Ha long bay is beautiful. Really lovely, and well worth the bus transfer to get there. from Hanoi I was staying on a lovely sailing boat like the one in the picture. Was very swish and I had my own cabin with ensiute and windows onto all the beautiful islands to see them go sailing by. The weather was cold, but warmer than Hanoi where it was positively chilly and I had to resort to wearing all of my clothes all of the time. The cooler air brought with it a mist that gave everything a mysterious air. It meant that you couldn't see for miles and have spectacular long views but it was still very impressive and you can see why its just been made one of the natural wonders of the world. Lovely for photos and just watching. You could look forever and not get bored. Great skys at night on deck too. Shooting stars all over.
Visited a cave that had loads of stalegtightes and mites. All very pretty, some with some additional comedy value, and when we got back to the boat there was a massive seafood lunch laid on for us with prawns, crab, squid, fish, clams and everything else you can think of. Dinner was the same and inbetween managed a dip in the bay into the SOuth China sea. Was pretty cold but well worth jumping off the top deck with Sky as we counted down from 3. There is a picture of us in mid air and I think it might be my new fave thing. It felt pretty dammed good.
Im not sure if it was lunch or dinner that did it, but soon after this the fun stopped for a while as the inevitable happened and I got sick. Dam the clams. Not a bad place to been poorly though, such a nice place to lay down and watch the beautiful islands go sailing by. On the down side the next day was pretty much solid traveling with 4 hour return bus to Hanoi and then a ... 14 hour sleeper train to a town called Hue. this was not pleasant, but because I'm a hero, I managed. I didn't see anything of Hue though, so I have nothing to report other than the sheets were clean, there was hot water and I think it was raining outside. I slept for about 18 hours that day, but when I woke the next morning I was better, and to be honest I have been on top of the world since. I'm basically so grateful to be well again and promise not to take it for granted (this week anyway!)
I'm in a place called Hoi An at the moment. Its a smaller place than the others I have been to recently and that makes a nice change. People are frendlier in smaller towns here I think. The vietnamese dont smile like Laos people and that's made a real difference in the way that you can interact with them when you have such limited language (me, not them) so its nice to be in a place where life moves at a slightly slower place. this place is famous for tayloring so the streets are literally filled with people who want to make you clothes. I have to admit I am temped. It all looks so good and the fabrics are just so beautiful, and my achillies heal really. If only I didn't have to carry every thing with me. Im planning to be here for 3 days so Its nice to have time to not rush about. On the way here I stopped at Marle mountain and visited some more caves where you get to scramble over the marble rock and thourhg the caves to get to a tiny view point at the top. Loved this beacuse it was a little bit frightening, all dark and slippy and hot and swaety and confined. Brilliant though because at the top the sun came out. Battery camera ran out, but you cant have everything.
Tonight I'm taking a cooking class. Not sure what Ill be able to get hold of at home ingredient wise, but should be fun. Hope I make it home with all my fingers- ive seen some pretty big knives. I think we go to the markets first to get what we need. Ive already checked them out and they are crazy. People selling all sorts of stuff in these tiny maze like streets that you get lost in as soon as you set your feet in them.
Next place I head for is Ho Chi Minh City. I dont have much time there because I have to transfer to Cambodia quite quickly so its going to get pretty busy quite quick. Its a shame as I was hoping to meet up with Imogen, but I'm not sure this will work now, although I may still try if things look like they could work.
As you can probally tell I'm still having a really great time, but that doesn't mean I'm not missing you all. Will be good to see you soon, but I have about 2 weeks left and I intend to make the most of it! Its brilliant not going to work every day and doing normal stuff.
Sending loads of love