while Brenda was out scooting around HCMC we made our return reservations for the same day (and on some of the same flights) that Brenda would be taking home on August 23rd.
Saturday, Brenda off today for a tour of the Chu Chi Tunnels and Cao Dai Temple – Jim and I relaxing…and it rained.
Sunday, we were all off to an overnight tour of the Mekong Delta area. Jim and I had traveled in this area back in 2009, coming into Vietnam from Cambodia. Brenda expressed an interest in the area and we wanted to see how things had/had not changed. Our 2009 trip was a three day tour, this one only an overnight but it was a good, quick overview staying in Can Tho and arriving back on Monday late for dinner and a quick night sleep…it’s off to Mui Ne in the am.
P and J on the Mekong
Bun Bo Hue
Life on the Mekong
Mekong Floating Market
Working on the Mekong
Making rice paper
Tuesday –Feeling sad to leave our comfy beds but our adventure continues. We headed off to Mui Ne (a small beach town east of HCMC). Travel entailed about 5 hours on sleeper bus which at first we were NOT excited about but ended up being much easier than regular bus. The bus let us off at Sunrise “something” Hotel– at first look we thought – this can’t be our hotel – too nice. .well it wasn’t. We had to get a cab to our hotel, a little north of the resort area: Sunrise Village Hotel – room nice, nice pool, nice people. B didn’t feel like dinner so Jim and I headed out and stopped at a BBQ/Hot Pot place. We were the only westerners except for another couple who were with a nice young Vietnamese lady who was either a guide (or friend). She helped us out with ordering –goat hot pot, the specialty. We also ordered a couple of beers. When they arrived they were warm (not good) but served with a bucket of ice. Can you see where this is leading??? Yes, another “rookie mistake”…DO NOT use ice delivered to you in a bucket – only cubed ice!!!!
Sunrise Beach Hotel
Dinner was good going down…not so great coming back up. Within a few hours of dinner, I was sick, sick, sick. It was reminiscent of our first trip to Vietnam when I was convinced that I had Dengue Fever but most probably only had a little food poisoning along with dehydration… it really sucked then and was only a hair better this time. Symptoms lasted all night and Wednesday was a lost day for me. Fortunately(for me), it rained all day. B and J took off to explore a bit of the tourist area, had a few beers at a beautiful beachside hotel (or so I was told) and wandered back later in the afternoon, as I was starting to return to the land of the living. We used this off day as a planning day. Since it appeared that cancellation openings for the Orangutan trip were not going to materialize….
OK…back up – our original plans were to go to Vietnam and then to Borneo and take a klotok (small boat) into the jungle to see Orangutan in their native environment. Well, one company kept stringing us along with an apparent price increase which never materialized and neither did the reservation. We decided to check with another company but by that time it was too late – everything was booked but they would keep us on their cancellation list. So it was on to Plan B but we had to decide just what Plan B would be.
…. we decided to look for a side trip to fill in before we were scheduled to travel to Bali…what to do, what to do!! Jim had read in Lonely Planet about an area in West Java called Cianjur. It’s off the main tourist route and sounded like an interesting trip. Since, I was not feeling up to it, Brenda and Jim took the lead planning this portion of our trip. They emailed Cianjur Adventures, confirmed that there was room, got air reservations from Hanoi and also confirmed that we would be able to get our Visas on Arrival in Bandung Airport. For this portion of the trip, I’ll just be along for the ride!!
Thursday and I’m feeling much better. Today it's time to move on but before we needed to catch our bus I finally felt like a walk on the beach. The skies were threatening but no rain (at least not yet) and although our hotel is just about 60’ from the beach, it’s not a pretty stretch of land. As B and I ventured out around an old shack to the beach, we found the local fishermen (women) had just brought in the morning catch. It was pretty cool The boats were being brought up on the beach with the assistance of the small waves. The families would then collect the fish from the nests. The remaining task of refolding their nets kept them busy for quite a while. Hard work!!
Boats on the beach
It rained a bit more as we waited for the bus to take us up to Nha Trang. We were going to take the train, but that would mean an hour ride to Muoung Man and then a five to six hour train ride. Sometimes buses are just easier.
Waiting for the bus