A Travellerspoint blog

March 2007

"News - Flash" --- Late Edition

Hi One and all,

Gardens_in_Sapa.jpg

Well I must apologise for not staying in touch, its so quite easy to do when your very busy not working or other similar things. Have to confess though that the vast array of foods and my carelessness has laid me up low for at least a week with the craps etc.
Added to which I got a heavy cold, almost went onto autopilot and rang in to work sick.

Trying to get antibiotics and other sensible medicines is a bit of a joke here with the language; you get something that helps then again it sometimes can backfire on you. Found this incredibly strong Chinese medicine which sort of resembles lead shot but made out of pure camphor or something sinisterly similar, however, when you have 4, 3xtimes daily they beat anything that the UK can give me in killing the gut bugs. However, where it has backfired on me was that when I was in Sapa, (North Vietnam), I bought some "Dried Shitake Mushrooms" and my so called friend Thu', instead of putting one mushroom to 1 litre of water put 4 or 5 to ½ liter of water, thus ensuring I was not out of sight of a loo for the next 2+days.

Anyway, as you can gather, I made it to Sapa and finally to the Chinese border at Lai Cao and that, maybe, will have to remain another adventure. There is so much itself to see and do in Vietnam although I am getting a bit blase about seeing Temple after Pagoda. Although all are each individually beautiful and unique, unless you have the right guide or book, one soon merges in with another. What always amazes you is where they keep on appearing, tops of mountains or big hills seems to be favourite places and so you will always stay fit & trim if nothing else. As it is still Tét here, (Chinese Lunar New Year) everywhere is busy and the holy places more than others because the more Temples and Pagodas you visit, I guess the more kudos and status you Karma incur's. I think that Temples are generally holy places where anyone can worship whereas Pagoda's are Buddhist specific.

Gateway_to_China.jpg

Sapa itself is a beautiful place and the H'mong people are really great & welcoming, very strong and proud of their traditions and always friendly and happy. Saying that, the VN people in general are very healthy despite seeming to take awfull chances with food hygiene and life in general. I am sure that the Buddhist way of life here is so ingrained its almost like a 'cést là vie' thing.

As well as a few days in Sapa I also stopped in Hanoi for a while and stayed a few days in Ha Long Bay. Even experienced a day or two of rain.

Travelling around on anything less than a coach is really not worth the hassle, for a few Dong / pennies more you get the luxuries so its worth it. Most major main roads have acres of rice fields surrounding them so its pointless to just go off wandering across country & jungle if you not totally prepared. So I flew to Hanoi on an organised tour thingy and a coach and train was laid on for the Ha Long & Sapa bits.

The sleeper train to Sapa was a train ride out of Hell, even though it was meant to be 1st class airconned all the way. However, due I guess to the track conditions the most we ever made was probably 30 mph and for about 3 out of 6 hours 5 mph. Added to which, because the track was so friggin bad every 10 secs you got an enormous jolt as you went over a sleeper .... pure hell especially as I had to endure it again on the return journey. Even drinking the local Worm wine 50% plus could not send you to sleep.

Worm_Wine.jpg

I tried this stuff at a local silk making factory where the poor expired Mulberry worms who after giving their all trying to make a sweet cocoon of silk for themselves, were infused with the local gutrot. Must say it tasted really nice :)

Ha Long was and is the most beautiful place you could ever imagine. Pure filmset stuff. Not only were the 3000 or so islands amazing in every way but on one island the cave complex underground was equally as staggering not only in beauty by by the sheer scale of the rock formations.

Me_on_Hill..ong_Bay.jpg

The main feature of the 6hr boat ride around these islands was the Lunch choosing ceremony at the local floating Kwiksave (or fishmarket).

Here from an array of pens we chose from either fresh 6" shrimps or 2' long squid or a whole host of other very nice looking fish. The chosen fish and squid was so beautiful and although quicky done it seemed to me that the sellers went about the dispatching in a heartless fashion to almost shock their customers before throwing them onto our boat to be cooked later.

Ha_Long_Squid_Lunch.jpg

Anyway, I will post another update soon, although Travellerspoint itself is a real pig to use because its so slow and when your in a Net cafe everyone seems to want to look over your shoulder and see what your doing.

Ciao for now

Ha_Long_Ba..l_boats.jpg

Posted by Raedor 17:55 Archived in Vietnam Tagged train_travel Comments (0)

"Keeping abreast of Events"

Still here & fighting flab???

sunny 35 °C

Well Folks

Sure as hell been awhile since I last wrote, despite all those promises to keep everyone updated everyday, the Internet is a slow and fickle beast here, particularly in Central Vietnam, Hoi An especially.

To say I have had a few good weeks would be an understatement. I made it to Campuchia, just, (Cambodia) and the infamous 'killing fields'. Visited grissly bone temples and villages where it seems that some of these massacres are very deeply instilled in everyones psyche. Must surely be equivalent to the Nazi gas chambers and the horrors that go with that.... these things can never be and should never be forgotten.

Skulls.jpg

Got there via a bone crunching motorbike taxi for the last 100Km's or so and a relatively comfortable bus/coach. Roads in many parts are diabolical & even though you try to sleep, (not on the bike, of course) the best you can achieve is a type of Zen state where the pain in your butt & other places somehow ceases to make it to your brain as the self-induced hypnotism takes over. Take it from me, a 100k on the back of a bike is really really no fun & although bight & breezy it is also mind numbingly sweltering hot & humid, especially the minute after you stop.

And as I mentioned earlier. I have been along the coast of Central Vietnam and have to say that Hoi An has to be my favourite place so far, though Vung Tau in the south takes some beating.

Hue.jpg

Hue2.jpg

( The above few paras were written a few/couple of weeks ago now... tsk tsk tsk!!! & so the next few paras are more relevant)

It is really interesting to note the amount of people taking an interest in my trip from work & other places, (Thanks Simon) & the hits on the blog have nearly made it to the 1500 mark. I hope that when & if the time comes that you can have a sabbatical, that my travels could inspire you to do a once-in-a-lifetime thing.

So...... I have now also made it to 'Nha Trang' on the coast & this is so gobsmakkingly beautiful, words nor pics can do justice to this place. I thought I had seen the best, but this takes the cake for me.
I finally succumbed here & tried the local massage, :) ;) :)
OK!!! I'm being frankly utterly honest here. This was the all frills but clean massage... though it has to be said I can easily see & understand why you can go the whole hog, but I just enjoyed the essential process & have to say it was more than great.
Steam rooms, saunas, jacuzzy etc etc women walking on your back as they hang off ceiling bars.... amazing how you can take pleasure in being walked on.

ani_cheshire_cat.gif

Oh!!!! and the best bit for me was the after effects / pampering etc where you are further indulged by having your ears dewaxed, shaved, etc, torture at the time & I'm told a little dangerous, but so good to hear again.

Dalat_2.jpg

Anyway after Nha Trang I made it to the famous Dalat mountain region in central Vietnam and where you are about 1500-2000 metres up and where it is about 15*-20* cooler. Very picturesque, beautiful and lots to see and do. Everything grows easily here and the fruit and veg is the best around.

Dalat.jpg

I have now booked the ticket back via Malaysia Airways and I have quite a long stopover in Kuala Lumpar, so may just have enough time to bungee off the Petronas Towers. www.petronastwintowers.com

Take it easy & hope to see you all soon in 2008. :))

Lee

Hue_hotel_view.jpg

Nha_Trang.jpg

River_view.jpg

Posted by Raedor 07:53 Archived in Vietnam Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

"Keeping abreast of Events"

Still here & fighting flab???

sunny 35 °C

Well Folks

Sure as hell been awhile since I last wrote, despite all those promises to keep everyone updated everyday, the Internet is a slow and fickle beast here, particularly in Central Vietnam, Hoi An especially.

To say I have had a few good weeks would be an understatement. I made it to Campuchia, just, (Cambodia) and the infamous 'killing fields'. Visited grissly bone temples and villages where it seems that some of these massacres are very deeply instilled in everyones psyche. Must surely be equivalent to the Nazi gas chambers and the horrors that go with that.... these things can never be and should never be forgotten.

Skulls.jpg

Got there via a bone crunching motorbike taxi for the last 100Km's or so and a relatively comfortable bus/coach. Roads in many parts are diabolical & even though you try to sleep, (not on the bike, of course) the best you can achieve is a type of Zen state where the pain in your butt & other places somehow ceases to make it to your brain as the self-induced hypnotism takes over. Take it from me, a 100k on the back of a bike is really really no fun & although bight & breezy it is also mind numbingly sweltering hot & humid, especially the minute after you stop.

And as I mentioned earlier. I have been along the coast of Central Vietnam and have to say that Hoi An has to be my favourite place so far, though Vung Tau in the south takes some beating.

Hue.jpg

Hue2.jpg

( The above few paras were written a few/couple of weeks ago now... tsk tsk tsk!!! & so the next few paras are more relevant)

It is really interesting to note the amount of people taking an interest in my trip from work & other places, (Thanks Simon) & the hits on the blog have nearly made it to the 1500 mark. I hope that when & if the time comes that you can have a sabbatical, that my travels could inspire you to do a once-in-a-lifetime thing.


See the itinerary of this trip, and details about each destination.


Zoom out!!!

So...... I have now also made it to 'Nha Trang' on the coast & this is so gobsmakkingly beautiful, words nor pics can do justice to this place. I thought I had seen the best, but this takes the cake for me.
I finally succumbed here & tried the local massage, :) ;) :)
OK!!! I'm being frankly utterly honest here. This was the all frills but clean massage... though it has to be said I can easily see & understand why you can go the whole hog, but I just enjoyed the essential process & have to say it was more than great.
Steam rooms, saunas, jacuzzy etc etc women walking on your back as they hang off ceiling bars.... amazing how you can take pleasure in being walked on.

ani_cheshire_cat.gif

Oh!!!! and the best bit for me was the after effects / pampering etc where you are further indulged by having your ears dewaxed, shaved, etc, torture at the time & I'm told a little dangerous, but so good to hear again.

Dalat_2.jpg

Anyway after Nha Trang I made it to the famous Dalat mountain region in central Vietnam and where you are about 1500-2000 metres up and where it is about 15*-20* cooler. Very picturesque, beautiful and lots to see and do. Everything grows easily here and the fruit and veg is the best around.

Dalat.jpg

I have now booked the ticket back via Malaysia Airways and I have quite a long stopover in Kuala Lumpar, so may just have enough time to bungee off the Petronas Towers. www.petronastwintowers.com

Take it easy & hope to see you all soon in 2008. :))

Lee

Hue_hotel_view.jpg

Nha_Trang.jpg

River_view.jpg

Posted by Raedor 07:53 Archived in Vietnam Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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