Full day of Ko Samui, driving clockwise around the island to the south coast, then up into the mountains at the center and then back the way we came… what a stunning island!
View Koh Samui trek in a larger map
Beaches, waterfalls, elephant trekking… what more could I possibly ask for in day… everything was so beautiful.
…oh yeah, and it should go without saying that the night was met with more street food (from yet another night market!) and Long Islands Ice Teas!!
Seems strange sitting here months after the fact reminiscing about my trip to ‘nam. Especially considering my trips to Hangzhou, Suzhou and just getting back from 2 weeks in Thailand (more pics to look forward to!!). But back to the subject… Vietnam was everything I could have hoped for and so much more. Happy smiling people, amazing food, beautiful scenery… shit, words can’t really explain the sights, sounds and delicious aromas that can onl be experience first hand. And make sure you do.
Took the last full day in Vietnam just cruising around the city… over the river, past markets, fields, palaces and temples. Also had to give our farewell to Uncle Ho, well his empty tomb at least. We even drove through these tiny back alleyways… which got a little tricky when you hit oncoming motorbike traffic… yup, just look at those small street pics and imagine head-on around-the-corner-lurking traffic!
Then, when the sun went down, we saw some proper traffic (check out that last pic!). Ah, Vietnam… I miss you already.
GOOD NIGHT VIETNAM. Trust me, I will be back.
After temple patrol and the Cam Nam Island adventure, we came back to the Hoi An old town for dinner, drinks and some more vespertine action…
Well, just like in Saigon, we did a temple patrol in Hoi An, hitting up all the religious sites in one go (and this time I brought my camera). Then we took a drive down the only road on Cam Nam island to the very end, where we found a boat… and a crazy plant that instantly retracts its leaves when touched. I have a video somewhere…
Our last day was spent on temple patrol… hitting up temples all over the city. It was too hot, which in turn made me too lazy to keep removing my camera from under the motorbike seat… shame on me, I know. Also went through Chinatown, as well as hitting up the army surplus store, where I saw as many rats as I did vendors, but at least I found a dope pair of army shorts for $4. Also, can’t forget our final Saigonese banh mi!
The vespertine photography adventures continue… Saigon-style.
Notre-Dame Basilica > Motorbikes! > Rex Hotel
Saigon AKA Ho Chi Minh City (locals still refer to the city center as ‘Saigon’, while using ‘HCMC’ for the larger metropolitan area… I just use Saigon because it sounds cooler), boasts a population around 10 million and served as the capital of South Vietnam leading up until the end of the war… so, lot’s of history. Although I wasn’t alive at the time, I have the images of the helicopter evacuations from the roof of the US Embassy branded into my brain… as well as the VPA tank crashing through the gates of the Freedom Palace, which pretty much marked the end of the American occupation of southern Vietnam.
At first glance the traffic is BONKERS. Saigon has 6 million registered vehicles… of which 5 million are motorbikes. Thank god they pay attention to traffic lights… mayhem [somewhat] averted. I’ve traveled my fair share and had prepared for the worst (from everything I’ve heard/read), but the Vietnamese people definitely have some common sense and general understanding of efficiency when it comes to dealing with traffic situations (very much unlike the people I’m currently surrounded by, who are utterly clueless in these regards). The relentless convoy of bikers does offer a challenge to those new to the game, but I found that as long as you went with the flow (which there certainly was, and everyone followed), it wasn’t as bad as I’ve heard others complain about. That being said, I rented my very own motorbike to cruise them mean streets of Saigon! (more on that later)
Day 1 saw the first excursion to get a grasp of the city, walking from my hotel located a good 30min from the city center, getting my first proper Vietnamese meal (a mean bowl of pho… oddly enough at the very same restaurant Bill Clinton visited some 10 years earlier), then visiting the Ben Thanh market and eventually finding myself at the Saigon Notre Dame next to the amazing Central Post Office designed by Gustave Eiffel, where I sent a postcard to Mom.