Who Knows Where in Vietnam


– The first time I came to Vietnam I had big plans for my trip. But then I got food poisoning and shit myself in my bed for a week. So, this time we’re doing it right and I’ll be renting a motorbike and driving from Saigon
all the way to Hanoi and you will see everything that happens. Good, bad, or really shitty. – That’s me, Monet. I’ve been to over 40 countries solo and I still have almost no special skills. But I do love making a fool of myself. So join me on my adventures doing things I’ve never done before. This episode, we’re going to Vietnam. Where I’ll get on a
motorbike for the first time and definitely not crash it. (upbeat music) Vietnam is the fourth largest country in South East Asia. It’s long, narrow body
touches China in the north, while snuggling Lao and
Cambodia to the west. I first came to Vietnam
almost exactly 10 years ago as a 19 year old on a gap year. I knew I would come back
one day to see more. I’ll be starting my trip in
Vietnam’s most populated city. Where I’ll get on a
motorbike for the first time and drive the length of the country, almost 2,000 kilometers
up to the capital Hanoi. Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam’s
biggest tourist destination. Don’t get confused when you
hear it being called Saigon. The city’s name was changed after the Vietnam War in the 70’s. But many people still use the
two names interchangeably. It’s my first time in Saigon
so I’ve enlisted the help of a friend of a friend of a
stranger to show me around. – Today, I’m going to
show you more of the city. Specifically the history and also the culture of the people. So I was born and grew up in the city and this is my home city. This is my turf. I really love it. – As an American in Vietnam, I’m very aware that I’m visiting the site of one of my country’s darkest stains. The Vietnam War, which
in Vietnam is referred to as The American War, reverberates throughout
the city with memorials, historical markers and
hidden underground bunkers, like this one here. Anh took me to one place in particular that your guide books won’t
tell you how to get to. – You can see there’s a small gray box out on top of the building. So, yep, that’s the place where this very famous
photo here happened. – During the Vietnam War the country was essentially split in half with the Americans in the south and the communist Viet Cong in the north. To many this photograph is the
emblem of the end of the war. It was taken the day before
Saigon was won back by the north and anyone and everyone who
had worked with the Americans was desperately trying to flee the city. – So, these people they’re actually not American soldiers. They’re actually Vietnamese
people who worked for the American government here. – The US knew they had lost the war and had been quietly
evacuating their own citizens in the weeks leading up to this point. Which for the majority of cases, meant abandoning the Vietnamese who had worked alongside the Americans to fend for themselves against the swiftly arriving Viet Cong. – That card there, it says, “United States Mission Saigon.” But do you know that all
the Americans are gone? – Yes, I know that but I must
’cause in case, just in case. – The helicopter you see in the photo, this is the very last helicopter. So that’s why they stood
on the roof for like hour waiting for another helicopter
that would never come. We will try to get up on that very spot. Cameras away, just like random tourists. We’re just bribed security to get up here. – Unofficial tour. (laughs) (melancholy guitar music) – This is where it happened. That box here. Right on top of this. – [Monet] Right on top, right? So there must have been stairs. – [Moet] Oh my God! – As I stood on the edge of a building that had
witnessed a pivotal moment in world history, I knew I was ready to go see
more of this amazing country. It was time to go pick up my bike. – We’re on our way to
pick up the motorbike. And after we pick it up, I will have a little
bit of time to practice and then I have to drive it home. Back to our hotel. By myself. Through a tunnel. I’m a little bit nervous. (exhales) Gonna be fine. Oh, it will be fine. He can do it, I can do it. Kinda feel like I’m gonna vomit. Oh, up right up here. Tigit. Hi, I’m picking up a,
oh, thanks, a bike today. Will you give me how to drive it, five minute lesson?
– Yeah, yeah, yeah. – Because I don’t want to die. Is this my practice space? – Yeah, right here. So you have four gear total for this bike. – Okay. – So when you pedal right
here it’s the back brake. – [Monet] Back brake? – Yes, and this one is the front brake. – [Monet] Okay. And when do you use the front brake. – [Salesman] Low speed. – Low speed. Low speed, front brake. High speed, back brake. – [Salesman] Yeah, when you are riding on a high speed sort of fly around it. – I should just get on it? – Okay, I’ll just get on it. Move it this way. Oh! – Yeah, just a little bit. – Ah! – Tigit says you can learn to ride their bikes in five minutes. I was skeptical. But after 15 minutes of driving around, I was surprised by how
comfortable I started to feel with my new best friend. – I already love you, bike. We have to head back to the hotel now which means I have to drive on a real road with real cars and real other scooters. Not this sort of empty road
where I’ve been practicing. And I might die. Ah! Gonna be a lot easier when
I’m not wearing my glasses. (rock music) – Feeling about 30% confident in my abilities, the next day I woke up
before the crack of dawn so I could get out of the
city without hitting traffic. – If I was feeling good about
this, I’m not right now. (rock music) – I just picked up a bun
off the side of the road. Also, I have no idea what’s in this. – Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I now know that these
are called Banh Bao 69 because the roadside kiosks are said to be an auspicious 69
kilometers from Saigon. – Oh, there’s an egg. – Inside is pork and a quail egg. – It’s surprisingly super sweet. – And eating it pink is totally fine. – That doesn’t look cooked. It looks a little bit raw. (laughs) Okay, I’m really hungry. – With an auspicious bahn in my belly, I made it to our first stop, Ho Tram. A small fishing village three
hours outside of Saigon. Or five if you’ve never
ridden a motorbike before. (rock music) – I am trying to get from my beach hotel to Ho Tram Hamlet so I can
get some delicious seafood. But I would not suggest taking the route that I am taking right now. There’s this huge concrete
structure that juts out into the beach. So I’ve had to go through a trash pile and some abandoned lots to get this far. Let’s see what happens next. – With a coast spanning over 3,000 kilometers, Vietnam has a booming seafood industry. And in the south, seafood restaurants carry
the freshest of fresh fish. (rock music) – Cut to two hours later. – I am still walking and I have some serious
chaffing happening down there. But I am going to get
to this fucking seafood. We are 2.2 kilometers away! I have no idea what that means. Okay, I made it. That was a very stupid idea. Oh my God. My thighs are on fire. – Seafood restaurants like this one are all over the coast. Don’t worry about a menu. Just point and say how
many kilos you want. And remember that anything
cold can double as an icepack when you happen to have
left your Megababe at home. (rock music) – Chaffed thighs and all, this was worth it. I don’t even like beer. (techno music) Day two. – After the first day on the road, I was feeling good. I was a biker chick. Woman. – But it’s when you get too comfortable that shit can really hit the fan. There is a road that motorbikes can go on. But that means we have
to figure out what to with the cinematographer. Slash, our luggage. – We decided to go super bare bones on clothes and camera equipment. And head together on the bike. – I’m going to put the
gin in a very safe spot. I’ll be having you later. – After agreeing to meet back up with Nahm
our driver in two days time, Naima, my cinematographer,
hopped on the back of my bike. – Are you safe with me? – Yeah– – [Naima] On the back– – [Naima} Okay. – Except that the weight of second person completely changes how you drive. Especially when you’re
on a narrow dirt track. – Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry. It’s the weight. Okay we got it. We definitely got it. I need to go down into a lower gear. (engine revs) – And then that happened. – Oh my God! – [Naima] Okay, okay, okay, okay. – [Monet] Are you okay? – [Naima] Yeah, I’m fine. I’m fine. Are you okay? – [Monet] Yeah. Perfect. Okay. – Two men had immediately stopped to help us. Oh, and this is what used to
be attached to back of my bike. – It’s the tonic water
that’s spilling everywhere. It’s not gas. – [Monet Voiceover] And
one of the men offered to drive Naima the remaining few miles since I had obviously
proven myself incapable. – I’m so sorry Naima, I failed you! – Even though we were still a bit shaken up, we knew pretty quickly that we had arrived at someplace extra special. – I feel like my legs have no feeling. Completely worth almost dying. No it’s not. Nothing is worth almost dying. So Cam Lap is kind of an up
and coming tourist destination. While some of the other beach towns along Vietnam are insanely touristy, Cam Lap feels very private and very secluded. Some have called it the
Maldives of Vietnam. Look at that, there’s like
eight different purples in those mountains. (alternative music) – After a couple of restful days in Cam Lap– – Cheers. – We headed back out to the main road. Naima got a ride to our hotel to meet up with our driver and continue our journey up the coast. – Day four, day five, one of those days. – I was immediately thankful I got to experience the serenity of Cam Lap because this drive was not a scenic one. – So I am currently
driving along Highway 1, which I’m not gonna lie, kind of sucks. It’s a two lane highway
that has huge trucks and huge double decker buses going down it that then pass each other. The only positive note is that, right before they run you over, they honk really loudly so at least you know death is coming. – But at the end of a long day of busy roads, I turned off the highway and
found my way to Bai Mon Beach. Where I planned to rent a tent
and camp out for the night. – I have arrived on my secluded beach and now all I have to
do is set up my tent. Which I feel totally proficient at. No worries. (slurping) Ha! Ta-Da! I finished my tent with
absolutely no help whatsoever. I did this completely on my own and definitely no one helped me do it. It is just after 6:30 in the evening and I have nothing to eat and nothing to drink. And nothing to do so I
guess I’m gonna go to bed. Okay, good night. (rock music) – I woke up with the sunrise and got back on the road. – The next days were long. – My butt is so sore. It feels like it has been
permanently flattened. – But the only way out is through. And eventually I arrived in Hoi An. A historic city that
marked the half way point of my journey. – Oh my God! It’s like a humidor under there. Now I get to take my
butt off the motorbike for at least one full day, which I think it will greatly appreciate. ‘Cause I have band aids
on my butt, right now. Band aids. – Now there are a lot of tourists in Hoi An but I would not suggest skipping it because this city has a lot to offer. And the crowds are just
one part of the experience. – Oh my gosh, look at it’s buns. (laughs) – While in Hoi An, I was invited to chat with Vietnamese restaurateur
and acclaimed chef Miss Vy at her famous Market
Restaurant and Cooking School. Vy’s name is everywhere in Hoi An. She’s been featured in The New York Times and is expanding her foodie empire internationally this year. – Can you talk about, like
describe Vietnamese food and what it’s like. – If they’re southern people, they’ll eat more sweet. Middle part more spicy and north quite mild. They have a French influence. Talk about pho for example. Pho is originally – Oh wow! – Yes. – That’s where it comes from? – Yes. – Oh, I had no idea. – During the French occupation, they cooked pot-au-feu with ox tail, marrow bone with vegetable. Instead of served with baguette, we are more familiar with noodle. Rice noodles have become. Instead of call pot-au-feu, we call pho. – And it’s funny, in the US,
it’s mispronounced so badly. Everyone says pho. – Pho, yes, pho. – Pho, pho. – So instead of fur, fur is fire. Say pho. – Pho. – Not only will you finally learn how to properly pronounce pho, you can eat it and learn how to cook it. Plus dozens of other specialty foods from all over the country
at Vy’s Market Restaurant. On top of that, this
is one of the best ways to use your money to
support local businesses and the 750 staff members
who bust their asses in her restaurants every single day. Vy herself got behind the counter to make us one of her
favorite mango salads before we got down to some serious eating. – [Vy] You can’t wait to try all of this. – My mouth is salivating.
– Yeah! – Try a bite of salad and then put on top your rice paper. – Wow, that mango is amazing. Like sunlight in my mouth. – [Vy] How simple really– – [Monet] Yeah. – [Vy] Is it? – I love that. I think that might be my favorite. – There was one more stop I needed to make in Hoi An. Along side the delicious food I’d eaten and the wonderful people
I’d met along the way, there was something in
Vietnam I couldn’t help but notice everywhere. And I went to talk to someone who had been doing something about it. – You know, I get money from the river and then I need to do something for the river. Every Saturday morning, I rally the people from Hoi An and they come and help me to do the kayak and collect the rubbish on the river. Now is, I did three year already
and get a lot of rubbish. And the river look better. – It looks better.
– Yes – A long time ago, my grandpa and my grandma they go to
the market with a big bag. They put everything in the bag. And they can for the meat, they can cover with a banana leaf and they can throw everywhere
to the garden or the river. It’s okay because that
will be, became compact later or that will be gone very quickly, like in a week. – Before plastic, people
had these natural, like natural forms of coverings and then they threw them in the river and it didn’t matter because
they just degrade or go away? – That is our culture. They think, leave
everything down to the river and the river will be take out to the sea. But the local here, they just throw everything to the river. Yesterday I get two TV, big TV. They think that gone, but not. They do not understand about that cannot gone in 100
year or more than that. Even go past like four, five generation. – There’ll still be a TV in the mud. – Yeah, they can see a TV in the ocean. We need to, everyone need
to work together by clean. For the first, you clean your house first and then you clean your street. And you clean the river and the sea. And then you clean everywhere
you see the rubbish. – Are there other companies like you, who are doing clean ups? – For the river, it’s just only me, yeah. – Long’s message is pretty clear. We all need to do our part to protect our rapidly changing world. And I for one know that I’m
not doing nearly enough. (melancholy music) (hard rock music) – So today we are driving
through the Hai Van Pass. It looks like the weather might
change on us a little bit. It’s a geographical barrier so apparently the weather
can be drastically different on the other side. (hard rock music) – After the Hai Van Pass, I am officially in the north of Vietnam. I say goodbye to the coast and start to head inland, taking in the historic Ho Chi Minh road. Which roughly follows the
same path as the trail system that supplied troops in the
south during the Vietnam War. – Yep, it’s in between my boobs. Come on little guy. Ah! (laughs) Back to riding. – By this point, I’ve driven over 1,500
kilometers in 12 days. – Okay, we arrived at a hotel. It’s pretty gross but I’m the grossest thing
in any room at his point. So, it doesn’t really matter. – I can feel how close I am to the end and have to remind myself
to take some moments to just soak in my surroundings. (rock music) As we went further into the north, things really started to change. (rock music) – You know, whenever I read things it kept on saying the north is gonna be colder and wetter
than you expect it to be. And, they were right. It is colder and it is wetter. We just have to get through it. (rock music) – And then, just when I think I
can’t take one more cold, rainy day on the bike. – My fingers have just gone numb. I’m really cold. I just want to get there. And fast, but slow. And safe. – I realize it’s my last day on the road. In the city, the indisputable king of
the road is the motorbike. (rock music) Even after riding for two weeks straight, I’m worried I might not
be prepared for this. (rock music) – Oh my gosh. My legs are like jelly. That was so fucking insane. Driving here is crazy. I feel like the entire trip
was leading up to this moment. And I think I passed. (laughs) We did it! (cheers) (rock music) Over the past 20 minutes we have compiled the best and the worst of our comments and questions
from you, our viewers. My producer just handed
me the top three questions on the back of a camera manual. Off we go! David and Matayo from Sudbury write, “You’re last episode
“in Nepal was awesome. “Very entertaining. “Except for the part
where you got your period. “What the F is wrong with you?” You know David and Matayo, I’ve been thinking the same thing ’cause it just keeps happening
to me every single month. Do you think I should
get that checked out? Nah! Okay question number two comes
from Jane in South Africa. “I can’t believe you rode a
motorbike up the whole length “of Vietnam when you’ve never even ridden “a motorbike before. That takes some serious balls.” Actually Jane, that is
a common misconception. What it takes is some pretty big ovaries. And mine are gigantic! Last but not least, we have a
question from Mervyn Yankelson of Austin, Texas, who says, “How the hell did
you know where to go Monet “when you’ve only been to
this country once before “and you’re driving up
the entire length of it?” I’m glad you asked that Mervyn. I’m gonna give a huge shout
out to vietnamcoracle.com. I think it’s some British
guy who’s running it who knows the country really well. He gives you Google Maps
to tell you where to go. You should do it too! If you want your question answered, simply make a comment somewhere
and I might find it one day. ♪ Do you wanna watch the sunrise with me ♪ ♪ Let’s go out and see what we can see ♪

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