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Published: August 7th 2008
Sorry for the long gap in blogs, I'll try and get you all up to date.
We left Sapa and headed south past Hanoi to the town of Ninh Binh.
The countryside around Ninh Binh was stunning and we enjoyed a few days here cycling around the area seeing sights such as Rach Ga (Chicken Canal Village) where much of the lives of the people is conducted on the river, set in a beautiful area surrounded by limestone karsts.
We also visited Tam Coc known as the Halong Bay on the rice fields and enjoyed being paddled round and through caves in the limestone karsts on a small paddle boat.
Hoa Lu, near Tam Coc, was once the capital of Vietnam and although there is not much of the old city left, what does remain is beautiful and the views from the top of the nearby mountain are sublime.
After Ninh Binh we travelled further south on a fairly awful overnight bus to the beautiful city of Hue, much of Hue is still set within the confines of the ancient citadel walls filled with lotus ponds, ancient monuments and parks.
We visited many
Known as Halong Bay on the rice paddies!!
ancient sites, such as the royal enclosure, one of the many tomb complexes set around lakes and lotus ponds, pagodas and villages around the city.
We also embarked on a tour of the DMZ (demilitarized zone0 rthe famous dividing line between north and south Vietnam during the american war and the site of many of the most gruesome battles of the war.
We were shown around the area by a lovely old ex Southern vietnamese soldier, we were shown old american bases, the Vinh Moc tunnel complex dug to a depth of 20 metres and strategically placed to open right onto the beach to allow supplies of amunition and food to be smuggled in by sea. We also saw the war memorial (a very sobering experience) and an abandoned church where the scars of war are still all too visible.
Indeed the sight of some of the things on the tour brought back memories for our guide and brought him to tears on more than one occasion.
The day was very worthwhile but pretty difficult.
Lauras birthday fell during our stay in Hue and she was given a beautiful bunch of flowers from our hotel before we went out for
"Chicken Canal" Village
What a dinner it was, 8 courses all designed to bring a smile, the starter we thought would be pretty straight forward...Spring Rolls.... but the rolls came on cocktail sticks mounted on a peacock which was sculpted from fruits and vegetables!!! It was a great night and a memorable meal to say the least!
Next on our trip was Hoi An a small town just south of Danang and one of the most popular tourist spots in Vietnam.
It was a beautiful place full of character and beautiful old buildings and during our stay I did have a suit fitted and made for me It looks fantastic (as they say its the person wearing it that makes a suit!!)!
We also visited the ancient cham ruins of My son at sunrise from Hoi An, a beautiiful place set in lush forest.
Our hotels in Hue and Hoi An both had nice swimming pools so we spent each evening cooling down in them, a pretty good way to finish each day we thought!!
Ho Chi Minh City
We decided to fly from Hoi An down to Ho Chi Minh City rather than risk another hellish sleeper
bus and the price worked out to be about the same as catching the train so the choice between a 20 hour train journey or a 1 hour flight didnt seem a difficult one!!
Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon as it is often still called, was much different to everywhere else in Vietnam we had visited, Modern, Busy but still utterly charming.
We spent a few days just wondering round and watching people going about their daily business before, on the last day there we decided to go to the water park......what a great decision!!!
The place was full of Huge water slides, wave pools etc and was possibly the best tourist attraction in Asia!!! Well i thought so anyway!
On our last evening we enjoyed drinks from the rooftop bar of the Rex hotel, our table had an amazing view down over the city, lit up in neon and buzzing with activity, the perfect way to say goodnight to Saigon!
The Mekong Delta
Our final stop in Vietnam was the Mekong Delta, a place full of activity and beautiful towns.
We toured from town to town taking in the sights such as the floating markets in Can
The Ancient Capital of Vietnam
Tho, the Mangrove Forests around Ben Tre and Sam Hill which had a great view over Chau Doc and into Cambodia.
The Mekong Delta was a beautiful place to relax and wind down and the boat trips through the area are ceratinly worth doing.
As Gordon Ramsey would say, Vietnam DONE!!!
Next stop Cambodia!
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