A Travellerspoint blog

Luke the Brave - Crossing Roads in Ho Chi Minh

KL to Ho Chi Minh, the flashpacker way

sunny 26 °C
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Phew! Here we are, a week and a day after leaving Aus. Madness, I tells you! Apologies for wordiness, this blog is also for our own records... so feel free to skim.

Ann is writing this one (again), luke said he'd write one but he was not being proactive about it (and I am known for my patient nature) so I am writing it.

So, where did we leave you? With the elephants? Well, since then we have not had direct contact any of the worlds most notable animals. There was a mouse and a cockroach incident, but that's for later.

After the elephants, we spent the last few days of KL being KL people - wandering around and getting a really good feel for the city. Our main feeling was that we didn't like the street food! It made us feel dirty - the curries were cold!! We may be cautious westerners but I don't like eating food that was cooked hours and hours ago and has been sitting out on the street. I think in KL you need to know where to go... and we didn't. But otherwise, we did things like catch the train into town, wander around, sweat, talk and drink water; beer is the same price AUD! rip off.

Then it was time to fly out! When it came to the dreaded moment of slinging the pack onto our already weary shoulders, we realised that luke's waist strap (pivotal piece of backpackerdom) was missing half of the buckle, rendering it useless. tough times! I buckled mine up and off we went.

Then, to the airport, a short flight,and we are now vietnamese!! the roads here are total madness, little motorbikes everywhere and no real rules. This, combined with my inability to look right rather than left whilst crossing the road, has made for chaos. Luke is fearless, however, and we often find ourselves looking at each other across a sea of helmets and taxis. We have found ho chi minh a pretty great bloody city. apart from being on the fourth floor, which is tiring, our room is pretty nice, apart from one flaw; in the middle of the night, sleeping under the nice airco, I found myself waking up shouting "why is it raining inside?". I'd say luke was also confused seeing he couldn't feel it and he woke up to me shouting. The air conditioner was spitting cold water on me! it is the most confused I ever remember being.

So yesterday when we arrived we took a little stroll because it was still early, and gingerly looked for somewhere to eat lunch (scarred from KL experiences) and sat down to some delicious food! here it was; the eating experience we were after! I ate pho bo - beef soup noodles, one of my favourites forever, and luke ate a vietnamese pancake (thank you s reaper for introducing us!) We then wandered up to Ben Thanh market (I love markets). wandering around in some of the squishiest corridors, we came across what I like to call "Luke's Fan Base" - a line of cheeky vietnamese girls amusing themselves by grabbing men! It was hilarious, luke was leadign the way and then i saw him move a little quicker than normal and then I saw the little grabby hands, grabbing his waist, arm, chest, bottom! calling out "big gorilla man" and "hey, king kong size!" we scooted, luke a bit faster than me, I was laughing too hard. Most of the vietnamese people we have met have been total larrikins, so warm and ready to have fun. "G'day Mate!" is getting a bit old, but they are usually in good spirits. I am not a big fan of "oh the local people are faaaaabulous" but generally we have found people to be helpful and fun.

Then on our way back from the market, we stopped off at Allez Boo, a local bar. I think its a bit backpackery, but it was sitting on the road side, drinking beers for under $1, and watching nam ride by, wearing pyjamas and helmets, giving little beeps, which we find endearing rather than annoying. Luke did a little jump at one stage, and looked on the ground, and lo and behold, his new friend was a massive cockroach! later, luke pointed out a mouse skipping accross the road, which was cute till it came right at me! Eep!

We then had a few drinks, ate some cheap cheap food, came home and tried to watch "Good Morning Vietnam"... I felt luke needed to do some learnin'. It didn't work, we are yet to enjoy that movie in saigon.

So today we had a late start due to beers and luke thornton being a sleepy head. We then went to the Notre Dame Cathedral (which was closed) and went to the Reunification Palace, where luke and I did get an education (perhaps a better one than Good Morning Vietnam). Our tour guide was very cute, used "Same Same but Different." in realation to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.. fair enough. It was a good experience.

So now we are back in our room, and looking into going on some tours tomorrow and the next day. Tet is on sunday and the whole city is gearing up for it. So are we - drinking hats on, kids! More next time (from luke - so it'll be shorter..)


Posted by acard 01:54 Archived in Vietnam Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Ann is scared of everything

except luke. Days 2, 3 and 4 of KL. Warning; long entry!

all seasons in one day 32 °C
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Technically we are now on day 4, but I should tell you about day 2 and three as well while I'm still keen and remembering it. Tuesday was our "explore the city" day, which means we went on one of those hop on hop off buses. We took a while to get going, and got on the bus at about midday, after a sneaky market visit to buy me some faux brand sunnies. they are pretty dismal. anyway

so we hop on the bus, and the first place we hop off is the national palace where things used to happen. you cant go in but there are some guards that are an imitation of the ones in front of Buckingham Palace... but less good at keeping a straight face. when we load pictures (when we can be bothered) you will see one giving Ann a massive dirty look. Fabulous.

  1. 1 Thing Ann is Scared Of


they had guns, big ones. I did a thumbs up but really I was feeling all thumbs down

Then we went to the next stop which was the Bird Park.. it had a misleading sign that made us think it was free, but it was actually exe, but Luke loves birds so we thought we'd go in.

  1. 2 Thing Ann is Scared Of


now I'm not usually scared of birds but there was a photo booth with lots of different birds in. I got freaked out because they were so still (owls etc) that I assumed they were fake and then one turned it's head to look at me... eep! Anyway then it was quite reasonable priced to get a photo holding 2 birds and there were some impressive ones, so I sent luke in to see if it was dangerous. It was; a macaw started chewing on his ear. hmm. Anyway I bravely went in for my photo, did some panic bird selections of a big parrot and a hornbill (should have got the tough looking hawks and kestrels). luke asked the man to put the parrot on my shoulder but the man said "no, he bite." Again - eep! There is a photo of how I really feel about this. anyway it was exciting to be close to exotic (and a bit mangy) birds, so that was fun. THEN we went into the parrot walk which had some whizzing around not in cages (and some sad ones in cages), and you could feed them for a tiny fee. So we did, but I did not expect to be part of it. Luke had one on his head (tee hee hee) and then the little man (#495 of the little men we encountered; and I mean literally little) popped some seed into my had without me expecting it and then I was a parrot tree! there was one on my wallet. They were nice though, about the size of rainbow lorrikeets, and pretty cruisey.

  1. 3 Thing Ann is Scared Of

Getting shat on by a bird

which didn't happen! miracle!

  1. 4 Thing Ann is Scared Of

Unexpected monkeys

So we were wandering around, excited by our birdy experiences and not getting shat on, and luke points and goes "look!". and there they were. Unexpected monkeys. You may assume they were coming at us, or close enough to touch - they weren't. They were just around, quite far away, their main crime was being unexpected and not in a cage. We had a good look, kept our distance, then went to look at the other exhibits which entailed peacocks, flamingos, scary hornbills, human children etc... We walked about 1000 miles but did enjoy it. and never got shat on.

  1. 5 Thing Ann is Scared Of

Dead Spiders

We then cruised onto the butterfly enclosure which was old, and a bit creepy. We wandered around wasting the camera battery on pretty flutterbys, good times, and then were ready to leave. You know when you go to leave a tourist place they make you walk through a museumy type thing first? This one had some live insects in cages, which was fine, but the first thing I saw was a big framed thing of dead tarantulas. And then walls and walls and rooms and rooms of stuff like that. the butterflies were fine. Tarantulas were not.

After this we went on the rest of the bus tour, seeing the twin tours, KL tower etc on the back of an open top bus. Tis hot here but we are trying to embrace the perspiration. That and having handy hankies is saving us!

  1. 6 Thing Ann is Scared Of

Odd old backbackers. nuff said.

So then yesterday we had a day where we just chilled out and explored the local surrounds. This is where we realised that many of the things we paid lots of $$ to see on the bus are on our doorstep! That, and the amusingly named "agro bank". If i lived here I would definately bank there.

So we cruised around, doing small amounts of shopping (ie I bought a wallet that I wouldn't mind if it was stolen etc), and being adventurous with food. Not super adventurous, but enough so we dont feel wussy. I rate eating things you have no idea what they are as adventurous. Hard Core Competitive Backpackers dont think you're adventurous unless you're eating something that is still living or at least has legs. We rounded out the day with a pretty delicious meal and a couple of tiger beers - which made us sleepy. Yep, not hard core at all.

Which brings us to today; Elephant day! Today we were booked in to go on a tour to see the elephants and to a deer park (not Deer Park Melbourne, which unfortunately we have also been to). So we hop up bright and early, eat our sweet toast, and go and wait to be picked up. We are then taken to the travel place where we meet our guide; who looks angry. This could be because we have front teeth, which he did not. We realised with some trepidation that we were the only ones on the tour; no new friends for us!

The first stop was Batu Caves, which we need to read up on because we have no idea what they mean or why they were there. We do know that they a) smell b) have a big stunning statue out the front! see pictures for details but by big i mean stories high, not feet and c) have many many stairs to go up there! my legs were shaking and my head was sweating, and we were once again in the face of surprise monkeys.

  1. 7 Thing Ann is Scared of


This is a general "I dont like creepy corners where things can hide especially when those things are life like creepy statues". This fear has not got me far in terms of tourism because it applies to temples and churches, but I am fighting through. The stench wasnt helping either, but it was quite an amazing cave, massive and light (thank god; ann may also be scared of the dark).

BTW wikipedia just told me its one of the worlds biggest hindu shrines. Hindu was not mentioned anywhere. That's what you get when you show yourself around places.

Anyway then it was off to the Deer Park! We like deer and there was the promise of feeding them, which we liked the idea of. We were, however, confused by the pictures of bears on the deer park sign, but assumed it was an administrative error.

It wasnt.

  1. 8 Thing Ann is Scared of

Snakes. Very valid.

So we get in, feed the deer (oh dear), they were cute, and then got taken around. Lo and behold, it was a mini zoo! we then went on to hold snakes (luke) pet snakes (ann), have a monkey jump on our shoulder (luke) hold a ferret (ann) and then feed a bear. a big black bear. so random, and i'm sure it was cruel to have it there, but it had had a cub 3 years ago and did not look distressed. It licked our hands - oh my god.

  1. 1 Thing Ann is Not Scared of

Bears. invalid.

Then lunch, which was ok, then Elephants - hooray! Fortunately no travel guilt here, it was a sanctuary for injured and rehomed elephants - it would seem the cheeky elephants eat crops. Naughty! anyway we inexplicably watched a doco first about how angry wild elephants can be when caught (?) and went on to meet some. We liked our guide by this point as he'd taken the bear photos. we only liked him when we came out of the bear paddock with two hands. Anyway, firstly we met some small elephants; cute! one had no tail and one had no foot, but hey seemed happy. Then there was the feeding! we fed a few different ones, from 72 years old (massive!) to 6 years old (manageable size).

Then there was the riding; oh the riding!

  1. 2 Thing Ann is Not Scared of

Riding Elephants into a river. Cant explain.

so other people rode them in a teeny circle, we rode one into the river! think it was the 72 yo. She ambled down and we went through the water then whoop! she tipped us off. ace. old mate (the guide) was taking millions of photos, as we then played with some smaller ones in the water.

We loved every second of it. Actually we are having an amazing time already and seeing and doing more than we thought we would on this leg of the tour, as well as relaxing and taking our time about things.

More next time, sorry for the massive read, but this is also our record keeping method!

Posted by acard 01:24 Archived in Malaysia Tagged animal Comments (0)

Melbourne to KL; eep!

an exercise in sore knees and not much happening

31 °C
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so we made it! we are here, we are safe, and we are in the eeny weeniest room ever! but it is ours and it can keep all our things safe while we traipse around KL and surrounds, getting hot and dirty. John Card can insert "hot and dirty" gag there; I'm too tired. Luke is so tired he didn't even get to the end of naming the blog before he fell asleep.

We were up at 5am with big Al to go to the airport. after some nervous moments about kangaroos we didn't actually see, we arrived at Melbourne Airport in plenty of time, or, as Al said, "for a short line". He was referring to the check in desk. We then weighed in our bags (I won with a tiny 14.4kg), and then got rid of the big mo fos. I am not sure how we are going to lug all this around asia, but if it doesn't result in skinniness, then I will have some complaining to do.

We then sat on a plane in the smallest possible seats for 8 hours. Really, there is nothing to report there. Oh luke did snore so loud he woke someone else up; does that count?

But then we landed! I was sorry to see my inflight entertainment program end; I'd just discovered Sabrina the teenage witch. After some pretty dismal customer service, I turned to luke and said "Actually Luke, I'm not sure I remember how to do this', to which he responded with an "!" in his eyes. We muddled through, got on a bus, bargained a cab and then found our way to our hostel, where we are now. we just ate some pretty shocking food (hanger was approaching) and had a couple of lemonades (which is not code for beer; it was actually lemonade. we are weak as piss).

So this is the beginning. Tomorrow we plan to a) sleep and b) wander around. I'd say the day will end with c) me very drunk. To all the adults reading this, sorry. I am a booze hound.

more next time. I hope this entry hasn't put you off reading the next one.

xoxo Ann and Luke

Posted by acard 03:44 Archived in Malaysia Tagged air_travel Comments (2)

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