Posts Tagged 'city'

Ho Chi Minh City

After our contract with Chatteris ended on Friday 31st May, we were free!! Adrian and I had tickets booked to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in Vietnam from 1 June – 4 June, but on different flights.

Vietnam Airlines wasn’t the worst in the world, despite a tonne of negative reviews, got me there in 1 piece and I got a cab from a company recommended on WikiTravel, which were cheap enough at 170,000 Dong (about US$8). The hostel we stayed at was the Ngoc Thou Hostel in District 1 (the main place for tourists and backpackers) and was a decent hostel, which didn’t over-charge and were dead friendly.

The first proper day we had we were up early for a tour out of the city to the Cu Chi area near the Cambodian border where the Vietcong Tunnels were. Our tour guide called himself ‘John Wayne’ and his Dad used to be in the VC himself. That day, we…

– Went to a ‘Victims of Agent Orange’ shop where they allowed victims/people born with deformities to do art, sculptures and crafts which they sell. That was pretty poignant and our first taste of the other perspective of the ‘American War’ as they call it.
– Watched some VC Propaganda videos of them training
– Saw VC booby traps (proper chilling stuff…)
– Firing AK-47s (expensive, but SO COOL)
– Went down the VC tunnels themselves (really hot, little oxygen and you had to stoop, proper kills your calves!)
– Went in an US Tank which was destroyed by a missile and was now just a shell.

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That evening, we headed to the famous make-shift bars where Siagon or Hanoi beers are 50c each. We had about a dozen I think, with people from the tour that day. Great to meet so many new people, but I felt rough the morning after.

Day 2 was the Mekong Delta tour. Early get up, feeling rough and on a coach for 2 hours. But worth it. The tour itself was padded out with things like ‘Hold a Snake’, ‘listen to these musicians play, and look they have a CD out…’ and ‘fruit tasting’ but the highlights were definitely the small canoe boat rides with Vietnam hats on, and visiting a huge Buddha and Temple.

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That evening was more chilled due to me still feeling rough. So Cartoon Network in Vietnamese on TV was perfect.

My last day there, we spent checking out the markets, saw the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and went to the former US Embassy to South Vietnam, which was now the War Remnants Museum. Basically any war stuff that the Americans didn’t have time to evacuate or use as the north’s forces were approaching. It was full of propaganda and bias, but really showed a lot of truths about the war you can’t really get the feel for from books. A well good experience.

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After that, we chilled a bit before I had to go to the airport and Adrian had one more night before Kathmandu in Nepal, the lucky sod.

All in all, Vietnam is bloody amazing, Saigon even more so, a definite recommendation!

Kuala Lumpur

With Hong Kong celebrating the Buddha’s birthday, we had a day off work on Friday 17th May. Tony, Aids and I headed to Kuala Lumpur for a weekend city break, in what turned out to be one of the best bits of travelling I’ve done so far.

With a 1am flight getting us there about 5am, we got a taxi to the hostel, Suzie’s Guesthouse, who were kind enough to give us our 3 beds for no extra cost to have a kip that morning. We got up properly from our sporadic sleep at about 11am, showered and headed out to explore the city. We did a lot of street wandering, found a Hindu temple, Buddhist temple and Central Market all before lunch. Despite our best intentions of wanting to avoid Chinese food, we had to settle for a Chinese restaurant, but continued out street walking. We found the old colonial Kuala Lumpur railway station, before exploring the edge of a park, wandered into the Police Museum and saw the National Mosque.

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We headed to the world-famous Petronas Towers after where we were very snap happy, and asked to pose for pictures with lots of people, including a Sikh guy and some Chinese birds, they love it…

That evening, we had a fiesta and met Paul, an Irish guy in our room, who we went for a spicy-as-hell Malaysian meal with. We then headed out to a club called ‘Zouk’ – what is known as one of ‘The Best Clubs in Asia’ (no shit – http://www.clubbing9ine.com/news/top-10-best-nightclubs-asia/). Was a sick night there!

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On Saturday, we met 2 other guys in our room, John (from Australia) and James (from down South somewhere) and 5 of us headed out of town to see the Batu Caves. We caught the tallest national flag pole in the world too, as well as some proper good sights in KL.

The Batu Caves were amazing. A huge golden statue stand flanking the steps to the caves; wild monkeys roam the steps and you can buy bananas and food for them; and the caves at the top could easily have been beneath Wayne manor and house the all of Bruce Wayne’s vehicles. There’s a nice little temple right at the end of the caves too.

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That being our last night, we went hard. I met up with mates from Uni, Alex Stewart and James Gough who I found out were in KL that weekend too, such a small world. We met at the Petronas Towers so we got to see them during the night.

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So we ended with the guys from the hostel, having a proper Indian chicken roti that you eat with your hands, then at night doing an organised Bar Crawl. The bar crawl was pretty good as we got to explore the Bukit Bintang area of bars and clubs. We met loads of people from everywhere: Denmark, Iceland, Lybia, India, France and someone who went to Manchester Uni. Great atmosphere, and as Adrian screamed when we were in the club ‘Lust’, ‘THIS IS SUCH A GREAT TIME, EVERYONE IS HAPPY!’. Flight back the next afternoon was done slightly hungover and very tired.

All in all, KL is a fantastic place. I was genuinely gutted to be leaving but feel I’ll be back one day hopefully. Would recommend it to anyone thinking of going.

Finally, the classic cheeky video of our trip:

Beijing, Xi’an, Zhujiajiao and Shanghai

For the Easter break, Nat, Rich and I headed to China to do what was basically the ultra-tourist trip of the mainland. Figured we’re so close to China we might as well do it properly.

We did far too much to mention in this blog, so here are the Vlogs (Video Blogs, Mum, if you’re reading).  But the highlights included:

– Eating Peking Duck in Peking (Beijing).

– Seeing Tienanmen Square (site of the 1989 protests) and the Forbidden City.

– Seeing the Great Wall of China, getting some epic photos of it, going on the illegal, forbidden bit and definitely Tobogganing down it!

– Travelling on a Bullet Train to Xi’an at 300 km/h

– Seeing the Terracotta Warriors!

– Travelling on a Sleeper Train for 15 hours from Xi’an to Shanghai

– Seeing the Bund and Pedong in Shanghai (Bund is so much like Liverpool)

– Going up the Oriental Pearl Tower and seeing the magnificent views there

– Seeing the beautiful Zhujiajiao, known as the Venice of the East.

Here are the Vlogs:

Mancunians: On China:

Street Beijing:

Exploring Xi’an:

Shanghai Streets: