New Adventure Starts in Saigon
Back on the road again!!! After settling back in the US for nine months, and yes, buying a car and a house, I decided that I really wanted to get back out and travel some more. I applied with a company called Intrepid Travel (www.intrepidtravel.com)to be a tour leader back in September of 2006 and finally got an email asking me to interview in March of 2007!!! After the interview I knew I would be going. I was told to be in Saigon on April 25th for training and would be working in Cambodia, Vietnam, and possibly Thailand and Laos. These were some of my favorite countries from my last travels and I am so excited about the chance to come back over and share my adventures with others!!!
I packed up my house, sold my car and bought a one way ticket to Saigon with a stop in Raleigh to see my family. Below is a picture of me with my niece before I left.
Arrival in Saigon--April 23, 2007
After a long 28 hour plane journey I arrived in Saigon very hot and very tired. I spent one day just wandering around the city, sweating profusely all day long. I am sure I drank more than a gallon of water that day!!! The weather is a lot like Florida during the summer, with the main difference being AC. They do have it but in select places. Like my hotel room had AC, but the lobby of the hotel did not. Many of the restaurants do have it, but if you eat like I do on the streets and small corner restaurants, you are lucky if you have a small breeze coming through!!
Walking around Saigon is an experience in itself. There are motorbikes everywhere. There are more motorbikes per capita than anywhere else in the world. There is a trick to walking around the city. Although I think there are some driving laws, they are not adhered to in any form. People drive down the wrong way of the one way road, honk their horns constantly and have no concern for anyone around them. There is a definite hierarchy... buses and trucks come first, then vans and cars, then motorbikes, and finally pedestrians.
Below is a picture of a motorbike "parking lot".
Going for a wander...
I tend to do a lot of wandering when I get to a new town. Since I have been here before I was not so keen in seeing all the sights so I thought I would see what other cool pictures I could take. Here are a few....
Around here motorbikes are more than just transportation. They can carry as much as a Ford F-150 pickup truck at home!
Bicycles work just as well.
Durian anyone? How would you like to pedal that to the market everyday?
This guy is pretty smart with his cart!!!
and Bowling Centers...
Since I missed the Women's National bowling tournament this year I thought I would check out the Saigon bowling center and see if I could bowl and call in my scores! Too bad the lanes were full and I couldn't get a chance to show the Vietnamese how it is done in the US!!!
Down to the nitty gritty
I spent one day wandering then it was time to get to work. I started my classroom training the following day. There were 11 of us total in the training group (3 Vietnamese, 5 Australians, 1 UK/Vietamese, 1 USA/Vietnamese and me).
As you can see we had a great time during the week.
Just a little bit about Intrepid Travel. They are an Australian company that have been around for about 18 years. They specialize in small group tours (mostly 12 passengers or less) and they like to get off the beaten path when possible. They are big believers in what is called Responsible Travel which in a nutshell means they are "committed to a style of travel that is environmentally, culturally and socially responsible."
I will be leading trips through out South East Asia including Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. My next step is to take a training trip with all the expat leaders from Saigon, into Cambodia and then into Bangkok, Thailand. From there I will work with a seasoned tour leader to do what we call the "Indochina Loop" which will take me to northern Thailand, cross into Laos and work my way to the capital of Vientiane, then back into Northern Vietnam, working my way back south to Saigon.
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