Vietnam reminds me a bit of India. There are aggressive peddlers, beggars with obvious disabilities and the streets are noisy with traffic. English is not as proficient as it is in India and Thailand, which is a welcome challenge. I would like to learn some basic conversation Vietnamese. So far I can order a few dishes speaking Vietnamese but that is it. 'Hello' and 'Thank you' would be useful!
We spent our first night in Ho Chi Minh at a dirty hotel in the town center. The wallpaper was peeling, curtains faded and sagging and the air had a distinct smell of stale cigarettes. But it was right next door to the bus station and included free breakfast.
At 7 am the following day we boarded a bus heading to Nha Trang, where we will be for New Years and Judy's birthday. The 11 hr ride cost us a whopping $8 and included free water. I have gone over my budget in India and Thailand but I feel that I will be able to recover during my stay in Vietnam. It is very affordable for Westerners to travel in this country.
Our current guesthouse is by far the nicest we've had this entire trip. We each have our own queen sized bed, a balcony, a mini fridge, a TV, hot water shower and it is very clean. It is also the cheapest accomodation we have had the entire trip, costing us $4 a night each. We arrived a day late because we were not permitted to board our plane leaving Thailand since we neglected to get all the correct visa paperwork. Oops! I had emailed the guesthouse to inform them that we would not be there for our first nights reservation. I received a quick reply addressed to Mr. Naomi stating that my change had been accepted. The email was very cute with it's broken english. I felt it was a good omen. We really like it here at Bao Khanh Guesthouse.
The man who greeted us upon our arrival at Bao Khanh Guesthouse doesn't speak any english. He showed us around the room smiling and demonstrating how to use the TV and shower. He took our passports as a deposit and left us to unpack. He quickly returned and gave a quick knock on the door. I opened the door to see him laughing and passing me the TV remote that he'd accidentally taken after giving us the demonstration. It's like playing charades to communicate and I find it very enjoyable.
Tonight is New Years Eve. We have plans to meet up with Maria (my old boss at Chau)and a few others from Vancouver. It will be nice to see familiar faces. Not too sure where the night will take us but I imagine it will be filled with great food, a few cocktails and dancing.