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Published: March 5th 2007
Vietnam's rice paddies
Can you see the old lady in the conical hat?
After our great experience with the sand dunes in Mui Ne, we headed north to the fairly small town of Hue.
The journey there consisted of a few stops along the way. Our first stop was at the city of Hoi An. We spent a few hours there waiting for our next bus. I tried the local breakfast dish, which is hard to explain but consisted of cabbage, croutons, pork and a delicious sweet sauce. Afterwards we toured around the town enjoying the scenery and looking in the shops. After finding a pool table and having a few games we decided to head back to the tour agency we booked our ticket with.The bus came shortly and we both eagerly jumped on, excited to explore the north. After an eight hour bus ride we arrived in Hue.
We quickly found a great room in Hue, which cost us five dollars each. It was probably one of the nicest rooms so far. The room was very clean and came with a chandellier, a hot shower and a nice view. After finding our room we explored the town and found a cozy little restaurant. We were both eager to see the countryside
because most of our bus rides in Vietnam had been overnight. We were lucky enough to have a few hours of each bus ride enjoying the scenery, which consisted of endless green rice paddies and the crisp blue ocean. We were still craving more scenery and adventure though, so we booked a $6 tour the next day at the restaurant we were eating at. We awoke the next morning, checked out of our hotel and headed to the tour agency/restaurant. We were both hungry so we grabbed a bite to eat, then jumped on the back of separate motorbikes with our guides. We were first taken out into the countryside to see the rice paddies. Each one seemed similar to the postcards you would see; an old man or woman wearing a conical hat bending over working on the fields. Trev's guide was very informative, explaining to both Andrew and Trev how they flood the fields during the different seasons by showing us all the water pumps scattered throughout the corners of each field. We learned that there are three rice crops per year, and that each acre yields apparently two tons of rice. After seeing the countryside we were
Drive north from Mui Ne
The mountainous desert area
taken to a 400 year old chinese style bridge. There were groups of people gambling with old chinese style playing cards. We were told that it is normally illegal to gamble in Vietnam but it's allowed for a week before and after TET (Chinese New Year celebration). Afterwards we sped through the city to an old Chinese Pagoda. There was a great view of the town on the river when we arrived. We toured the Pagoda and then were taken to our last stop in the town. We were shown an old animal wrestling arena, where the emperor would watch elephants and tigers fight. Apparently the emperor liked to see the elephant win, so they would cut the claws off of the tiger. We both really enjoyed Hue because it was a nice little break in our trip up north. After our great day of touring the city and countryside we headed back to Hue town to catch our 4Pm bus northwards to Hanoi.
After a twelve hour bus ride we arrived early in the morning. We were both used to being taken to guesthouses and hotels that give money to the bus company, so we weren't surprised when we
Drive north from Mui Ne
The mountainous desert area, rice paddies starting to appear.
were taken personally by motorbike for "free" to the bus stations guesthouse of choice. The motorbike drivers were way crazier than in all the other cities, we were both scared stiff as they ran many red lights at 6am. When we chose not to stay at the place we were taken to, we were told to pay for the motorbikes. It was quite unfortunate for the hotel as we were informed it was part of the bus ticket. We found a place just down the road for $10 and free internet. Our first impressions of Hanoi were not the best as we found ourselves wandering streets full of animal organs searching for a hotel. Our first day in Hanoi was spent getting ripped off in taxi's looking for the Chinese embassy. After discovering that the embassy was closed we were stumped as to what we should do. We were planning on entering China by train before the 25th, but the embassy was closed untill the 26th. After some discussion and budget planning, we opted to take a plane from Hanoi to Hong Kong and apply for our Chinese visas there.We booked the ticket to enter Hong Kong on the 26th,
Drive north from Mui Ne
The mountainous desert area. A store with the rocky mountains (not the real ones) in the background.
which gave us a couple days to explore the countryside. Overall Hanoi was not one of our favorite cities because it was so dirty, but we still found a few good things to do. We went to our favorite restaurant PHO 24, which serves very delicious beef noodle soup. We also enjoyed the 2000 Dong beer(13 cents Canadian), and the smaller amounts of tourists.
After booking our flight, we decided to venture east to the beautiful Halong Bay for a night. We booked a ticket there and found ourselves enjoying the scenery shortly afterwards. We were first taken to an amazing cave and allowed to explore around inside it. There were tons of stalagmites and stalagtites. It was great to be able to explore so far inside a massive cave. After the cave we were taken around the bay for a couple hours and stopped at a local fishery where we could buy seafood if we wanted for dinner. One couple bought some squid and crab, but we decided to just enjoy the meals we were given. The bay was beautiful and had over 3000 small islands jutting out of the sea. We really enjoyed the peacefulness of the
The rice paddies
On the drive up north from Mui Ne
boat we were on. We even got to kayak around some of the islands. That evening we had dinner with a nice couple from the Netherlands. The man we met was an architect, which made Andrew happy because he could discuss architecture and ask him questions about his job. After spending a night on the boat we headed back to Hanoi to spend one more night and catch our flight to Hong Kong.
We both really liked Vietnam because it seemed there were far less tourists and it had a nicer atmosphere than a lot of other places we have been. The hotels and guesthouses were very cheap and great value for your money. The food was very delicious, our favorite dish was the Pho Bo (beef noodle). The scenery all throughout Vietnam was amazing, especially the rice paddies and Halong Bay. We spent hours on buses looking at the scenery. We both really loved it. Vietnam was a great country to see.
Thanks a lot for reading the blog! We love to hear from you.
Trev and Andrew
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