I’ve stumbled upon this great Twitter thread by @archer_rs covering the story of a family of Brexit voters who have a home in France for their planned retirement. Brexit has (unexpectedly) upset plans. At this point the thread has been running for 33 days. Its hilarious.
To assist in reading the links below are to ThreadReader in chronological order:
This is a long thread. So once you have yourself hooked go get a drink and make yourself comfortable to enjoy the rest. Its still updating so it may be worth checking the direct Twitter and Threadreader links for more when you get to the end of the links above.
Arrived on the 18th after a red eye flight. Picked up from the airport by the hotel’s driver the journey made clear that even by SE Asian standards the traffic in Saigon is nuts.
First thing to do was get some sleep. Having done that the day was gone so spent the evening getting dinner and a couple of beers in the surrounding backpacker district. Unfortunately it has all of the brashness (maybe more) and none of the charm of Bangkok’s. The main street is open to Saigon’s traffic so any streetside seat there would have fumes at the front and ear splitting bass from behind. The alleyways offered respite but were too small to offer much in the way of people watching and none of the restaurant bars did the laid back thing very well.
The local food is good. Not has hot as Thai, but with more use of herbs. On my first full day launch was at a restaurant called Propaganda. Wonderful food, great atmosphere, friendly and professional staff; it’s one of the restaurants I’d most like to return to from anywhere and a place I’d happily take anyone.
The War Remnants Museum contained not only a wide collection of abandoned US military equipment, it also covered the brutality of the regime that the Vietnamese were rebelling against prior to the US getting directly involved.
Otherwise Saigon is busy, really busy. Roads are clogged with traffic and millions of scooters. In many places your walking in it as the pavements are clogged with parked scooters, traders, tables and chairs. Elsewhere the pavements can free up but the clogged traffic means the scooters take to the pavements at key choke points; one of those was parents dropping off kids at school. Crossing the road is always a serious act of faith that the scooters and vehicles will flow around you. You can pick a time to ease the flow but you never cross an empty road. Partially because many of the scooters regard traffic lights as suggestions rather than instructions.
This morning was a visit to the Củ Chi tunnels, a network of dug tunnels that allowed the communist resistance to maintain a stronghold over an area within 40km all through the end of the French occupation after WWII and all through the subsequent American War. Although fascinating the museum opened up more questions than it answered. I’ll need to find some books on them particularly ones that covered the engineering. Growing up with the Great Escape we know that tunnelling is hard with ingenuity required to stop collapses and to provide ventilation. Much was made of the incredible achievements made by the people here but almost nothing on how they actually managed it. It was nice to chat to an Aussie family on the trip who gave me some tips for Hanoi.
Tomorrow at 9am I’ll catch the train to Nha Trang, a brash seaside town. I’ll stay there for one night before catching another train to take me to Bai Xep. That’s meant to have a new laid back beach scene and I’ve a couple of nights booked. If it turns out as I hope then hopefully I can extend my stay.
I’ll not miss Saigon. It’s just too busy, with little charm, attractiveness or interest. That makes it sound worse than it is, I’ve been to worse. It’s not horrible being here, there’s just limited rewards for the hassle. My Aussie friends told me Hanoi is much nicer.
At the end of 2017 I needed to escape. With all that had happened in the year I was dreading dealing with the Christmas & New Year period; celebrating was the last thing I wanted to do. I decided to go somewhere that didn’t do Christmas and that even had a different New Year. I had missed Vietnam on my previous travels through South East Asia so now was the ideal time to correct that oversight.
I booked a flight into Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) a week before Christmas and a flight home from Hanoi just under three weeks later. I booked the first 3 nights accommodation in Ho Chi Minh so I’d have somewhere to stay when I landed, but the rest of my transport and accommodation I’d do when I was there. The plan was that the details of travelling would keep me busy, as it had when I travelled round the world.
I had hope to tart up my journal by now and add some more photos to the latter stages. Unfortunately I don’t currently have any internet access except at BT booths in the high street. As soon as I get set up at home I’ll get on with completing the journal and emailing out photos people have requested.
Little bits of bad luck seem to be filling the recent few days of the trip. First the incident with my mobile and the washing machine, then buying my ticket for the next part of my journey I find I am travelling on the one weekend in the year when the rail line is closed for maintenance and finally I found after receiving a staggering number of extremely itchy bites that my room was infested with bed bugs. Yesterday was spent moving hotels, doing laundry and finding ways to ignore the itching.
Have not done a lot that’s too productive in Amsterdam other than a few of the walking tours in the LP guide. I’m trying to find a time when the queues at Anne Franks house aren’t stupidly long. It will have to be today as I leave here on an extremely early train tomorrow.
Just arrived in Holland after spending a couple of days with my old friends Richard and Malene in Braunschweig. Good to have the company of some old mates again.
In an idiot maneuver I managed to leave my mobile phone in a pocket when I did the laundry. Its busted despite having dried out. The SIM still works but as most of my numbers were in my phones memory I have probably lost some. Expect emails requesting contact details when I return.
Arrived in Warsaw yesterday evening after an 8 hour bus ride. Didn’t seem like there were many major highways between Vinius and Warsaw though things should be getting better as a lot of time was spent waiting at major roadworks.
Warsaw suddenly feels a lot bigger than Tallinn and Vilnius. A quick inspection reveals a lot of historic buildings, an old town area and a stunning number of bookshops. More later hopefully(I know I still have to write up Vilnius and the Trans Sib trip).