As with the other page on Thailand and Laos, the pictures here aren’t mine but from the Internet. My own pics are gone for good when i didn’t do any backup.
VIENTIANE TO HO CHI MINH CITY
So, I flew out from Vientiane and into Ho Chi Minh City. Now, this was in 2006, and I had another three weeks before i needed to fly home and go back to work. So, i thought i might as well do the whole of Vietnam, from its southern-most tip right up to the north. And i am so glad i did, and i will do it again someday just so i could see what’s happened between then and now.
ROAD ATLAS OF CAMBODIA, VIETNAM AND LAOS
Now, to do Indochina properly, one resource you’ve got to have in addition is the
Road Atlas of Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. That and a chopped up LP ‘Southeast Asia on a Shoestring Budget’ (taking with me the sections that mattered and leaving the rest at home) and my trusty old Osprey pack were all I needed. It’s odd how many queries I’ve got about this backpack. People were fascinated with the little I had on me!
HO CHI MINH => PHU QUOC => CAN THO => CHAU DOC => CAMBODIA
A couple of days in Ho Chi Minh and you’ll soon get tired of the bar scene. So I took a domestic flight out to Phu Quoc Island where i could literally start from the very south. Phu Quoc is small seaside place and hiring a motorcycle was the best option to explore the whole island. Two days there and i was ready to move on to the rest of the Mekong Delta, passing through Can Tho and finally in Chau Doc, I took the ferry and entered Cambodia.
ANGKOR WAT => PHNOM PENH
I did part of Cambodia, mainly for Angkor Wat in Siem Reap and then Pnomh Penh, and then back into Vietnam to continue on to Hanoi, passing through one town after another along the way, Hue, Dalat, etc. That’s when the Road Atlas i mentioned earlier came into good use. Now, it isn’t so much as chalking up towns but it was to see if i had the resilience to actually do something like that. Plus I don’t book my rooms ahead. I take my chances.
IT’S WORTH IT
And i loved it. All that street food, local markets, historical sights, the treks to hill tribes, the locals, fellow travellers, the sights to sketch….seriously, if you have only thought of doing SE Asia but never quite got yourself out of the door, then go, what are you waiting for? Life is too transient and short.
HANOI => HALONG BAY => CAT BA ISLAND => SAPA
When you are in Hanoi, make sure you do Halong Bay and Sapa. Seriously, I never knew such natural beauty existed till I literally kicked myself out of the door. Talk about living a life by design.
Author of text & photos: Catherine Lai