So, arrived Hanoi and managed to negotiate a taxi to our hotel, which by the way is sweet! Nicest place we've stayed in so far (apart from Abu Dhabi). After we had checked in we joined our group for the 6 week tour. We obviously turned up late (bus driver's fault, not ours) and missed the big welcome speech, but joined the group for dinner later on. Everyone seemed really nice.
The next day, our tour leader, Pong, (seriously) showed us around Hanoi, we saw dead Uncle Ho, who looked pretty good for someone who's been dead 40 years, as well as a museum about Hồ Chí Minh and the old university. Hanoi is pretty awesome, it's nice to be in a big, vibrant city..
The next day we took a 5 hour bus trip into northern Vietnam, where we first had lunch (spring rolls, rice, cabbage, rice and rice) and from there we drove for another 40 minutes and then started trekking. It was pretty hot, but the trek wasn't too difficult, and the scenery was amazing. We only walked for 2 hours until we got to our homestay for the evening; nothing like our lovely Hanoi hotel. There were two outdoor toilets (hole in the ground) and no shower..had to scoop water into a bucket and pour it over yourself. The group(12 of us) stayed in one room, and there were gaps in the ceiling and walls. I insisted on having a mosquito net around me, especially after seeing lots of spiders when I used the toilet. Needless to say, I was bloody terrified. Noone else seemed bothered. We had dinner and lots of rice wine (poision). I think I got pretty drunk, and as a result forgot about the spiders and had a good night's sleep!
The following day we got up early and started trekking. Walked for 4 hours in the morning, through some gorgeous scenery. Had lunch and then walked for another hour or so, before arrving at our second homestay. Here we had two proper (flushing) toilets and two showers (luxury). We got some beers and sat by the river for a while, just relaxing, Later, some of us went for a walk around the village with our guide, Toad. Ed and some others did some rice farming for a while.
In the evening we had food and lots of rice wine (again). It's rude not to drink with the host family, so, again, everyone was pretty drunk.. Someone suggested karaoke.At first I was qute confused. We were in the middle of nowhere, where the lights go out at like 9pm. But, with our local guide and his two friends, we all set off to find this karaoke place. We walked and walked, and dodged big spiders, until we got to some basement, where there was a karaoke machine and some speakers; and not much else!! The local kids found us hilarious belting out Eye of the Tiger and It's Raining Men.
That evening, we slept on the floor, with only a thin matress, and it was so uncomfortable. This night I did not sleep more than 3 hours, as I was paranoid the spiders were coming to get me.
We woke earlythe next day and had a gentle walk for a couple of hours until our bus picked us up. More soon