Welp that was a colossal blog blackout failure. But before my entire life is subsumed by apartment hunting in New York I am going to try to blog about Vietnam for posterity’s sake if nothing else. And yes, sadly I am in New York and not on a dairy farm in New Zealand. I tried.
Stop 1: Ho Chi Minh City
The city itself was excellent but the day trips we took out of here all felt a bit school field trip-y. The War Remnants Museum features a very graphic look at the Vietnam War (or American War, as it is called in Vietnam), including an entire room of hi-res photographs of what Agent Orange does to babies. Did appreciate the photojournalism exhibit though. We saw the Cu Chi Tunnels, where I discovered my latent claustrophobia, and took a Mekong Delta tour that mainly involved awkwardly watching Vietnamese people do things that we are not sure they would have been doing if the tourists weren’t there. And a water puppet show, which was adorable.
David chose to cash in his fancy dinner that he received as a reward for winning our food poisoning bet. We decided before the trip that as soon as one of us got violently food poisoned, the other had to buy them a nice dinner after they recovered. I, sensing an easy free dinner, immediately signed on to this bet. Little did I know that I would not be the one cashing it in.
There is a great vegetarian restaurant here and cute water puppets and lots of fun-looking exercise things in the park and a dance club on top of a high-rise that plays music so loudly that you feel like you are right next to it. This is where we saw and then sadly left behind the Meow hat.
There is a bar in this city called Apocalypse Now. I did not go there.
Stop 2: Nha Trang
So many Russians. So much waterpark. We also spent a day at the Thap Ba Hot Springs and mud baths, because traveling is hard, and David almost accidentally told a Vietnamese man in the mud bath with us that he worked for Dow Chemical, which would have been nicely uncomfortable for everyone.
The Vinh Pearl is definitely the real star of Nha Trang though, much moreso than the somewhat garbage-filled waters off the main beach or the weird and very yonic monument. It was everything I wanted it to be and more. We met up with the Britstralians again and ran around generally acting like 12 year olds and riding all of the slides multiple times (though the boys did steal our tube at one point that we worked very hard to obtain, which was highly insulting). They have an excellent alpine coaster in addition to their water park, which we rode twice, and an arcade where I successfully destroyed David in Street Fighter. Also bumper cars with psychotic-looking animals and what was allegedly the worst carnival ride ever; I did not ride it, I sat and held the bags because I hate spinning around and I hate it even more when done upside-down and just hoped I didn’t watch anyone fall out and die.
Apparently they also have a penicillin museum. We did not go to that.
Stop 3: Hoi An
Hoi An is painfully adorable. It is everything you would want a historic small town to be (other than, perhaps, “not super commercialized” but once a town realizes it makes its money from being cute and historic you can’t be surprised that they’re just going to take that and run with it).
It is also full of tailors, who in general are very helpful but also seem to sort of struggle with the fact that someone with a significantly wider hip circumference than waist would not necessarily prefer an A-line skirt. David had two suits made plus a very purple vest, as he does, and I got two dresses, at least partially on impulse. I was not at all prepared for our appointment and ended up with one dress that I like but probably did not need to have custom-made and another that was…fine, I suppose, though if I tried it on in a store I probably would not have bought it, but the tailors did try very hard.
The historic town was very cute though. You can buy a pass that allows you access to five of the 15ish sites, including museums, old houses, the handicrafts center, and the Japanese bridge. At night they light up a different bridge over the river and play historic games of some kind that I never quite figured out in a nearby square and sell cardboard cut-out lanterns with candles in them that you can float down the river.
There is also a very nice beach a few kilometers out of town that is more or less empty excluding a handful of tourists until about 4:30, at which point all of the food vendors and, soon after, locals arrive in large numbers for dinner and the sunset.
More later, I am tired and losing focus. There was just a commercial for an HBO special on September 20. The fact that I will presumably still be in the same city for that and maybe not be living out of a suitcase feels weird and uncomfortable. I automatically paid for $1.73 worth of tomatoes with a $20 bill today and I couldn’t figure out why until I realized that I was operating under the assumption that no one else would be able to break my large bill.