Vietnam Vietnam Vietnam
First of all I will begin with a short description of Bangkok Airport (not Don Mueng); fracking massive! From the corridor leading down to the departure "lounge" I got a real snap shot of the transformer like duo tunnel that led on to me finding every designer shop a dude and betty could want. There was even a dragon to invite me in as a celebration of the Thai Kings birthday.
And then I arrived at Hanoi after a half an hour delay due to extreme thunder, lightning and rain. Hanoi was different to Thailand, my immediate Hanoi experience was probably the crazy driving I witnessed when in the 'Taxi-Dodgem' en route to Hanoi Hostel where I slept for two nights. Crazy and surprised I made it, but I did. On arrival at the Hostel guess what? …............. I met more people two French, one English and a Kiwi. Well Steve; the kiwi dude had just come from a 7 day 'Son Dong' cave (The Worlds Biggest and most recently discovered wonder of the world) visit that only cost the IT wizard $ 3000. Pocket money for me haha. He showed me the photo and I must say the views within the cave were incredible. Anyway that night we all went to grab some true Vietnamese food in which they brought a portable stove for us to cook at our own pace. This was great, I absolutely loved it; great tasting food leaving me enticed to experiment with more Vietnamese food in the next two weeks. Following the food was probably equally the best night out I have had since I have traveled around Thailand. I met some great people and some that I hope to stay in touch with after my time travelling here in SEA. Anyway, the next two days were just spent touring the city sweating my arse off with now no sea to jump into and rescue me from the just-about-bearable heat. National History Museum, Hoe Lo Prison, Kiem Lake and Tien market were probably the highlight for me. A city worth seeing but once you have seen it that I probably about it.
Heading north up to Sapa, home to 9 small villages and some amazing waterfalls and view points. So an 8 hour overnight train with 3 Vietnamese gramp's who understood everything I said even "How are you?" and probably one of the worst nights sleep's I have had since travelling was just about worth it. Silver Waterfall, Love Waterfall and Tramton Pass were the most memorable sights here along with the family I met on my first morning of arrival. They invited me to their table for a disjointed no-english conversation after Huong (Young Daughter) begged me for a photo because I was white :o And then her mum offered to pay for my crepe and Ginger Jasmine tea as a thank-you gesture; I nodded. Being so horizontally laid-back, I wasn't aware they would request a second and third to meeting after; once more in Sapa and then in their home town of Hanoi where I was going to return to for one night on transit to Halong Bay. Nevertheless, such a great family and will definitely stay in touch with Huong and help here with English if she follows up with the Skype invitation she so desperately wanted to send me. Sapa was great and so was the scooter we rented for sight seeing.
Halong - Cat Ba Island
The boat from Halong to Cat Ba island was absolute bliss. Amazing views with quarries surrounding the slow boat in all directions. It was like been on a boat full of Paparazzi, camera flashes were everywhere and rightly so. Also, I was now not alone anymore, my friend Jessica (Indonesian girl I met in Bangkok) was travelling with me for a few days which was cool; some one to bounce off when I had a rest from meeting countless amounts of new folk. A final thing to mention about Halong bay, although it is one of the wonder of the world, when you have seen it you have seen it so I wouldn't recommend anyone to visit Vietnam just for Halong bay alone.
The two days on Cat Ba island were cool too; nobody to please but ourselves. So we did just that and rented a scooter and ventured all the way around the island with stop-off's at Fort Cannon where the Vietnamese fired there artillery during the war, a few consecutive beaches (Co 1, 2 and 3) and at the football pitch/bike park where I got down with the locals and played some football. I loved this football experience, it was the first time I was able to mix in with the Vietnamese and not need to know there language. It was difficult enough getting to grip with the polish which I have been studying let alone all this colloquial language the welcoming locals were using. Throughout our two days here there was no electricity which was just my luck and so what did this mean; NO AIR-CON. Well I could have died when I heard the news and that this would be the case for the whole island due to maintenance over the next two days. Luckily though the electricity was powered on throughout the night so when 5 pm came, I was in heaven. Ahhhhhhhhhh.
Ho Chi Minh City & Bangkok - The Final Stop
Big city, crazier driving and shed loads of poachers waiting to haggle with me and reel me into a souvenir purchase. No thank you. We taxied off to 'Nam Cat Tien National Park', home to 102 species of mammal and 68 amphibian and god know how many specie of plant. Soon a we arrived, I was eager to go trekking for the afternoon and get down with the spiders, monkeys and all the other types of creature waiting to play with me. Oh I missed the one that fell in love with me. Actually, that a bit too hopeful - my blood!!! Leech's Leech's Leech's and more Leech's. The little s***s were everywhere in sight and being so vulnerable to the environment I never thought to use leech socks. Luckily I had a long pair of socks to rescue me unlike Jess, who manned it with only trainer socks. So the walk begun and two hours later after catching sites of only birds, spiders and tree's Jess was blood sucked three times and me once. They were not what I expected (big black leeches seen on TV), these had very thin small bodies, light brown in colour and clearly big bloody teeth to latch on with. After this experience Jess was not up for trekking again but, I managed to convince her with the leech socks and a tub of repellant which did just the job during the next day when we did a 10km trek to see crocodiles and didn't even see crocodiles hahahahaha. Worthwhile walk hey. At least I saw wild monkeys, spiders and other stuff. Makes a change to see them all in their natural habitat rather than being tortured at the zoo's in the small cages. #hateanimalcruelty. So along with a night safari the visit to the rainforest was probably one of my highlight of the whole travelling as I have always said to my parents I would love to live in the forest or at least spend a couple of weeks surviving there and this visit has only confirmed my life ambition. I will be doing it at some point. Love nature!!
And then Jess left me to go back to Indonesia after her year and one month of travelling. Great travel buddy and will be sure to stay in contact with her, hope she works out what she needs to do to get her sister and bro through their education. Proper caring and honest heart. Oh and cheers Jess for saying I winge haha. Our short time travelling just made me realise how I really wish Izzie was with me and had been travelling for the whole six weeks.
Back to Ho Chi Minh city and Bangkok for 4 days shopping and chilling. See you soon UK but I have not missed you one bit. Be ready for me leaving you next year for much longer!!
Love you all and lets hope I don't miraculously fly over Malaysia and get shot down like those unfortunate passengers because I am a Leeds University student as of September after all.