I said that I would post from where ever I could while in Vietnam, and that ended up being nowhere. Sorry about that, but sometimes you just have to forget about life back home and enjoy every minute of the journey.

And that's what I did. Vietnam was amazing. And what made it so special for me was traveling with the 5 children. We had to make concessions of course- the local buses which do not leave until there is no more room for another body were out. Our children are fidgets and boisterous and so that would have killed the holiday.

We did catch an overnight train from Saigon to Nga Trang though. I had phoned the Saigon train station from Singapore to book a four-berth soft sleeper, and was assured that my booking was in place, even though no booking reference was given and no payment taken. I was wary, so phoned back before leaving Singapore, and whoever I talked to had our name and booking, so I hoped there would be no problem.

As soon as we arrived in Saigon we had to head to the Railway station to buy the tickets for the journey the next night. No one spoke English at the station, and the officials were very stony faced. There seemed to be a ticket queueing system but it took me a while to work out where to get a number and then which window to watch out at. Thankfully there was one very helpful man who spoke perfect English. Without him I would have been lost, as my name meant nothing to anyone, and all that was left were 6-bed hard sleepers.

Luckily there was no one else in the cabin with us so it was perfectly fine. The bunks were covered in clean white sheets with a pillow, and a woman came around with blankets soon after we left Saigon. It was a slow bumpy journey, but we were all asleep within an hour of departing, so it didn't matter much.

We arrived in Nga Trang at 5am after being woken at 4.15am.

It was pitch black but there were taxis waiting to take us to the hotel. Everyone asleep there, gates locked so we headed down to the beach. And we were not alone. The promenade was full of people doing their exercised in the dark. Young and old, some were walking, some jogging, some swinging their arms or doing push ups on the children's' playground equipment. It was exhilarating to find this hidden world which actually reminded me of the early mornings in the Beijing Parks, although no fan dancing was visible.

So that was our introduction to Vietnam. Already we had felt the energy, shared the smiles and laughter, and our first taste was to get sweeter. My sister and her family were due to meet us that day, so we waited for news, not knowing how they would be arriving or where they were coming from.


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