Our next destination was to be Halong Bay. We took the easy route and booked to do a tour. It was still cheap and everything was paid for. It was a 3 and a half hour bus ride from Hanoi to Halong Bay on the coast. It was raining and miserable but the scenery made up for this. We arrived at the port to board our Junk Boat, as they call them. Not junk though, actually very nice wooden style boats that are 3 levels. The other people on the boat consisted of more Aussies, Kiwi's, American's, Germans, 2 Danish and a guy from Iceland. We were treated to a typical lunch then shown to our cabins which were small but comfortable. Once the rain had stopped we made our way to the top deck to get comfortable on the lounge chairs and enjoy the scenery. It was still cloudy and rained a little at times but was still enjoyable. The first day consisted of us looking at a cave and enjoying a few beers followed by us getting to kayak around. I was really bad at the kayaking thing so Dave was left to do most of the work. We
got lost but managed to find our way back to the boat after an hour or so. By that time it was time for dinner. That was enjoyable but different, one of the dishes was just roasted peanuts!!! We all then once again retired to the top deck to enjoy a few drinks and the cool night air. Dave and I opted for an early night. He had a book and wanted to read it whenever he had a spare chance. He actually finished it in 5 days.
The next it was an early wake up to a crap breakfast, just bread and jam for us. But when you are hungry you eat what you can. The next day we just slowly made our way back to the port and enjoy the scenery around us. It was still cloudy but the rained stayed away and the sun came out every now and then to warm us a little. It was then lunch and the bus ride back to Hanoi after that. We shall just leave the pictures to explain how nice it is at Halong Bay.
That night we had a train trip to the mountains to a tiny town
The train trip was more than we expected. We organised a tour for this trip also. It was a 3 night, 2 day one and all included again. The train was nice and clean and we had a comfy bed to stretch out and sleep. Luxury compared to what we have been travelling in all the way up here. Although it still had a cloody squat toilet, just cant escape them. We also shared the cabin with a couple from Canada which made the journey nicer. It was 6.30am when we arrived in Lao Cai which is on the border of Vietnam and China. It was then an hour bus ride up 1600m in the mountains to Sapa. It wa a very cloudy day and we were actually in the clouds. Sapa is meant to have the most beautiful scenery but due to the cloud, we could hardly see across the road. We had figured the weather had got the better of us yet again. We arrived at our hotel and had a well needed breakfast. As we sat in the restaurant you could actually see the cloud rolling in around you. Throughout the day you could
see it going back and forth up and down the mountains, it was as if it was breathing. After breakfast we met our guide and started our 14km trek down the mountains and into the valley. It was still very cloudy at this stage and we could still see none of the mountains that our guide was talking about. As we decended down the mountain we could slowly start to see the rice terraces and mountains around us. As we trekked through the mud we gave up on trying to keep our lovely sneakers clean. Dave had trouble and kept sliding out everywhere and putting his feet into mud holes up to his ankles, very funny. Eventually we made it below the clouds and into the valley to see some of the best scenery we had ever seen. Before we had decided to got to Sapa Dave was not keen but i talked him into it. He was very grateful as it was the best place we had been to and we were constantly amazed at how beautiful it was. We walked all day through the villages and met some locals and had a tasty lunch before we continued our
walk. After lunch it was time for the worst part of the walk yet. It was all flat but we had to walk through muddy clay. It was so sticky and your foot just about come out of your shoe as it stuck in the mud. Our shoes were covered in mud by this stage but the rest of the body was clean. That was until Dave stepped in a puddle and the mud splattered all over me!!! I would have loved to have pushed him over in the mud but it was an accident and he would have got me back a lot worse if i had. Along the way we come across a lady passed out in the field with people crowded around her. She looked dead to us and no one would explain what had happened. Then our guide told us she had a bit to much of the rice wine and had passed out, a common sight in the villages. Relieved that the lady was still alive we then laughed as her family tried to pick her up out of the mud and carry her home. It was not long before our trek was over. Lucky
for us we did not have to climb back up the mountains, there was a bus waiting for us. As we made our way up, the cloud had lifted slighty and we could finally see the mountains. Mount Fansipan was almost visible at this stage. This mountain is the biggest in Vietnam and stands at 3143m. We managed to get in a few photos of the town before the cloud came rolling back over like a blanket. We then got washed up and explored the town a little before we had dinner and made our way to bed. As you could imagine we were very tired after our 14km hike through the mud and rain.
The next day we were free to do whatever we pleased, so we hired a motorbike. First we headed north a little to a waterfall. On the way we started to noticed how many marajuana plants there were around us. The day before our guide told us that they use it to make clothes etc and they grow in amongst the corn. As we rode through the area they were everywhere. A strange little town that had marajuana everywhere and ladies offering you Opium!! We
stumbled onto the waterfall then parked the bike and climbed our way up a little. A beautiful waterfall this one. For the rest of the day we just headed down the mountain into the valley amongst the village of Cat Cat. You could see the people all dressed in their ethnic clothing watching television and playing computer games in their little huts. The old way meets with modern technology, you cant get away from it. We then made our way back in to town before our bus took us back to meet the train. It was another comfortable train ride back to the hustle and bustle of Hanoi. We are in our final days of Vietnam and plan to just laze about and enjoy Hanoi.
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