Mike and Flavia's alternative to work
Hanoi - much more grown up than Saigon and the people more reserved - but still the same old crazy traffic. We negotiated it with enormous hangovers and managed to find somewhere really horrible to stay - poor old (and I say 'old' in the 'now you're 31 and you cant take the piss out of me anymore' sense) Mike. Not much of a birthday, although the night before made up for it to some extent. And i didnt even get him a present, although i was suitably guilty and grovelling about it! Took a trip to Halong bay on another vastly overrated tour, but the place is stunning (although very polluted) and the people were great. We met some great people from Brisban (who we're probably going to descend on when we get there), a mad frenchman called Julian, and a slightly sane girl called Ailsa. Hooked up with the latter 2 to go to Sapa which is a lovely place up in the mountains full of minority hill tribes. We did a couple of treks from here, and in good old scottish style the weather closed in a we walked for hours in the rain and then got 'forgotten' by guesthouse who were supposed to be picking us up and had to hitch rides on passing motorbikes along a road under construction - I would rather have walked!! But when we got back they were terribly apologetic and let us move from the room down the mountain which was next to the abattoir, into a super deluxe one at the top. We got a fire lit and hid under the blankets until defrosted. Back down to Hanoi the next evening and then a surprisingly undodgy flight to Vientiane in Laos. And that definitely warmed us up - straight into 38 degrees again!