Hello there!! Hope you're ready for the next installment, been a while again, this time its been purely down to lazyness that i havnt updated before, but ive got a few hours to waste before our bus leaves tonight so i'll give you all a lil update!!
Carrying on from our last blog, i was a bit premature in believing i was on the mend, turned out i was far from it and later that day i was back to rejecting anything which touched my lips, and anything that did get past my lips was rapidly expelled at the other end!! So i ended up back in bed, disregarded the odd tablets the kind lasy had got me and the following morning we went out to get some professional advice!
We found a decent pharmacy where the guy spoke english (just about), and from a combination of broken english and some hilarious hand gestures describing my problems i was provided with 24 rehydration pouches, 12 bacteria replacement pouches and some more tablets for stemming the flow, he explained there was no need for antibiotics as my body would throw them out before they took effect, he drew a rather amusing diagram to explain the tablets journey in and then out of my body! I was instructed to drink 8 rehydration packages, each to be taken with 250ml of water, and 4 bacteria pouches, again to be taken with 250ml a day, and i was to eat bananas, and then noodle soup if i was doing well! I was struggling holding down a swig of water let alone 3 litres of it but i thought id give it a whirl! Illness aside we had sorted our next move, and the following day where catching the bus with tash and andy to Hue in Vietnam. This meant missing out on Vientianne in Laos, but was a cheaper and quicker option in Vietnam, and also due to my illness seemed the most appealing!
The following morning we set off for the bus, i stocked up on Diacalms, and we were thrown onto a bus which barely stopped to let us on! We were the only westerners on board, and Vietnamese Karoke was being played extremely loud! When i say load, imagine sitting in a car, putting on screechy Asian Karoke music and then turning the stereo up to FULL volume, it was painfull...and we were on this bus for 12 hours!! Luckily me and chloe found some comfort in our ipods, but tash and andy only had the salvation of toilet paper in their ears!! The music aside the bus was fairly comfortable and we struck up some sort of relationship with the old ladies around us, who helped us when getting off the bus by pointing out when we should be getting off! We think they were helping us also half way but not too sure, we stopped for food and drinks, everyone got fed except us and when the bus hooted to signal time to move everyone just got up and ran onto the bus, so we followed! I had run a head to safe the seats, as always with these buses there were atleast 15more people on the bus than seats so the seats were golden, when suddenly some old lady started screaming at me, and making odd gestures! I just looked blankly at her and shrugged and then glanced out the window at tash, andy and chloe who were making their way on, this nutty lady then charged out and started screaming at the other 3! The whole bus was staring at me and i had no clue what was going on, the old girls next to me then explained that we hadnt paid for our drinks, although it seemed neither had anyone else and told us what price it should be for the dirnks, outside they had worked out what was going on and paid the lady, unfortunately i couldn't get the message from the old girls to them in time and we paid over double!
This drama over we came to the border crossing, a relativly simple crossing, we checked out of Laos, walked 500metres across the border, checked in Vietnam, i thought it best to lie about my health on my entrance form, if i had ticked the box that ask if i had any nausia, sickness, diahrea then im sure i would have had to go the health screening room, which didn't look welcoming! We then passed through customs and got the toughest grilling we have received so far when crossing borders, but finally they accepted we were english, and that it was us in the photos in our passports, and after attempting to rip and tear our passports that they werent fake! After this we had a short 3 hour ride to Hue our destination!
We arrived in Hue, our first footsteps in Vietnam and were mobed by motorbike taxis offering to take us to our hotel, and for large amount of money, as there were four of us we said we wanted a taxi car, which they said there werent any, so we haggled them down to $3 each which seemed fair, when a taxi car drove past! Luckily andy was thinking quick and managed to flag it, and after a brief haggle managed to get him down to $10 for the 4 of us, again we thought a fair price. When we told our hotel how much we paid they laughed, we should have paid about 20000VND, about 60p! Lesson learnt though and we headed out for dinner, our first vietnamese meal... it was rank, fortunately it must have just been a bad restaurant as the food has been a lot better since!!
I still wasn't feeling 100% and this time headed out and got some antibiotics, these took hold within about 12hours and i was feeling much better the following day already!
The following day the four of us headed out for a general exploration of the city and the local area, and to get some toiletories etc which we needed! I also ate my first full meal in about a week...... a KFC!! Mmmm!! It was good to be eating again! Not a lot else occurred this day, we headed out in the evening for some food and drinks, and i enjoyed my first beer in about a week!! Another first was that our hotel was one of the nicer places we had stayed, and we had a bath tub for the first time since leaving england, I had my first bath in over three months (don't worry ive been showering...most days!!) and the amount of dirt left in the bath afterwards was incredible! I was a dirty boy, i had a bath everynight whilst at the hotel and cleaned my act up!!
Next day was our culture day, we got up early and jumped on board some Cyclos, these are a chair attached to the front of a bike, and some lovely chappy cycles you around the city, a lazy way of seeing the city, but apparently the only way to see the city! The cyclo riders said as it was the start of their new year celebrations we could decide the price at the end.. we knew this was gonna cause problems but went along with it! We took in the sites of the city, the citadel, some pagodas, some random garden in the ancient sector and had a thoroughbly enjoyable day! When we came to get out our rides, we decided to pay them 100,000VND each, about $5 which seemed fair, as expected they threw the money back in disgust and demanded nearly $25 each!! We chucked in about another $2 each and walked away, they didn't follow us so they were just trying their luck! Was a shame though to finish on an argument with the drivers, as throughout the day they had been in high spirits and made the day really enjoyable, but at the end of the day they just want our money!! We planned to go for an evening swim at a nearby hotel to cool off but ended up having an afternoon nap, before heading out for some dinner in the evening!
The following day was a day of relaxation, we went to a nearby hotel and sat around the pool all day, we didn't do much else, but was nice to have a day of nothing! In the evening we headed out and got a wee bit tipsy.. twas our last night with tash and Andy, we found somewhere selling silly cheap cocktails, and the rest is history!
The following day, again not a lot really occurred, Tash and Andy headed off just after mid day to head south and we were catching a flight north the next day, so we saw them off, plodded around the town a bit, and then in the evening we got takeaway pizza and sat in our room watching films! We had a fairly decent hotel room and thought we would take advantage!!
Next day was an early start to catch a flight up to Hanoi, we managed to get a cheap flight which took 55mins, which was cheaper than a 15hour bus ride.The flight was easy, we turned up, checked in, boarded an almost empty plan, landed 55mins later and got a taxi to Hanoi old town where we found somewhere to sleep! We got a massive shock getting off the plane though, we had just come from temperatures of 35degrees and when we stepped out we were hit with temperatures nearer 10degrees, it was freezing up north!! We dropped our bags and went off exploring the city wrapped up in what warm clothes we did have! You may well have heard the stories about vietnam and scooters, it was worse than i could ever expect, we even passed about an hour just sitting in a bar watching all the scooters somehow get by without crashing! It was the day before TET, the biggest date in Vietnam, their New Years, already most shops were closed around the town and we were informed for the next 3 days there would be nothing open, we wouldn't even be able to find anywhere to buy water so we booked ourselves on a 3 day tour of Halong bay leaving the next day! That evening we went down to the lake in the centre of the city for the fireworks at midnight, it was cccrazy, must have been literally millions of people crammed around the lake and city centre, when midnight struck there was a massive cheer and the fireworks kicked off.Unfortunately we had picked the one spot in hanoi where you couldn't see the fireworks through the trees, we would have moved but the thousands of people around us already were stampeeding or a better view and so we just stood out the way and let them pass! Once the fireworks ended there was a mad rush of scooters and crowds in all directions and we somehow managed to work our way back to the hotel!
Following day we got picked up for our tour, we started with a 3 hour ride to Halong City, where we then boarded our boat, which would be our home for the night, and which was probably also the nicest room we have stayed on so far, was very luxurious on board. We got fed a buffet lunch with the group and then the boat set off.Sadly the weather wasn't great, was drizzling the whole time so couldn't go and sit outside on the boat, and there was a low lying fog which really imparred the visibility.All this aside though it was truly amazing, miles and miles of these limestone rocks jutting up from the water, covered in lush green bushes and trees.We had a tour of a couple of the caves formed in some of the rocks, and got to Kayak around for an hour or so, which was good to get up close to the islands/rocks. In the evening we were fed again, had a few drinks with some of the guys on the boat and then retired to our room for the night.
In the morning we were woken early for breakfast, and then those of us on the 3 day tour were moved over to another boat, whilst the other guys made their way back to hanoi!The boat made the 2 hour journey through the Kastes (i think that was the name for all the rocks) to a place called Cat Ba.Here we were to do a couple of hours trekking before being taken to a hotel in the town for the night.I stupidly had only brought flip flops and the hours trek up the mountain, when it had been raining for days proved pretty tough, and annoyingly, once we all reached the top, what was probably a nice view was ruined by the thick fog which started about 2metres in front of us! Dissapointed we headed down, and to make matter worse we found another route we could have taken which was paved and with steps, on the way up we had climbed up sheer rock fronts! We made our way back to the bus and were carted off to Cat Ba which me and Chloe were looking forward to as we had planned on coming to stay here for a few nights, sadly TET was in full swing and nothing was open, and the town was dead.With nothing to do we had some food and then spent the evening in our room watching movies, something we found out the following morning the other 20 people on the tour had done too.Was a shame as Cat Ba looked like it could have been nice, but due to TET we saw nothing...also it was freezing!!
Final morning was the journey back, we got picked up from the hotel and taken to the pier to get back on the boats! And the low lying fog had cleared...it was still freezing cold but we could see more than a few metres in front of our noses, this made the journey home enjoyable as we could take in the real beauty of Halong bay. We also stopped to jump aboard a small motor boat which took us around some of the Kastes and through some of the caves, which was also rather spectacular!! We arrived back home about 5pm, checked into our hotel and headed out to find somewhere to eat, and to arrange our travel back down south and to the warmth!!
We booked a bus for the next evening, and spent the day doing the tourist tour of hanoi, going to see the museums and temples etc which we hadnt seen yet, and taking in some culture and history! In the evening we caught a sleeper bus down to Hoi An where we are currently sitting as i write this! The bus was fairly comfy and we both managed to sleep most the way, we had a small drama when we had to change buses in Hue, we couldn't find out where to go, and were finally told we had to wait for the 1pm bus, it was 6.30am at the time and the thought of hanging around wasn't too appealing. Luckily we eventually found someone who managed to get us on the apparently already full 8am bus for the final leg of our trip. We've come to learn there is no such thing as a full bus in Vietnam, theres always somewhere to stick a plastic stall and sit!
We arrived in Hoi An, checked into a hotel and went out to explore what is probably the prettiest place we've been too.The old town sits on the river and is full of old museums, and houses you can look around, and is full of art galleries and the world famous Vietnam Tailors. We just took the first day to get our bearings and then had an early night after our journey.
Our second day we headed off for a morning walk through the streets, did a bit of shopping, chloe decided to have a dress fitted and made, and then we sat and took in the relaxing vibes of Hoi An with a few beers!We tried to book a bus down to Nha Trang which is our next stop, but due to the end of the TET holidays we werent able to get a seat untill Monday, so we had a few days to burn still!
Next morning we headed off to pick up Chloes dress but we told it wasn't ready yet, so we got some bikes and took a cycle down to the beach, was still rather nippy and really windy on the beach but was good to see some surf, first time the seas havnt been completely still! We sat with our book for a couple of hours before returning and picking up Chloes dress! In the evening we rented a DVD player form reception and went and picked up a couple of cheap DVDs from the streets and chilled in!
Next morning we packed our bags and moved to a cheaper hotel just round the corner, saving ourselves a few dollars and spent the day touring the museums and old town houses and did our culture/history duties again, in the evening we had some grub and a couple of drinks and then headed back to our room and watched some good old football! Or some s*** old football, caught the man city liverpool game which was dog!!
Today we are trying to have a catch up day with some photos, although im afraid i am giving up, its been two hours since i started trying to upload photos to facebook and still not got one up, therefore i apologise, but there probably wont be any photos on facebook or the blog site untill we get chloes laptop out here in about a month! I've wasted many hours over the last few weeks trying and finally given up, chloe is having more luck on the truprint site so you can see them all there.
Anyway we are off in a few hours to Nha Trang, a beachy resort which will hopefully provide us with some sun which we have been missing for a few weeks now L, we are also catching up with Tash and Andy again who are down there already, only been a couple of weeks without them but will definitely be good to catch up with them! They have reserved us a room, and i believe organised a couple of dives for when we get down there which we're really looking forward to....theres also a waterpark down there...excitement!!!
Hope all are well, i keep promising to myself to try and update this more often but don't rely on me keeping that promise, sorry!
Enough for now!
Sam and Chloe