Dancing with the roads to the gong show


We arrived in Vietnam with a mission, a dare almost....It had been said that the local, local buses in Vietnam was near impossible to find, to the point of questioning it's existence. With cheap open ended comfy air-con buses for tourists, trying to get information for the older, over crowded, no air-con bus system could prove to be difficult for many....and so the challenge was on!!! Sounds a bit silly, I'm sure but where better to experience the culture and meet the real people of a country? As the case in most situations you just got to find one bus station and get on the first local bus to know where the bus station is in the next town, domino effect. So we get off at the border town and we walk in search of the bus.....Success!!! we were in!

So the adventure begins and we head to Ho Chi Minh, (formerly known as Saigon) the capital of the South. Wow now being in the big city was over whelming to say the least, we followed a self guided walking tour and as we arrive at our first big intersection observing the locals we soon realized Vietnam was the type of country that street lights are a mere suggestion! In order to cross the road, we'd have to keep a slow and steady forward motion as cars honked and adjusted speed and the motorbikes weave in front and behind us....but we managed, and I must say we're now very confident pedestrians!!! A city of organized chaos.

We took in local street markets and a few museums doted around. We particularly spent some time at the War remnants museum, where you get a very biased but interesting information on the Vietnam war from this side of the world.

The following day we took a trip up North first visiting a unique religious culture Cao Dai. It's a mix of Buddhism, Catholicism and Confucianism. The recognize all three gods and worship by going to church 4 times a day. We arrived in time for one of their processions. Cao Dai followers wear only white and have 7 levels of faith, when they reach a higher level they then wear Red, blue or yellow representing the three religions that form Cao Dai.

Our next stop was at the Cu Chi tunnels where the north fought against the South and the Americans. We got shown the creative way they made traps to capture the enemy, stepped into a camouflage hole and crawl through the tunnels used to escape from the bombings. The tunnels we went through were made bigger, only just, so that us bigger tourist could fit through. I can't imagine crawling through a smaller space, yet for them it was a matter of life or death.

We tossed back and forth which direction to go next, the coast versus the central highland...Knowing we'd be heading back to Thailand and the beaches we opted for the less traveled route in the central highlands. Found the overcrowded mini bus and made our way to Dalat!! We welcomed the cooler mountain temperatures and even embraced the rain a bit, it was refreshing after 40degree heat in Cambodia! Dalat had one of the best food markets we've been too, fresh and dried fruit and vegetables we haven't seen in months it was a party in our mouth!!! We also managed to take in a day hike and arrived at the top of the mountain in time for cloud cover and rain, I was disappointed and treated myself to some local wine that night.....hahaha.

Heading further north from there we stopped in the heart of coffee!!! Imagine my delight:) Vietnamese coffee is second in the world and i can taste why! It is so smooth you'd never imagine it's one of the strongest in caffeine content, but at 25cents a hit, I was addicted and from now on the only way Jenny and Tyler would get me to crawl out of bed.....the promise of a coffee!!!!

The good ol Lonely Planet guide had been disappointing us lately but it was right on our next destination, Kon Tum would prove to have the friendliest faces and the biggest welcoming in all of Vietnam! This small town is set on the edge of the highland hill tribes, bordering Laos. It was soon noticeable that their was all of maybe 6 tourists in town, which meant we made 50%, you could imagine the looks and smiles we would get walking together down the street. At one point Jenny commented that she felt like a movie star, people wanting to shake our hands every few steps. We made our way to a cafe and soon enough the owner was sat chatting with us for hours!

I couldn't pass up an opportunity...so as the cafe owner had offered I got on the back of his moto and he took me to the village. I met with a family in their traditional built home of clay and sticks and soon after the village chief arrived!!! Wow I felt honored! He started setting up for....the GONG SHOW!! Fantastic! A few men came round to accompany him, and after a quick hit of the wine we brought for them the Gong show began!!! My very own show:) Woman and children started to appear out of nowhere curious to see what the show was for...imagine the looks i got when they saw me! Kids were dancing and playing in the streets, then would stop and stare....mile and cary on! It was brilliant and i was so thankful to have experienced this side of the culture and of course to say I've been to my very own GONG SHOW!!!.

Source: Travelblog



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