Published: May 15th 2008May 15th 2008
Dear Readers, here we are at another computer without a USB port to download pictures so words is all you get for now.
We left Halong Bay, Vietnam for Hanoi four days ago and spent a great evening in Hanoi. Prior to coming on our trip, Jim had been reading travel blogs on the internet and was specifically taken to a woman and her boyfriend who were from England and traveling in Central America. After reading her blogs and watching them move about the world we had an opportunity to actually meet them. She had emailed us as we were in Vietnam at the same time. We finally met up in Hanoi and joined them for dinner at a great resturant near where they were staying in the old quarter of Hanoi. It was nice to visit with them. We took pictures of each other and shared travel stories. They are now on their way via a 50 hour train ride to China. Soul Cultivator is her travel blog name and we suggest any readers that enjoy travel stories to check out Claire's travel blog. Our picture is in her newest blog.
The drive from Halong Bay to Hanoi was by private car and took about 3 hours. Fortunately the travel was during the daylight hours so we got to enjoy the beauty of Vietnam's northern countryside. It is mostly rural farmland with greener green then even Washington has.
Moving on - we flew early, early the next morning from Hanoi to Vientiane, Laos on an hours flight. Gotta say that Vietnam Airlines is one of the up coming airlines in world travel. Very clean and has new aircraft.
Now that we are in Laos we have learned that Lao time is a little more laid back than world time. No one is in a rush and you don't feel the hustle here like in Bangkok or Saigon for instance. No one here trying to make a fast buck.
We went to a day market yesterday. Jim looking for watches and Ann looking for fabric and textiles. We found both in great quanities. Ann found some texiles across the street from the day market in a small local open air market. The day market is dept. store with many shops. Some stores were set prices (electronics for example) and most of the shops you could haggle prices. We both came away happy.
After we left the market we hired a tuk-tuk for a two hour tour of the city. He took us to all the places that tourist go such as temples, Mekong river, and parks. Ann got out at all the sites and took pictures while Jim stayed with the purchases and tuk-tuk driver. Vientiane is not large and is easy to see in a couple of hours.
Went to the Lao Plaza Hotel for dinner. Beautiful but pricey. We would have stayed there if we could have gotten internet prices. The walk in prices were way too high. NOTE TO TRAVELERS: use the internet for booking hotels. You cannot haggle the price at the check-in desk but via the internet you can save 30% - 70% on bookings. Note again that you must do the bookings at least 3 days in advance.
The weather here has nice, overcast but warm. The forecast is for rain in the North and since we are heading that way we are a little concerned about overland and water travel. We have a two day river run planned from Luang Prabang to Chang Rai. These plans may have to change if the weather does not cooperate.
We will send pictures whenever we find a computer fast enough and with a USB port. This paticular computer is slower than our 28.8 dial up at home. Connectivity here is also a problem and you get bounced off line often. Will write more later. Love to all.
Jim and Ann
PS: Lao beer is pretty darn good.