A Travellerspoint blog

Vietnam

Hanoi III, 14 May 2009

The last of five overnight trains in Vietnam took us back into Hanoi, arriving at just after 05h00 ! We had arranged with our hotel to be picked up and it was welcoming to have someone waiting with name displayed on the platform. Room not available until after 9 so had time to upload the photos from Sapa on one of the hotel's free computers!

Just one day in Hanoi this time, before heading off to Bangkok the following morning. Wandered round the old part of town checking out some shops and picking up a couple of items of silk clothing for Lindsey and a few last souvenirs. Had to shelter from some very heavy rain for quite some time but it later improved and the sun actually came out - the first time we had seen it in Hanoi!! Lovely that they still have loads of trees down the old streets.

Incidentally, we would definitely recommend our hotel(s) - Golden Sun I, II, III - well located in the centre of things, decent price, very friendly and helpful staff. Also, the curiously named Pinky Moon bar just across the road. Nice spot for an apero - rude not to indulge with G & T at just over 1 Euro during the 3pm to 10pm Happy Hour!

Its the end of our Indochina tour through Loas, Cambodia and Vietnam ... no stomach or health problems (at least until the last morning when I got a loose stomach!) even though, when it looked OK, we ate salad, risked ice in drinks ... Really very enjoyable 7 weeks, varied places to visit, friendly people, ... definitely recommended.

Old Hanoi with the sun shining !

Old Hanoi with the sun shining !


Old Hanoi with the sun shining 2

Old Hanoi with the sun shining 2


Old Hanoi with the sun shining 3

Old Hanoi with the sun shining 3


Old Hanoi with the sun shining 4

Old Hanoi with the sun shining 4


Old Hanoi with the sun shining 5

Old Hanoi with the sun shining 5


Old Hanoi with the sun shining 6

Old Hanoi with the sun shining 6


Swimsuits for adults!!

Swimsuits for adults!!


Lake near Old Town

Lake near Old Town


View from breakfast cafe

View from breakfast cafe


Old Hanoi with the sun shining 7

Old Hanoi with the sun shining 7


Views whilst sipping a beer hoi

Views whilst sipping a beer hoi


Views whilst sipping a beer hoi 2

Views whilst sipping a beer hoi 2


Views whilst sipping a beer hoi 3

Views whilst sipping a beer hoi 3


Views whilst sipping a beer hoi 4

Views whilst sipping a beer hoi 4


Apero time at Pinky Bar 1

Apero time at Pinky Bar 1


Apero time at Pinky Bar 2

Apero time at Pinky Bar 2

Posted by Lindseyalan73 17:00 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Sapa, 11 - 13 May 2009

Another overnight journey and then an hour's minibus ride from Lao Cai on the Chinese border up to Sapa. As we had reserved the hotel on the internet, there was even someone at Lao Cai with our name displayed waiting for us, and so we had a transfer straight to the hotel.

Sapa was instigated as a hill station by the French in the 1930's, and resembles an alpine resort in some ways. Its quite fresh as its up at 1500 metres and we had pretty variable weather: rain, mist, and occasional sun. Things are pretty humid and the sheets, etc. felt damp. Happily, the hotel had electric blankets which droied things up before going to sleep.

We did three walks/treks in 3 days!!

Day 1 was a steep and enjoyable walk down to Cat Cat village without a guide (and a ride back up on the back of motor cycles for us both).

Day 2 started with heavy rain and thunder etc so we cancelled the trek we had planned and late morning headed out to an internet place (which was also a travel agent) - then, as the weather brightened up, we heard someone else asking about an afternoon trek and arranged one for ourselves with a guide. This, around 9km to Ta Phin, turned out to be brilliant ... just the two of us and a guide, and we did not see another westerner until we arrived at the end in Ta Phin after three and a half hours through some absolutely beautiful suuroundings.

Day 3 we did the trek we had planned for day 2 - 12 km down to Ta Van. This was with a Hmong lady (and two 'hangers on' who stay with you most of the day in the expectation that you will buy something from them). Although there was some very good scenery at times, this trek is rather a circus and, when we stopped for our "picnic lunch" (included in the price of the trek) there were getting on for 100 other trekkers (who had followed similar routes) also at the two 'restaurants' where people have their picnic lunches.

Very happy indeed that we had the fortune to arrange the superb trek on day 2 ...

Sapa - Valley 1

Sapa - Valley 1


Red Dao Girl

Red Dao Girl


Rice Terraces - Ta Phin Trek

Rice Terraces - Ta Phin Trek


Cat Cat View Hotel 1

Cat Cat View Hotel 1


Cat Cat View Hotel 2

Cat Cat View Hotel 2


Cat Cat View Hotel - View

Cat Cat View Hotel - View


Cat Cat View Hotel - View - Sapa

Cat Cat View Hotel - View - Sapa


Sapa

Sapa


Sapa Town - Main street

Sapa Town - Main street


Sapa Town - Sellers and Tourists!

Sapa Town - Sellers and Tourists!


Sapa Town - Hmong Seller and Tourist!!!

Sapa Town - Hmong Seller and Tourist!!!


Sapa Town - Red Doa Lady Sewing

Sapa Town - Red Doa Lady Sewing


Walk to Cat Cat 1

Walk to Cat Cat 1


Walk to Cat Cat 2

Walk to Cat Cat 2


Walk to Cat Cat 3

Walk to Cat Cat 3


Walk to Cat Cat 4

Walk to Cat Cat 4


Walk to Cat Cat 5

Walk to Cat Cat 5


Walk to Cat Cat 6

Walk to Cat Cat 6


Walk to Cat Cat 7

Walk to Cat Cat 7


Ta Phin Trek - Guide and Alan

Ta Phin Trek - Guide and Alan


Ta Phin Trek - Houses

Ta Phin Trek - Houses


Ta Phin Trek - Buffalos at work 1

Ta Phin Trek - Buffalos at work 1


Ta Phin Trek - Buffalos at work 2

Ta Phin Trek - Buffalos at work 2


Ta Phin Trek - Buffalos at work 3

Ta Phin Trek - Buffalos at work 3


Ta Phin Trek - Rice terraces 1

Ta Phin Trek - Rice terraces 1


Ta Phin Trek - Rice terraces 2

Ta Phin Trek - Rice terraces 2


Ta Phin Trek - Rice terraces 3

Ta Phin Trek - Rice terraces 3


Ta Phin Trek - Rice terraces 4

Ta Phin Trek - Rice terraces 4


Ta Phin Trek - Rice terraces 5

Ta Phin Trek - Rice terraces 5


Ta Phin Trek - Rice terraces 6

Ta Phin Trek - Rice terraces 6


Ta Phin Trek - Terraces and village

Ta Phin Trek - Terraces and village


Ta Phin Trek - Hmong lady

Ta Phin Trek - Hmong lady


Ta Phin Trek - Hmong lady 2

Ta Phin Trek - Hmong lady 2


Ta Phin Trek view

Ta Phin Trek view


Ta Phin Trek - Buffalos at work 4

Ta Phin Trek - Buffalos at work 4


Ta Phin Trek - More terraces and village

Ta Phin Trek - More terraces and village


Ta Phin - Red Dao Lady

Ta Phin - Red Dao Lady


Ta Phin - Red Dao Ladies

Ta Phin - Red Dao Ladies


Ta Phin

Ta Phin


Ta Van trek - Guide plus 2 compulsory sellers!

Ta Van trek - Guide plus 2 compulsory sellers!


Ta Van trek - Guide etc - Check out the earings!

Ta Van trek - Guide etc - Check out the earings!


Ta Van trek - Buffalo at play!

Ta Van trek - Buffalo at play!


Ta Van trek - Rice terraces

Ta Van trek - Rice terraces


Ta Van trek - Rice terraces 2

Ta Van trek - Rice terraces 2


Ta Van Trek View

Ta Van Trek View


Ta Van trek - Trekkers ...

Ta Van trek - Trekkers ...


Ta Van trek - River and rice terraces

Ta Van trek - River and rice terraces


Ta Van trek - River crossing

Ta Van trek - River crossing


Ta Van trek - Rice terraces again

Ta Van trek - Rice terraces again


Ta Van trek view

Ta Van trek view


Ta Van trek - view at Ta Van

Ta Van trek - view at Ta Van


Sapa Valley 2

Sapa Valley 2

Posted by Lindseyalan73 17:00 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Hanoi II, 9 - 10 May 2009

We are back in Hanoi for a couple of days before heading off to Sapa. The weather is still very gloomy but it has not really rained significantly and we are enjoying pottering around the old quarter.

One thing we noticed is that they don't use the pavements here for walking on! They either extend the shops outwards, use the pavement area for preparing and eating food or, mostly, use it for parking their motor bikes and scooters!! Pedestrians have to walk in the road!

Definitely getting to like Hanoi though.

Minute temple 1

Minute temple 1


Minute temple 2

Minute temple 2


Around Hanoi Old Town again 1

Around Hanoi Old Town again 1


Around Hanoi Old Town again 3

Around Hanoi Old Town again 3


Around Hanoi Old Town again - Market area

Around Hanoi Old Town again - Market area


Around Hanoi Old Town again Market area 2

Around Hanoi Old Town again Market area 2


Around Hanoi Old Town again 2

Around Hanoi Old Town again 2

Posted by Lindseyalan73 17:00 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Halong Bay, 7 - 8 May 2009

We chose the Columbus Adventure Travel tour for 2 days/1 night on the "Pinta", largely because someone we bumped into at the hotel had just come back from a similar tour and recommended it. It was US $97 per person - certainly not the cheapest by some way, but you can spend a lot more. (We were told that the main differences with a cheaper tour at $60 were the quality of the food and the more expensive one stopped at a quiet place overnight whereas the cheaper one stopped with loads of other boats). It turned out to be very good. We had a comfortable small cabin on the boat which fitted 17 in 8 cabins. There was superb food (a salad course, two to three fish, two to three meat and a vegetable course and fruit for lunches and dinner! ... and a very nice breakfast as well). Drinks prices are inflated but its apparently the same on all boats. Encouraged by a couple of Australian ladies at our table, we even shared a couple of bottles of red Chilean wine with them ... our first wine (apart from the "floating bar" plonk on the boat trip out of Nha Trang, and on aeroplanes) during this Asia trip!

Although the photos look like we had a black and white film due to the grim weather, it did not stop us from doing anything ... We visited a cave with three vast and beautiful chambers - Hang Sung Sot. When we stopped for the evening at a beautiful and quiet location (just a couple of other boats more than 500 metres away), most of us went in for a lovely swim. On the following day we went for one and a half hour's kayaking in a superb spot where there were floating villages and lovely scenery. Nice mixed bunch of people on the trip.

The only hiccup ... we had to hang around a couple of hours extra on the junk, waiting for the minibus from Hanoi with the next lot of trippers ... they had had so much rain in Hanoi overnight that there had been significant flooding!

Otherwise, the 3 hour minibus journey from Hanoi to Halong Port gives a good (if that's the word) experience of the anarchical driving in Vietnam!! Happy that we have taken the soft sleeper train for all overnight trips in Vietnam rather rather than "sleeper" buses.

Halong Port 1

Halong Port 1


Halong Port 2

Halong Port 2


Halong Port 3

Halong Port 3


Pinta Junk

Pinta Junk


Pinta Junk Bedroom

Pinta Junk Bedroom


Pinta Junk Lounge

Pinta Junk Lounge


Pinta Junk Lounge 2

Pinta Junk Lounge 2


Pinta Junk Dinner!

Pinta Junk Dinner!


Pinta Junk Dinner 2

Pinta Junk Dinner 2


Halong Bay Scenes 1

Halong Bay Scenes 1


Halong Bay Scenes 2

Halong Bay Scenes 2


Halong Bay Scenes 3

Halong Bay Scenes 3


Halong Bay Scenes 4

Halong Bay Scenes 4


Halong Bay Scenes 5

Halong Bay Scenes 5


Floating Village 1

Floating Village 1


Floating Villages 2

Floating Villages 2


Outside Caves 1

Outside Caves 1


Outside Caves 2

Outside Caves 2


On way to cave

On way to cave


Cave 1

Cave 1


Cave - Formation named Penis Rock unsurprisingly!

Cave - Formation named Penis Rock unsurprisingly!


Cave 2

Cave 2


Cave 3

Cave 3


Cave 4

Cave 4


Cave 5

Cave 5


... if only the sun were shining!!!

... if only the sun were shining!!!


Stop for kayaking

Stop for kayaking


Kayaking 1

Kayaking 1


Kayaking 2

Kayaking 2


Kayaking 3

Kayaking 3


Kayaking 4

Kayaking 4


Kayaking 5

Kayaking 5


Kayaking - Local school !

Kayaking - Local school !


Kayaking - Local school 2

Kayaking - Local school 2


Kayaking

Kayaking


Kayaking 6

Kayaking 6


Kayaking 7

Kayaking 7


Kayaking 8

Kayaking 8


Kayaking 9

Kayaking 9


Kayaking - back to the boat

Kayaking - back to the boat

Posted by Lindseyalan73 17:00 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Hanoi I, 6 May 2009

Another overnight train from Hue to Hanoi (12 hours) ... arrived on time (unfortunately) at 04h30! Hung around at station and waited for ticket office opening at 07h00 to get tickets for trains to and from Lao Cai for visit to Sapa in a few days time ...

Had to wait a bit for the room but there's free internet at the Golden Sun Hotels (there's three practically next to each other on the same street) and, better still, the computer had no problems with the card we are using for our photos at the moment, so managed to upload the backlog of photos! Also, needed to arrange two day trip to Halong Bay ... checked out weather for Halong Bay on the web ... its going to be pretty awful all week ... booked our trip for the next for the next day in the end.

Sorry, but there's going to be three entries for Hanoi! I have to do this so that the map will show our correct routings! We have decided not to go to see specific sights in Hanoi. We have seen loads of temples already, and we don't fancy going to see the preserved version of Ho Chi Minh in the mausaleum! We spent the day walking round the old town ... busy atmospheric streets, all sorts of different shops, attractive architecture ... great! Will probably be doing similar, discovering more on our later visits here.

Golden Sun hotels

Golden Sun hotels


View from hotel room

View from hotel room


Hanoi Old Quarter 1

Hanoi Old Quarter 1


Hanoi Old Quarter 2

Hanoi Old Quarter 2


Hanoi Old Quarter 3

Hanoi Old Quarter 3


Hanoi Old Quarter 4

Hanoi Old Quarter 4


Hanoi Old Quarter 5

Hanoi Old Quarter 5


Hanoi Old Quarter 6

Hanoi Old Quarter 6


Hanoi Old Quarter 7

Hanoi Old Quarter 7


Hanoi Old Quarter 8

Hanoi Old Quarter 8


Hanoi Old Quarter 9

Hanoi Old Quarter 9

Posted by Lindseyalan73 17:00 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

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