Hello!!! Whoops I seem to have missed out about 3 weeks of my trip, but what can I say...Ive been busy!
After Hue in Vietnam, I went to hanoi then spent 3 days on a sailing trip round Halong Bay then 2 days trecking in wonderful wonderful Sapa. Halong Bay was beautiful but our tour wasnt so great, but I was with friends so we made the most of it. I went to Sapa alone due to having terrible food poisening when my friends were due to go, but had an amazing time there and htink it is possibly my favourite place in Vietnam. The scenery was simply stunning, set high into the northern mountains of Vietnam, Sapa is a small town close to Black H'Mong minority villages and the local tribespeople can be seen all around the town selling their wares. Cries of 'You buy from me, buy from me, no buy from her, buy from meeee!' can be heard constantly! They are lovely people though and will walk around and chat with you in excellent English without turning nasty if you dont want o buy anything. Whilst here, I met a lovely girl from New Zealand who I spent time with drinking coffee, eating dinner and generally chatting about life, and we also went on the same treck the next day. The treck was possibly one of my best days in Vietnam, indeed my whole trip, and I didnt stop smiling the whole day. We set off at 9.30 am after a hearty breakfast of musilee and yoghurt and a pineapple pancake and trekked over and through the terrace rice paddi fields, down into a valley where the minority villages are.
The scenery was out of this world, and the people so warm and friendly, I was in photographic heaven!! I did end up buying a few local bracelets but it was a small price to pay for such a magical day. Another thing I loved about Sapa was the weather. High in the mountains the climate is much cooler and I was thrilled to be able to wear my jeans, trainers and hoodie at night time and snuggle right up in my duvet in bed! My room in my guest house was also my cheapest so far, at $3 per night, which is about 2 pounds - you cant go wrong!
Unfortunately I had to return early to hanoi to pick up my passport form the Thai embassey with my new 2 month Thai Visa, and had to spend another 2 days in the dusty city waiting for my flight to Bangkok on Saturday. My halloween night was spent on a flight to bangkok and at 1.30 am was once again to be found trudging along Kaoh San road in search of a cheap guest house. The place was heaving with locals and backpackers ou drinking in the streets, shopping for cut price jewellery (or ladyboys) and I was bashed around a fair bit in my huge backpack. After looking around some fairly unselubrious places, I seetled upon the hotel me and Alex had stayed in when we first arrived. At 14 pounds a night it was way above my price range, but at 2 am and carrying about 20 kg on my back , I wasnt really in the mood to care!
The next day I checked into a hostel with a small prison like cell costing me $5 a night - bangkok is more expensive than other party of Thailand - and consequently had the worst nights sleep ever in the hot, stuffy little room. The next morning I had to get up at 5.30 in order to get a taxi to the private hospital in Bagkok where I was having my chest x-ray for my New Zealand Visa. I arrived at the hospital bleary eyed and sleepy but was conscious enought to notice how snazzy it was! Obviously not able to afford private hospital care in England it was a treat in Thailand with my X-ray only setting me back 20 quid! They were very nice and efficient and I now have a doctors signed certificate stating that I dont have TB and a huge X-ray sheet to prove it! Havnt quite decided what to do with the x-ray yet, possible frame it on my wall as modern art??
That night I got the night train to NongKhai having decided to go to Laos for a few days before I started my teaching again. I had another terrible nights sleep on the night train and was shattered when I reached Nong Khai but had to pul myself together for the boarder crossing into Laos and then onto Vang Vieng. I was shunted along various ques, buses and tuk tuks, not quite knowing what I was supposed to be doing but ended up at Vien Tien local bus station waiting for my 4 hours bus ride to Vang Vieng. Unfortunately the bus was jam packed full of locals and I couldnt actually see any seats free. However, in their friendly asian way of trying to help me, they insisted I get on, and had to join the other 10 or so people sitting on small plastic stools in the isle. haha. I met a couple of Australian girls who I chatted to for the journey, and marvelled at myself for getting the local bus complete with people throwing up into sick bags all around me, rather than opting for a more expensive air conditioned tourist mini-van. I hadnt really had the choice to be fair....haha.
I spent 3 days in Vang Vieng and although it had changed a lot since being here last year I still had a good time. The town is a lot more touristy and full of shops, restaurants and guest houses and 21 year olds going a bit crazy and giving Westerners a bad name but I did find a couple of spots to relax away from the crowds. I went tubing down to Nam Xong river twice, and met some nice people to hang out with on each day. The 3rd day I spent relaxing across the other side of the river in a riverside bar, enjoying pineapple shakes, sunbathing and reading my book. Later on a also rented a bike for a ride around the surrounding country then watched the sun set over the mountains. Just beautiful.