It was a bus that got us from Muong Ngoy (Luang Prabang province, Laos) to Dien Bien Phu (Dien Bien province, Vietnam). Sweaty, tired and looking forward to a feed, it took five-minutes off the bus to realise that Vietnam is very different from Laos in attitude. Aggression is the game here. That said, nothing or no one can beat the Delhi/Agra guides in aggression though. Tomorrow, we take off -- another bus or a cab perhaps -- to Hanoi. I am really excited about that city. Awesome food, steeped in history and great shopping. :D
Public transport in Vietnam is bloody interesting... unlike Laos and Thailand, which use 'Tuk-tuks' -- their version of the Delhi three-wheeler/autorickshaw -- Vietnam has a culture of bike-hopping. As in the 'taxis' are motorcycles! :)
For some weird reason that I am yet to fathom but will get to the bottom of...the women here are smiling a lot at me. And I mean, a lot. Those who've been reading this blog would know that being an occupational cynic, I respond to random sweet smiles with immediately raised levels of suspicion. So far, suspicions -- and Lonely Planet warnings -- have been for no reason. Seems the women like me. (Hmm) Let's see where it leads though...
I've learnt thankyou, welcome, hello and goodbye in three different languages. I can also count 1-10 in Lao... now I have to start the whole process with Vietnamese. Currently I am sitting at an internet cafe and it's like no other internet cafe I've seen.
There are rows of boys -- in tee shirts or school uniforms -- sitting behind me, on networked computers, playing PC games. Four are playing Age of Empires or some such strategy game against each other while five others are playing soccer. The street we are on has three such internet centres...
The internet places in Laos were expensive compared to Vietnam. In fact many things are different between the two countries. The highway for instance. The Laos highway to the border was all dusty, muddy roads and 50 metres into the Vietnam border, the roads are well made.
I could go on, but I am tired and hungry and I've spotted a massage parlour close to our hotel. So while Partner will go and check out the Dien Bien Phu military museum, I shall hopefully get yet another massage and perhaps a pedicure.
We are trying to squeeze in Cambodia as well and I am very keen on seeing some musuems there as well as in Hanoi. Tonight though, I need body servicing. Catch y'all soon.