Published: October 13th 2009
October 13th 2009
Firstly, I would like to welcome all the new subscribers to the blog,, Hi guys and girls, you know who you are. Secondly, I would like to thank all of those who have sent us a message.
Anyhow, we (I say we, but Kate is actually asleep) have found five minutes in our busy schedule to give you working folk a brief, but detailed, account of our first week “travelling”.
So picking up from where we left off last time, we had just arrived in Hanoi and got to the hotel, which turned out to be a real winner (thanks trip advisor) . We slept well and got up early to make the most of the day, the hotel breakfast was the first Vietnamese food for us so we really went into it head first, I had two pieces of bacon (fat with a small piece of meat) and a loaf of bread (small farmhouse size) and Kate opted for a banana pancake. They were both very nice, but somewhat of a “safe bet” for us travelling novices. After finishing the breaky we went on our way to explore Hanoi with the first stop being the big
lake in the centre. The lake was nice, big and very much lake like. There were lots of benches around the outside to sit down and relax and take in the view. We spent a few hours relaxing and taking photos of the lake and saying no thank you to all the book sellers trying to sell us books from cardboard boxes. We walked around half of the lake and decided to have another sit down, I mean it is strenuous work all this walking, so we found a bench where Kate polished off a Pan au chocolat! A Vietnamese guy came up to us and said, (imagine this in Vietnamese accent) “you smiley couple, I take picture of you for Vietnam tourist magazine”: we said, ok no problem, didn‘t want to be rude. He then asked us to walk towards him, so we did, then he started shouting , “kissy kissy, kissing kissing” so, yes in true “I don’t want to be rude style” we kissed & kissed & kissed for the camera! of which Kate was loving especially as by now a crowd had started to draw due to the loud “kissy kissy”. So we are now famous
We had lunch in a café that smelt like a zoo (literally) but by the time we walked in and sat down we could not leave, again we did not want to seem rude. So I had steak , Kate had chicken and beef satay. 6/10...
Looked around a bit more, shops, mall, got plug converter and went back to hotel.
Went out for dinner in the old town to a restaurant recommended by lonely planet and it was very good, spring rolls followed by steak for me and Kate had Hanoi duck in 5 spices. 810 very nice. Wondered through the streets and then went back to the hotel which always takes longer than we thought it would because our map was so small it seemed to be missing half of the road names and it was a constant question as to where we were and where we were trying to get to which we always thought was opposite directions!
Kate has just told me I’m going into to much detail, so I will try to be a little more brief…..if there is anyone still reading this or still awake….
day we had breakfast, the same as the day before and then took to the chaotic streets to take in the madness of Hanoi. If anyone is wondering what side of the road they drive on in Vietnam the answer would be on the right, on the left, in the middle, on the pavement, in fact anywhere there is a space they will fill it!
So did a little shopping, had lunch and went back to the hotel. Evening meal was great, we found the perfect restaurant with a large balcony overlooking the busiest roundabout in Hanoi, it was a little like Oxford Circus, with people and restaurants everywhere. This night was a little different as they seem to have a talent show in the middle of the roundabout, latterly people were on mopeds just pulling into the front of the stage to watch. The talent of Hanoi however had not made it to the roundabout as the show was absolutely atrocious, it was a mix between the circus and strictly come dancing. We sat and watched the entertainment for a couple of hours whilst we were eating, the acts ranged from a man with a hula hoop to
monkeys performing balancing acts. The highlight of the night was the toasted cheese & ham sandwich & chips (crazy I know) I ordered, it was something different for me and I never really put that combo together before, but it worked. Kate had Singapore noodles, I could she was sooooo jealous of my meal………...
Briefer: the next day we went to the war ………hang on breakfast, yes we had the same, but with a twist. They forgot to put in the bananas in Kate’s banana pancake, we obviously didn‘t say anything. Back to the story, the next day we went to the war museum which was really interesting,, bought hats, and Kate bought shoes…..in the evening we went to a night market which was very busy and seemed to have as many flies as it had visitors. Went out for a lovely evening meal at a restaurant I was “allowed” to chose (Kate has choose most of the eating venues so far) and it was fantastic. I had chicken noodles (very daring) and Kate had pork sweet and sour…
The next day we got up early and went on a pre arranged 2 day trip to Ha Long
Bay. This is a beauty spot off the coast of Vietnam, the bus trip took 4 hours to get to the dock which I was a bit concerned about as for those of you who know me know I’m not the best on a bus/in a car/ on a train/in a plane/ on a boat but I knew Kate really wanted to do it. So 4 hours on and I had survived without any problems, I put it down to the sick wrist bands I had on. Got to the boat which was great………….over to Kate as I have been typing for ages and she has just woken up. The boat was really big especially considering there were only about 14 of us on it! Its called a Junk boat and for anyone planning a trip here it is well worth it (thanks Elisa and Beau for the tip)! The food was fab- loads of seafood including king prawns, clams, squid, crab, tuna as well as some other stuff like beef, chicken and rice. Breakfast was Matt’s favourite fatty bacon (Char you would hate it!) but also bread and jam and weird egg stuff cooked with spring onion so gave
that a swerve as it was only 7.30am! During the day they took us to a cave which was huge and full of stalactites and stalagmites - quite impressive and interesting shapes and sizes -see picture! We then went kayaking in a two man boat around the islands, this was so tranquil and beautiful. We kayaked under a huge rock into an area completely surrounded by other rocks/islands so it was totally silent and now my “White Island” happy place! We went back to the junk boat and jumped off the boat into the sea which was fun, Matt then said he saw two jelly fish so I made a swift exit back onto the boat!! We met two really nice Swiss girls Sonya and Daniela who we will hopefully be meeting up with again maybe tonight. Saw a floating village where 400 people live with a school - unbelievable that people live on the water and no Kevin Cosner in sight!
We got on the night train to travel from Hanoi to Hue which takes 13 hours so got a cabin which we were relieved when we arrived to find out we were sharing with two fun Irish
people who we had also met on the boat trip. So arrive in Hue this morning, checked into our hotel (well is it right to still be called a hotel when you get it for $3 each?!) then we hit the sights again! Hue is quiet in comparison to Hanoi which was manic 24/7 with a constant noise of motorbike horns! We got a cyclo to the Citadel, and looked around the Forbidden Purple City, then the Cyclo man (Long) took us on a bit of a tour, thank goodness for eye lids when crossing those roads!! At times I could not believe he was going for it crossing a road with Matt and I both sat on the front of his bike when a truck or bus was coming hurtling along!! But we’re still in one piece so happy days and loving it!
Until the next instalment, adios amigos.
Matt & Kate
There are more photos below