Hanoi to Saigon - (Maybe not for Mum to read!)
So onwards to another train, it seems I am getting better at this travelling lark and each new challenge seems easier and less stressful than the last...Anyway the train was leaving at 11pm and I didn't want to get a taxi (too much extra carbon for me!), so I mapped out my route, walked it backwards and went for it. It was totally fine and no problems at all. So I board the SE3 and await my new cabin-mates....What fun was in store for me! After a fairly uneventful night and day except for free food and loverly views of the South China Sea (I wanted to jump straight off and in the drink!) we settle down to dinner (also free - Winner and all for 35 pounds) The vodka comes out and we get chatting, one guy, Thanh Tung ( speaks very good English) the other two only a wee bit but we get by. At the next station they return to the cabin with some Hanoi Vodka and a whole chicken in a bag (head and all) so the new long standing joke 'bird flu'begins... funny maybe? Next stop more vodka and some boiled chicken wrapped in banana leaves and some fruit (like a grapefruit but can't remember the name). Great fun (thanks to my new friends for making it such a fun journey) and finally I am allowed one more Yo! (cheers) drink my vodka and go to bed, ready to awake at 4 am to get off the train. Top tip for anyone arriving in a new city on the train, early in the morning with a hike to your hostel and all your bags - do not neck a load of water before you leave the train and then have a strong coffee whilst you wait for it to get light so you can walk in more safety - because you find yourself busting for the loo and it makes map reading much harder! So I settle in, go to the War Remnants Museum; very moving, mainly pictorial account of the Vietnam War, with a lot of images showing the effects of Agent Orange, Napalm and Phosphorus - very emotional start to Ho Chi Minh. Then I chill for the day and await my dinner engagement. A friend of a friend of my Mum's has agreed to meet me, and so I go out with the lovely YK Wong and his beautiful wife Luong Thuc Doan for a glorious meal and am introduced to the delights of cactus bean and lotus stem, fantastic - Thank you very much for a lovely evening. Hear about the coup in Thailand, lots of people talking about it but no one really knows what is happening. Most people are still planning to go, so I think I will too. Will try to keep track of changes though. Trip out to see Caodai Temple, very beautiful and we see one of their religious ceremonies, then to the Cu Chi tunnels, crazy small tunnels built and used during the Vietnam War, we scuttle through like rats and it is pretty heavy going. Great to be out of the city though and in a bit of jungle. Off to Cambodia tomorrow, via the Mekong Delta, a boat and possibly learning to make coconut candy - what fun is round the corner....! Thanks to those people who have commented and got in touch it is really nice to read the comments and feel less alone, I don't know how to reply to you all except for here. Will and Rosie in particular, can't read your blog so send me your email address, I was hoping to somehow find you, I hadn't forgotten you had moved to Brissy.