Sunday, 31 January 2010


...a home for many natural (and not so natural) disasters...

A flight was uneventful, with local budget airline Cebu (you have to pay extra even for a glass of water). Arrived early morning, booked a flight to island Palawan in the evening and spent a day in Manila. First impression: it is different. They are catholics, churches are everywhere, food is basically western (I will have to live without my noodle soup for a while), police presence is overwhelming (they are friendly and happy to help you), people are not trying to sell you their stuff (which is a welcomed change from Vietnam), almost everybody speaks English. People who have been to Latin America say it is similar.

Read the sign on the door:

My plane is approaching Palawan island:

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Leaving Vietnam


Power to the people!

School is over

On the way to the airport

Please note that Vietnam is much dirtier and noisier than you might imagine looking at my pictures. And the cheapest so far...

Monday, 25 January 2010


Saigon welcomed me with this madness:
(Q: How does one cross the road? A: Easy. Now I know how.)

Even on the pavement you have to walk in a predictable manner, they drive there too, fast. If pavement is available, of course, which is rarely so:

Early morning in a park:

While I was taking this picture on a riverside I noticed two women emptying three big buckets full of eels, and then throwing after them what looked like thin sheets of gold which restaurateurs use. All my attempts to find out what was going on failed, nobody could speak English.

An old woman:

Mui Ne

Another ca. 200km by bus and I arrived to Mui Ne. View from the bus, road side cemetery?

It is an interesting place, just one long street of hotels and restaurants. I was told before that it was popular with Russians, but I did not expect to see that it was SO popular. OK, I saw there some non-Russians too, occasionally.
It is a pleasant street though, walking distance to a local market, nice beach, wind and waves to surf, and if you leave you hotel through the other door - you are in the middle of action, more so after sunset.

A man collecting shellfish:

Monday, 18 January 2010

Nha Trang

Got restless because of the rainy weather and moved another 200km or so southwards. Arrived in the dark and rain - was not in position to be choosy with accommodation, got the first available. Went to waterfront and took this picture:

The same spot next morning:

Because it had been raining for the last 6 days or so - last night I thought: tomorrow I go directly to Saigon and fly to a sunnier country. But today was a nice weather, and suddenly, all is well again.
Ponagar Tower:

Made a panorama out of 4 pics:

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Quy Nhon

A quiet, pleasant town, just what I wanted. Stayed three nights, will stay two more:

Humans against Fish:

Fish Market:

They call these baskets - boats:

On a side street I noticed a group of men doing something. Went to investigate:

Men were tense, money were changing hands. The fight stopped when one bird could not take it any more and jumped out of the circle:

Loud outcry followed by a heavy argument, where loosing side insisted that sheer presence of a foreigner interfered with a natural flow of events, or so I understood, judging by angry looks I was getting from some men. Quickly walked away.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Leaving Quang Ngai

Spent two nights here, was raining all the time. Could not find a quiet place I was hoping for. Vietnam is generally very noisy, and I hear that Hanoi and Saigon are awful in this respect. That would mean a short stay in Saigon for me.

What a fine fighting bird!

Although this town is not that small, people stare at me, like they do in small villages. This is what happens when guide books say: don't. And everything is cheaper as a result.
All these children are helping to run this restaurant, each one assigned a specific task and everything works like a clock:

On a bus again to Quy Nhon, still raining. Cheerful bus conductor:

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Quang Ngai

After two days in Hoi An am moving to Quang Ngai, although travel books say: don't, there is nothing of interest there. It rained the whole day, not a bad day for a journey.

Monday, 11 January 2010

My Son

Hired a bike with a driver (he turned out to be 71) and went to see 45 km away ancient site My Son.

This is exactly what you think it is:

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Hoi An

Everybody recommends to visit this place. In online forums they say: "Its a tourist trap. But its a nice trap". And so it is. The whole village transformed itself from a functioning fisherman village into tourist attraction. Its a beautiful place, you walk through it and say "wow", then a bit later - "wow" again. The whole adult population of this village is trying to sell you something, and streets are packed with tourists. I have mixed feelings about it, very picturesque - but not really real.

These women are having a heavy argument. I waited a little, hoping for escalation, but they remained on verbal level.

They have enough money even to employ a couple of guys to fish the rubbish out of waters.

And the last one, panorama

On the road to Hoi An

A couple of photos from Danang.

A self-employed. He recycles EVERYTHING. Really.

An old woman


Moved today from Danang to Hoi An, which is ca. 30 km away. Wanted to go by bus like locals do and not by taxi like tourists. In tourist agency they gave me the address of a bus terminal, google maps showed me it was a walking distance, when I got there the number was 380 instead of 20, so I passed walking 300 houses only to find that there was no bus station there either. Ever present motorbike drivers offered to take me there for 35 cents, during the ride on hearing that I want to go to Hoi An, he changed direction and soon stopped, half-blocking an incoming bus, it was a bus to Hoi An. While the bus driver was impatiently waiting for me, I was trying to pay my bike man 10.000 vnd but did not have the right amount. He quickly worked it out, I got on the bus, it was big and comfortable. Bus conductor asked me to pay 40.000 vnd, I paid and then I saw my bike man following the bus and realised that I was still wearing his helmet on my head. I gave it to bus conductor and she managed to give it back to him through the window. Then counting the money I realised that the poor bike man instead of charging me - he gave me 10.000 vnd. When we got there, a Frenchman from the same bus asked me how much I paid and told me his story: first time he paid 30 k, second - 20 k, and this time he refused to pay 30 k and demanded clarity - and he was charged 12 k. So yes, they are making a lot (by their standards) of money from tourists. To me - it is a game, I negotiated the price everywhere, except trains and buses. Now only trains are left on my list :)

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Trip to Marble Mountain

Which is just outside the city. Spectacular site, impressive caves.

Friday, 8 January 2010


So many people around are coughing and sneezing, wearing masks in public... What is it special about Asia, where almost all pandemics come from? Abuse antibiotics? Untrained body resistance? (And how would you train it with all year round temperature between 25°C and 35°C?). I had my lot in Laos, hopefully I'll be OK for a while...

Danang at night:

It is a big and nice city.

In countries I visited (Malaysia, Thailand and Laos) alcohol was exceptionally expensive, not so in Vietnam: a bottle of wine, or 330 ml bottle of Russian vodka - €1. Cheers!

To Danang

Checked in a hotel in Danang. 2,5 hours on a train from Hue. Coastal area was spectacular, undeveloped, nature at its best, clouds sitting on top of mountains... Still thinking hiring a motorbike and going there for a day, but it is unsettling thought, I think I worked out the rules how they drive here, but to have a nerve to follow them through is another matter.

How many men do you need to do the job if you have one spade and one wheelbarrow? Took this picture while waiting for a train: