It’s been a while. Okay, it’s been months. Blogging without a laptop proved to be more difficult than I had anticipated, so you’ll just have to let me off. If you’re interested, here’s a brief summary of our remaining time in Vietnam along with a little snippet of our time in Laos and Cambodia together. The Rest of Vietnam:
In my last post, you read about our journey from Hoi Ann to Hue, crossing the Hai Van Pass on our motorbikes. After this we endured the smelliest coach journey you could ever imagine – think of stale cow piss and times it by twenty – to Hanoi, our penultimate stop in Vietnam. I can’t say we did much here, other than take full advantage of the 10p beer and tasty street baguettes. We did walk for many hours in search of the infamous French quarter with no luck.
From here we went on a trip to the beautiful Halong Bay, a natural wonder of the world. Our two day trip included one night stay on a delightful boat and another on Cat Ba Island. Night one was great. We were given a hearty dinner, plenty of alcohol and access to a karaoke machine. Of course, I was loving it and graced the crowd with my exquisite singing abilities several times; including a duet with George to 2 Become 1. The Vietnamese were thrilled.
Night two however, was not so great. We arrived on Cat Ba Island and were taken to the worst hotel I’ve ever seen in my life. It was like a real life Tower of Terror. The walls were infested with mold, the whole place was covered in dust, and we were greeted by a huge, dead cockroach when entering our room. Literally, Hell on Earth. The island was empty, something out of the Twilight Zone. I couldn’t help but think it was all a big set up and this would be my last night on earth before entering a realm of doom. We tried to be light hearted about the situation and get drunk, but I went off that idea after a huge rat scurried up a wall my head happened to be resting against.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom though, George gave me another sleep talking anecdote. This time it was, “YOU have got two GORGEOUS feet. I just want to eat them!” Holding back my laughter I asked, “George are you asleep?” To which she quickly replied, rather defensively, “No! I was talking to Sam!” Then, from out of nowhere, Sam goes, “yeah…” Honestly, it was the weirdest situation I’ve ever been in. Two people asleep, having a conversation? Morning came soon enough and after a not-so surprising breakfast of bread and eggs – with another useless pot of jam – we got ourselves away from that island as fast as we could. I fell in love with a beautiful Scandinavian boy en route back to Hanoi, what a shame I looked (and probably smelt) like and old boot.
Our trip to Laos was short but sweet. Heading there purely for the tubing experience, we hopped on a bus for 24 hours to Vientiane. It was definitely not a smooth sailing journey. We arrived at the boarder at around 7am, freezing and exhausted. Like any boarder crossing, we were made to get off and walk through to Laos and pay for our visas, which we were told were $5. Of course, we were ill-informed. Our visas were to cost us $35 dollars, which is fine, except I only had $5 and there was no ATM in sight. Anybody who knows me will know how this is the exact thing that will send me into a state of panic. Thirty minutes, a panic attack and a severe telling off from a Lao and the girls, we rallied up enough money between us to get me into the country. Thank god for that.
After a brief stop-over in the capital, we arrived in Vang Vieng, a chilled out backpacker town known best for tubing. We started drinking around 10:30am and I’ll be honest when I say I don’t remember much at all. Upon arrival, we were made to sign a disclaimer in Lao and were then branded with a number in red pen like cattle. This was obviously in case something bad happened to us, how promising. The beer flowed just as much as the river did, I can see why so many people have died tubing over the years and why they’ve closed most of the bars down. During our stay here, we also tried mushroom shakes which had no effect on us whatsoever. What an anticlimax.
Cambodia was amazing, one of the reasons why I went back here. A country so devastated by it’s history and yet their kindness and courtesy overwhelms you. After the worst journey I’ve ever encountered – 37 hours, 7 buses and 2 hours stranded at the boarder – we arrived in Phnom Penh.
Our short stay here was a somber one. We of course paid a visit to the Khmer Rouge killing fields and S-21. Such a heart breaking story so impossible to comprehend, even though it only happened around 40 years ago. S-21, the high school turned prison during the Khmer Rouge regime was an extremely uncomfortable experience. There were so many photographs of the victims and their starving, hollowed out faces staring right at you. You could almost feel a different presence lurking through the air as we walked around the once place of torture. On a happier note, I discovered porridge on a breakfast menu one morning exploring the city. I’d just hopped off a nice man’s motorbike, who insisted he would show me around the city, and then I saw it. Porridge with bananas and honey. Needless to say, I almost cried with glee and ordered myself a portion immediately. I think I was full up for two whole days afterwards.
Ready to leave Phnom Penh, we took a 6 hour bus journey south to Shinoukville, a backpacker party town we needed to pass through in order to reach our Koh Rong. We’d planned on having a quiet one because we had a ferry to catch at 8am the following morning, but sometimes things just don’t go to plan. We discovered the girl behind the bar was from the Wirral, so she provided us with free drinks and vodka shots throughout the night. As you could imagine, we were smashed. George unfortunately had to leave early because she had a bad case of hiccups, but not before meeting somebody who’s nan lives in Rainhill. Sam and I stayed out until the early morning, rolling in at 7am, giving us an hour to sober up and catch the boat.
Koh Rong. How do I describe the beautiful Koh Rong? It’s paradise. A small island off southern Cambodia, yet to fall victim to the curse of the boozy brit. Of course, the island is full of tourists, but the type of level headed tourists you wish you had met instead of the ‘lads on tour’ from Hull. There wasn’t much to do here apart from completely relax, with the exception of a 45 minute trek to the other side of the island. It was spectacular. We met an amazing group of people and – with the risk of sounding like a boozy brit – spent the majority of our time here drunk. It was my favourite destination by far, but that’s not to say there weren’t a few hiccups during our stay. Several things were lost, including phones and dignitity, George broke a toe for the second time and was forced to endure a snorkelling trip with a group of Chinese who couldn’t swim, and I got called fat by a French man called Gus. The latter resulted in me weeping alone in my bunkbed and my friendship with Gus was cut short. I knew there was a reason I didn’t like the French.