VIETNAM

From Phnom Pen there is cheap bus direct to de Tham st district 1 HCMC I used  I felt the quickest and cheapest route was Sth to Nth this meant I did not have to stay overnight either in Nathrang afternoon here awaiting overnight bus to Hoi Ann and also Hue got there lunchtime did Citadel and perfume river and straight after dinner on to overnight open tour bus to Hanoi TNK travel for Vietnam ie cuuchi tunnels and also 22$ multi stop HCMC to Hanoi although not sure if they still arrange for the open tour bus sth to north

www.tnktravelvietnam.com  office is on De Tham St, dist 1, HCMC.

Best way is from Cambodia is bus from Phnom Pen [6hrs] arrives around 4 to 5pm HCMC  District 1 De Tham St. All the Backpacker Hostels in this area. Cuuchi tunnels are a must as is the War museum (bus will drop you off on way back to town short walk back to de Tham St)

Take bus Sihn or Hahn café $22 to Hanoi multi stop ie Dalat/ Nathrang/Hoi An/ Hue/Hanoi

Dalat tell him to drop you off Highland Hotel (not best but 100m to rt of Hotel good restaurant)

Do Crazy tour $3-5 crazy house, Chicken village Crazy Monk crazy cowboys & Indians (ethnic minority) at Kammer falls and peaceful Bhuddist retreat and gardens overlooking lake and elephant mountain.

Crazy tour details

First stop was the beautiful Bhuddist pagoda With the large Golden Bhudda statue sitting on a Lotus pad, high up in the hills with the Fragrant Frangipani and the quiet “meditation” gardens, overlooking Elephant Mountain and the Lake.  Next stop was the Chicken Minority village (Lang Con Ga) with its 50ft Squawking, Concrete Chicken looming over the town. Con seems the right word here as our guide the delectable Ngoc told us that the villagers worshipped this Chicken as it had brought the villagers luck in the harvests. “Are you Bhuddist Animist?” I asked the Koho tribeswoman who spoke English and was busy at her Loom weaving the cloth traditional to the Koho tribespeople.  “Oh No! she laughed we all Catholic here! The Chicken is to bring in the tourists” Crazy or Wot!  On now to the hand made Rice paper factory and the mushroom farm, A silk worm collection depot, but no silk factory. Then we did the Kammer water falls with its minority people at the bottom of the falls. These are cowboys and Indians with Wigwams that belong more to America than some Ethnic hilltribe Ha! Ha! The men Dress as cowboys and the Women as Indians and sit outside their Wigwams selling tribal wares Ha! Ha! Crazy!! Next we went back into town for Lunch and after we went to the Crazy House. After the Viet Cong (liberated the South) Ho Chi Minh’s niece went to Russia and studied Architecture.  Although the poverty stricken townspeople of Dalat objected to her eccentricities, which involved building this Architecturally, whimsical foible as an Hotel, that was on par with Antonio Gaude of Barcelona.  Although her Folly was more like Alice in Wonderland as you go up twisting staircases into Beautiful room such as the Tiger room or the Bird room. Although in the beginning of the eighties such was the austerity of the area that many objected but as she was Ho Chi Minhs niece she was beyond the peasants reach. Now her eccentricity is praised as tourists enjoy staying at this higgledy-piggledy Hotel for $50 a night. Really Crazy.  Then we went to see the Crazy Monk  “Vien Thuc” at the LamTy Ni Pagoda. He sits alone aside form the paying tourists and paints his way through hundreds of paintings. The word “Primitive” Art comes to mind but child like simplicity is more apt when on has to compare with primitives like Gaugin etc. Some American with an “Eye” for such art, shipped his collection off to the states and took over a leading art Gallery to extol the virtues of our Mad Monks toying with finger painting. He commands good prices in New York and Travels South East Asia. Speaking 3 languages fluently including Japanese French and English he  is very open about his Buddhist leanings. “When and where did you first enter into the Temple as a Monk?” “I was ten yrs old and was put into a temple in Saigon for ten yrs”  “Did you study the three baskets there?” “What’s that?” he asked “that is the basic Holy writings of Buddhism” I explained” “I don’t know that, I believe in Buddhism” he announced I thought a Lone Buddhist Monk in Charge of an important Buddhist Pagoda and he doesn’t believe!! Crazy “Do you go into town and beg for Alms?” I asked “Oh no he retorted feeling slighted by this remark.  “I telephone and the shops deliver” I have my own money, he confided. So the Crazy Monk wasn’t so Crazy after all.  In fact I think he was the only sane thing on the whole tour Ha! Ha! 

Natrang like Riviera straight on O/night bus to

Hoi An I stayed My Chau hotel $3-6 then , rent bike see beach . as you hit toll booth turn left then rt onto beach so avoid toll. Buy clothes suits $25 etc etc.

My Som Cham ruins is a must 3-5$ day trip inc lunch and boat back to Hoi An.

Hue citadel and boat trip if time is limited then get the same evening overnight bus to

Hanoi

Stayed “Real Darling café” not the cleanest or cheapest but better in area [old Town ] eat Hanoi Hot plates at 16 Hang Be (I think they have moved now to new premises) also real darling for trips ie 1 or Overnight trip Halong Bay was 14$ back then lol see Uncle Ho in his mausoleum and take train o/night sleeper (get ticket direct from station) $8 hard berth to 14$ soft. prices now out of date

Sapa 2 treks from queens Hotel walk 2 Kms to café and walk over to other side of valley [no guide needed ] then along valley till over river and back to rd 18kms 2nd trek through market to café and down steps to Kat Kat village and waterfalls back to rd and into town 3 ½ hrs   If you have Lao visa bus to My Chau then to Dien Phu and Laos (this crossing is now an official one!) then on to Phongsali and Sam neue from here to Non Khiaw and Mong Noi I took train back to Hanoi and l flew into Vientianne VOA $35