Its been a while since the last blog so much to update people on. Meant to update people before now but time flies when you're having fun..
First things first, the rest of Vietnam was good. I finally escaped the madness of Hanoi and found the sanctuary of Hoi An. This a small town which has been designated a World Heritage Site an must contain the world's largest concentration of tailors. Its fairly sleepy and good place for a bit of r & r being a short cycle ride from the beach. After Hoi An I decided a trip to a desert island would be in order before tacklng Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon as its more popularly known). Phu Quoc Island is very secluded although two days was probably enough for me, so on to Saigon.
The highlight there had to be a crawl through part of the Cu Chi Tunnels, survived/restored from the American War. I only went through about 15m or so but that was enough, it being very hot and very claustrophobic! The Vietcong must have been some mean fighting animals to survive down there. On a more sobering note, a museum about the same war had some photos showing the results of chemical warfare upon the some of the Vietnamese people. I guarentee if certain world leaders went to this museum then the world's political situation would be rather different to what it is now. Overall, I really liked Vietnam, with Hoi An being the highlight. They seem to have an unhealthy obsession with passports, particularly hotel staff (when I asked for mine back in a place I was staying in they looked at me as if I had just told them I was going to burn their house down) but, when they have stopped trying to sell you things, they are very friendly. Met some great people whilst travelling, including someone from Luxembourg (thats a first for me!)
It was a very beautiful country, but not as stunning as the Nepal Himalaya. I have just returned from a trek to Everest Base Camp and a height of around 5,200m. It was probably the hardest thing I have ever done. The walking was tough, due to a lot of steep climbs, as you would expect. But it is the altitude which really gets you, and the lack of oxygen. It makes something which is already very hard, even harder. But it was worth it for the views, not just of of Everest but other mountains as well, including Lhotse, Nhupse, Thamserku and Ama Dablum. Everest looks massive from very long way away so when you get closer and it is still towering over these other peaks then you really appreciate what it takes to get up it.
Reaching Everest Base Camp was a great feeling but not as good as finishing the trek and getting back to proper hotel in Kathmandu. When I say proper hotel, I am using the term lightly (the water in some rooms was aa dodgly shade of yellow). But toilets in rooms are a rare occurence in the hills. Kathmandu itself is an eye opener. And at the moment its a bit of a political melting pot as the Maoists are having a power-struggle with the Government. We actually saw a bit of a riot down in the street near our hotel (admiteddly from the safety of a hotel window). Fun, but I am equipped at dodging such occurences , living in the north east.
Am now in Pokhara but have been told there will be a power cut soon (this is apparently a regular occurence!) so will have to go now. But hope everyone back home is ok and looking forward to the election (!!) And more importantly, the second leg of the Europa league semi final on Thursday which, depending on the result, may cause me to re-route my homeward journey via Hamburg.
Anyway, have fun, and speak to you all soon,