Sorry guys for not keeping up to date on the Blog... I told you that I am pretty bad at this.
Well I will start in Hanoi, as that is where we last left off.
Marc and I had a great 3 days in Hanoi, after we got over the Hotel Bandits.
On our first day we have walked what feels like all the streets in the old quarter.
We went to Ho Chin Mihn Mausoleum; this is where you can see his body and the changing of the guards. We however missed both of these but we were there.. (It counts)
On our second day we went for a long walk around the lake where there are supposed to be famous turtles.. They are special in the way that if you see one you will have great luck for a year.
We did not see any. (They are a myth, I think)That night we saw the traditional water puppets at the famous Municipal Water puppet theatre. Marc loved the music. I did not really enjoy it.
Third day we sorted out how we were going to Sapa and Halong Bay. I can recommend Handspan Adventure Travel (HAT) on Ma May Street in the old quarter.
They are very friendly and have great advice to help you. They are a little more expensive then the cheaper travel agents you see all over, but it is true you pay for what you get. Remember that line. It can be very true.
We left for Sapa on an over night train on the 8th Jan. It leaves Hanoi around 10pm and gets in at 5:30 to Lai Chau, then you need the get a bus to Sapa town. (Around 1 hour trip) When we got there it was about 4 degrees. Once we checked in with the Hanspan office in Sapa we meet with our guide Tanh. We had breakfast and then checked out our bikes. (Yep you herd right Mountain Bikes) We decided that this option would be better then the trekking option most travelers do. Why? Because you can go further and see more things, and yes I did fall off my bike in a rice patty. We did what they call a home stay in a village where the Tay People live.
They are beautiful people, Very friendly.
Our home stay was not what I expected at all.... I thought it would have been worst then camping.. But I was way off. The Tay family that we stayed with had built a very comfy stilt house for their guest. It had real beds and warm blankets. The food was amazing. The next day was our guide Tanh's Birthday. So our host mum (Lai) made us a birthday cake, I was very impressed.
That was our last day of mountain biking and I did not fall off.
Tanh our guide was very impressed at my skills for a first timer. He said that he had some where they showed them the trail and they cried. I did almost cried after I fell in the rice patty. Was not a good birthday present. We spent 1 extra night in Sapa to explore what everyone talks about. We stayed in The Royal View Hotel, Very nice rooms and great bathroom with a big bath tub to clean after not showering for 2 days.
Sapa is an... That’s say interesting place, in my first hour of checking into our room I herd a dog get killed for dinner. That was not a good start.
Once I overcame that and had a nap, we had dinner at one of the oldest established restaurants call the Mimosa, great food at reasonable prices. Our next day was spent getting lost in all the streets of Sapa. (You can not really get lost most of the streets there loop around). We walked the local markets, got haggled by the H'mong tribes that walk after you saying (YOU BUY FROM ME) over and over again. They are mostly very young girls and they are very cute at first, but it does not take long for that to wear off. The older ladies hassle the men to buy Hash and Opium from them they say (YOU LIKE TO SMOKE, I HAVE FOR YOU).
That evening we were back on the over night train to Hanoi we left at 9pm and got in at 5am. We had breakfast and waited till 8am to catch the bus to Halong Bay for the over night Junk boat.
The ride from Hanoi is about 3.5 hours. We get to the Bay and our boat is waiting. I was really looking forward to this part. We hopped aboard the boat. We choose a small boat as there were only to be 8 people. There are other boats that can have up to 36. So it was worth the extra $30 to upgrade. We meet all our follow travelers over our beautiful seafood lunch, there was a couple from Sydney (Katrina and Dave) they are originally from Qld. A older couple from Poland (I can not remember their names as they were hard to say, Could be Berta and Yarnish) She was a doctor and Yarnish is a miner who is working in far Nth QLD and then there was Mathiew (French) and Sonia (Spanish). They were all very nice.
The boat was beautiful & rooms were bigger then I thought.
It was always over cast while we were in the bay, But you could just imagine in summer. We went for 2 great walks (all up stairs) on the Lime rock formations.
And now we are back in Hanoi planning our next move. We are thinking of going to HUE, either flying or on an overnight train.
Will keep you more informed soon...
Love and Kisses
Emma and Marc
PS to Check out out photo's so far click on Author and go to more photos.. We look forward to your coments