You don’t know man! You weren’t there!

Wow, that was a stretch. Seven months of work without a week’s holiday. Okay, so there have been a couple of odd excursions along the way but they were just your average tropical island excursions. I needed a real holiday.

So I’m in ‘Nam.

Yup, three weeks in the land of commies, VC, love-you-long-time and Willem Dafoe dying in overdramatic poses. Oh, and insane driving, snakes blood and vodka, cheap suits, etc. Any cliches left? No? Good.

With Cass and Tristan by my side we’re heading the length and breadth of the country, taking in Hanoi, Sapa, Ha Long Bay, the DMZ, Hue, Danang, Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh city and countless others in between. We’ve already had our first stop-over in Hanoi and been dumbfounded by the lunacy of the driving (seriously, spent an hour watching one intersection from a balcony), the existence of real coffee, beer and beef and discussed the relative merits of Vietnamese women over Thais (also from said balcony with its wonderful view 🙂 ).

Right now we’re in Sapa, in the mountains of the north-east, after an overnight train journey and crack-of-dawn perilous minibus journey. The town is beautiful in a wonderfully run-down and knackered kind of way, full of colonial French architecture mixed with wooden shacks and modern cafes and hotels. The locals are a bit OTT at times, many of them members of the nearby hill tribes trying to sell their clothes, jewellery, opium and other bric-a-brac, but by and large they’re pretty frendly and genuine. The view from our $7 hotel room is across a valley to a green mountainside, taking in some of the town, local farms and a hell of a lot of mist.

The weather’s a bit of a shocker. I’ve spent the past seven months in an land where anything below 30 degrees is considered a Day After Tomorrow situation. Landing at half five in the morning wearing shorts, t-shirt, sandals and a straw cowboy hat probably wasn’t the way to go considering the mist, rain and ten degree temperature. Never mind, I’ve cracked out the jeans, released the inner Scotsman and now feel like a regular mountain man compared to the rest of the tourists shivering in their multiple layers of goretex, wool and assorted insulators.

Tomorrow, weather permitting, we’ll be hiring bikes and heading off to some of the hill tribe villages, then it’s back to Hanoi on the Saturday night train for a day or two before Ha Long and the rest of the country.

Will try to post some stuff about it here cause these godless Commie sons of bitches (and yes they’re still more or less Commies, and no Communism Vietnam-style doesn’t work cause the country’s poor as shit and currently gutting every natural resource it has in order to stop its exploding population from eating each other) won’t allow me access to Facebook, my preferred mode of communication these days. Come on, your country is going to the dogs fast, do you really think allowing people to post “Thien Duc Tho is currently watching adverts for wallpaper paste” is going to bring the walls crumbling down? Fuck’s sake.

Sorry, got diverted. Will try to keep this updated despite sporadic net access. SHould be a fun few weeks with a good amount of down time too. In the meatime here are some pics. Adios for now…

Cass and Tristan looking, well, erm...

Cass and Tristan looking, well, erm...



Hill tribe girls - baskets may contain opium for sale...


One response to “You don’t know man! You weren’t there!

  1. Hi Paul,

    I came accross your blog a while ago by fluke and was amazed when I realised who it was. Anyhoo, you sound like you’re having a braw time out East. I have a good friend in Ho Chi Minh City who I am sure would be delighted to show you around/get you drunk. Let me know if you fancy an Ozzie guide and I’ll put you in touch. Best, Sya

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