Malaysia and Vietnam

Keri and I arrived in Malaysia around 8am after hardly sleeping at all. I was so excited when I saw Starbucks! I haven’t had a real coffee in 2 months! Indo coffee is really thick and grainy, kinda like a french press with the grounds still in it. We put our luggage in storage lockers and went on the bus into the city. Everything in Malaysia was expensive! I’m glad we didn’t try to stay there overnight. We went and checked out the city and saw the twin towers and all the skyscrapers downtown. Kuala Lumpur is a very nice place, and a really clean city with beautiful trees and modern buildings. We only had a few hours to spend in the city before we had to head back to the airport to go to Vietnam. Keri and I were checking in to our flight and the woman tells Keri that her flight isn’t until the following day! I couldn’t believe that we had booked her ticket for the wrong day! There was nothing we could do about it because it was too late to change the ticket and buying a new one would have cost $300 so I had to leave Keri in the airport and go to Vietnam by myself. I felt so awful leaving her there to spend the night alone in the airport and have to wait almost 30 hours for her flight 😦 My flight ended up delayed and I realized I wasn’t going to get to Vietnam until about 11pm so I booked a cheap place to stay online so that I wouldn’t have to spend time looking for a place by myself late at night.
 I got to the hotel and was so shocked because I had air conditioning, hot water, tv and wifi all in the room! That was the first time I’ve had any of those things in sooo long! The air conditioning was a life saver because it is SO hot and humid here. The next day it rained quite a bit and I just walked around the streets of Ho Chi Minh and checked out the amazing shopping! This 20 year old Vietnamese boy was chatting me up in a restaurant for awhile and he offered to show me around the city on a motorbike so I went out with him for a few hours and saw the different districts of the city. I actually HATED it! The traffic in HCM is so fucking crazy I thought I was going to die… never again will I get on a motorbike in a big city like that. This kid was kinda driving me crazy because he had like the biggest crush on me and it made me feel so awkward I couldn’t wait to get away from him! I picked up Keri from the airport that night and was so happy to be reunited 🙂
The last 4 days we spent in Ho Chi Minh city just exploring the city on our own and doing some sightseeing. We went to the Chu Chi tunnels which were used during the war by the communist army. It was a super touristy tour of course but still so interesting to be there. It felt really strange standing in the jungle where 40 years ago Americans were there to kill Vietnamese and now I’m here… I feel so strongly against wars and I felt really sad being there. They have a lot of the weapons on display and they showed the traps they had laid out in the jungle to capture and kill Americans and it kinda made me feel sick looking at them. We were able to go inside the tunnels and I thought I would be fine but I felt like I was going to have a panic attack as soon as I got in there! It was so dark and small, I can’t believe that people actually lived underground for years in these tunnels.  Afterwards we went to the War Remnants museum in downtown Ho Chi Minh and I got teary eyed just being there. The Vietnamese people have struggled so much in their fight for independence. There has been so much bloodshed and hardships in the last few hundred years. I read a book about the treatment of rubber plantation workers and how the French colonizers basically used them as slaves and tortured and killed them. On our drive I saw the rubber plantations and it made me think of the book I read and I’m just amazed at how hard life has been for the Vietnamese. Other travelers have complained that they are the most pushy sellers out of all the other SE Asian countries and I have seen that too but I feel so sorry for them. They are incredibly poor and there are so many war victims here. My first day I met an old man who was showing me his wounds from being shot in the war. Then everywhere you go there are the victims of agent orange with missing limbs and mental handicaps. I didn’t realize that children are still being born with birth defects here. It is one of the saddest things I have ever seen in my life. I think the Vietnamese have some of the most beautiful, soft, sad faces. I find myself staring at them, men and women, young and old. They are stunning to look at. I can’t even begin to imagine the things they have seen in their lives. Just walking outside of my hotel I’ve seen and old couple sitting together on the side of the street eating soup and they are just skin and bones. Probably about 70 years old and I know that they must have some incredible stories to tell. I was wondering if I would find anyone who would discriminate against American travelers or possibly be unkind to us but that hasn’t happened yet. I think the people don’t hold a grudge against Americans anymore, or maybe just the new generations of Americans.
I’m very excited to be here and have a oppurtunity to learn more about Vietnam and see parts of the country. Right now I am on a bus going to Mui Ne, a beach town in southern Vietnam. We have been driving through farmland and it is so lush and green here. I’m definitely looking froward to being back at the beach since I haven’t seen the ocean in almost a week! That’s the longest I’ve been away from the ocean in 2 1/2 months. I am really liking this country a lot and especially the food! I got so tired of Indonesian food, although now that I’m away it sounds pretty fucking good… but the food here is amazing. I love the influence of the French on the cuisine. Fresh french baguettes with butter, jam and eggs for breakfast 🙂 And I’m in love with the Pho- noodle soups. So good! Everything I’ve eaten here has been fantastic. And the coffee is so delicious, I get an iced coffee and a smoothie with almost every meal. The prices here are much better than Indonesia as well. Beers are 50 cents! Hahaha. Well we are arriving in Mui Ne so I will have to write more later 🙂

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