I've spent more than 2 months in Vietnam out of this backpacking trip, and once in a while, I would try to convince myself with going back to Vietnam. Then again, there's really nothing more for me to go back to Vietnam, other than it's just so cool to hang around because it's cheap, and quality (in food, transpo, accomodation, etc) is not a compromise.
I loved Vietnam, and when I meet travellers who feel otherwise, I go on defense for Vietnam, in the name of the great people I met when I was travelling the whole country. Vietnam has nice people too... Actually. Here's some of them.
Vy Ha and Family of Tri Ton, An Giang Province
Without any english, and me, without any Vietnamese, I stayed with this family's guesthouse for a night talking mainly by action and google translate.
I asked them for where I can eat, and instead of giving me an answer, Vy's husband accompanied me with his bike to the local restaurant. I was asking for where I can rent a bicycle to go around, instead, they lend me their bicycle. The bus to Ho Chi Minh arrives in the pick up point at 10pm, and Vy's husband booked the bus for me, escorted me to the pick up point, and waited for me until the bus arrived.
Than & Vhang of tt Van Gia
Being disappointed with the beach in Nha Trang, I insisted on going to Van Gia, which is an hour to the north. At first, I was wary as again, there is nothing written online about this place; Then again, it will not be the first time anyway, as I survived An Giang province.
Upon arrival in Van Gia, my first task was of course to look for accomodation. Having walked around town, and not seeing any Nga Nghi/Guesthouse, I sat on a coffee shop. The coffee shop owner happened to be a refugee to the Philippines back in the Vietnam war. I have asked him where I can probably sleep for the night, and he asked his friend, Vhang, to drop me by.
As we arrived in the guesthouse, I was readying $1.50 for the drop; Vhang said he's doing it as a friend, not as a moto driver; He also asked where I will be eating, and that he can drop me to the local restaurant. He picked me up an hour later.
While eating, he mentioned he has a Vietnamese friend who worked in the Philippines before. After dinner, we met this friend, Thanh, and surprisingly, he spoke a dialect from the Philippines. Just when I thought I might not be able to get any english speaking local, here I am confronted with a "Bisaya (the Filipino Dialect)" speaking Vietnamese (then again, i'm not wrong as he still did not speak English).
His father and uncles were refugees too, and one of his uncles has permanently setteld in the PHilippines. He was asked to work there.
Every morning, Vhang would pick me up from my guesthouse, just before he goes to work, so all 3 of us can have coffee at Thanh's place. Thanh would normally drop me back.
In the evenings, Vhang would pick me up to have dinner with his family, to a point, on the first night that I was out of Van Gia, his son has asked him where I was, and that it's time for dinner already.
They also accompanied me to Vinh Vanh Phong bay, which was my target destination.
I met the two guys back, 3 months after, as I motorbiked vietnam from North to South during my third entry to Vietnam.
Leo of Haiphong
After buying our bikes in Hanoi, we set the following day to Cat Ba Island. It was past noontime when we left Hanoi and we were caught up by dusk in Haiphong and so decided to stay there for a night.
Prices in Haiphong are even higher than Hanoi, and we could not find accommodation that fits our threshold. Besides, it was already late night and we'll be early morning the following day, so thought it was not worth spending for accomodation.
I logged in on couchsurfing and sent some messages to the hosts there. I left my number as well in the message.
Although it was already late when I got his message, Leo gave us a call immediately after receiving my message.
Then, later, when I was at my border run, Leo's been a great help. I have gotten into places where I'm barely understood. I would have to call or send him a message to help me with the translation. Most of the time, he'd even be the one to call me, and would check once in a while my whereabouts and the situation; And all that, even when he's at work.
I owed this guy a lot, and that includes setting up his itinerary for his trip to Cebu, Philippines in my country.. which I have yet to complete :-)
Thang and Huy's Family in Pleiku
Especially when I get to places where there are no tourists, I try to look for couchsurfing hosts, at least so that I have company when I arrive.
I've sent a couchsurfing request to Thang, and although he's not available to host at that time, he asked his cousin Huy to do the hosting. Thang's mom was actually confined in the hospital at that time, and so nobody's home (To think that he could have just said I Can't).
Huy picked me up, and the moment I arrived, his mom was readying lunch. Huy toured me around too with his motorbike.
That night, I had dinner with the whole family, including the dad, who setup my bed and mosquito net in the spare room; Nothing that even my dad has ever done (lol).
Judy and Family in Kontum
Although there is not much, as written, to see around Kontum, I thought about dropping ayway for 2 nights since it's on my back to the border to Laos.
Upon my arrival in Kontum, I passed by a cozy coffee shop, and decided to stop. Kontum is one of Vietnam's coffee producer and so, most houses would have coffee shops in front.
Upon my arrival, I've asked for Hot Black Coffee which signalled that I am not a local. Judy's mom arrived with my coffee, and several fruits. She had been so eager to make me try the fruits, and to talk about things. They've asked me to come back the following day to accompany me to the rong houses, and also to have a breakfast with them. I woke up late, and instead, had dinner with them, and Mama Lyn even took beer for both of us :-).
That honest couple in Than Hoa
We were rushing to get to the border as I was nearing the expiry of my Visa; Somewhere on the way, my motorcycling mate noticed she lost her small backpack from her bike's rack. The bag had all her passport, atm, money etc.
We rushed to go back, and forth, and back again, to find it, but it's nowhere. After several turns, and close to reporting it to the Police, a man on his motorbike drove towards us, and showed us a phone.. it's Julie's phone. He said he picked up the bag, and is looking for us.
We ended up buying a can of heineken for him and his friend, and drinking a few with him.