was time to hit the tourist trail, sometimes it's nice, it's good to be
able to order a different meal because you have a english translation:)
It's always a little overwhelming at first, specially in a place like
Hoi An. It's know for it's silk and custom made clothing. Now Jenny,
Tyler and I have been really good on the shopping thus far and maybe
that's why we let ourselves get carried away!! It's amazing how you can
always justify spending money if you really want something. First we
were just gonna get one thing for the wedding in July, seeing as none of
us have wedding appropriate attire....and as you sit there, flipping the
pages of a magazine where they can duplicate anything, suddenly the mind
wonders off and you walk away with 3 dresses and a bloody winter
jacket!!! Don't worry I mailed the winter jacket home, conveniently the
posting is cheap.....so we also decide what a time for souvenirs!!!!
Trust me the whole experience was fun but the sooner we got out of Hoi
An the longer we'll get to stay in Asia!!! Haha
So Hue was next on the list. We dedicated the first day to riding our
bicycles to nearby tombs. It was incredible, like whole palaces were
built for these kings that died centuries ago, houses aren't even built
to last like that anymore and people live there!!!
The following day we explored the old town, a walled city now in ruin.
took an overnight
bus to Hanoi from here (we got given the runaround on
the local buses, gave up and went VIP!) Anyway, the real reason i
mention the bus trip...this bus had beds! Yup bunk beds in the bus, I've
never experienced anything quite like it.
Hanoi wasn't all that exciting I'm sad to report. Faffing around with
visa for thailand and Jenny and Tyler for China, we didn't feel much
like doing the museum thing. So a few things sorted, paper work in
motion, we got back on the local bus and headed for the beach.
Halong Bay, a very touristy area for both locals and foreigners, lots of
package tours from Hanoi for
overnight trips on boats in the bay. We
heard such different stories good and bad that we decided of course to
go at it alone. We really just avoided staying overnight on a
boat...where rats were sighted so you can't blame us!! Also being on our
own schedule and picking our meals that kind of thing we like the
freedom. We still got on what they call a "Junk" boat for a 4hrs
through the bay and the remarkable limestone cliffs. Explored some
spectacular caves, and then jumped off on
Cat Ba island. The seafood was
just what we'd been craving, nothing beats fresh squid when you're
overlooking the ocean!! The following day we rented kayaks and explored
the bay. Found secluded white sand beaches and stunning views. The
paddle back proved to be a bit of a mission but we managed and rewarded
ourselves with more mouthwatering seafood:)
A ferry ride, two buses and 20hres later we arrived in Sapa.
Vietnam, our final stop and how we welcomed that cool mountain climate!!
is in the heart of the local minority villages, a bit like Kon Tum
although a boom in tourism over the past decade has created a dependancy.
Stepping off the bus we were engulfed by offers; some thinking we needed
a roof over our heads....which we did, and others thinking we needed
blankets, pillow cases, ear rings, bracelets etc. After 20hrs on a bus
patience we running thin but the power of bargainning we did find a nice
room and so i suppose we can't really complain! An all you can eat
breakfast buffet was what we needed, three cups of coffee later and a
shower, good as gold to explore town!!!
We found information on a few day hikes we could do selfguided to the
villages and so we were set for the next few days, now all we
needed was the rain to stop!
Our hike the next day was set walking down the valley through a village,
misty rice terrace fields growing and a hanging cloud. The rain held off
and it was perfect. Beautiful, women and children going about their day
sporting the most fashionably bright coloured traditional village wear.
Pigs, ducks and dog. Men carrying on their backs more than their weight
in goods, it was impressive!
guess in the end what hit me the most in Sapa was watching how we, the
tourist, influenced and changed the economic dependency of an area and
community. I only hope the culture and language don't suffer working
hard on the handicraft out in the surroundings of
in the future as a result but that it preserves it's uniqueness and our
appreciation is genuine.