Friday, January 23, 2009

update from vietnam (in hoi an at the moment)

wow so i realise that i haven't written a blog in ages!
i have had internett access but my blog page wouldn't work! but anyway here it goes!
so the last time i blogged i wrote about Hanoi... and so much has happened after that!

Ha Long Bay
Halong bay was really great! we had booked this tour through a tour agency and i think we were smart to do that! because this tour company gave us two days to remember!
We had to drive for a couple of hours due to it being a little bit more north than ha noi but it was worth it! we had lunch on a boat and started driving among the limestone formations! it was really great! we also went kayaking through some grottoes and amongst the lime stone formations (google it and you will understand what this is :D pictures will come later!) that was amazing! after kayaking we relaxed on a boat that drove us towards the island that we going to stay on for the night! this island was owned by the company and it was great! for dinner the whole group that we had been on the boat with had dinner together and i got to know some really great people! when going to bed it was really cold so the only thing i would have wished for was that it could have been a bit warmer so that i could have swum in the water! but staying in the bungalow and falling asleep to the waves was great! the next day we were going to bike on cat ba island and that was a fun experience too! although i never really got the hand of my gears :P we had lunch on the island before we returned by boat and then by bus to hanoi! Mikkel, my brother had recommended this to us (and it is also mentioned in Lonely Planet) and I am very gald we did this trip!

But the trip that I am so greatful to have been on is the Sa Pa trip. For those of you who don't know what Sa Pa is, it is a place close to the border of China and it is very famous for its hilltribe villages! also recommended in the lonely planet but with good reason!
we took the night train to Sa Pa and shared our carriage with a vietnamese family. we arrived very early at Lao Cai (the train station) and we luckily we saw a guy holding a sign where it said MAY-HILDE. not many people have that name so we knew that was us! on our way up towards Sa Pa the driver put on techno music (more precisley Cascada and it made me think oif two people: Molly and Sorina :D) After getting some breakfast we met our guide So. She was wearing hill tribe clothes and she turned out to be the best guide i have ever had. we started walking down towards the town we were going to eat lunch in. other hill tribe girls and women started walking with us and talked to us. some of the girls were only twelve years old and their english wasd great! they had learnt it by talking to tourists! on the way down towards the village we walked among ricepaddies and what we saw was amazing! right before lunch we said goodbye to all the other hill tribe ladies that had walked with us and that is when the chaos started! everyone wanted to sell some hill tribe thing and all of them wanted me to buy from them! i ended up buying something from a girl i talked a lot to but i felt a bit pressured to it and it was an uncomfortable situation! but i guess that is the way they earn some money for their families! anyway the lunch was amazing! our guide made us a typical vietnamese dish called pho while all the other tourists got loaf and other things! so we felt really lucky! we countinued walking to the place where we were going to sleep. A homestay. it was arranged through a tour company but I feel it really was a homestay because we ate dinner with the whole family and it was really a nice meal! the food was great in fact the best vietnamese food I have had in Vietnam! we played cards with So and drank some rice wine. she was quite the cheater when it came to shithead (eller idiot paa norsk) but she got away with it! we played cards for a while and it was great! went to bed really early and the when we woke up we had slept for 12 hours! the second day we walked in the bamboo forest and went to another village called cat cat! for lunch we helped her make the food and once again the food was really good! it was such a great experience. so our guide was really great because she answered all our questions (even if they were about her), her english was great, she had such a great personality and she was really caring! she had a really interesting story too! at the age of 22 she had been married 3 times and the first marriage (arranged) was at 13!
we were to take a bus back to lao cai to catch the train to hanoi but the intial bus we were to take got stuck on the curb (amazing but true...) but we took a minibus instead and it was fine.
the great thing was that we were on this trip with a couple from austarila who we had gotten to know on our halong bay trip! (we actually saw them today in hoi an!)
our last day in hanoi we spent walking around and went to the prison where john mccain had been a prisoner!

we took a nightbus to hue and it was a long busride! i think we spent about 14 hours on the bus but i managed to get some sleep! the bus stopped at the wrong place in hue and we ended up walking around lookinbg for the hotel that we wanted to stay in.. luckily people asked us if we needed help and we found the hotel. we spent two days in hue and i think that was enough. hue is the ideal place to go if you want to go on the dmz tour (demilitarized zone) but we didn't want to sit on the bus that long (lots of hours on the bus start at 6am and come back at 6pm...) so we ended up taking a trip to the citadel the first day and a car trip the second day arounbd in the country side..
we went to this cafe which was recommended in my lonely planet book called cafe on thu wheels. thu the owner was a very friendly owner and somehow we ended up planning a coutry trip on motorbikes with some of her brotehrs. she had 10 broterhs. as she said: 1 cocunut and 10 bananas, a whole football team! but unfortunately we didn't get to ride motobikes because it had rained in the morning.. but the trip was still great! the highlight for me was watching munks sing in the pagoda. we also saw a tomb, some bunkers, another pagoda etc.

today we took the bus early in the morning to hoi an! we found our hotel after some wrong explanations and walked down to the old part by the lake! i like hoi an so far! we haven't done much but we went to a tailor to get some dresses made! i pointed at a dress in a catalogue and said that i wanted a dress like that, choose some fabric and they took some measurements! we'll see how it turns out!
we are going to be in hoi an for the vietnamese new year so that should be fun!

I'll blog soon! :D

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