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Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam

4258 Views 10 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Bikes
I thought I'd share a few photos of these countries. I've recently spent some time there, and would love to help with info to anyone who is planning a similar trip. I don't want to write about stupidities that nobody would care about, so I will just tell some interesting stuff, and if you have some questions... shoot. :)

Trip duration: 1 month
Vehicles used: 7 airplanes, 2 buses, 3 mini vans, 3 boats, 3 motorbikes, 2 bicycles, countless tuk-tuks.

Itinerary: Vietnam: Hanoi -> Laos: Luang Prabang, Nong Khiaw, Muang Ngoy, Nong Khiaw, Luang Prabang -> Cambodia: Siem Reap, Phnom Phenh, Kep, Rabbit Island, Kep, Kampot, Kep -> Vietnam: Ha Tien, Phu Quoc, Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Hanoi.

I was expecting to meet at least one Hungarian during the trip, but to my surprise I didn't meet anyone, which was quite sad, as I've met quite a few people from Poland / Czech Republic (even Romania). Most of the places I've spent my nights they told me that they've never had anyone from Hungary, and like Czech people they have all the time (they say they are very outgoing nation).

Some things that I had no idea before I traveled to these countries:

- Laos is the poorest country of the three. Average wage of workers is about $1 a day, which will not buy them the famous Lao Beer (that's something you will buy daily if you spend time there). So they drink some really nasty tasting spirit from rice.
- Laos has the nicest and most beautiful people out of the three
- Most scams: Vietnam
- Most robberies: Phnom Phenh
- Ironically the Asian banana is tiny. They don't have the large South-American bananas. Though I have to say (don't laugh), the small ones taste better.
- Cambodian capital, Phnom Phenh has radically changed in the past few years. Now most parts of the city are on par with Tel-Aviv. Hanoi in comparison is a backward village. This comes with a price though. The few elite families in Cambodia take 99% of the money. They drive SUV's (the city is packed with them), their houses are protected by barbed wires and security men shielded with bulletproof armor.
- Phnom Phenh is also the city where signs will indicate that you cannot take your guns, and grenades(!) to the restaurant
- Asian food is great, BUT, you will die for a pizza after 2 weeks
- Cheapest food: Laos - $1 all you can eat
- Best accommodation: the cheap bungalows in Laos, with breathtaking view on the nature, and the luxury hotels of Siem Reap
- Worst accommodation: the overpriced ($35 / night) bungalows of Phu Quoc (no airco, no hot water, toilet in the room)
- Best cities: Nong Khiaw (Laos), Kep (Cambodia)
- Worst city: Duong Dong (Vietnam, Phu Quoc)

I'll start with the Hanoi photos:

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Probably the most sacred place for Vietnamese. Thousands of people go there to visit the "great leader" each and every day. Which means kilometer long queues and guards like in North Korea that will tell you what you can do, and what you cannot do (mostly this). Ho Chi Minh looks more like plastic than flesh now, but no photos are allowed (I guess that would mean execution)

You never know what you are eating... Have a guess what's this (I have no idea)

Whole families spend all their day on the streets. Cooking, selling stuff, whatever, but it makes the place very lively.

Jungle of wires!

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Soon-soon, I just wanted to make the thread, it took me a while!
In Hanoi now there are about 8-9 million motorbikes on the road, which makes the city so polluted, that by the end of the day you will hardly breath from your nose..

Do you remember the Frogger game? You can play that live in Vietnam. The only difference that in this organized chaos, you can actually survive even if you close your eyes and cross the road without stopping. It takes some balls in the beginning, but you can get used to it.

Mini banana.

Comrades having fun :)

Officially it's a sports club. Unofficially war veterans and their friends gather to drink the local Bia. There were no girls at the place, so it was kind of funny to take a Vietnamese girl and a European there... :cheers:

Expect to have the spoken Engrish even worse. Much worse.

It's called the B-52 lake. Apparently they are extremely proud that they shot these big birds down, and that only Serbia was the other country capable of doing so (at least what we've been told, I have no idea). Anyway, locals can make an ad for their apartment, with the best sales line possible: "apartment for sale with breathtaking view on a B-52!"

The Vietnamese pancake (in the background) is possibly the best food you can get which contains no rice (edit: I'm stupid, you actually roll it into a rice paper...). Duck soup is great too.

For car freaks: I've seen Bentleys, one Rolls Royce, an Audi R8, plenty of Range Rovers and Porsche Cayennes plus Panameras, this is one of them. The fun part of these cars is that in the city, the average speed is about 10km/h (I was much quicker on bike than the cars), and outside of the city it's about 50km/h. There is simply no tarmac for such cars in Vietnam, and even if there was, there is such dense traffic and with so slow participants that it's just not possible to push it over 100km/h anywhere without the risk of killing a grandma, a chicken or a cow.

I have no good photos of Ha Long Bay, but FlickR is probably the best place to look it up. The weather sucks there most of the time, and yes, the place is mind-blowing, but you will get irritated by the constant scams and tricks by the locals. Also they earn massive amount of money from tourists (and scamming them :D), but the water is quite dirty, and they seem to spend nothing to clean it up. They blame the floating villagers for all the trash, but of course that's impossible for those few hundred people to generate so much waste... Anyway, you will see trash all over the country, no matter if it's a city or a tropical island (like Phu Quoc - I'll post photos later)

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Amazing travel report with qualitative photos! Keep them coming! I'm quite suprised that even Ha Long Bay is so dirty, I mean the trash in the water...:eek:hno:
Yes, and imagine that each and every person who wants to visit Ha Long Bay will be forced to pay a hefty price (minimum $25, but if you want to spend a night on the water then minimum $70, the better ships will charge $120+). Basically the whole place is a money making machine, they (over)charge you for everything they can. Hence it's sad that they don't reinvest the money, or probably only into hotels and shops made for tourists (everything 4-5 times the price you would pay anywhere else). It feels like Czech Republic in the early days when foreigners were charged double for accommodation, and they were just walking dollar symbols.

The problem is that you cannot really solve transport on your own, as 1. it's a 3,5-4hrs ride from Hanoi 2. even if you somehow get there without organized minibuses you will need to organize a boat / ship that takes you, which is a much more problematic issue.
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Great shots, authentic remarks. Do you have more?
Yes, I'll soon update with Laos and then with Cambodia.
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