We spent our first night near the Cambodian border at Chau Doc. We did a little tour of a small floating village and a minority Muslim area. The floating houses double as fish farms with half a million or so fish held in nets underneath each. Next up was Can Tho, a larger city in the canal-ridden delta. We outdid ourselves here and spent 8 hours moving through the delta's floating markets and river villages on a glorified rowboat. Thankfully, it had a padded seat.
The horns! The deafening and constant horns. The psychotic drivers running every which way. Saigon is not for the meek. We bored ourselves silly taking in the socialist architecture and then made for the Chinese quarter for some good street food. Near Saigon is the Cu Chi district and underground tunnel complex from the war. The tour was far too touristy and the tunnel crawl was a piece of cake, but our (Vietnamese-American) anti-American guide made up for the Disney-esque outing with his unique and brutal perspective on history. We took a boat back to Saigon and were lucky enough to be pulled over by the river police! We have no idea why, but we sat on our boat at a river policestation for about an hour waiting to be freed for return to town.
We flew up to Hanoi next and found it similar enough to Saigon for our taste to move quickly through. But we did make time to enjoy the communistic decorum surrounding Ho Chi Minh's waxlike remains before heading off to a somewhat more pleasant Ha Long Bay.
The Guilin of Vietnam, Ha Long was exactly what the postcards promised: majestic limestone cliffs rising out of the sea and into the mist. We did a 3 day tour of the bay that took us onto the bay on one of what seemed like thousands of tourist boats. Once on the water, the crowds drowned away and it was like we were all alone.