Thursday, June 11, 2009

Vietnam: Update 1!!

Finally! Internet!! Yup... am writing this all the way from Vietnam!! And guess what? I'm still in one piece! And even better news, I'm absolutely enjoying my solo travel here so far! I've finally shaken off my jelly legs, and embraced this trip as it is.

I'm in Dalat at the moment, a hilly resort town set at the southern tip of the Central Highlands. It's cold and I'm trying to survive with only a cardigan. It's been a hectic trip up to this point. Arrived HCMC at night (yet another delay with AA), and following my tightly planned itinerary, I only had one entire day in the city before moving up north. So... yeah... still managed to squeeze in Cu Chi Tunnel, 8 city landmarks, Indian fare for dinner, Fanny for ice-cream and tons of walking all and around the city streets - all in one day. So yeah... you could imagine my exhaustion when coming back to the guesthouse last night.

And all bright and early this morning, had board on an opentour bus to Dalat. What was promised to be a 6hrs bus ride ended up to be an 8hrs nightmare. The seat was narrow, roads were bumpy and my butts were getting numb. By the time I reached Dalat, it was 4pm, I have yet to see anything as listed on the Lonely Planets and I am suppose to headout to Nha Trang first thing tomorrow morning. And to make matters worse, its the school holidays here in Vietnam, and Dalat being such a popular attraction, almost all the hotels I went to are either full, or just wont accept a single traveller like me.

But... it's the people that I meet - the locals mostly - in the restaurant, on the streets, in the hotel, that are slowly changing my trip day by day. I am so lucky to have met Mr Bin this evening. After hearing out my predicament, he took me up on his motorbike and we went straight to the waterfalls, the lake, the Buddhist Monastery and the Crazy House. It was getting dark by the time I came out of the Crazy House (yes... the owner is crazy) and it had just started raining. So we pulled to a side cafe, he treated me to hot local coffee... and he pulled out his briefcase. Ahh... always the salesman.

We started talking, and he showed me some of the places that he took his 'customers' too and their testimonials (3 notebooks full). And I have to admit that it is way, way more interesting than the places that I had planned on going. Travelling throught the Central Highlands on motorbike? Visiting the minority ethnicities? Sleeping in longhouses? Trekking through the National Park, and taking a dip under the waterfalls? Tell me you're not as swayed by this idea as I am. And I was so so tempted to take him up to his offer. But... I have another problem.

As you well know, I had planned my trip on a very tight itinerary. And this itinerary allows me to sufficiently discover Hoi An and Hue, yet still able to get me back to Hanoi by the 17th so that I can actually catch my flight back home. So I showed him my crazy-assed itinerary. And he showed me an alternative. Skip Nha Trang (which will be infested by tourists anyway), and he promised me that he'll get me to Hoi An by 14th, and I will still be able to enjoy a fullfilling trip there. Hmmmm.... this is getting tough. We went back and forth negotiating the price, and before you know it, we were shaking hands and signing contract!

But really... Mr Bin is such a lovely character, and he had been nothing but gracious to me the whole night. He even got me a perfectly decent room for $7!! Dude!
Ok. Shop is closing and I'm being kicked-out. Will try to update if the opportunity comes. Wish me luck!!


hazlind said...

way to go girl!im so impress wit ur courage to do this n it definitely sounds so much fun so far!jz make sure u take care!keep us updated yah!;)

Eddie said...

Sounds like u are having much fun. Good for you on your first solo trip. Enjoy the rest of the journey!