Ho Chi Minh City

We had organised Saras visa just in time, and got the electronic variety. When you got to the airport, there was a bizarre queue system, that Sara had to go through. It consisted of placing your passport on the customs window, and waiting for your pick, for when you had to cram your stuff through a hole. You would get something back, and had to fill another form out, then repeat the process. They would then take your passport, and you had to wait until someone held it back up again, and everyone would try and guess who it belonged to until you claimed it. Some unofficial travel agents where running around helping you, if you paid. There where a few returned citizens, and for them this process was very stressful. A women with a baby broke down in tears when she couldn’t figure out what was happening and thought she was rejected. The tears unleashed the most efficient bureacruacy I have ever seen, with her passport almost instantainously stamped with approval and returned, before she was escorted on the double to the next queue.

I was exempt from having a visa being Norwegian, a privilege only shared with Swedes, but still I have never felt so scrutinized by any customs official! Almost like being back in the army standing infront of your commanding officer getting a correction.

Through the paperwork, we went into the first trap we could find. How much should a taxi ride to the hostel be? Hmm?? $20USD? In Vietnam? Yeah? It was embarrassing, but we did just that…. To make it worse, we didn’t have enough dollars, or dongs, and had to renegotiate with an annoyed boss, who had pawned us of onto a driver that didnt understand a word we where saying.

In any case, the ride to the hostel was bad, although not as bad as the ride back. I had to close my eyes several times as I was certain we would hit that scooter, or that scooter, or that scooter. We didnt, and I dont know how.

We went to the Luan Vu Guesthouse, right in the backpackers district. It was clean and quite ok! One of the reasons I picked this place was because it had free WiFi. It is incredibly handy to use the iPhone and be able to browse your stuff, and reply to emails, although why should you on holiday?

We spent that day walking around the neighborhood, trying to get used to the spatial and spacial laws so frequently ignored by the million or so scooters that seemed all to be constantly roaming our neighborhood. Crossing the road was like playing frogger!

We found a spot by an intersection, where we could eat, drink beer and watch crazy traffic. It was also fun watching our food cross the road from the kitchen on the other side. 🙂


Anyways, next day we where on our first tour to the Meekong delta. It had all the token souvenir stops, and smooth guides.

Rice paper rolls
Rice paper rolls factory

Ricecandy factory
Ricecandy factory

Aerials, parkinglots and frontyards
Aerials, parkinglots and frontyards

Bikeride, whats better than 15 slug tourists riding around the countryside?

River escorts
River escorts

RIver scruff
River scruff

The day was great, the food was good, and the company cheerful! We met a 2 guys who where working in South Korea, one of them had studied and worked in Wollongong and knew the same people I used to work with at the Faculty of Education! South Korea sounded like an acquired taste though. The tours where dime a dozen, and easily obtainable. All where different but same same.

Next day we went to the Cu Chi Tunnels. These where Viet Cong hideouts during the Vietnam war. It was very interesting, and the guide offered a healthy jibe on the Americans expense! On the gunrange I gave the AK47 a go. I was expecting proper hearing protection though, but was only offered a set of walkman headsets, with no earmuffs… Yeah, it was loud. The gun was ok though, but the targets were busted, so no idea how I went.

I can fit in the tunnel!
I can fit in the tunnel!

I could feel this 200m tunnel in my thighs for 3 days!

This was a bigger group, with airhead aussies (the father tried to give some historic foundation to his kids, but they just reasoned that the imperial power was bad), big butted Americans (who got picked on the whole tour, both by the guide and the other tourists) and the Japanese. The heat and the lack of air condition on the bus sort of strained the mood a bit too. However, the guide was quite a character, and talked for the whole trip. His stories where great though, and he was very good at generating sympathy for the Vietnamese!

Our last day, we went to the War Museum and the Presidential Palace. The War Museum was displaying a lot of hardship and atrocities, putting most of the blame on the French and the Americans. The place was crawling with kids on school excursion though, and they had a lot questions and loved interacting with tourists!

Precidental Palace was Ok, but seemingly hadnt been in use for a long time.

First lady and her Bell
First lady and her Bell

Then, we where due to head to Oz, only pending the ride to the airport…

[ad#Google Adsense]

Hong Kong

We came from Oslo by Helsinki, and was greeted by a pleasant little sign on the conveyor belt, saying “Mr. Hetland, please contact information”. Then some guy popped up, directed us to where we had to go, and with a smile information informed us our other bag was still in Helsinki. For whatever reason, they could only fit 1 of our bags on the plane. Too bad it was Saras bag that couldn’t fit…

We got on the superfast train to Kowloon station, where Christine had told us to get of. Then onto the bus to Harbour Plaza. We were staying with Christoffer and Christine, who had very kindly taken us in on our stopover.

We arrived on a Sunday morning, and since it was a good day, Christine and Christoffer took us out for a hike on the islands.


We cought the ferry out to Kam Lo Hom, and walked from there past the power station to Picnic Bay. It was a very nice walk, that ended in a seafood & beer feast in Picnic Bay, before catching the ferry back. All the restaurants had all kinds of different seafood still swimming in their aquariums. Eat what you pick!

Picnic Bay

Since Sara didn’t have any clothes, other than the 1 or 2 garments she had packed “just in case”, but hadn’t really bothered to put any effort into, we now had to go shopping. We had heard all about how great shopping in Hong Kong was, but it wasn’t that easy! Ended up buying not very much interesting for our FinnAir lost luggage allowance. Very disappointing, and very smelly for Sara! 🙂

Next day was CBD day, we went to town with Christine, and walked all over the place. But not before Saras luggage turned up. We caught the escalator, checked out the herbs, looked at the fish, ate the dumplings and attempted some more shopping. It wasn’t that busy, but fascinating how the whole town operated on 2 levels, low level for cars, and upper level for pedestrians.


That night, Christine had organised some sushi grade Tuna. It was delicious! Our stay was great, and just long enough for the highlights I think.

It was our last night, before heading to Ho Chi Minh early the next morning. We sneaked out in the morning, and finally got to see the skyline! It had been foggy the whole time we had been there, so we didnt get to see it until we were standing there waiting for the bus.


[ad#Google Adsense]

Malaysia trip

We left Friday night on the red eye with Malaysian Airlines to Kuala Lumpur. I have to say the airline is a bit overrated. Economy class seems to just become more uncomfortable… We had booked a flight with AirAsia to Sandakan on Saturday, so that we could fly directly to Penang from Kota Kinabalu when we left Sabah. We knew if was an 8 hour wait, but we had thought the LCCT terminal was a bit more comfortable than it turned out to be. Turns out that upgrades where due to be completed 2 weeks after we used it.

Us buggered on the only seats available, outside

We had also booked a stay with Sepilok Jungle Resort for 3 nights. It was great! We arrived in the afternoon, and enjoyed a great dinner outside.


Next morning we went to the Orangutan Reserve. It was quite educational, and very nice!

Commanding silence
Commanding silence!

Cruising down the jungle freeway
Cruising down the jungle freeway!


Macaque playing

Orang Utan eating

After lunch, we went on an overnight tour to Bilit, along the Kinabatangan River.

Cruising down the river


We did an afternoon river cruise, where we saw lots!

Promiscuous Proboscis monkeys

We saw more longtailed Macaque, Proboscis monkeys and lots of different birds! We skipped the night walk, as it would just be to many leeches we figured. Next morning we had an early river cruise, before we headed back to Sepilok.

Once back, we went for a city tour of Sandakan. We saw the war memorial from the Sandakan death marches, the city market and the floating village.


This was our last night in Sepilok, so we went on a guided tour of the Orang Utan centre with a ranger. I was really struggling with the humidity, but it was so interesting! We saw vipers, stick bugs and birds. We both loved it! Even though Sara was very apprehensive in regards to the leeches.

We cought the bus to Ranou and Poring Hot Springs Tuesday morning. We missed out one the morning bus, but got there just before sunset anyways. The springs where not too inviting for us, but the Canopy walkway and the Butterfly farm where nice!

Up high

We left the springs aiming to catch the express bus to KK, however, it was full, and we where rather rudely rejected. We figured we walk in to city center, but got picked up after less than 100m by a very friendly driver who was going to Kota Kinabalu, so we went with him the whole way. Very good service! KK was ok, we got a room at the Daya hotel and chilled for the night, before leaving for Penang very early the next morning (Thursday).

Us on our Balcony at the Golden Sands resort in Batu Ferengi in Penang.

Since we where all checked in to our resort before 1100 in the morning, we spent the day familiarizing ourselves with the area. The comfort we where presented with was almost uncomfortable, but oh so nice!

From the spice gardens

Flying Squirrel

What fruit is this on the fruit farm?

Going up Penang Hill

Had to try the snake… Its a Burmese Python, so not very dangerous

Sara kept accumulating mozzie bites….

Its hard too see, but a Burqa seems to be no problem when parasailing!

After 3 nights in Penang, we left for Cameron Highlands on a very quiet Sunday morning. The bus drive felt like it took forever! Once in Tana Ratah, we where picked up and talken to our Hostel. We spent the afternoon exploring and making arrangements for a tour the next morning, before our bus to Kuala Lumpur. That night we had a awesome Banana Leaf dinner at a local Indian restaurant, it was huge!

Flycatcher in the mossy forest

The area has lots of tea plantations! Home of the BOH tea.

How the tea is collected, you also got the scissor method and the machine method

Had to hold the Scorpion too!

Monday afternoon we caught the express bus to Kuala Lumpur, it had 3 seats in a row, so very roomy! We stayed at the Federal in Batu Bintang. The shopping and business district of town!

KL was hot and humid, we spent the first half of Tuesday doing our tourist stops, going to KL tower. Had a great lunch at Blue Boys vegetarian!

Wednesday morning we went to Batu caves, north of KL. A big Hindu temple north of town. The monkeys here where very cheeky!

We watched as a kid got robbed of his drink can by this monkey. Kid wasn’t too impressed.

The rest of the day and Thursday was spend shopping, before another disappointing red eye flight back to Sydney.

Great holiday!