A Travellerspoint blog

Hanoi & Halong Bay

sunny 35 °C

After spending another lazy day in Hanoi shoe shopping! we were picked up at our hotel bright and early to head down to Halong Bay for our 2 night trip. We were the first to be picked up and soon we were joined but quite a few people but in particular a lovely Aussie couple (from Ocean Grove) and a stunning Irish couple. After the cramped, bumpy and thrilling in a ‘I think I am going to die’ kind of way, drive we arrive and we are ushered onto the water taxi.
We are introduced to our tour guide and all look in awe when we arrive onto our junk ‘The Marguerite’. It is a pretty impressive 3 storey boat complete with restaurant and inside lounging area. We have a refreshing drink in the lounge while we are told our schedule for the day. Then rooms are assigned. Matt and I let ourselves into our cabin and almost squeal with delight. Is big and beautiful. Usually when they show you a photo of a room you have to expect less but this was perfect. The bathroom was huge and spacious. We will post pictures!!
After a nap (well a nap for me – Matt has figured he can download Podhammer podcasts and he is pretty much attached to them at the moment) we all meet up again for a visit to ‘Heaven’.
Heaven is a cave. An enormous and beautiful cave that has had a bad lighting job. Ok so the lighting isn’t so bad but they have done it in neon colours. We head down some slippery steps and into the cool black of the cave. It is a gorgeous, cavernous cave. I felt a bit like an ant in it. They have a path set out and after following it around and ohhing and ahhhing we are on our way back to the boat for kayaking. Much to Matts disapproval kayaks in Asia are built for 2 people only so he was stuck with me and I have zero upper body strength. That is taking it a bit far. I am not completely useless. Anyway he was stuck at the back of the kayak as we made our way around some of the limestone islands and watched the sun set. It was beautiful. We played in little cave and ‘raced’ back to the boat (this race was announced by our guide when he was about 20m in front of us).
We get back to the boat and all decide to take a dip. We dive off the boat (Matt is the only one game enough to jump in from the top level) and swim around for a while working up an appetite. I was really impressed with the group that we had. We all got along really well and had fun.
After a dinner that was more an affair that just dinner and a few cocktails Matt was put up for a little bit of Karaoke. The Irish girl Orla selected a song for him and he bravely got up and did his best rendition of ‘Barbie Girl’ (I have the video). He was a sight to say the least. A few more drinks in and we were all up singing. I had the boys do ‘I’m too sexy’ which they did with enthusiasm.
Eventually we all ended upstairs looking at the stars and watching the scenery change as we slowly floated around in circles.
Waking up to our tour guide knocking and telling us it was time for breakfast we finally emerged. Eager to see what the day had in store but still wanting to be in bed we had a cup of tea and perked up a bit. Matt had been up half the night due to some bad seafood he had eaten and neither of us had much sleep. However the day went on. We went on a private boat out to the largest floating village in Halong Bay. We stopped and actually go out of our kayaks to have a tour through the school. It is a pretty impressive setup that they have going on. The teachers there are all volunteers from the mainland. They come out for a year and stay in the village. Their living quarters a tiny!! There are 5 teachers at any one time and they all sleep in one bed!!
Matt and I tried to buy a bottle of water off the woman who was floating around in the shop boat but every time we tried to get near her she would take off in the other direction.

After we made it back to the boat we moved spots and went kayaking through these huge cave things and ended up in the most idyllic bays. Everything was so still. We floated around for a bit and then realized that getting back was going to be a lot harder as we were going against the current. We battled back and made it to the boat exhausted.
Lunch was fabulous (even Matt who wasn’t going to eat had to try some) and we had a lazy ride around the bays and eventually went to an island that supposedly had a fantastic lookout at the top. It was so hot. We made it to the top of the stairs sweaty and out of breath. The view was beautiful. To our surprise out guide said that we weren’t quite there yet and pointed to a small path that led further up the hill. Off we went again. The ground was incredibly uneven and slippery. The bushes had taken over the path and you had to battle through them. Then clumsy me fell over. I twisted my ankle (which really hurt) and I decided to abandon the lookout and hobbled back down. Matt did say that is was gorgeous and he took some beautiful photos.

As we made our way back to the boat Matt was giving the tour guide a lecture about not telling us to bring proper footwear (Two pairs of shoes including Matts broke on the walk leaving them pretty much in bare feet). I felt a bit bad for the poor bloke.

As we arrived back at the junk we sat on the top deck and had a few beers watching the sun set and chatting. Did I mention that the views are spectacular?? The perfect end to a pretty perfect day.
After breakfast we were taken the scenic route back to the harbor. We were taken to a restaurant for lunch and then loaded into the minivan for the trip back to Hanoi. We stopped again at a hugely overpriced café that just happened to have a warehouse filled with tourist items. Soon enough we made it back to Hanoi and moved into yet another hotel (Hanoi’s hotels seemed to be overpriced – well the ones that don’t claim to be full).

We spent another few days wandering the city shopping and eating. The last day was MAD!! We were trying to get everything done - Still managed to fit in one last bowl of Pho. Running around the city like mad men. Matt made it back from the post office as the car was pulling up in front of the hotel to take us to the airport. Much to our disappointment our time in Vietnam was coming to an end. I was however looking forward to the famed Lao attitude and way of life. So off we flew in a little propeller jet plane to the land of 1000 elephants!!! Laos!!

Posted by katbet123 05:18 Archived in Vietnam Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Hanoi & Sapa

sunny 32 °C

We arrive in Hanoi at about 9am. After walking all over the airport car park (it is quite big) I convince Matt to get on the bus that costs a bit more but is comfy!! They said that they would take us all the way into the Old Quarter but it seemed that when they realized we were the only ones left on the bus that it really terminated outside a busy local café just outside the Old Quarter…….
Having no idea where we are we start talking to a cyclo driver who shows us where we are and offers to take us in. We load in. And I mean load. Matt and me, both our packs, plus our daypacks and it was so hot! I felt so bad for this guy. At the traffic lights he had to get off the bike and push it to get it going. You think someone would have introduced gears for cyclos awhile ago.

Getting off track – We had a very broken time in Hanoi due to the fact that our Sapa and Halong Bay trips both departed from there. We were only here one night at this stage so off we went in the hopes of finding a hotel. It was really hard. The hotels were expensive and apparently all full (When I looked on the internet later it would let me make online bookings for the ‘full’ hotels so maybe they just didn’t like the look of us). After walking into about 10 or 11 places we finally found a room that would do. We snapped it up and went out to look at the town.
Hanoi is an amazingly beautiful city but not a very friendly one. It has the lake and the tree lined avenues. The traffic doesn’t seem as bad as Ho Chi Minh and it has areas of the city dedicated to selling shoes!!!! – its all very pretty.
Now I have had some trouble buying clothes from stores in Aisa because everyone here is a size 6. I am not. Matt and I were walking down one of the clothes streets when I found a t-shirt shop that looked like they would fit me. I was excited (they were really cool tops) and started looking around. One of the sales girls looked at me and brushed me aside saying ‘Not for sale’ I looked at Matt.. ‘You cant be serious’ I stammer. The shop is packed with people. ‘Only one size and not for you’ she says as she is pushing us out the store. These things would fit me!!! I was gobsmacked. I didn’t know what to do. They had really just looked me up and down and decided that they didn’t want to sell to me. I was furious and a bit embarrassed as we continued down the street.

We had a pretty lazy afternoon, visited the lake and much to our shame went to the movies… Luckily our travel agent called us and let us know that our train to Sapa was early and they were picking us up 2 hours earlier than we had arranged. We made it back just in time and were whisked away to stand around in the incredible heat that Hanoi has to offer.

Finally the train arrives it is scheduled to leave at 7 and as everything in Asia runs behind schedule we pulled away at about 7:45. We had a 4 berth sleeper that we were sharing with a lovely Malaysian couple who we chatted with for a few hours before settling in to a deep sleep in the amazingly comfortable beds provided. We were jolted awake at 4am when the train stopped. I look outside the window. It is dark and raining.. We all head out to find our tour guides to take us the last hour up into the mountains. It is pouring and there are people everywhere trying to convince you that they only way to get there is with them. We battle our way through the crowd and finally find someone with our names on their list. They inform us that they will have to go and get the minibus and to meet them back here at 5:30. It is a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. Nothing is open, its raining and we have just woken up. Not the greatest thing to hear. We go for a walk and decide that it would be quite a pretty town when it was awake and dry and finally take refuge in a Pho shop that is amazingly open.

We get to the bus on time and still have to wait for another ¾ of an hour before we actually go anywhere. I am pretty determined to stay away for the drive so I can get my first glimpse of the stunning views that Sapa has to offer. So true to form I fall asleep immediately. I wake when we get to the hotel and are told that we were not allowed to check in for about 4 hours and that we should prepare for a half day hike leaving soon after breakfast. This all sounds terrible to me until I wake up a bit and then I am gunning to go. We go and meet our tour guide who is a lovely girl in her early 20’s. We start out from the hotel and immediately surrounded by a group of ethnic women ranging in age. They all seemed very interested in us (just so that they could sell to us later) and joined us for most of the walk. The views in Sapa are incredible. It is as every bit as beautiful as Phi Phi but in an entirely different way. We make our way down to the ‘Cat Cat’ village and they take us through their houses that don’t have plumbing, electric cooking or refrigeration but they all seemed to have a big tv with satellite dishes and a bunch of kids all watching the world cup. At least they have their priorities straight!

All the people in the town seemed to be friendly (Although some of the ethnic women had pretty strong sell tatics). The kids were gorgeous and shy which was refreshing after kids everywhere else and they had the most beautiful ethnic fabrics. Matt had to really put his foot down when it come to how much we bought. We ended the downhill section of the walk with a stop at a waterfall. It was gorgeous. The settings of these villages are just perfect. I cant even explain it. We were in Sapa for 3 days and I spent all of in absolute amazement.
We made it back to the hotel and had a nap before heading out into the town. It is the perfect alpine village (that never gets any snow). They have the most beautiful lake in which you can hire a swan pedal boat.
We were pretty tired and went back to the hotel for dinner. The food was incredible. Every meal that we were given was enough to feed 4 people.
After an early night we were up at the crack of dawn to get a head start on our day. We were going on a easy 10km hike down to one of villages in a valley. We met our group outside and off we went. I soon regretted losing my umbrella and forgetting to get some more sunscreen. The sun was fierce but the scenery yet again beautiful. We stopped at a rest place for a cold drink and ran into Taylor (The guy that we did our motorbike tour with). After a quick chat and drink we were out in the sunshine again. I really cant explain how pretty this place is. You can sit on a hill for hours and just look. We were picked up at the bottom of the hill by a minibus and taken back into town.
We were back at the hotel early enough to get cleaned up and head out to the ‘Love Market’. It is an old traditional market in which young men and women from villages all around come together to find a partner. It is quite a bit touristy but it still has a festive feel to it. You have people from lots of tribes there selling things made in ethnic fabrics and styles. You also have the usual market merchandise. We walked around for a while and bought the most gorgeous scarf. They had a stage set up and a man in a tux singing in a ethnic dialect. After he was done there was some young girls go on stage and do a traditional dance that involved umbrellas. I was a perfect night in the mountain air.
Day 3. We decided to forgo the days tour and explore the town a bit more. After a lazy breakfast we went out in search of the perfect dessert (It is the first time that Matt has ever been interested in desserts and cakes and I am making the most of it). We spent the day eating and wandering the town. Matt had a bit of bother in the afternoon after trying to find a pool table and a beer. Oh I have forgotten to mention that Matt likes beer with ice in it!!!!! He has said that he is going to deny it but ITS TRUE!!!!!!

Then once again we are back on the bus heading down the mountains to the train station. As soon as we arrive we are told that we are catching a different train to everyone else and yet again it is early. They rush us over to the booking desk and we make the train just in time. This time we were sharing with a couple of Vietnamese blokes who thought it amusing to talk amongst themselves while we stood there with all our luggage asking if they wanted us to take the 2 top bunks (they were on my bed) and then when I dumped everything on the top bunk they finally got up and showed me their ticket… I gave them an exasperated look and they backed off. I think they could tell that I wasn’t moving. Oh and also when it go dark enough to sleep they didn’t so much talk as yell. And when one of them got on the phone, well you would think he was talking to his deaf grandmother.

After finally getting to sleep we were woken up by a bang on our door at 3:30 am saying that we were here now. As we got off the train there were taxi drivers in our face wanting to take us places. We had nowhere to go. It was 3:30 in the morning.
We lug all of our stuff sleepily over to a Pho stand and have noodles and coffee with the locals. We sat there until the sun began to rise and then decided to move on. We asked the woman to pay and paid 15,000 dong for my coffee (this is ok) and then she demanded 100,000 for the 2 bowls of pho. Now this is something that normally costs between 15,000 and 30,000 for a bowl so you can imagine a grumpy irritated Matt in this situation. He starts arguing with her and then we notice 2 you Vietnamese girls laughing and giving Matt the thumbs up (the shop keeper is a bit of a troll. I don’t think the girls liked her either) behind the woman’s back. They clearly spoke English and understood what was going on. They motioned to us that they were only paying 20,000 dong each. Matt ended up giving her 50,000 and we walked away. She was not happy. It really annoys me – the fact that they get so bitter and upset when they don’t manage to rip you off incredibly.
We make it to our hotel at about 6am to find the doors not open quite yet so we take a walk down to the lake. This is the only busy part of the city! There were hundreds of people around. Playing badminton, running, stretching, doing the bum shake (There is no other name for it). We sat and watched. It was as if the whole city was out and about. I even saw a man in a wheelchair being pushed around the lake.

We finally convince the hotel to let us check in at 7am and head upstairs for a well deserved shower…

Posted by katbet123 18:07 Archived in Vietnam Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Hue

A Brief Visit

34 °C

We arrive in Hue at about 6pm still a bit shaken from the mishap with the 'Çrazy Lady' tailor in Hoi An. We fought off the usual crowd of moto drivers and went in search of a hotel. We only had one night here and were resigned to the fact that we were not going to see it in daylight as we had an early flight the next morning. After finding a hotel and having awesome pasta for dinner we diceded to wander into the citadel.

'It's just over the bridge' Matt says and off we wander and continue to wander and yet again continue to wander..... After about and hour and a half of 'just over the bridge' we arrive at the narrow bridge that will take us into the citadel. One lane bridge with no footpaths and with 2 lanes of traffic, oh and its dark with no streetlight about. We inch across with our bodies pressed against the stone wall but still manage to admire how pretty it all looks. Once we get in everything quietens down and we are presented with everything that looks like it could belong in an imperial city. It is a beautiful place to be - even at 11pm. We walked over the second bridge and were confronted by locked gates. We couldn't get into the main part of the citadel. It was a bit upsetting but it was still a beautiful moment. We were alone on a bridge at almost midnight looking up at the no longer jeweled but still magnificent gates to an imperial city. The moon was full and the river spotted with lotus flowers. We sat and marveled for quite some time and then made our way back to the hotel..

We decided to get a cyclo as we hadn't done it yet (even in Cambodia). We found this bloke who was more than happy to take us both and bartered him down. I felt really good about it all as we set off. I soon realized it was all uphill and felt terrible! This poor bloke he was a sweaty mess by the time we arrived at the hotel. We gave him a bit extra and his face lights up as he tells us he is going to buy a beer.

We get up stupidly early to get the shuttle bus to the airport where we sit and wait for about an hour (Matt was so impressed with this) We finally get to security and are put on a bus. I figure that our plane is out on the tarmac somewhere too far to walk.. The bus took us about 100m. It was the funniest thing. It would have been quicker to walk then load and then unload everyone on and off this bus.....

And this pretty much sums up our brief but still memorable experience in Hue!!

Posted by katbet123 19:17 Archived in Vietnam Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Hoi An

sunny 42 °C

Hoi An
We arrived in Hoi An at about 4pm, hot, sweaty and tired. The beauty of this town made it all disappear. We checked into a cheap hotel and Matt went to explore while I cleaned up. By the time I made it out of the hotel dusk was falling and all the lanterns were lighting the town. As I strolled through the narrow lanes of Old Town I fell in love. I eventually made it to the river and met up with Matt. We went and had dinner at a place called Cargo. It is a gorgeous upstairs riverside bistro that served amazing western food. We had a magnificent dinner of clam chowder and fajitas (which was a nice change after eating nothing but authentic Vietnamese food) and wandered downstairs. It was then I realized that there was a French patisserie attached to the restaurant. Pastry and coffee what could be better!! I was determined to come back the next morning for breakfast. We slowly walked back to the hotel and managed to only make a few stops along the way including a hotel room of a Canadian couple who were immersed in the world cup who recommended a tailor for me and when we made it back we were asleep before our heads hit the pillow.

6am the next morning the air conditioner/power turns off. Our hotel room does not have a window of any kind. As I am the sleeping dead I don’t realize until about an hour later when the room is stifling hot. I wake feeling like I can’t breathe. Trying to get ready in the dark and escape outside where I am hoping there is a breeze. I thought it’s all good I will get an early start on the day and go and have breakfast and people watch. It was not any cooler outside. The sun is intense and its only 7am. What makes it worse it that I am sure that this is the only town in Vietnam that sleeps in. The only things open are the local Vietnamese places and for the life of me I can’t remember how to ask for a coffee in Vietnamese. I tried miming to a lady and she just looked at me as if I was crazy and walked away. I was about to try and find a coolish place to sit when I met a woman from New Zealand who was on the same coffee mission I was. She said she knew of a place near her hotel where the waitresses spoke a little English. So we sat in the nice shady area and enjoyed an ice cold coffee. Lovely! Mission accomplished.

After seeing how Matt was doing in the sauna that was out room we decided to change hotels to one that had a generator. This was similar to Nha Trang where they had one day with power and one day without. Hoi An is hot. With no breeze. At all. We had a look at a few and picked one out of the guide book because it has a spa bath in the room as well as a pool. Luxury!! Matt went to test the pool and I sat under the air con for a bit to finally cool off. After I was feeling human I went for a wander to the tailor that was recommended to me. Inside there was a lovely woman named Tuey and her husband. We sat and drank ice cold lemon juice and looked through catalogues. I found a few things I liked and Matt came down and had a look around as well. I decided to give her a go as her prices were amazing. I ordered a 4 piece suit, another skirt and a knee length winter jacket for $140.00. Very excited. She didn’t have the fabric that I wanted for the jacket so we jump on the motorbike and head down to the fabric store. After I was done I went and joined Matt and Taylor (Matt had bumped into him somewhere along the way) at a restaurant and had a bite to eat before getting to the pub to watch Australia’s hopes of making it through to the top 16 in the world cup go down the toilet….

I wake up a bit excited to go and see how my clothes are coming. We head down to breakfast and I go off to get my fitting. They are all a bit big but coming along nicely. Matt finally emerges and we have a look through a few more tailors but not finding anything that we are too interested in. We have dinner at a place called Retreat that has 2 for 1 drinks. I am very happy after leaving and Matt suggests we go and have a look at getting shoes fitted. Are you kidding! Of course I am interested in having boots made. As we have found out at the markets and at the travel agent, it isn’t the best idea for me to go after a few drinks. I was willing to give them everything they wanted and more for 2 pairs of boots and a pair of shoes for Matt. I agreed on a $150 price and I was very impressed that Matt still managed to get them down to $120. In the end it all worked out really well and I have awesome boots to bring home!

We went for a bit of a wander through the town and market the next day as well as a having a few fittings. Have I mentioned that it is hot here! We escape the heat and ducked into a tailor that Matt seemed interested in. She was a newly opened tailor who walked the walk and talked the talk. She had amazing fabrics and good knowledge of how the garments were going to be constructed. So we went with her. Matt was still a bit cautious so I took the plunge and said yes. We ordered 2 suits for Matt, a business shirt, a silk dress and another 2 piece suit for me. She wanted full payment upfront to which we said no way. She convinced us to give her half against our better judgment under the condition that if we were not happy we would get our money back (silly westerners). She was sure that we would love our clothes so she agreed.

By this stage we had done a lot of ordering of different items from Tuey and some jackets from another tailor. The next few days were full of fittings and things seemed to be going well until I tried my dress on. It was terrible. It didn’t sit right and looked nothing like the one I wanted. I mentioned a few things and she got hostile. I didn’t want to create a bad situation before Matt had tried his clothes on so I tried to imprint in her mind how much I like the suit she made for me. Matt’s suits were terrible as well. They hadn’t sewn the seams together straight so the fabric was puckering. The shoulders were too wide. We had a few arguments about what was the right fit and she finally agreed to try and fix it. I was pretty sure that the dress was beyond fixing but kept my mouth shut. It couldn’t stay shut forever. The next fitting I told her that I wanted to abandon it as she couldn’t get it right without putting more money into which I wasn’t willing to do. The suits were beyond fixing and Matt and I were trying to figure out a way in which we could get the clothes that we were happy with and leave the rest. It didn’t go so well. She took our clothes hostage and hid them in her house, then called about 4 men over to the shop to push Matt around. I was furious. She wouldn’t give us any of the clothes unless we paid the outstanding amount which would have made my little suit cost more than a designer one bought in Melbourne. I had to go and make sure the clothes that we did have in our possession were shipped properly. So against my better judgment I left Matt there.
We had to catch a bus to Hue as we had a flight to Hanoi the next morning so we were on huge time restraints. This woman knew this and just would not budge. It was shit. I got everything packed and was waiting for Matt to come back. Another shop owner had advised us to make a police report but we were out of time. We had to leave it. I was enquiring how much it would be to get a bike to take me up to Hue a bit later but it was too much and just didn’t make sense to split up. Matt was literally forcing the bus driver to keep the doors of the bus open by standing in them when I ran up to the bus. I got a dirty look as I got on but at least we were on our way. A very expensive lesson learnt.

It wasn’t the nicest way to finish up in Hoi An but I truly loved it there and would go back any day. The majority of the people were beautiful and the town itself is stunning!! Tuey was truly the highlight of my time in Hoi An (well her and the sheer beauty of the place). She was incredibly generous and kind hearted. I would even make it to the beach next time which is something I really regret not doing.

The pictures that will eventually get put up (Loading them takes soo long with the internet connections that we get here) to go with this blog will show the town in a completely different light to the blog. Sorry I rambled!!!!!

Posted by katbet123 06:46 Archived in Vietnam Tagged shopping Comments (1)

Motorbike Tour (Central Highlands) – Part 2

sunny 35 °C

Day 3. We wake up nice and early to head out to see some elephants. Matt has a head the size of a house and a still burning mouth but sucks it up and heads out. We load up the motorbikes and drive for about 10 minutes to where they keep the elephants. Matt and I had booked a ride on one for an hour. As we drove in I saw some elephants on the side of the road. They had the seat things on already and were just standing in the sun. I noticed that they were tied on really short chains. I was a bit wary about going through with this as I don’t like the thought of supporting companies that don’t look after their animals and they made us book before seeing them. They brought our elephant around and the guide gets on. He pulls up to a tower that we can climb and then manage to clamber onto its back. Off we go... The company had provided us with hats to wear so I look like I am on my way to the races and Matt looks like a chain smoking cowboy. We head up to the road and around the corner. It’s bumpy and not all that comfortable but we soon head down a driveway and down a bit of a hill where the elephant stops at will to snack on greenery.
We start heading toward a huge lake where we see a young boy playing in a boat in the shallows of the water. His little sister was trying to get in to play with him and he wasn’t having any of that. He pulled her hair and pushed her out. Clearly it was his boat……. Sibling rivalry exists everywhere…..
We start walking through the water and it’s really nice. The elephant seems to be enjoying it and playing with the water. We get a bit deeper and the water is at the top of the elephant’s legs. The trainer suddenly leapt onto the elephant’s neck so that he is almost standing and the elephant is entirely underwater. We must have looked like we were floating along. Every now and then the elephant would raise its trunk out of the water and take a breath and then it would slip back under. The trainer had to stop him from spraying us with water a few times. I have to admit that if I was an elephant and I had the opportunity to do it, I definitely would.

We stopped for lunch at some time and had another Vietnamese feast before we made it to a national park where they had waterfalls. This (and the elephants) was the part that I was looking forward to the most. Bang showed us a path to take down to the waterfall and went to watch the bikes. We started making our way down these crumbling steps and suddenly I was dive bombed with mozzies. I didn’t have any repellant with me so I had to bail.
I put some on while I waited for the guys to get back up and then we got to head over to the water fall that we could actually swim under. It was probably the most amazing thing that I have ever done. We walked for about 20 minutes to be confronted by an enormous cascade of water falling over a cliff. We continued walking around it and found a small lake that was being fed by a smaller waterfall. There were a few Vietnamese people there swimming around but apart from that we were pretty much alone. We jumped right in and the water was beautiful. I was floating around watching the water gently fall down, in my own little world when I noticed that Matt had disappeared. I climbed onto some rocks on the other side of the lake and realized that I could see directly behind the big waterfall. Matt was behind the heaviest flow of water about 50 meters away. I scrambled over the rocks and through the deep pools and eventually made it just as Matt was leaving. I could have sat there forever. It seemed as if I was in my own world and that everything was in slow motion. Looking up and seeing such huge amount of water come down and still being safe was incredible. I was soon interrupted by some locals who were making their way up a bit further. I left them to it and slowly made my way back to the lake. As I arrived I saw that the locals were already back and I realized that they must have gone through the waterfall. I must say that is insane!! There were rocks everywhere and the water was pretty shallow. I pointed it out to Matt and he immediately wanted to do the same thing……

We made it back to the bikes pretty much on time and were quickly ferried to some bungalows near the river. As soon as I got off the bike we were shown to a room that was adequate except for the face that they had left it completely open and it was full of the largest mozzies that I have ever seen. These things were as big as your hand. No scrap that as big as your head!!! Naturally they decided that I hadn’t been punished enough that day and continued to bite me even as I was putting more repellant on. I asked the receptionist to spray the room and they gave me a big can of industrial spray. I set up the mosquito net and went to town on the place. When we came back after dinner we were confronted with a room full of dead bugs of every size and shape. You could not walk on the floor without it crunching. Luckily I set the net up first or the bed would have been full as well.
This resort had some awesome pet dogs though. They were incredibly friendly and followed you everywhere like you were their best friend. Matt and I went for a walk down to the river (There was a lot of rock hopping involved and these were big rocks) and I was just sitting there admiring the view when one of the dogs popped up beside me and sat there. It was really nice.

Fast forward to the morning and Matt gets up to have a shower only to find that the power mains (with exposed wiring) is located on the wall behind the shower……………

Day 4. We didn’t get to do a whole lot except ride this day. We had a lot of ground to cover and we never seemed to go over 60km… We did stop in at a mushroom farm though and see a huge python snake. It was about 2.5 meters long and apparently enjoys a healthy diet of rabbits and chooks. Rats don’t seem to satisfy it…. Oh and another exciting thing that happened was Matt tried Dragon fruit!!! I took pictures!!
We stopped for lunch after Bang asked us if we like spring rolls. To which we said of course we do. The meal was called ‘Nem’ and we were sat down and has plates of noodles, cucumber, herbs, lettuce, pork, sauces, chives, deep fried rice paper and normal rice paper. We got to make our own fresh spring rolls which were incredible. Every time a plate was looking a bit empty they would immediately refill it and it only cost about 2 dollars each. It was one of the best meals I have had in Asia.
We arrived at the hotel in Kon Tum and are told that the evening is ours. We set out and about in the town only to find nothing. There wasn’t a whole lot there and we made it back to the hotel in time to watch a really bad movie. Yay.

Day 5. We get up nice and early to a cup of Vietnamese coffee and set out on our way. Bang says that before we leave the town there is an old wooden church that we can go and see. It is a beautiful building. Lots of light from huge windows made it feel different from any other church that I have seen. Bang soon points out that there is an orphanage behind and ushers us around the building. We enter and walk into a dorm when they young kids sleep. There are rows and rows of cots and thin grass mats inside (I will never complain about my mattress again). There are a few girls there who look about 8 or 9. Bang takes us upstairs to where all the toddlers are. I think the place is mainly made up of very young children. I was the first to walk through the door and a little boy immediately threw himself at my legs and tried to scramble up them. I didn’t know what to do. I turned around and Matt had about 3 kids trying to do the same to him. I picked the little boy up and he reaches up and touches my hair. I am holding back tears. I put him down as I have about 5 kids crowding me by this stage and this is when I notice a little girl about 11 months just sitting there staring at me. She had the widest eyes and the chubbiest cheeks. I walk over to her and sit next to her. She looks at me and raises her arms. I pick this gorgeous little girl up and I am beyond crying. She can’t take her eyes off me and I walk around bouncing her and chatting away. She somehow gets hold of my finger and doesn’t let go. Even when I put her down she still won’t let go. It is heartbreaking and all I want to do is make sure that everything in her world is ok and that she is well treated and cared for.
I am not an overly huge kid person but it took everything I had not to go back there and take her with me. I left feeling dazed, confused and upset. I couldn’t shake these feelings for days.

After the orphanage we stopped for breakfast of Pho soup complete with ants……. Ewww.
We also went past a minority village and spent some time playing their traditional musical instruments. The man who was playing accompanied by his grandson was about 80 and had the most infectious smile. He seemed more than happy to accommodate us for as long as we wanted.

We stop a few more times which makes Matts plans to swim at another waterfall in the afternoon doomed. I tried to stop Bang from making every stop possible but even with that we were much too late. We did stop at it though and it was beautiful. It was named ‘Scorpion Waterfall’ because the way that the water ran down the rocks looked like a…. you guessed it! A scorpion!!!
We arrive in a little town and head out for dinner where I manage to cut half my toe of with a rock. I am talented!

Day 6. Well this is the day that we arrive in Hoi An. We set out nice and early through the mountains again. We soon come across a pineapple plantation and wander down to have a look at the plants. It is pretty impressive how they farm the steep mountain land here. There was a small creek at the bottom of the hill and we were standing there enjoying the shade when 2 water buffalo and their owners walked down the hill. They were pulling big carts filled with pineapples. As soon as they reached the middle of the creek they both collapsed trying to submerge themselves so that they could cool off. They sat there for 10 minutes or so while their owners wet them on their backs and heads and as suddenly as they collapsed they were up and finishing the job. In that short 10 minutes that we were with them Matt bonded and now wants a pet water buffalo…. I told him after I get my puppy….

Not long after we left the pineapple farm we noticed that Matt was not following us. We went back about 5kms and there he was… with a flat tire. We sit there on the side of the road with huge trucks and buses speeding past us as Bang expertly repairs the tube. Soon we are on our way again. Not too much further down the road while we were going through a small town the chain on Taylors bike slipped off and we had to stop to fix that as well. We were parked outside a café fixing everything when we noticed that slowly we were drawing a crowd. They were all full of smiles and curiosity. The kids were bold and trying to talk to us in Vietnamese. There seemed fascinated with my hair. Bang explained to us that not too many foreigners stop there because there really is nothing there to look at.
Yet again we are on our way. We stop to look at how rice paper is made and soon (only about 4 hours late) we arrive in Hoi An!!!!! Home of the tailors and soon to be creators of my new clothes!!!

LOVE!!

Posted by katbet123 05:00 Archived in Vietnam Tagged motorcycle Comments (0)

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