Well, I know it's been a long time since i've updated this but the last month or so in Sydney i was working myself into the ground to get the funds ready for the next leg of the trip.So there wasn't anything exciting to report on.Apart from going to see Bob Dylan on my last night???which was obviously superb!
Seeing Dylan in Sydney was amazing and his supporting act, The Frames, were class.They took a bit of abuse from some idiot in the crowd but gave it back in a hilarious manner.As for Dylan, what can you say?The man is a legend and awesome live but his older stuff (the classics) he played to different music from what it's recorded to, which put a whole new spin on the songs.Took me a while to realise that it was happening, found myself singing the lyrics but not realising the song straight away.
Hanoi's a real hustle and bustle city and whilst we've been here we've been staying in the Old Quarter, which is pretty much the bacpacker district.The hotel (Thang Long Hotel) we've been staying at is a bargain at about 2.50 pound/night and i'd recommend it to anyone who gets here.Now i was expecting it to be hot here (about 33) only naivety would've stopped that but the humidity is the worse i've ever come across.3 showers, 2 changes of clothes and 1hr's afternoon kip a day intense!
The Old Quarter has everything on offer and most of it forced on you by bthe locals??.but my DVD collection is gathering some momentum.Each street caters for a different product/service, you've got 'food street', 'dvd street', 'shoe street', 'silk street', 'clothing street', 'bag street' etc etc.But with the humidity, air pollution and constant dodging of mopeds it's sweaty work.Luckily Vietnam offers some of the most nuclear coffee, which keeps me floating through the day.There isn't a whole lot to see or do in Hanoi, so we saw the War Museum and then looked into booking our train across to Sapa and then onto Halong Bay.
The journey to Sapa was fine, we were in a tiny 6 bunk room with an A/C and fan.It was travelling 2nd class but to be honest you don't really need a whole lot more for the overnight journey.Jaimie wasn't mad on it but fair play, she grinned and bared it and before long was fast asleep.
Before we left Hanoi, we went to the Water Puppet Theatre for an hour long show, which is well worth going to see for only 40,000 Dong (about 1.10 pound).The music and colours were superb and it proved to be a great way to leave Hanoi.They have a single string instrument, which gives the most deep mellow tone and I could've spent the hour just listening to that.
After getting off the train at Lao Cai, we had a short trip through the hills to Sa Pa, for our 3 days of trekking.The landscape around Sa Pa is beautiful; lush greenery, hills that reach a dramatic peak, rivers and waterfalls and rice shelves cut into the hills all around.A world away from Hanoi.The first day's trek was pretty easy only about 4 hours long and along the way we wre able to chat to the girls from the local tribes.They all found it hilarious that im younger than Jaimie but taller than her.We got a local village to Cat Cat and were invited into a house for some coffee.I stayed outside and played with the toddlers and puppies and soon they were pulling on Stitch to have a look.I showed him to them but it turned out to be a mistake.They thought i'd given him to the as a gift at it was impossible to get him back off them, i turned into a sucker for the look the young lads wre giving me.Fortunately Jaimie played tough and went back and got him off them to crying screams???the next day everyone in the village seemed to know about it but were understanding of the fact that i've had him 23 years and he's good luck for the trip.But on the next day Karma seemed to catch up with me for taking Stitch back.The day started with me being hit by a moped and ripping my trousers and ended with me being covered from head to toe in red dye.Word of warning??.don't ever swim in red cotton trousers that you buy from the street stalls, only going to end up looking like a lobster for a few days!The trek itself was amazing and a lot longer than the day before, which meant we got to see a lot more of the loacl viallages and countryside around.Sa Pa is a must for anyone coming here??.beautiful countryside and amazing people.
The next part of the trip was to Halong Bay, so called the 'Eighth Wonder of the World' and it is an amazing place.Like something from Jurassic Park with the rocks jumping vertically out of the water.Giant hill-like rock formations rising from the sea, covered in lush green bush.It's hard to describe what it's like sailing through the maze of water-ways but i could never get bored of it.Some people have said it's too touristy and there are a lot of westerners there but you'd be an idiot to miss it.That first afternoon, our Junk Boat (that we were staying on that night) anchored down in the middle of the rocks and for about 3 hours we were launching in off boats roof terrace and having a ball.Got my flips down to a tee but stopped the back flips after crushing something very valuable to me!
The next day we were onto Cat Bah Island, where we'd be for the night and were looking forward to chilling on the beaches.But before that we had a 3 hour trek that no one had told us about, so we were all there in out flip flops trekking up hills and sweating our brains out.We came across a few poisonous snakes on the trek and the largest most colourful spider i've ever seen.Dashes of red, blue, orange and purple made it stand out from everything else??..but it did send shivers up my spine, arachnaphobiafor you.Once we dumped ou things at the hotel, Jaimie and i rented a moped for the afternoon and went on a tour of the island, which is a beautiful place with all its beaches and greenery.So when we got back, we jumped into our beach gear and headed down to the beach to relax in the sun for a few hours.
So that's been the first week pretty much.Not a lot more to say.Heading off tonight for Hue and then moving onto Hoi An tomorrow evening.So i'll update this again in a few days time, hopefully with som photos of the some of the best coastline in Vietnam!Hope all's good with all but more importantly???hope Liverpool keep their strong start continuing!
May not have got the photos of Halong Bay up today (25 Aug) but will have them on in the next 48 hrs