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October 3rd 2008
Published: October 3rd 2008
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this is central area of hanio-a beatuiful relaxing lake with bridge to small island

I left Korea 28th September 2008, for a quick holiday in North Vietnam before going home. I was unsure if I would be ready for it or not, since I knew it would be more intense than Korea. I also only planned to spend my ‘laid-back’ two weeks(?) around the north of Vietnam only. I would like to see the other areas further south during other future ‘winter vacations’ from teaching in Asia; at least, that’s the plan.

I was a bit sick the first day with the rush of leaving Korea and bad neck from dozing off on plane. I actually managed to find a hotel by myself without too much hassles from touts in old market area. I crashed out most of first day in Camellia Hotel- It was a bleak tiny room; all stark white with four white pillars in each corner; supporting the tallest ceiling I have ever seen; lying on the bed was like being at the bottom of a white lift-well. 'Woke up in my delirium and thought I was in some sort of 'elevator to heaven'...
Anyway, next day, back on earth, soon 'got into it' and walked around beautiful lake nearby and got lost around market area. (It would not be Asia, if you don't get lost at least a few times a day).
I also searched around and got a good room and negotiated price down. Being closer to the lake and having elevator (a real one this time) were the deal breakers. Walking up even one flight of steps leaves you drenched in sweat; I had 4 flights. I thought I was so cleaver. 'Booked into hotel; got into elevator; start going up; electricity cuts out....
After five minutes of sweat pouring onto floor, they finally wrench open the doors and I climb out and pour into my new shower. Still, getting stuck is worth the risk, with Air-con, bar fridge, big satellite TV, free buffet breakfast and internet computer in room. It is good to have a rest in the heat of the day in comfort, because being outside is hard work.
I will use this hotel as a base among small 1 day, 2 day and 3 day tours around the North and explore Hanoi on ‘rest days’.
Like Cambodia, getting around was not too hard, since getting on the back of motorcycle-taxi was very fast. The hard part was negotiating the price. The Vietnamese were much harder and expert at bargaining than the Cambodians. Still it was very cheap and fun to bargain, except at the end when then ask for more than the price you agreed on!! The place was packed with traffic, mostly motorcycles, even on the footpaths. It was crazy everywhere but fairly relaxed around the lake at the old market area (where I and most of the ‘younger generation’ stay)

Basically my four main trips out of Hanoi were-
1. Halong Bay- boat tour boat cruise around karsts peak islands.
2. Sapa- trekking with Hill Tribe people in mountains near Chinese border.
3. Perfumed Pagoda- river cruise and cable car to temple in cave.
4. Tam Coc and Hoa Lu- bike ride and river cruise thru limestone caves and visit to ancient capital.

All of these places where quite spectacular and enjoyable and I would have hated missing any of them even though the walks, kayaking and biking were sometimes exhausting. I will let the photos speak for themselves.

Additional photos below
Photos: 357, Displayed: 24


Halong BayHalong Bay
Halong Bay

World Heriatage Area,below Chinese Border
Halong BayHalong Bay
Halong Bay

2 days on boat touring islands

3rd October 2008

This brings back great memories!
Hi John! Wonderful photos and such great memories it brought back for me although my trip was 10yrs ago. Seems you did such a lot in just 2 weeks! Also noticed you've rid yourself of your "scary" beard! Are you back in Oz now? I'm still on the move. Currently in Zorneding in Southern Germany visiting old travel buddies. See you when I get back home! ie if you're still there!
4th October 2008

Yes, back home and 'updating my home'. I am still taking a while to settle back into the routine of Oz. I shaved off beard in Korea, because everyone said i would look younger. The next day, went to buy movie ticket and they asked me if i was over 65 annd did I want a pensioner discount!!- so much for that....Good luck with future travels. I am happy for a short break.
16th October 2008

This is Big Brother!
You are really FREE Man! Good Speed to your life.
26th October 2008

John Nanchang China
Hi John. Great set of pictures.
11th November 2008

John Nanchang China
John, please tell me you have grown your beard back? You just wouldn't be Tall John without the beard mate.
12th November 2008

It's back!
Yes, the beard is back! It grew back slower but whiter.-John
16th November 2008

Hey, Christmas is just around the corner - job in it for you, white beard and all.
10th May 2010

Your Tours
Fascinating John. I have never bothered with some of these new methods, and putting your experiences up for all to see is a splendid idea. Well done Cheers Jake See you Friday
29th May 2010

Yes, all tombs are not named correctly. I go a bit slack; too many captions of too many photos. maybe one day i will fix it up. Good luck on your third visit; well worth it!

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