Published: August 10th 2008August 10th 2008
An interesting 26 hour bus ride from Laos into Vietnam: with the local bus doubling up both as a transport lorry and a club (some of the busses try and out do eachother on sound systems - so all morning the buss was shaking with techno)
Hanoi is just a crazy city. the roads are overflowing with motorbikes, driven by lunatics. there seems to be no rules to the roads here - motorbikes cris-cross at junctions as if stunt men, each furiously beeping his horn, expecting others to move out of his way. i have seen many accidents here.
I took a 3 day luxury cruise on an old wooden Junk to Halong Bay, a spectacular maze of jagged mountains towering out of the sea. as well as kayaking and swimming i finally managed to go climbing, which turned out to be one of my most enjoyable days so far. after 4 climbs or so, i attempted a really hard (6b) climb which was a real challenge - after being stuck at an overhang for about 15 minutes, i just fell out of sheer exhaustion. i later climbed a rock face out of the boat with no harness, jumping
into the sea when finished.
i wondered why no stray dogs tried to attack me in Hanoi (as they seem to do everywhere i go) then i found a 1km stretch of dog restaurants. we went to a snake restaurant where, after the snake was slaughtered next to our table, we had a 9 course snake meal - consuming everything from its leathery skin to its green bile. i even drank the raw (and slightly congealed) snake blood, and ate its still beating heart! we then found out you can buy a pint of beer for 10p in Hanoi, and after the curfew we went to a lock in at a pub (until the police came and told us to move). ive spent along time here and i have grown to love it - walking through the chaotic streets during the day, whilst relaxing at the jazz cafe by night.
i then rented a high powered dirt bike and set off into the mountains with Brita, an American girl. although my bike was extremely hard to get used to (i kept on stalling it in the middle of crossroads whenever anyone cut me up), its sheer power and
crackling roar of the engine made it an incredible journey. we achieved about 450km in 4 days, and visited the beautiful town of Bac Ha, where all the local tribal people come to trade. we finnished up above the clouds to Sapa (which was surprisingly cold) before taking our bikes on the train back.
There are more photos below