A Travellerspoint blog

Vietnam - Ha Long Bay

Written by Coralie

sunny 31 °C

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So, our first trip in Vietnam was to Ha Long Bay, where 3000 or more incredible limestone islands rise from the waters...it's a UNESCO world heritage site and words simply cannot do it justice. The islands hide away secret caves which we were able to explore on kayaks and by small boats. Our home for the 36 hours we were there was a 'junk' (boat) called Dream Voyage - we breathed a deep sigh of relief when we got on board and were thankful that we'd booked a 'second class' boat rather than third...it was perfectly nice, until we got to bed and found cockroaches in our room and an earwig in tom's bed! ha ha! We got to Ha Long Bay after a 3 1/2 hour bus journey, got on the boat and started to make our way towards the biggest cave, Heavenly Cave - it was HUGE! and there were stalagmites/tites everywhere - it was really amazing to walk around in and we were in awe as to the size of it. We then made our way further into the islands where we got on a small boat which took us around to see some caves and a small 'fishing village' (photo above). They live here all year around and lead an extraordinarily hard life, despite their beautiful surroundings. They even have dogs living on these tiny floating houses!

For the first time since being out here, we finally met some other people as well...there was a group of 4 Americans with us on the boat and we had a great laugh with them! Everyone else slowly made their way to bed after dinner and the 6 of us sat on the top of the boat, drinking bottle after bottle of Tiger beer, listening to music, taking in the view as the sun set and generally putting the world to rights! It was a great laugh and good to sit around and find out what they had done and where they'd been. They were crazy and great fun! They're currently working in a school up in Bangkok so we'll hopefully hook up with them when we get there.

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The following day, we then made our way back to Ha Long Bay town - Tom and I completely forgot to put on any sun cream (our malaria pills make our skin much more sensitive to the sun but this slipped our memories) , the result being that we arrived, both very red indeed- I have the most giant panda eyes and Tom's back is sore...not ideal with 2 days of trekking with a backpack ahead...

Anyway, back to Ha Long Bay town where we had some lunch - the boys wanted to find cobra to eat - there is a tradition here where you eat a cobra and take the heart out, whilst it's still beating - you put it in a glass of rice wine and then drink it in one...thankfully, they couldn't find anywhere although it would have been hysterical to see.

We then made our way back to Hanoi - having had such a peaceful 2 days in the bay, it was such a shock getting back here to the madness that is this city. We said a sad farewell to the Americans and spent our last evening in Hanoi relaxing, contemplating and eating pizza!

Posted by tomcoralie 02:22 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Vietnam - Hanoi

Written by Tom

semi-overcast 30 °C

After a short but hungover flight from Hong Kong we arrived in the capital of Vietnam...Hanoi. We got picked up at the airport by the driver from the guesthouse we are staying in. On the way into Hanoi Old Quarter where the guesthouse is we were amazed or should I say scared at everyone's driving. There seems to be no central white line, no traffic lights at all and at every junction no-one gives way to anyone and everyone beeps their horn every 10 seconds. This made us think we were going to crash numerous times on the one hour journey. Once we had checked in to a nice room we went out for dinner at a nearby reastaurant called Hanoi Garden. The food was delicious but we made the rookie mistake of over-ordering. After dinner we crashed early (a bit sad) but we had had late boozey nights every night for almost a week.

The next day we wandered the streets of Old Quarter and learnt how to cross the road. As you can see from this photo it is not an easy task and you kind of just go for it and hope they swerve around you.
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For breakfast we had 'nem' which are amazing Vietnamese spring rolls. We then took in a couple of temples, walked all the way around the main lake and visited a 3-storey market which was basically full of junk.

For dinner we went (via embarrassingly touristy cyclo) to a recommended place called Bar 69 and had more 'nem'. A spot of bar crawling / searching then ensued as we tried to find 'the Toilet Pub'. It was supposed to be very cool with bottles of spirits displayed in urinals. However it didn't exist where it was supposed to be. We evetually stumbled across a place called 'the Loo Pub' but after a quick look inside made a sharp exit, it was totally empty. We then found another much better place and happily drank great tasting local beers (they taste like Kronenbourg or Stella) for about 25p a pint.

The next day (Monday) it was up early and off for a 2 day trip to Ha Long Bay 140km away.

Posted by tomcoralie 06:07 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Hong Kong

Written by Coralie

After a somewhat emotional goodbye at the airport, we were finally off....well, that was after they told us they had to change one of the wheels on the plane - start as we mean to go on! We landed in HK after our 12 hour flight and went straight to a friends (Sabeena and her husband Kris) flat who kindly put us up for 2 nights. Dumped the bags and then darted out to see the oldest temple in HK called Mo Man. We were nearly intoxicated by the fumes from the huge incense coils dangling from every bit of ceiling space!

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Then onto the Star Ferry to take us over to Kowloon in order to see the sky line of HK main island - we couldn't have timed it better - we got there just as the sun started to go down and the views were sensational.

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Having seen the buildings of Hong Kong light up into a show of neon signs - some of the buildings are architecturally so impressive, esp when lit up - we made our way back to the main island and got on the tram which takes you up to the peak of the island - bit hair raising at times - it's SO steep! The views are amazing though - you can see over all of the main island and kowloon. We decided to stay up on the Peak for dinner and met a friend of mine from Bristol called Lawrence for dinner which was great having not seen him for so long. It was just surreal that the catch up had to be on the other side of the world! Had a delicious meal washed down with some nice wine and g & t's, of course! Then came back down on the tram and headed home...except that I wanted one more drink...hmmm....got home at 1.30am...a truely fantastic first day and night to our trip!

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Day two - bit of a sore head upon waking up - but sadly the weather was pretty awful, raining on and off so we went for a yummy dim sum brunch then headed over to Ladies Market - I was in 7th heaven! Tom was blissfully patient and we both enjoyed getting back into the bargaining swing that comes with travelling...I of course, got stuck in with the shopping! Having had a tough afternoon walking around the market, we decided that a foot massage was definintely in order so we had a most amazing 50 min reflexology for 7 quid...we were walking on air afterwards.

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The evening was spent traipsing around as Tom was craving Chinese food for dinnner - not an unreasonable request when one is in China, but it was impossible! we couldn't find anywhere so had to settle for sushi and we ended up drinking a 'small' jug of sake...then onto one of HK's trendiest bars in Soho, called Drop - they have happy hour there from 6 - 11pm!! All the cocktails were 4 quid - again, 7th heaven so we got stuck in and met some of Sabeena and Kris's friends which was great fun. We then finished the evening off by sitting on the street side smoking a shisha with apple tobacco - very relaxing and hilarious people watching - all in all, a perfect end to a great 2 days...

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Posted by tomcoralie 05:00 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

9 hours to first flight

London, England

rain

The time has finally arrived...having spent the last month generally getting our lives in order and not quite believing we were actually going, today is the day. Thank you to all of you who managed to make it to our leaving do - it was an epic night and we couldn't have asked for a better send off! The turn out was hugely appreciated! We're now packed (sort of!) and just about ready to go...we hope you enjoy the blog - it just means you won't be getting long rambling emails from us, so you can just log on as and when you want. We'll update it as we go, put piccies on etc and generally keep you updated of our antics and adventures...can't wait! So all there is left to say is goodbye! xxx

Posted by tomcoralie 01:54 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged packing Comments (1)

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