Saturday, July 07, 2007

anticipation and preparation

anticipation and preparation

Things are starting to slip into place for the Southeast Asia trip. I’m getting into reading up on my destinations through library books and the web.

Thus far, we have made the hotel reservations for the first ten nights of the trip: four nights in Bangkok, two in Phnom Pehn and four in Siem Reap. We will not be staying at budget backpacker accommodations. We want the most comfort and style we can afford especially since we’ll be there in hot and sticky monsoon season.

The final six nights of my trip are for Vietnam but we are still quite uncertain about where we will go and what we will do. There is a relative paucity of information available on visiting Vietnam. Travel websites in particular concentrate primarily on the various scams that tourists can fall victim too. Just take a look all the warnings on this Lonely Planet page! Of course it’s good to be aware of what could happen to us if we aren’t vigilant but I don’t want to get my back up before we even arrive. I did find this cute comparison of Hanoi and Saigon: I look forward to observing the differences between the two cities first-hand.

Did you see that the list of new inductees to the World Heritage Sites has been released? I’m pleased because I’ve been to the Sydney Opera House and Ottawa’s Rideau Canal: I can cross two more off my list!

4 comments :

terra said...

ok Andrea, I have just picked my roomie's brain on Vietnam for you. She was there about a year and a half ago. Here are her thoughts :)

- She preferred Hanoi over Saigon. Her description was "cute, French feel!"
- East of Hanoi is Halong Bay which she really liked. She said something about "sam paas", but to be honest, I don't remember what that is. haha. She also said it was very beautiful and really cool boats there.
- South of Hanoi is Keng Gah where all the rice fields are. Really cool.
- On the Saigon end of things, she recommended Chau Doc, which is on the border of Cambodia. People there live in floating houses.
- anywhere in the Mekong Delta is interesting. She said places there look like what is often shown in movies with the water and all the trees around it (I'm picturing Apocalypse Now... going down the river to find Kurtz? haha)
- Phu Quoc Island is highly recommended by her. She described it as "incredible" and "untouched". You can get an amazing place to say for like $15 a night. This is close-ish to Cambodia.
- her last piece of advice was to keep an eye out for the "Bia Hoi". They're all over the place I guess. You'll see tourists and locals all sitting outside on plastic chairs drinking and socializing. Often they are run out of people's houses. She said they're really fun and that you and your crew could drink beer there all night for about the equivalent of $1. She didn't know what they were at first, but was happy to discover them later into her trip!

Hope that helps a bit :) Have a great trip!

Northumberland Independent said...

jealous of your trip. It should be a blast.

I look forward to reading how it all goes.

- FeSaCo - said...

Wow thats amazing!!!

Ure in a trip and already your going in another one!!..

Shit!! i wanna be u !
Hell Yeah!!
Well have fun!!!.. I had only been in Bangkok airport....

=( I envy u !

suzy @ floatingworldviews.com said...

Your trip sounds like it will be fantastic. I had such a good time in Vietnam, and especially Saigon/HCM - it's got a really great atmosphere. I think as long as you take the usual precautions about not carrying conspicuous valuables it's fine, certainly no more dangerous than other places in SE Asia.
In HCM we stayed at the Bong Sen hotel which was really nice, in a good location, and very reasonable. The Ben Thanh (sp?) markets are fun (everything you can imagine in one place), and the museums are worth visiting. It's mostly fun to just stroll around and explore. We went to the main sites in the Lonely Planet, and spent lots of time drinking coffee and people watching (fun Vietnam challenge: how many people can you spot on a scooter? My record was 6). And it's really good value - at the Rex Hotel I got a haircut, massage, manicure and pedicure for something like $5US.
Heading out to the CuChi tunnels is a good half day trip too.

Hoi An is also worth visiting, they have some good restaurants, and cooking classes etc. as well as the old town. Lots of people get clothes made there, I got a couple of things made and it was much more successful when I brought a favourite thing to have copied rather than trying to explain what I wanted.

We went to Hue too, which is good for monuments, but didn't seem too have as much atmosphere. And Mui Ne is nice for a beach break, but that might be too much to squeeze in if you want to go to Hanoi too.

Anyway, hope that helps a bit and good luck with the planning!

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