In one Peace! Since the last post. We met the 4 awesome new friends we met while boating to dinner at our hotel. The BBQ special where you pick your own meat. I got the Squid again, YUMM, and we had a few beers. They were 2 guys from England who were school teachers traveling together and 2 girlfriends, one org. from Argentina now lives in Capetown, South Africa, and the other one who grew up there in South Africa. Fun times!
After dinner on the beach front and a few drinks, we headed over to Monkey Republic, where we were the night before, a pub-ish place. I had been exhausted all day and got back at a reasonable hour. The girls did too. The boys however were up for a night out. I had decided that night that i’d board the 7 am bus the next morning with the girls to Vietnam. I was getting too bored at that beach, Chad was going to stay a few more days.
Around sunrise 5:45 am, Chad knocks on my door and had just finished his night out, wasted, and said he’s comin for the ride to Vietnam. He described their afterhours night, went to some club in town where many locals go, as well as prostitutes and lady boys. The stories were hilarious esp ones you hear first thing in the morning.
He had been talking to some Cambodian girl. Minutes later, it asks “Do you like lady boys?” He replies “No”. It replies, “Im a lady boy”. Chad “Cool.”
The lady boy moves on to Frenchie to talk. Apparently there were no signs of her looking like a man. Thin waists. Usually you can tell by their hands and voice if they are males, I guess it didn’t. Moments later Chad walks over and tells Frenchie that it’s a lady boy. I’m shocked it was so honest! It coulda tricked them back and had a 4 am surprise!!
I’m glad I stayed in and had a good night’s rest.
We boarded the bus at 6:45 am w the girls, it was suppose to be about a 10 hour ride straight from Sihanoukville (Cambodia beach) to Ho Chi Minh city. Instead, we got off the bus at Phnom Penh, about 3 hours away, and they asked us to switch bus at the bus station. The bus to Ho Chi Minh city was full, so we had to wait 3 hours to the next one at 1:30. Blah blah. What can you do. Bustling busses, tuk tuk’s everywhere. Very dirty people at the bus station (like anywhere else in the world). Old begger woman crawling at your feet. Shady looking cops.
We decided to get some lunch. The bus station we were at was situtated in a little China town area of Phnom Penh, and we were all craving noodles. I spotted a man outside the restaurant pulling dough, and lead our group there. I guaranteed them the best noodles they’ll have because they are hand made. It ended up being a “Shan dong” restaurant which is a province in China where my grandparents on my mother’s side is from. They make the BEST noodles, bread, dumplings, EVERRR.
I got the beef stew noodle soup, they got fried noodles. Yummy!! For about 2$ a plate.
The border crossing to Vietnam was a smooth ride. Very procedural, very legit. No haggling, no beggars. Clean, organized. However one guy on our bus had a high temperature (they check your eyes w some machine that can determine your temperature when checking your visa). So they held him back for an hour to check if he had Swine flu.
He got on the bus moments later and announced he didn’t. Whew! The whole bus were filled with young backpackers, so it was a fun ride, meeting new people, sharing stories, many of them having been gone for a year or so. We finally got in to Ho Chi Minh city, formerly known as Saigon, South Vietnam around 9. They dropped us off right on the street we wanted to be and quickly found a hotel for 10$ a night.
We walked around for dinner, most of the restaurants around being trendy hip western joints with vietnamese fusion. Thankfully the girls & chad all prefer the authentic street stuff. We found a lady with a street cart in front of a hole in the wall restaurant. She had a huge silver pot of boiling red soup and crab meat. She said 2$ a bowl. It looked DELICIOUS. So you pick what kind of noodles you want: rice noodles or egg noodles. Then you pick the meat you want: crab meat balls, fish balls, sliced beef, pork, shrimp (all in a half-covered glass which means you’ll get some sprinkles of Flie eggs that’s landed). Then she tops it off with that soup, which I ended up figuring is some Seafood-Pork broth with lemon grass?? It had a hot and sour taste to it, very oily delicious!
It was a delight to share street food with girls, it’s a bonding experience. I dont think I’ve had a hint of estrogen since I started my trip 3 weeks ago, it was good discussing where to shop in SE asia and fem things. I’ve been so accustomed to hanging with the boys full of testosterone and beer. Making fried insect eating at bus stops seem ok and comfortably not showering for days.
Today we met in front of the hotel at 7 for the half day tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels. The tunnels dug in the 1960s by the Vietnamese to hide from the US Soldiers during the Vietnam War. The tunnels once stretched out all the way to the border of Cambodia! Basically an underground life with markets and homes. People digging way to friends they wanted connected to. We were lead by a silly witty tour guide who we paid $5 to pick us up in a bus with other young individuals. The first tour bus I’ve had since I traveled as a child w my parents! I quote him, while describing all the bloodshed of wars in Vietnam, “Every country wants to become a Superpower. Well if you want to become a superpower, you come attack Vietnam. US, France, Japan, Mongolia, China..”
hahahaha very clever!
Before we got to the tunnels we stopped by a factory shop selling souvenirs. The people working at the factory there were all handicap from the Dioxin (toxin) – Agent Orange that the US used on these villages. Which lead these people to be born handicap and deformed.
After the tunnels and learning the history of Vietnam, we went to the Re-Unification Palace in Ho chi minh city. Then to the War Museum. Wow. Shocking. Even more than the Teul Slung Museum in Cambodia on the killings of Khmer Rouge. The whole museum, 3 floors were filled with photos of dead babies, dead women, dead soldiers, deformed children/adults now due to the toxins we once splattered, US tanks that killed so many Vietnamese, quotes of American soldiers, things US did. Basically it was a museum dedicated to the damage US had done to Vietnam. These are things we did not learn in the text books. Yes we briefly learned that this event happened. But no more details than that. Whatever the reason US had for war, is NOT okay.
War is NOT the Answer!
MY SE ASIA trip started as a vacation away from home, to a gluttonous travel food sensation, to the reality of War (in Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar)… And that’s just 3/4 countries I visited in 1 month. What about Iraq today? In 30 years, I am sure to go to their museum to see the damage we’ve caused to their people.
Bring the troops home! Make Love not War!