Northern Vietnam


It 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 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.

We 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 cruise 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. Northland Vietnam, our final stop and how we welcomed that cool mountain climate!!

Sapa 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 nearby 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!

I 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 Sapa
in the future as a result but that it preserves it's uniqueness and our appreciation is genuine.

Source: Travelblog



Copyright 2010 Travel Indochina - All rights reserved

Address: 6 Thach Cau street, Long Bien district, Hanoi, Vietnam.
+84 943 728 901