Overcoming my driving impairment

I haven’t sat on a bicycle since I was 12 years old. I got my driver’s license 6 years ago and didn’t drive any vehicle since then. But since in Vietnam you either drive or are stuck with group tours, it was high time I change that.

First, few days ago in Da Lat I ranted a motorbike and spent few hours driving around

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Then, yesterday in Hoi An I rented a bicycle and re-learned how to ride it by going to the Marble Mountains. I’m so glad I did!

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And on my way back it wasn’t hard to find a strip of beach with no people.

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There were some small fish jumping over the surface of water and when I sat down, the crabs around me soon resumed their funny dance. It couldn’t have been any better.

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Outdoors in Vietnam

In Da Lat I went for a short yet demanding hike. On my way through the rainforest I met a local that I didn’t want to befriend:

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(however, I was more than happy to join some human locals at their bonfire when I was exploring off the trail)

Few days later I ended up in Nha Trang where I got a chance to snorkel for the first time in my life. The coral reef was mind-blowing. Oh, and there were also some amazing temples.

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Pagodas in Can Tho

Just some pictures

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One thing I had not expected:

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A gym!

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And finally monks chanting in front of a flashing neon:

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Vietnamese buses, unexpected luxury

Before I boarded the first bus, I was expecting terrible conditions. Something like Indian trains you see on TV, with people sharing their seats with livestock. I can’t have been farther from truth.

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The buses are new, clean, well equipped and offer plenty of legroom. The bus stations and rest stations hold the same high standard. It’s way better than any bus I’ve been on, not to speak of the Polish buses I got used to. And on long rides you can take a sleeper bus:

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The only downside: about half of Vietnam population seems to be bus sick :-)

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Good morning, Cao Dai

Few days ago I landed in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to start my journey through SE Asia. Here’s the first highlight: the main Cao Dai temple, which I visited yesterday for the midday mass.

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The ceremony was incredibly enchanting, with chorus accompanied by traditional music, countless scents burning and minimalism typical for Muslim prayers mixed with richness of colors resembling Hindu temples.

BTW on my way back I visited the Vietkong tunnels in Cu Chi. It was OK, but I’m not that interested in combat techniques and tactics.

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A bit of Balkans, part 2

The second part of my trip was no less exciting. Other than spending another night with a heavy thunderstorm in an abandoned building, I had some exciting encounters with pickpockets, muggers, scammers and corrupt law enforcement.

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A bit of Balkans

Few weeks ago I went with my friends to the Balkans. First we visited Belgrade – nothing interesting except for lot of homeless people and dogs, trash and zoophilic statues:

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Then, after a long and only partially successful struggle to find a hiking map, we went hiking, first from Niksic to Ostrog, then in the Lovcen NP, until we arrived at Kotor. Again, nothing terribly exciting, except for a couple cool camping spots. The first one was next to some mysterious abandoned construction:

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that contained nothing but rocks

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The other cool spot was next to some abandoned dwellings, few hours hike from the nearest village:

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And there we didn’t need to worry about the firewood

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Anyway, after a week spent together we decided to split and the excitement level rose significantly.  I got molested, worried about tides soaking me and my gear wet, was refused a threesome that I didn’t ask for and camped in a hell of a thunderstorm. All that within few hours. Here is the story:

I hitchhiked to Jaz near Budva, very touristy place, famous for its beaches. Kept walking until I got away from the tourists. Soon I arrived at a nude beach – sweet! Nothing like swimming in the warm Adriatic Sea and lying an a beach, free of the textile oppression. On top of that, next to me there was an abandoned bar that I could sleep in:

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Everything seemed great except that the beach turned out to be frequented by desperate creeps, hoping to find a young male or female to have a quickie with. I soon learned not to smile or show any friendliness towards others. Instead, I set up my camp

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and a new problem appeared. The tide started rising and I wasn’t sure how high it would get. When I tried to ask a local couple about it, the girl firmly said ‘No!’ Guess she thought I was one of the many creeps on the beach.

Luckily, in the evening the water started getting lower and I could enjoy great view without any fears. What could be better than lying in a hammock, by the Adriatic Sea, at night, in an abandoned bar, with no people in sight? Maybe doing all that in a heavy thunderstorm, watching lightnings strike the sea, listening to heavy waves crashing just couple meters away from you? Yep, it was as cool as it sounds :-)

tbc

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