Hello everyone. We are updating the blog to let you all know what we have been up to for the past couple of weeks. We have been really busy so have not had time to sit down and write. We are currently sitting in an Irish pub in Karon, Phuket, Thailand where we are spending the last couple of weeks of our trip relaxing before fliying home.
This evening we went to a well known backpackers restaurant where there is writing done by travellers all over the wall. We wrote on the wall- G Adventures Bond March-April 2012. After a few buckets and card games we went on to a couple of bars in Hue. Scott decided he wanted to ride a Cyclo himself and paid a guy to use his.
We didn't have much planned today except for going out to lunch and then getting some food for the long journey we had in the evening. We all got a takeaway pizza to have for dinner and went to the train station for a 12 hour journey to Hanoi at 3pm. There had been a landslide on the track earlier that day so we had a slight delay, only an hour. The sleeper train was alright it had fresh bedding and no sign of any nasties. At 10pm we were all feeling tired so went to bed and were woken up at 4am to get off the train. We then got straight onto a mini bus for a 4 hour trip to Halong Bay. We just went straight back to sleep on the bus.
Halong Bay 04-04-2012
We arrived at our hotel in Halong Bay and had a couple of hours to freshen up before our boat cruise in the afternoon. Our hotel was right on the bay and when the sky was clear it was a really nice view. At midday we went to the harbour which was full of tourists and what seemed like thousands of junk boats. We boarded our private boat which was just for the 10 of us. It was really nice and we were served a seafood lunch as we started the cruise around the bay. For an hour we cruisedthebay, admiring one of the wonders of the world. We stopped at a fish farm for a bit, we had seen a lot of these already so took the opportunity to take some nice photos. We the headed towards the two famous rocks of Halong Bay, know as the 'two chickens'. We couldn't quite see the resemblance though. After that we went to some caves which our tour guide took us in. The caves were huge but slightly ruined by the multi coloured lights and the fact that they had concreted the ceiling to make it safe for tourists to walk through. We cruised back to the harbour 4 hours after leaving and went back to the hotel. We went to a Vietnamese restaurant that night, one of the few restaurants nearby. Our guide Bond told us not to go to any clubs that night. Later we played a prank on him that one of the girls got arrested in a club. It was rather funny as he fell for it.
After a 4 hour drive from Halong Bay we arrived in the city of Hanoi. It was very busy here and the pavements were so full of bikes and stalls that you had to walk on the road trying to avoid getting hit by motorbikes or cars. We went straight out to the Old Quarter of Hanoi where he had lunch. I had the best meal I have had in Vietnam; cinnamon chicken. In the afternoon we walked around and went to the big market where Scott decided he would ditch his backpack :( and brought a North Face holdall instead. He needed something bigger to fit in the two tailored suits he had made in Hoi An. That evening we went to a bar called Why Not? Downstairs they had a Scottish band playing things like Kings of Leon, they were really good. Upstairs they had lots of cushions to chill out on. It was our last night as a group of 10 as two of the guys were leaving the next morning leaving just Scott and Bond as the only guys. After a couple of whiskey buckets Scott fell asleep and I had to wake him up when everyone was going back to the hotel.
Everyone was feeling a bit fragile the next day so we had a lay in and then went to KFC for lunch. After that Scott and Bond went to a PS3 rental shop for a few hours. It seemed like nobody in Vietnam owned a playstation as there were rental shops everywhere. For dinner that night we went to a restaurant where we had a set menu of different Vietnamese dishes. It was a nice way to end our time in Vietnam. After dinner everybody apart from Scott and Bond went to Hanoi's Water Puppet show. It's a traditional show and was ok. I wouldn't rush to see it again.
Flight to Vientiane, Laos 07-04-2012
We left for the airport after breakfast for our flight to Laos at midday. It was only a 50 minute flight and we were flying with Vietnam Airlines. The plane was really nice and had the most leg room we have had of any plane. It also wasn't full so we had three seats to ourselves. After the long coach,train and plane journeys we have had a 50 minute flight was like a bus ride. When we got to Vientiane airport we had to apply for our Laos visa. Which was $35 and the easiest visa we have had to get. We were only staying at Vientiane for one night before heading to Vang Vieng the next day. We got to the guesthouse we were staying at and dropped our bags off. For lunch we went to a cafe called Joma which sold he most amazing sandwiches and pizzas. We then headed out to visit some of the local temples. We went to see the Laos version of the Arc De Triomphe and then got a tuk tuk back to the hotel. Most taxis and tuks tuks give you a price to where you want to go which is double what you should pay. If you're persistent you will always get the price you want.
Vang Vieng 08-04-2012
In the morning we got up early and went to Joma to get a takeaway lunch for the bus journey we had today. After 4 hours we arrived in Vang Vieng. It was really hot and sunny, we had missed the sun as Vietnam was constantly covered in cloud. We were staying in little huts which reminded us of the ones in Fiji. We went for a walk and there were a lot of restaurants, bars and shops. Most of the shops were selling tubing clothing which is the main attraction in Vang Vieng, Bond also warned us not to buy anything on a menu that says 'happy' as this means that they have drugs in them. Most places sold happy shakes and even happy burgers. There is also a hospital in Vang Vieng, we saw a lot of tourists being dropped off at the hospital with injuries from tubing, mainly cuts on their feet. In the afternoon we went to a hotel next door that had a nice swimming pool and loungers and we stayed there all afternoon. For dinner we went to a restaurant by the river and had a BBQ. We then went shopping, where everything was quite cheap. We decided to go back to our room to drop off our shopping, we walked in and Scott said to me 'Don't freak out!' There was a cockroach on the bed and about 7 more around the room. I stood and pointed them out while Scott killed them. We went back to the bar and told Bond who replied 'oh s***' and went back to the hotel to spray our rooms with bug killer. At midnight we went back to the room and we took the hotel guy in with us to check the room. There were a few dead on the floor but still a few on the walls. I have never seen cockroaches that big! The guy killed them with his bare hands and threw them outside. That night we slept with the light on and in a mosquito net.
Vang Vieng 09-04-2012
The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel, the same guy that had killed the cockroaches with his hands was serving our breakfast! Thankfully we were moved to a new room with no cockroaches. We were going tubing in the afternoon so had an early lunch and then went to the tubing office. They take money for the tube and a deposit also which you get back if you return the tube by 6pm. They write a number on your hand which is your receipt. A guy then loaded the tubes on top of the tuk tuk and we got in. The start of the tubing was about 20 minutes up a bumpy road. We got there, crossed a bamboo bridge and sat at the first bar. Basically tubing consists of going down the river and stopping at bars along the way. The brave also do the rope swings and slides that the bars have but the water isnt very high and a lot of people hurt themselves on the rocks below the water. One of the bar girls told us that most people don't actually rent a tube and just got to each bar by walking along the river, which doesn't sound as fun. After the bar we got into our tubes and headed down the river. Along the way the bar workers will try to get you into the bars by throwing plastic bottles on the end of string at you to grab. The current wasn't very strong so you had to paddle a little to get anywhere. There were a few funny/ scary moments where there were a lot of rocks and the water was fast. We got stuck on rocks a few times. We stopped at the last bar on the river called The Last Bar of course. When we left we had to get back into our tubes which is hard as the hole in the middle is big and one of our friends fell right through and cut her leg. We contined down the river until we saw a tuk tuk and got out so they could take us back to the office before 6pm. Thankfully neither of us got injured but we were careful not to do stupid things. It was fun though!