Chuc mung nam moi people!Happy new year!We are writing from Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, on new year's eve - Chinese/vietnamese new year ('tet') that is!We are entering the year of the dragon so we are told it should be a strong and prosperous year for us all - fingers crossed!It has been so exciting watching the people of Hanoi prepare for this evening, cleaning their homes manically, decorating literally everything with flowers and josticks and buying peach blossom or kumquat trees to take home (the 'tet' equivalent of a Christmas tree - EVERYONE has one!)Make sure you have a look at the video we have put on of how tree transfer is commonly done on a scooter!!
Since our last blog we have been double busy!We spent four days on the island of Phu Quoc for some real chill out time, just reading and enjoying the occasional cocktail!?!However, amongst the amazing sunsets (check out the photos) and unbelievable seafood (choose your fresh squid, caught that day and have it grilled with lime - yummy!) we once again jumped on a scooter of our own and headed to the north coast.The journey was more than a bit uncomfortable on the backside after an hour of very unfinished Vietnamese roads but the scenery at the deserted beach we went to was more than worth it.In two hours of dozing in the shade (still a stifling 32 degrees with 75% humidity) we saw only 5 other people.A little piece of heaven under the palms!
From Phu Quoc it was up to Hanoi, business class!Oh yeah!In fact, we had no option, as all economy flights for a week either side of tet were booked up, since the whole country goes on the move to see friends and family!Nevertheless, Nat was particularly loving the leg room (see the ecstasy on her face in the photos) and what is not to like about free drink, decent food, a business lounge to wait in then reading Anna Karenina (or A Thousand Splendid Suns for Nick) for two solid hours in a chair built for a giant!Beautiful!
Despite the cold and rainy weather in Hanoi, we have been loving exploring their capital - London it ain't but it has so much character and epitomises the Vietnamese city life style!We headed to the Temple of Literature to discover where Vietnam's old school literati found their inspiration and we visited Hoa Lo Prison, where historically political prisoners were kept but where, in the Vietnam war, American pilots who were shot down in Northern Vietnam were detained (Senator John McCain among them).We have seen the slightly Madam Tussauds-style corpse of Ho Chi Minh in his huge concrete mausoleum (lucky enough not to hit Hanoi in 2 of the months when he is shipped to Russia for 'maintenance' - with Lenin's embalmers no doubt!) and have, naturally, continued to enjoy the amazing food.A bowl of beef noodle soup followed by a delicious cake is enough to keep even the hardiest travellers extremely happy!
We are off to Halong Bay in north-east Vietnam tomorrow (23rd Jan) for our last stop here before heading into Laos on 26th Jan.We think the area may have been used in a James Bond film at some point or another (Google it and you will see what we mean??) and are really looking forward to a bit of tai chi, squid fishing and kayaking whilst being based on our Chinese junk boat for 3 days.
As we get to the end of our first stop on our trip, we are just about getting used to travelling as a way of life, remembering that this isn't just a holiday where we have to cram something into every second to get our money's worth, and we feel lucky every day.Travelling is definitely a way of life that suits us (Kate, yes of course 4 holidays this year are necessary, not just desirable but essential - take note Rob!) and as we leave the year of the rabbit, our message to all of you is 'unleash the dragon'!! xxx