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Published: November 21st 2018
Arrived in Vietnam after 25 hours without sleep but to be fair the flights, although long were pretty good.
Welcome to Vietnam- an evening in Hanoi in the rain! First impressions were therefore a bit muted but the traffic!!!!!
I have never seen so many motorbike bikes weaving in and out of traffic as if there were no other vehicles on the road and somehow not crashing - it has to be seen to be believed. And that’s before we tried crossing the roads!
But we got to the hotel in one piece and of course because we hadn’t slept for 24 hours we had an early start to get to Sa Pa the following morning - ouch
Quick wander and an early night.
Next morning set off on a 5 hour trip to Sa Pa, a town in the hills and stayed at a nice hotel recommended by Chris and Chris Day - the Victoria hotel. With its central location and gym and pool it was a great spot to spend my birthday in Vietnam.
Sa Pa is an interesting town and a great place to base yourself if you like walking or journeying out into
the villages and mountains.
We also managed to find a bar with Vietnamese craft beers & others with fantastic views.
First full day we spent wandering the town and finding our bearings - weather was not great so no point in heading up in the hills.
The food so far in Vietnam has been good and Sa Pa is no exception. Everywhere we went was good including the hotel breakfast.
On my birthday we were picked up early for an all day tour of the surrounding hills and villages on the back of a couple of motorbikes.
Great day, some hairy moments with interesting driving by all and sundry particularly in the town and around one stretch of roadworks on the hills which narrowed for single traffic - didn’t help there were huge trucks either side which couldn’t pass each other - it makes it clear why motorbikes are the preferred mode of transport.
When in the villages we visited a family who showed us around their house - it was surprisingly big and housed 3 generations with 5 bedrooms only divided by curtains! Talking to the Mother we heard that girls can’t get
married until they can embroider well and for the year before they marry they spend ALL their time doing embroidery, creating garments for their wedding & making gifts for the grooms family. Some dedication!
That evening we found a bar with live music - a Vietnamese flautist playing a series of bamboo flutes - we even got another early Christmas reminder with xxxxxxxx
The following day we had a trip to the top of Fansipan on a funicular railway & the ‘sun world’ Fansipan cable car.
As a point of interest the cable car system holds the Guinness world records for longest span at 6592.5 metres and the longest stretch between towers at 1410 metres.
Some great scenery on the ride with the rice fields, mountains and clouds but once we got halfway up we couldn’t see a thing for the clouds.
At the end of the cable car we climbed a steep 600 steps to the top of Fansipan mountain passing a huge Buddha and various shrines on the way to the peak - at over 3000metres it was the highest we had been since the Lares trek in Peru.
It was quite
atmospheric and although we couldn’t see much from the top, the clouds actually enhanced the experience.
Our final day in Sa Pa saw us wander round the lake and visit the Sa Pa market where we saw everything you would expect at a local food market albeit markedly different ways of presenting their meat (including dog) and fish - we also spotted a fish jumping off the back of a motorbike but it didn’t get away!
A quick dip then back to Hanoi before setting off again early in the morning for our cruise along Bai Tu Long Bay- more of which another day
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