We arrive late for our group meeting in Hanoi after flying in from Laos
We meet our tour guide Hung, who asks us to meet up in 5 Min's to go out for our group meal. Our new travelling companions are 3 girls from New Zealand, Gita, Tina and Tanya, who are friends and travelling together. Sue from Sydney Daniel from Perth,Dave from the northern territory, Marlenna and Martin a young couple from Denmark and Cecilia from Sweden. We all have a nice meal and a drink and briefly get to know one another
After breakfast we all meet up and walk Hoi chi Minhs City, where there is a war Museum, a house, where he use to live and a lake with beautiful gardens. Ho chi Minhs body was not there because it had been sent for its yearly restoration(Thank goodness)
Most of us went out to lunch together, after lunch Dave, Sue .Daniel , Emma and I sit on a corner of a street and drink really cheap home brewed beer( these corners are very popular in Hanoi) We meet later that evening to go to the water puppet show. The show is as it sounds puppets appearing out of the water. It is very cleverly done with great puppets live music and singers,but the seating is so squashy that even my legs go numb, and I'm not even tall.
We meet bright and early the next morning 7.30am check out of the hotel but leave our big rucksacks behind. We set off with our overnight bags and head for Ha Long Bay. Its about a 4hour journey. We arrive at the Bay and board our boat that is going to be our accommodation for the night.
The rooms are quite small, but clean with en-suite bathrooms.We have an amazing seafood lunch while we are sailing into the bay. The weather is beautiful, definitely a good place to be. We have lots of things to do swimming, kayaking and visiting a very large cave which involves walking up lots of steps. It has lots of stalagmite's and stalagtights and some very strange looking rocks...one looks like a large penis...and every one has a good laugh.
That evening we again have a great meal. Emma and I buy a bottle of vodka from a little boat that sails around selling all sorts of things of things, but we don,t drink too much for fear of falling over board. We all had a nice evening, listening to music, chatting and getting to know one another.
Breakfast is at 7.30, and sadly disappointing after our other two great meals. It consisted of cold toast with omelet with tea or coffee. We then leave the boat and the beautiful bay(would have been really nice to spend another day and night there). We arrive back in Hanoi and organise our selves for our train journey that evening.
Emma and I share a cabin with Sue and Dave (luckily no one snores too loudly or has smelly feet) We all take way to much food on the train and have a fun trying to eat it all.
I go sleep really early and sleep reasonably well. Emma parties in the Kiwi cabin with every one except me and Dave.They chat listen to music and dink cheap vodka.
Hung wakes us up about 7am. we leave the train and go to the hotel by taxi. We leave our bags in the hotel storage, have breakfast, omelet with cheesy triangle in the middle. We catch cabs into the citadel( which is the imperial city) We have an option to go round a market, but it wasn't very good. That evening we go for a royal banquet, where we all dress up as Vietnamese princess and princesses. The only couple in the group Matin and Marlenna were the King and queen. The meal was excellent, and we had free shots of rice wine, which was disgusting. Unfortunately Hung liked the shot and drank most peoples and ended up very tipsy. Then we all felt guilty for giving it to him.When we left its was pouring with rain, so we had to get a taxi back to the hotel.
Its poring with rain today, but we still all go on our motorbike trip, except Dave . We all have our own bikes and drivers. What an experience, its a great day and we all end up soaking wet. It has been raining for a couple of days so the rice fields have all over flowed and flooded the roads. we go through water about a meter deep ,so of course some of the motor bikes break down. Unfortunately mine was one of the first and I decided to wear my cowboy boots., so my driver had to let me take my boots off before i waded knee deep through the water. Then I jumped on the back of her Tinas bike with her until mine worked again. Our first stop was a Chinese covered bridge, where an old woman was telling fortunes. She told Emma that she was going to get married when she is 30 and have 3 kids. She told me that I was going to get married in the next year and have a baby( I DEFF HOPE NOT )Next we stop at lovers hill where we get a great view of the Perfume River ,Emma has a near miss and her and her driver nearly fall off there bike. Then we make our way to the Emperor's tombs, and while we are looking around the heavens open and we get as wet as humanly possible.Next stop is a convent for a vegetarian buffet lunch, which is very nice. We then head to the Tiger arena where the Elephants and Tigers used to fight. They used to drug the Tigers, so that the Elephants weren't scared of the Tigers in the war. As we were leaving the arena, Sue fell down all the brick stairs from the top. Luckily the bike drivers were excellent. They held a large plastic cover over her,so she didn't get wet, then carried her to shelter, where they cleaned and dressed all her cuts.Luckily her head was O.K, but she was covered in cuts and bruises and was very sore for a few days. Then we headed off for a boat trip on the perfume River, and the staff on the boat try to sell us clothes and bits and bobs. Our drivers picked us up when we get off the boat and take us back to the hotel. WE all shower then meet to go out for dinner. After dinner a few of us go out for a drink.
To day we head off to Hoi An by bus, with pretty winding roads. We have lunch on the beach and its feels just like home because its raining. While on the bus our tour guide Hung, tells us about his experiences with woman ( only there isn't too many) and he describes woman like rice ( well behaved ) or noodles (naughty). He makes us all laugh and we tease him for the rest of the trip. In Hoi An Hung takes us on an orientation walk to show us where all the good Taylor shops are. We walk along the river where the ancient town is. Its very pretty here, but every year the town floods six or seven times and the people have to use only the upstairs of the house. we stop to watch a show of l folk dancing with live music. We all go out to dinner separately. Six of us go off to a little restaurant, that isn't very good. Cecilia has live ants running around in her rice and it puts us off our meal.
Today is a free day for us to explore or order clothes from the shops. After breakfast Emma and I go off with Sue to help her choose her many new things she is having made. Then we wander round the town sightseeing and have lunch. Most of our group decide to go to a cooking class, so the three of us go to watch them cook. The class is actually very good and they make some delicious food. Emma goes back to the hotel, but Sue and I stay and the woman makes us some yummy food.We all stop off for a drink and a game of pool on the way home.
Emma and I went back with Sue to the Taylor's to see how all her clothes have turned out and I decide to have some combat trousers made. Emma and I have a Manicure and Pedicure at the Taylor's( pure luxury and very cheap). We have to go back later in the day to pick the clothes up.
We have a late start today and meet at 10.15 to catch our train to Nha Trang. We all take lots of food on the train as usual. Its a nice train journey and although its a day train we have compartments and beds. Our compartment is really cold so I go and sit with the Kiwi girls, Tina, Tania and Gita and Daniel the Aussie from Perth. We play cards and listen to music and at two o,clock decide its time to have a few drinks. We drink one and a half bottles of cheap (gut rot) vodka. we arrive in Nha Trang about 9.30pm and I go off to bed as soon as we get to our hotel.Emma and the rest of the group go out for a quick burger before bed.
After breakfast we all head off on a boat trip. We got off the boat to look round a small fishing island. Then have to get in small chonicles( round boats) back to our boat,I was allowed to row, great fun. The weather still isn't very good. We have a stop where we can snorkel, but the sea doesn't look to clean. Daniel, Dave and Martin swim, but don't stay in long because they feel things biting them (yuck). We have a nice lunch, noodles, morning glory. spring rolls. Then we stop off to go to a beach. There isn't much to do here and the weather is a bit cool. Some of us play volleyball and I'm in the winning team. We win tree games to nil, Dave is our star player.That evening Sue, Daniel, Emma and I go out for a Mexican meal, which is nice . While the others go to a sea food restaurant. We meet up after to go to The Sailing club , which is a restaurant and nightclub. Emma and I start by having cocktails, then we decide to have a buckets ( which was actually a jar there, but it is usually lots of alcohol, with a small amount of mixer) very lethal...I couldn't drink mine because it reminded me too much of the cheap vodka I had drank on the train the day before. I went back to the hotel, but left Emma there drinking with Daniel and Gita. By all accounts they all had a great time drinking lots of buckets and shots. Emma came home minus her shoes....
We had to check out of the hotel by 12, but i was going on another motor bike trip so I put my rucksack in the community room we were sharing. I left Emma fast asleep, I think she was suffering with a hangover.
Dave, Tina,Cecilia, Hung and I set off for our trip. It was a lovely sunny day, so a vast improvement on our last motorbike trip. Our first stop was to Long Son pagoda, where we visited the huge and impressive Buddhist tower. Then we headed out of the city to the rice paddies and to visit a Matt weaving family. The people here were very friendly, they were busy cooking there lunch and they gave us some to taste. Then we headed off to a local countryside restaurant for lunch were the food was great (especially the pancake rolls) there are only five of us for lunch, but they bring out enough food to feed an army. Next was a boat trip on the river. Next stop was at the City-lady-Temple Tower, where we could explore more about typical cham-ethnic tower remnant ,in Vietnam. Then we headed off to the highlight of the day, a mud bath, this was very relaxing, but I thought the water would have been a lot muddier. The water was very warm, then we had to sit with the mud on us to dry for 20 minutes before we could shower and go to the next hot tub. After there was a pool to relax in , but even this was warm.. We then went back to the hotel to meet up with the others before we caught our night train to HCM. We caught our night train at 9pm and we stayed with the same people as we shared with before, so I was with Emma , Sue and Dave. We all went to bed early because we were arriving in Saigon at 4.30am.
Loud speakers woke us up 10Min's before we had to get off the train. so a very sleepy bunch of people got off the train and a mini bus took us to our hotel. We had two rooms to share between us when we arrived at the hotel, and the 5 of us in our room squashed onto two beds and had a couple of hours sleep. We had a very busy day ahead, after breakfast we had a cycle tour around Saigon. After lunch we had a bus ride to the famous Cu Chi tunnels. These are a legendary military base of the Vietnamese communist ( VC) during the 1960s, where the Cu Chi people(Gorillas) lived in a labyrinth of intricate tunnels underground with several floors. It was very cleverly hidden to hide from the Americans and their bombs. The tunnels worked very well, they had traps all around the outside of the tunnels to trap any intruders. They even had an under water entrance where they ould jump into the water and enter the tunnels
Today we are going to the MeKong Delta, Tina ,Tanya and Gita decide not to come because they are going there on there own in a couple of days time. Marlenna ,Marten ,Emma and I have to check out of our hotel and take our bags with us, because we check into our new hotel to start the second half of our trip. We meet a nice young lady who is our guide for the day. We begin by cruising up the Delta river, our first stop was a coconut candy factory,. Where the sweets were delicious and we had to buy some. Then we had a lift by two motorbikes with trailers, where we had to wear crash helmets in case coconuts fell on us. next stop was at a persons house here they grew lots of exotic fruit,that we could taste,Pineapple, Dragon fruit, Grapefruit and Passion fruit. Then we set off again along very pretty windy roads to have lunch, Lunch was Elephant eared fish, fresh Pancake rolls(the fish was very strange looking, but tasted OK). We had a very nice waitress making them for us. Then we had some nice soup, followed by prawns ( Ema had pork). Our meal was finished off by some honey tea and honey wine...very nice. Next we were taken back to the boat by two long boats, where some of us wore Chonicle hats.
Four of us were dropped at our new hotel to have our group meeting, while the others went back to the hotel to get ready for our final dinner.
I had to go out and try and find a new plug for my computer as the other one had died on me. I got back just in time to change and meet our travellers to go on to Bangkok.