It’s the 5th November (fireworks night here in the UK), and a year ago to the day we got on a plane and flew to Bangkok, then onto Laos and Vietnam. There’s a certain satisfaction in finishing blogging about our trip on this date, but also quite a bit of sadness.
After crashing the scooter, we hobbled around Duong Dong for a few days and then flew back to Saigon. We had booked a room in the Continental on the other side of Lam Son Square facing the Caravelle. It was after reading “The Quiet American” that we thought we should stay there at least once in our lives and try and soak up some of the atmosphere. Despite our injuries we had a good time, watching the traffic in front of the opera house from our balcony, and then having cocktails down at street level in the bar (great piano bar by the way). We left Vietnam and headed to Bangkok where we spent another couple of days, generally exploring the backpacker areas (which we’d consciously ignored when we got there), eating much spicier foods and searching out old maps of SE Asia. We found an old map of French Indochina, and bought it: something we do whenever we’ve lived or spent a significant amount of time in one place. We were really just passing time, knowing we would be heading back to the UK, and having to face up to the “real world” again. Funny how just a few weeks experience gives you a boost of confidence, we were a couple of pages ahead of the tourists just arrived, but no more.
So what about it then?
I said at the start of this blog back in March (and a big thank you to everybody who has stuck with it, there’s a 100 of you now) I wasn’t sure what to do with it all. I think I will put it together in a book, so if anybody’s interested I’ll let you know. I’ll continue this blog as there’s lots of stuff happening; the sea, the South West, life, stuff. So hopefully you’ll stick around. At some point we’ll go away again, a US road trip is on the list, but so is a year on a canal boat (the future could be 30′ long and 5′ wide), and obviously back East.
Vietnam has so much more to give and so much more to learn about it. We would spend more time in the North, I’d try to see Dien Bien Phu, and then stay a long while longer in Hoi An. Motorbikes are essential, so it’s on the list of things to learn back home. Saigon or HCMC is fun but tiring, although Dalat offers a welcome break. Mui Ne, not again, and I wouldn’t worry about missing Nha Trang either, although Da Nang, definitely, just to see how it changes.
Bangkok and Thailand, if we must, but only to get somewhere else.
Honestly though, if there were only one place where I would stay for far too long, it would be in Vientiane, strolling along the bank of the Mekong.