Central Vietnam, Southern Vietnam and Phnom Phen

Continuing our journey south, we moved along the coast from Moi Ne to the so called “beach capital of Vietnam” – Nah Trang. It is indeed a modern coastal city, with a long and well developed beach stretch, housing the requisite bars, clubs and all the rest. We took a tourist-trap of a cruise between the islands of the coast. Was OK, but nothing to write home about. Just as we came back from the cruise, torrential rain started to pour, sending us running for cover. We waited for it to subside but realized after 30 minutes that we would be waiting there for a while. As it was Danit’s birthday that day, we decided to make a run for the nearest massage place, guessing a 60 minute rub down will be a good way to wait for the storm to pass. That was a good call. After a nice hot stone message, we walked out to a mere trickle, but a completely flooded street, water reaching our shins…

The following day, we took the bus down to Mui Ne. A town built for one thing: sun bathing. We met up with Tanja and Maya, the swiss girls we met in Halong bay and checked in to the hotel they were in. Beach side pool, across the road from a nice little restaurant, the next three days were dedicated to Mango shakes and sun. I finished a book and a half. We did a bit of the local sight seeing though, going to see the sun rise at the local sand dune, but that wasn’t a highlight by any means.

We finally made our way to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) , Saigon. Last stop of the open bus tour. We were still traveling with Tanja and Maya but they only had two more days (Maya was on her way to Shanghai, Tanja going back to Bazel). HCMC is a lot nicer than Hanoi in our opinion, a lot more interesting too. We saw the main historical sights: Reunifcation Palace, Cu Chi tunnels and the war museum. I’ve been there before but i feel my knowledge of the local history is a lot better this time around and that makes the visit that much more interesting. TheĀ  museum was particularly interesting, with a good exhibition of pictures taken by photojournalists (Vietnamese and foreign) who died in the war. Another interesting exhibition displayed American war crimes, including a massacre in a village called My Lai. What I found most interesting in the Vietnamese depiction of the atrocities in My Lai, as well as the whole narrative they display in the war museum and elsewhere (Cu Chi tunnels for example) is the demonizing way they describe the Americans. They are still the “Capitalist Aggressors”. I’d expect the government would instruct a toning down of language with tourism being as important as it is for the Vietnamese economy. But I guess if you consider the way they treat all tourist, why should Americans be treated any differently.

We said goodbye to the Swiss girls, promising to meet them again sometime and inviting both to Israel. We then took a 2 day tour to the Mekong delta region south east of HCMC. The tour took us to a floating wholesale fruit and veg market, some floating villages and then up the Mekong to Cambodia. The trip up the Mekong was said to take 4 hours, but the Vietnamese lied without shame. As usual. 8 hours after leaving Chao Doc, Vietnam we were greeted by a very rainy Phnom Phen.

We are about to be picked up by a bus to Siem Reap, so i guess i’ll post the next update, including our last few days, from there.