Blogs from Northeast, Vietnam, Asia


Asia » Vietnam » Northeast » Cao Bang June 10th 2014

You want to spend 5 days traveling, taking tours, seeing wonderful caves and waterfalls, and drinking your nights away… all for $80?! It’s not impossible. Follow me and I’ll show you the way. The setting in Lunar New Year, or Tet as the Vietnamese call it. It’s the biggest celebration of the year and most have 2 weeks off to travel to the homeland to visit family and make offerings to God’s and ancestors. Most everything is shut down, especially in the big cities. As an English teacher in Hanoi, I have at my disposal the plush scenery of northern Vietnam. Pick your posion: Cuc Phuong/Ninh Binh, Cat Ba island, Ha Long Bay, Sapa, Mai Chao, Ha Giang, Ba Vi, and Tam Dao to name a few. What we chose to do was head straight up ... read more
off the beaten path
Trung Khanh

Asia » Vietnam » Northeast » Quang Ninh » Halong Bay June 1st 2014

From Ha Noi we traveled around 130km east to Hạ Long Bay. I was really excited about this trip. When I first researched Viet Nam I came upon the famous images of the limestone karsts and islets perched like pearls in the emerald waters of the bay. The karsts are the big draw, they have been worn down by the sea into pillars and interesting shapes and the water has teased caves and archways into them. I'd wanted to see them for years and had high hopes for the Unesco World Heritage site. Hạ Long Bay is gorgeous even from land but the best way to experience it, we'd been told, was by boat. Tours abound from day trips on rustic fishing boats to luxury week long cruises and everything in-between. Matt booked us a 2 ... read more
Ha Long arch
Ha Long sunset
Ha Long sunset

Asia » Vietnam » Northeast » Quang Ninh » Halong Bay May 7th 2014

I returned to Hanoi in mid April after spending 6 months in southern Vietnam and 8 months in Australia. I was happy to go back home and met my family as well as eating my favorite food. My sister from Sài Gòn (HCM city) also went back home with her husband and son during our national holiday, so we made a 4-day trip to Hạ Long bay from 30 April to 3 May 2014. My Swedish brother in law had never been to Hạ Long bay even though he has been living in Vietnam for 3 and a half years. He wished to see the bay so we organized the trip for him. We rented a 16 seater car with driver and the 11 of us arrived in Bãi Cháy city at 7pm. This city is ... read more
My nephew and niece at Hạ Long bay
Hạ Long bay
Kevin played with a plastic eagle

Asia » Vietnam » Northeast » Quang Ninh » Halong Bay May 2nd 2014

We travelled from Dien Bien Phu to Sapa in a minivan, and apart from a lunch stop that was more for the benefit of the driver catching up with some mates than us actually being able to obtain any food, it was a pretty easy 10 hour trip. On arrival in Sapa we were swamped by the ladies from the surrounding hill tribes trying to sell us their treks and home-stays. They had remarkably good English (all learnt from practicing with tourists) and were incredibly persistent. The 2 ladies that attached themselves to us followed us around the town for 2 hours! The 2 hours part was more our fault though because we had encountered another unexpected holiday - Sapa Cultural Week! What joy... everything was booked out and we felt like it was ground hog ... read more
Cloudy Sapa
View across Sapa Lake
Sapa markets in the foggy evening

Asia » Vietnam » Northeast April 1st 2014

Hollywood sign? In a rather remote part of north eastern Vietnam? The directions given by the Aussie guy who, with his Vietnamese wife, ran the homestay we were staying at didn't initially make sense. But when we cycled into town and saw the sign the locals placed high up one of the mountains (see photo), we understood. Much better than the day before, when Valerie and Matt (two English people I met) and I got hopelessly lost. We apparently had the dubious distinction of being the only travellers in 3 years to take a wrong turn on what was supposed to be a short idyllic ride through the countryside!? We were heading for another local house which sold beer and snacks - "The Pub with Cold Beer"! Instead we somehow ended up miles away, on a ... read more
Very Tough Going...
Our Destination
Gorgeous Scenery


Asia » Vietnam » Northeast March 3rd 2014

We wanted to take an overnight boat trip around the one of the ‘new 7 Natural Wonders’ – beautiful Halong Bay. However, the weather wasn't promising ... in Hanoi it rained or drizzled constantly for the 5 days we were there. One day had a forecast of patches of sunshine, so we decided to take our chance and booked a boat trip. While it never got better than overcast, we were still pleased we went. The scenery was almost eerie at times seeing the mountains shrouded in mist. The boat we chose (Carina Cruises) was quite deluxe – very comfortable and each meal was about six courses! The 18 passengers were quite an international bunch with six French people, four English, four American and Kaylene and I. Kayaking around a floating village was a highlight ... ... read more
Fun in the kayaks
Floating village houses
Hello Hello!

Asia » Vietnam » Northeast February 27th 2014

HA LONG BAY Monday 24th February It was and early start for the 3.5 hour bus trip to Ha Long Bay. Wake up call at 6am, bags out at 7am and on the road at 8am. Monday morning and the traffic was incredible! Fortunately it was far worse for those going into the city than for us. It was our first real look at the rice paddies and vegetable gardens that followed the road all the way. The weather was still foggy and damp but the temperature a mild 17-18c. On the way we had a ‘happy room’ stop at a large complex set up to employ disadvantaged young people. They made most of the product available for sale and the quality was very good. The complex was modern and ... read more
Fruit Carving
Bat Cave on a Ha Long island
Rhonda in Ha Long Bay

Asia » Vietnam » Northeast » Bac Kan February 26th 2014

The Czechs have a charming way of describing someone who is peculiar or off their trolley: “he is special.” The kindest thing I can say about the majority of women in Bac Kan is that they are special. If I want to buy bread at breakfast time, I have to pass three chemists1 and four hairdressers2. One of the main monthly expenses for the Bac Kan household is mum’s hair. As a good old fashioned chauvinist pig I am happy to note that the women take care of their appearance but there is a slightdrawback: they spend all day with their crash helmet on. In banks, offices, restaurants, walking down the street, selling, buying ….. high heels, puffy jackets, cloth smog masks and a crash helmet. img= read more
người phụ nữ ngu ngốc 3

Asia » Vietnam » Northeast » Quang Ninh » Halong Bay January 2nd 2014

We started our day with Tai Chi on the sun deck before getting ready to sail back to the harbour. Before we left we we visited the Surprise Caves. There were 3 separate caverns The Surprise Cave the Amazing Cave and the Shocking Cave. Each had impressive features and although they may well have been spectacular the sheer number of visitors basically unrestrictedly touching, photographing and walking over has led to them being fairly ordinary and sadly grubby. Eking out the last of our Halong experience we lay on the sun deck watching the scenery go by as we drifted back to the pier where we caught a bus, stopping at the same type of tourist trap, back to The Boss in Hanoi. Wayne picked up some pizza, pasta and shopping mart beer whilst out getting ... read more

Asia » Vietnam » Northeast » Quang Ninh » Halong Bay January 1st 2014

Some feeling a little worse for wear with early breakfast and a transfer to the sightseeing boat for our excursion to Lan Ha Bay. We visited a Pearl Farm which was pretty much the grubbiest part of the bay that we saw and despite the "You no buy, you will regret" I have no regrets (well not about not buying pearls but maybe about the amount of gin consumed last night). We chugged further along into Lan Ha and stopped to kayak around some of the formations by Three Peaches Beaches including the Bat Cave, Dark and Light Cave and kayaking under and through many of the formations. A glorious day that included much lying around in the sun and enjoying the breathtaking scenery that we were cruising by. We finished the day by climbing to ... read more
Yeah that is how I paddle :p

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