So I think I ran out of time on my lastblog after describing the peacefullness of Hue so I will start up from the bus ride from Hue to Hanoi. This ride was one that built some character. Dont get me wrong, the bus was super nice. It had "sleeping" chairs, a no shoe policy, and we even got a free water when we boarded. Unfortunately, just like the bus from Nha Thrang to Hue, the seats were not made for people over the size of 6 feet. Even the sleeping pill I took could not stop me from waking up every 45 mins or so to relieve my body of the pain being caused by my current sleeping position. The constant honking and swerving of the bus didnt help my cause much more.
We were quite excited to get off the bus, even though it was 5 in the morning and nothing was open in Hanoi yet. So after being royally ripped off by a taxi cab driver (note: not all taxi meters are created equal...get an estimate before you get in), we layed outside a hotel for a couple hours. Oddly enough, the pavement was more generous to my back than the bus seat.
We then booked a room in a "fake hotel" , which we kind of realized was fake, but were too tired to care. Just so you know, fake hotels are hotels that pretend to be other nicer hotels that are recommended in guide books. They go by the same name and look, but are definitely lower in quality once you step in. The price is the same though. Quite a good strategy I would say. They got us. Haha. Oh well.
Hanoi is pretty cool because you can walk to most of the places you would want to go. I found a street vendor that made 50 cent egg sandwiches just a couple steps outside our hotel. Needless to say, I think Derek and I supported her family for a few days. Also in walking distance of our hotel was the central lake with a island temple situated in the middle. It was here that Derek and I decided to post up and relax for a few hours one day. Then strangely, people (mostly girls) started taking pictures of us just sitting there relaxing. It was quite bizarre . Maybe they thought we were famous or something? I dont know but we savored the moment and gladly accepted any photograph requests. I still laugh when I think about it. Fortunately for our self self esteem, that was not the only place that happened. Im sure we are on quite a few asian facebook photo pages. Weird. Whatever. Oh yeah, while we were there, I am not quite sure, but I think that some guy tried to sell Derek his 4 yr old daughter. At least thats what it looked like to the both of us. It was funny.
Ha Long Bay
After Hanoi, we took trips to Ha Long Bay and Sapa. All of you have probably seen a picture of the limestone outcroppings in Ha long Bay. They are quite amazing in real life. Ill try to upload some pictures of them soon. This was a huge tourist attraction in Vietnam and seeing all the boats leave or enter the harbors was like the D-Day scene from Saving Private Ryan. They are quite fond of playing bumper boats there too. Im just glad I was not on one of those boats during a monsoon. Im sure they lose a few each monsoon season. All in all, the Ha long Bay tour was pretty cool
The hillside town of Sapa in northern Vietnam was our last stop in Vietnam before flying to Bangkok. Although the town and treks (hikes..they call them treks everywhere but the US I think) had become fairly touristy, we still had a great time. During our trek around the villages of Sapa, we saw a lot of awesome rice terraces, water buffalo, and "hilltop minorities". I quote that because a lot of the once self sufficient tribal villagers have now become a casualty of tourism. Everyone in and around Sapa lives off of tourism now. Even the little kids, who happen to look much younger than they actually are, try to sell use any and everything. Im sure my mom would probably be suckered into buying the entire village if she was there. One Sapa highlight of mine was joining in a game of "E Ah" at a village elementary school. The kids didnt know what to expect when I slowly figured out how to play this tag like game. But it wasn't before long that I was chasing kids around and they were furiously chasing me back trying to tag me.
Wow...thats all I have to say about this city. If you ever stay there, make sure you get a place with a good shower/pool and air conditioning because it is stinkin humid there. Bangkok is like every other major city in that it has terrible traffic and lots of street vendors. You can buy anything you like on the streets from t-shirts to prostitutes to pirated dvds. One night, we bought a few grasshoppers, frogs, and crickets to test out. I stopped at one of each. Derek decided to finish the entire bag.
Longing for cool place to relax before we left for Chiang Mai, we stumbled upon the biggest and nicest mall my eyes had ever beheld. It was amazing. They even sold Lamborginis, Porsches, and Rolls Royces on the 4th floor.
Now we are in Chiang Mai in northeastern Thailand. We are enjoying it so far. Today we talked with a monk for a couple of hours. We are well on our way to becoming buddist monks. We also had the best fruit shake of our lives. Tomorrow we take off into the jungle for a three day trek where we should be able to ride elephants and go rafting. We are quite excited....
Ill update my pictures soon. Maybe. Until next time..