**** Sully wrote this a few weeks ago and we're now just able to update our blog. We're currently in Christchurch, NZ until March 5, 2016 - Then off to Sri Lanka! ****
Heeeeellooo!! How’s it going? We had an excellent time in Vietnam. To name a few; crossing the bridge and literally STANDING one foot on either side of what was once considered North and South Vietnam!! It was unbelievable… Another would be the Mud Cave we went to three days ago…! Yup MUD CAVE!! It was like sitting in a chair even though it was mud so you would expect it to feel like water but since our bodies are around 70% made outta water and mud is more dense than water you float…EASILY! It went like this; when you sat down in the mud you expect to sink down underneath the surface (underwater?? Undermud?) but NOPE!! Instead you are sitting in the mud literally like you’re levitating! It’s just like sitting in a chair!!
OK anyways… We got off the train and walked out of the station surrounded by taxis but Jay said that the place we were staying at was only ten minutes away (of course!) and so we were gonna walk! Are you thinking it’s gonna be another Khmer Thai Mai?? Kind of because the walk was 30 minutes but WELL worth it because well… it’s Vietnam!! SPOILER ALERT: Vietnam would’ve been my fave if we had’ve stayed longer!! I loved the rickshaws which were tuk- tuks except the motorcycle was a bicycle! Once we got to our place I went to the bookshelves in our hotel (9.1 on TripAdvisor!) and took out a book called Keeping Up With The Kalashnikovs which is actually the type of gun terrorists use in the Middle East so I thought it might be action-packed like the Alex Rider books I read! I didn’t really like it and it was more of a 6 on my book scale but I finished it because I was intrigued to see the ending! That night we had planned to go out to the Night Market but we were conked out after the train ride so we just bought some spaghetti at a restaurant but then we had an idea to visit a nail salon for a new manicure/pedicure! i got black and steel which looks really shiny!! Max decided for a mix-up and got PINK (VERY bold!!) blue and black because he liked the way it looked on my nails!
The next morning we woke up at 6:45am because we were driving to Phong Na Farmstay which is a twist on Homestay! We were driving and then our driver rolled into a ‘resting area’ where for no reason he stopped and we got out. max and I were both pretty confused because we had no idea what was going on but Jay walked straight towards this foot-bridge right next to a traffic bridge and they both went over what I later found out was called the Ben Hai River which is historic because in the years leading up to the Vietnam War the Ben Hai River separated the North from the South. I also noticed that on the side closer to us the bridge was painted blue and then about halfway across it changed colours to yellow and so we (Max) figured out that this must be the EXACT dividing line between North and South Vietnam and I was getting all excited because well this was the place where the North Vietnamese had fought against the Americans and the South Vietnamese and I mean every inch that the line was moved was a victory for one and a loss for another. This was the line that thousands had given their lives to make and move. This line was practically the whole history of the Vietnamese War in one image. We walked through it and we crossed into North Vietnam and met up with our driver who had crossed on the car bridge.
We drove for 2 more hours and then we stopped at the Vinh Moc Tunnels that the North Vietnamese top dogs had dug in case the South stormed the border. it was a series of underground trenches with different exits for example; one leading to the beach and one that was far away from any other exit and there was 8 different exits and the overall span of the tunnels was 3km! It was a smaller labyrinth than some of the other ones the North dug but for us with only Jay’s iPhone flashlight as guidance it felt like 50km!! But we managed to handle the creepiness until……….. WE SAW A FAKE SOLDIER JUST AS WE TURNED A CORNER!!! I honestly thought he was a zombie (though I don’t believe in zombies) and he freaked everyone out (mostly Jay though as he was in front!) but then we all started laughing our heads off!! After that experience we were done with the tunnels and so we got back into our car and an hour and a half later we were FINALLY at Phong Na! We were SOOO tired I fell asleep the moment my head hit the pillow!!
The next morning we woke up at 7:30am because we were going caving!!! So we drove to the entrance to the caves. The guides were trying to get us all set up. We went into the equipment centre and Jay was getting really steamed because they didn’t have a life jacket small enough for Max (a.k.a. the still-45-pounds-string-bean!!!) so he had one that was meant for a kid who was 10!! We also got lights on our helmets (Max LOVED to show how well his worked RIGHT in my face!!!) and a zip-line harness (DID SOMEBODY SAY ZIP-LINE????!!!!!) because we were going to go ZIP-LINING (fourth time on the trip!!!) Then we had to watch a BO-ring video on safety instructions! When everyone was finally ready to go our guide named Hong told us to swim the 20 meters (no probLEMO) to the cave entrance!!! Once everyone got there we started walking into the Deep Dark Cave (just kidding ;) it was actually called the Dark Cave) and it slowly got darker and darker and darker and darker…FLICK!!! Oh sorry! That was the sound of 26 headlights flickering into existence!! We had reached so far into the cave (realistically 50m!!) that we needed them! The fun was just beginning though because a little farther in we started swimming INSIDE the cave!! After 150m of that we arrived on a small island once again INSIDE the cave!! The cave was as wide as 75m or three standard indoor swimming pools!!!!! We took off our life jackets because we were done swimming and started walking through the caves and the walls were getting closer and closer and closer and closer and closer and closer and closer and closer and closer and closer and closer and closer… ANYWAYS at one point I slipped and I stuck my arm out to brace my fall but I didn’t even go down!! The reason was because the walls were so close together that I was leaning against them!! But when my hand came away it was dark-looking and dripping something that wasn’t water (NO it wasn’t BLOOD either!!) it turned out it was actually mud! That explains what I slipped on!! Then all of a sudden I started sliding downwards but Jay grabbed my arm and I hadn’t realized that I was sliding into a pool of MUD!!! After this initial shock I found that sitting in the mud could be VERY relaxing! It wasn’t gross at all actually!! Once Max and Jay got in (I got in second after Hong) we started snappin’ pics and we were also floating around like you would in the Dead Sea because our bodies are 70% water which is less dense than mud so we automatically float!! After being in the mud for at LEAST 45 minutes we started heading back! Because we couldn’t use the zip line to get back to the meeting area we used kayaks and Max and I paddled for Jay while he taunted us because he could!! GRRRRR!!!!
Once we got back we packed into our van and then we headed back to Phong Na where for dinner I had the Aussie Meat Pie! The next day we took a taxi to the train station and took the overnight train AGAIN back to Hué! After that (it was AWESOME) once we got back into downtown Hanoi we walked back to the Splendid Star Hotel and saw Martin and he let Jay take a shower while we waited in the lobby. After 2 hours Martin called a taxi who took us to the Hanoi International Airport inside which we started waiting at Terminal 29 (we are ALWAYS near they end!!) and are about to board our flight to Singapore-Sydney-Christchurch!!!
Next time then,
P.S. Sorry for being so slow to write about NZ!! It’s just been taking FOREVER and I’ve had SOOOO much to do!!