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Published: March 9th 2008
So where was I? Oh yes, back from the waterfall -- this might not have all happened in the order that I have here -- we did a lot in the 3 days we have spent here and I might have got it a bit mixed up. We have a fire place in the hotel so Micha spent about an hour trying to get it going. The wood was a bit wet so because the room was full of smoke, Micha opened all the windows and doors -- I had to beg him to leave it alone because I was now freezing. So we went out for yet another walk (keeps you warm) and then came back to our cold, smokey room, climbed into our cold, miserable bed with every item of clothing we possess and discovered that we had an electric blanket -- bliss -- we had it on nearly all night -- and I think it may be the greatest invention ever.
The next day was my birthday. I didn't see anything that I wanted Micha to buy and I was thinking it would be nice if he went out early and bought flowers and then maybe continue on to Baguette and Chocolat and bring back some cakes. I didn't tell him this but that's what I was thinking. Anyway, it's true -- great minds think alike -- he came back with beautiful roses and orchids and a big box of assorted cakes which I painstakingly cut up into quarters and we ate half in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. My favorite? Maybe the chocolate and coconut tart -- a hard call because they were all delicious.
After another tour of the town and market the weather cleared up so we took a jeep to a village and then walked with a group of Red Dzao to their village. It was a beautiful place even with the rotten weather. We all went to one of their houses and met the 80-year old grandmother. The house was very big if rather bare by western standards but I noticed that they had a TV in one corner. We had tea with them and they showed us their embroidery -- they were all so nice that I felt I had to buy something small from all of them -- and I did -- so my collection of small pouches and purses has increased again. These people used to have about 10 children just one or two generations ago but now they have two or three. Some of them can speak quite reasonable English so Micha asked them a lot of questions about their way of life and we again greatly enjoyed visiting the village more because of the people than because of the scenery (which as I said would have been really nice on a clear day). All their chickens, pigs and cattle seem to be free range, roaming around, eating whatever vegetation they like -- looks like a good life and I guess it is until they get eaten (I don't imagine they are there for decoration). We came back to town and had a meal at a small cafe which may have been the best we've had so far. It wasn't anything special but for some reason it was really tasty -- bamboo and garlic, beef and vegetables, etc., washed down with honey wine (had to pass on the snake wine). In the evening Micha made another fire a bit more successfully than the previous evening but the wood was still wet so once again he smoked us out of the room and we found our way back to the town center which was very lively (for here) on a Saturday night with a lot of people and a Saturday night market -- it was really packed and there was a sort of holiday atmosphere but once again the rain came down but this time quite heavily and everybody scattered back to their hotels or homes. We bought some rice wine and also went back to our hotel, warmed up the bed with the electric blanket and ended a perfect day.
Today we were supposed to go for most of the day with a jeep to visit a hot springs and more villages but it rained steadily all night and even though it seems to have stopped now it is still really foggy so we have had to scrap that plan. There is a big market at a town about 3 hours from here where most of the tourists go -- it is supposed to be very colorful but you spend all day there and then go straight to the station for the night train back to Hanoi and that didn't appeal to us very much. So we find ourselves with a whole day and no particular plans -- we are going into town to see if we can find a herbal bath and maybe sauna and then because we have to fill up out time we might just go to Baguette and Chocolat and have some coffee and cakes -- after all, we still haven't sampled their entire inventory and it wouldn't be fair to leave here without giving a full report.
Tomorrow we will be back early in the morning in Hanoi and then off to the airport a few hours later to fly to Da Nang. We will be staying in an ancient port town Hoi An for 5 days and then back to Hanoi for another night and then alas the holiday will be at an end and we will be flying home via Bangkok (and not to forget Tashkent). Still we have another entire week first so won't think about that yet. I booked the hotel in Bangkok and we will probably spend the day at the Tokyo Center -- we haven't bought many things -- we can't carry them but Hoi An is supposed to be a good place for getting clothes and shoes made and for good prices on just about everything else -- as it is our last major stop we will probably do some shopping there. It is on the coast and there is a nice beach -- I checked the weather forecast and it is supposed to be partly sunny to sunny with temperatures of about 25 degrees -- sounds nice ...
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