For Many Islands, Tourism Means Too Much Trash. Is Cuba Next

Singing Garbage truck

Garbage Truck / June 9, 2018

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TRIP REPORT - Two Weeks in Vietnam - September/October

A massive thank you to PamelaW who encouraged us to go it alone and for all her support and friendship. And to Scott and Lisa for their encouragement to write this report. Yikes. I will promise to be as honest as possible, although I confess I am relying on my somewhat iffy memory so I might be a little out with some things, in the order they happened.

Well here goes. Firstly we are grandparents from Melbourne. It was me that really desired to go to Vietnam, and I wanted to gear everything to encourage Mr OE to want to return. I saw it as a scout trip ☺ He saw it more as a once only trip but now he has changed his mind – hehe – my goal was achieved!!!

We made mistakes, we pre-booked a lot but that was all geared to giving Mr OE what I knew would be what would “float his boat”. Everything we did and everything we saw was fantastic, there was nothing I would have changed in our scout trip, simply because there is nowhere like Vietnam and everywhere you go has its charm.

Our itinerary was the standard Hanoi – Hoi An – Ho Chi Minh. We only had two weeks so we tried to make the most of what time we did have.

Next time I would do things differently but that’s for next time.

I know you won’t all agree with what we did or what we saw or even our experiences, but that’s what makes us all unique. And what we see one day and feel one day is not the same as the next. Your experiences will be different to ours I am sure, and although not everywhere was our thing, we learnt a lot and still enjoyed all our experiences.


That’s out of the way now. Let’s get this show on the road.

Day 1:

We flew from Melbourne to Singapore, overnight then onto Hanoi.

It was with great excitement that we saw the ground approaching, wondering what was in store for us.

Arriving at the airport was a surprise in itself. It was so modern. So much glass! Onto immigration. Well that was different. Only two people ahead of us, a doddle I thought, be through here in 5 minutes. Well I think the guy processing was in competition with the other guys to see how slow they could get away with processing each person. It was actually fascinating to watch….little look at a passport page. Down it went. Look again. Down. Little scan. Down. Look again….interesting way of working or not working. I wonder if I could get away with that at my job. Nup, not likely. Anyway finally through that we headed onto get our bags, easy peasy.

Then exit. Yes I see our name amongst the masses of other names. Relief. Bundled into the car and on our way.

OK brace yourself for the traffic and the chaos….Hey what chaos, what traffic??? Are we even in Hanoi? Did we take the wrong plane?

The road was surprising. Wide modern, little in the way of traffic. Certainly not what I expected. Yes there were some scooters around but it was “where’s the crazy?” Well we found it ☺

Soon the road got narrower, the traffic heavier and before we knew it we were there at our hotel. I wasn’t paying too much attention at that time to anything, just wanted to get there and get out in amongst the action and was just watching with awe the scooters zipping around us with expertise, the girls in full length hide it all outfits, like who wants a tan as I look at my lily white skin.

You still awake? I promise it gets better. Maybe in a day or two ☺

Our first impression was “boy these people love their beer” There seemed to be what looked like beer kegs on every roof. After a while we sort of thought they may well be water kegs. I assume that’s what they were anyway. Unless it really was beer on tap.

Our hotel was great. I am so glad I chose that one as it was away from the tourists (well I am one but I don’t want to be amongst the millions), and yet a short walk to what was important –beer corner and the lake. I asked them at the hotel about a sim card. Wasn’t that nice of them to go and enquire about a sim card (cutting one down to fit into my Iphone 6S), they couldn’t find a place close so one guy got on his scooter and did it for us. 200, 000 dong lasted us the whole trip with so much data being used. No idea how much is left on it but it hadn’t run out.

It was sooo hot. Like hotter than hot. I have felt 46+ C but this felt like a furnace. Shedding our layers we went outside. Deer in headlights. Truly. We thought we could just walk down the footpath. HAHAHA. No footpath. Scooters scooters everywhere with no footpath to be seen…

We kept hearing this childish music real loud. I wondered what on earth was going on. Did I book next to a karaoke bar or something? No it was the singing garbage truck. Now how odd and different is that. Mind you it took days to get that song out of my head after we left Hanoi !!!

It was quite entertaining as we sat outside on the two chairs provided near the security of the hotel..yeah we were wusses big time. There was this procession of cyclos, must be a tourist thing done en masse – maybe a ship docked or something? Anyway not one on them was smiling. What? Who couldn’t smile at all the entertainment around them, the sights to be seen? The last bloke in one looked dead to the world…or dead…the jury is still out on that one.

I was so impressed by the accuracy the lady across the road who threw out her plastic bag of garbage, she got the target of the mound of garbage on the street perfect. Well done. It was gone by morning so all was good.

It was soon time for our Hanoi kids food trip. We were struggling to stay awake, our system still thought it was 9pm (6pm starting time) in Melbourne.

She came to our hotel and sat with us finding what we wanted…I just stated loud and clear EGG COFFEE ☺

So guiding us carefully, holding our hands we were guided through and across streets that were fascinating, I kept tripping over as I was so busy looking at the vendors by the road selling pretty well everything and the snails being BBQd through the streets. Now these were huge things, not dainty little delicacies as all. Sumo snails - the sort that look like they could fight back. She said not to eat them. OK, I promise I won’t eat anything that looks like it should be squished in my garden.

I wish I could remember more of that night but I was pretty tired.

We went first to a place to have our first ever Vietnamese food –yes shame on us.

It was actually amazing. We sat ourselves on the mini stools. Before we started even eating we were told to get up quick and take up our stools. Food in one hand, stool in other we were told it was cool and to sit down again.

Yes a police raid. The cops got a free meal and they were happy. We had papaya salad. Yum. Seriously yum. It was at Long Vi Dung, Nom Thit Bo Kho – I took a picture ☺ That’s the only reason I know the name.

After all the warnings on here any pictures were taken as if I was an undercover spy, done quickly, surreptitiously. Just in case someone wanted a new Iphone as badly as I did before I got mine.

We saw some young Aussies looking around at the food and us nervously. You just knew they were looking for somewhere to eat but were unsure so I told them we were on a food tour and the food was great, so they happily sat down near us with that reassurance.

It would have been a tragedy if they ended up at Burger King out of uncertainty.

No there is no MacDonalds in Hanoi. Not that that is a bad thing, it is actually good to see they are not EVERYWHERE.

The Hanoi Kid we were with was very personable and was happy to tell us the singing garbage trucks were sending a message for everyone to be responsible and not litter.