Sorry I havent written for a while, I have been on the go constantly for the past fortnight!
I first arrived in north Vietnam in Hanoi, the north of Vietnam. I thought I wasn't going to survive the taxi journey from the airport. The system appears to be the at a roundabout everyone goes at the same time and prays they make it through (well I was praying anyway). When I got to the hotel I had to jump out of the taxi as the road was so narrow I was holding up about 20 motorcycles who were sounding their horns to speed me up a bit. I finally got to relax when I got to my room, it was like luxury! A big double bed and clean bathroom. I had a cheeky nap then went to meet the group I would be touring through Vietnam with. There was a mix of people I. The trip but I probably spent most of my time with a lovely young Austrian couple and two friends from Australia. The next morning we were on a coach trip to visit hang long bay. We arrived and got on a boat and went towards the 3000 odd limestone islands that make up the bay. It is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and it is easy to see why. The boat is complex dwarfed by these tall completely vertical islands, white cliff edges a d green vegative tops. The local legend about the islands is that the emperor long ago asked the dragons to help him win a battle against his enimies, after they had done that the dragon and it's young landed in the bay and the islands you see are the plates on the dragons back. We had lunch on the boat and went on top to take in the spectacular view. We landed on one of the islands and went to visit one of the many caves hidden in them. It was huge and had been artifically lit up many different colours which almost made it feel like an underground club room. After this we went for a kayak on the water and ducked under one through a completely secluded pool which was beautiful, you could hear the monkeys in the trees above. Finally after getting out of the kayaks we jumped into the water which was so salty it required no effort to just float next to the boat. This may explain how the locals got their boats, made out of concrete, to float. We watched the sunset behind the islands and had dinner and chatted over a few drinks. The next morning we were up early to climb to a small temple on top of one of the islands. It was hard going in the sun but the view was amazing, and the motivation of the beach at the bottom made coming down easier. We had more food then drover to catch the over night train to hue.
The train was not as comfortable as the one in Thailand had been but I made sure I had a full belly and slept. This train was not 7 hours late which I was relived about and we arrived in hue in the afternoon. Feeling the strain from the journey myself and the oz girls had a neck and shoulder massage at the local parlour. we then just walked around and explored the city. We decided to have a quiet dinner opposit the hotel when we saw lots of locals on their bikes all crowing around some music. We though nothing of it until it came closer to us. This was when our guide informed us that it was a Buddhist holiday and local teenagers would do dances in costume (very much like Chinese dragon ones) and masks to scare away and demons from the shops and hotels. The business would hang some money from a string and the dancers would climb a pole or be lifted up on a platform to get the money. The dance was amazing a d very acrobatic they came up to us as we were eating but not for tips but trust in celebration. It was amazing to watch and funny too. Just as suddenly as the noise and celebration came it went on to the next place with hundred of locals crammed on their bikes in tow (6 was the most I saw on one motorbike!).
The next day we went off further south to central Vietnam to a small town called Hoi an. The first thing we did, as being with aussie travellers was to find a bar and watch the afl (Aussie football league) final. It was interesting to watch and the uniforms and slightly smaller than most sports which ment I could appreciate the game without knowing all the rules. We walked around and go our bearings of the city. The next day I went to the local market and got some fruit and we went to one of the shops were they make everything for you custom to fit. I got some shorts and the girls got some clothes and some shoes made. We had a few free days in this little city and I spent my time going in the little cafe having some food, doing a little shopping and having some drinks. There was a small river with a number of different style bridges to look at and at night, because of the festival people were putting little lanterns to float down which looked beautiful. There were plenty of great places to eat and we often all went out as a big group which was fun. On our last day their we went for a cycle to the nearby beach and relaxed there, it was nice to be on a bike again!
We Caught a flight to south Vietnam to Siagon. I thought the traffic was bad in Hanoi but this was another thing altogether. They say that 1 in 2 people own a motorbike in this city. They ride on the pavements and have no road markings, if there are lights no one pays any attention. The advice to crossing a road in this big cit was to to walk but not stop. Just walk across the road in faith that they would go around you, a unconforting yet effective piece of advice. It was here that was went to the war museum which was difficult to see and learn about. We went to the Chu chi tunnels and learnt about the locals InThe Vietnam war.
On our last day in Vietnam we went on a boat trip on the Mekong delta river, saw the floating villages and how the locals used it for trade etc, we had some food And visited a traditional Vietnamese food factory. It was a few people and they showed us how they made rice wine, toffe and sweet rice cake things. The rice wine is a little deceptive, tasting and being more of a spirit than wine but the sweet treats were tasty.
We had a big meal to say our goodbyes and welcome a view who would be traveling with me through Cambodia and went to the local market.
That's about it for Vietnam, I will write about cambodia shortly.