Dancing with the
roads to the gong show
arrived in Vietnam with a mission, a dare almost....It had been said
that the local,
local buses in Vietnam was near impossible to find, to
the point of questioning it's existence. With cheap open ended comfy
air-con buses for tourists, trying to get information for the older,
over crowded, no air-con bus system could prove to be difficult for
many....and so the challenge was on!!! Sounds a bit silly, I'm sure but
where better to experience the culture and meet the real people of a
country? As the case in most situations you just got to find one bus
station and get on the first local bus to know where the bus station is
in the next town, domino effect. So we get off at the border town and we
walk in search of the bus.....Success!!! we were in!
So the adventure begins and we head to
Ho Chi Minh, (formerly known as
Saigon) the capital of the South. Wow now being in the big city was over
whelming to say the least, we followed a self guided walking tour and as
we arrive at our first big intersection observing the locals we soon
realized Vietnam was the type of country that street lights are a mere
suggestion! In order to cross the road, we'd have to keep a slow and
steady forward motion as cars honked and adjusted speed and the
motorbikes weave in front and behind us....but we managed, and I must
say we're now very confident pedestrians!!! A city of organized chaos.
took in local street markets and a few museums doted around. We
particularly spent some time at the
War remnants museum, where you get a
very biased but interesting information on the Vietnam war from this
side of the world.
The following day we took a trip up North first visiting a
religious culture Cao Dai. It's a mix of Buddhism, Catholicism and
Confucianism. The recognize all three gods and worship by going to
church 4 times a day. We arrived in time for one of their processions. Cao Dai followers wear only white and have 7 levels of faith, when they
reach a higher level they then wear Red, blue or yellow representing the
three religions that form Cao Dai.
Our next stop was at the
Cu Chi tunnels where the north fought against
the South and the Americans. We got shown the creative way they made
traps to capture the enemy, stepped into a camouflage hole and crawl
through the tunnels used to escape from the bombings. The tunnels we
went through were made bigger, only just, so that us bigger tourist
could fit through. I can't imagine crawling through a smaller space, yet
for them it was a matter of life or death.
We tossed back and forth which direction to go next, the coast versus
the central highland...Knowing we'd be heading back to Thailand and the
beaches we opted for the less traveled route in the central highlands.
Found the overcrowded mini bus and made our way to
Dalat!! We welcomed
the cooler mountain temperatures and even embraced the rain a bit, it
was refreshing after 40degree heat in Cambodia! Dalat had one of the
best food markets we've been too, fresh and dried fruit and vegetables
we haven't seen in months it was a party in our mouth!!! We also managed
to take in a day hike and arrived at the top of the mountain in time for
cloud cover and rain, I was disappointed and treated myself to some
local wine that night.....hahaha.
Heading further north from there we stopped in the heart of coffee!!!
Imagine my delight:) Vietnamese coffee is second in the world and i can
taste why! It is so smooth you'd never imagine it's one of the strongest
in caffeine content, but at 25cents a hit, I was addicted and from now
on the only way Jenny and Tyler would get me to crawl out of bed.....the
promise of a coffee!!!!
The good ol Lonely Planet guide had been disappointing us lately but it
was right on our next destination, Kon Tum would prove to have the
friendliest faces and the biggest welcoming in all of Vietnam! This
small town is set on the edge of the highland hill tribes, bordering
Laos. It was soon noticeable that their was all of maybe 6 tourists in
town, which meant we made 50%, you could imagine the looks and smiles we
would get walking together down the street. At one point Jenny commented
that she felt like a movie star, people wanting to shake our hands every
few steps. We made our way to a cafe and soon enough the owner was sat
chatting with us for hours!
I couldn't pass up an opportunity...so as the cafe owner had offered I
got on the back of his moto and he took me to the village. I met with a
family in their traditional built home of clay and sticks and soon after
the village chief arrived!!! Wow I felt honored! He started setting up
for....the GONG SHOW!! Fantastic! A few men came round to accompany him,
and after a quick hit of the wine we brought for them the Gong show
began!!! My very own show:) Woman and children started to appear out of
nowhere curious to see what the show was for...imagine the looks i got
when they saw me! Kids were dancing and playing in the streets, then
would stop and stare....mile and cary on! It was brilliant and i was so
thankful to have experienced this side of the culture and of course to
say I've been to my very own GONG SHOW!!!.