Page 2 of Tarfeathers Travel Blog Posts

Asia » Vietnam » North Central Coast March 9th 2016

Today was one of the highlights of our trip. The topography of this area, with its emerald waters and sculpted outcrops of limestone is simply amazing. I could sit in the deck chair on the boat for days, just watching the ever-changing landscape flow by. We were in the lobby at the appointed hour and I watched the awakening town slowly come to life in the harbour across the street. A young fellow arrived on a scooter and wandered around the entrance. Shortly after a taxi arrived. They hung around for a good fifteen minutes before the young guy came in and inquired my name. A little problem of mis-communication. I has written in the cruise confirmation to Blue Swimmers the night before that we would be waiting in the lobby. We boarded the taxi and ... read more
Leaving Cat Ba Harbour 2
Cat Ba Bay
Cat Ba Bay 2

Asia » Vietnam » Red River Delta » Hai Phong March 8th 2016

The doorman hauled our bag to the end of the lane, put it in the trunk of the small taxi and jumped in the passenger seat and we squeezed in the back. We’re off. When we arrive at the bus station, he goes in to the office, checks our tickets and sits down to wait with us. All of a sudden he jumps up and heads outside, beckoning us to follow. I had heard an announcement but didn’t catch the mention of Catba. He stores our bag under the bus and disappears. We climb aboard the bus and begin to take our assigned seats behind the driver. We are brusquely stood away. Other bewilder tourists climb aboard. The driver must have bought a new horn for his bus. The previous one certainly died of overuse. I ... read more
Fishing Fleet
Fishing Chaloupe

Asia » Vietnam » Red River Delta » Ninh Binh March 7th 2016

Our guide for today’s tour was a bit late. It was a big group today. Like last week, we were hustled onto a small shuttle and driven a few blocks to a full sized tour bus. The driver was practically pushing me aboard with worried words about police. What else is new in this city of six million. All aboard, we inched our way through traffic to the edge of town to pick up the autoroute south. Once across the river, we passed miles and miles of rice paddies on this vast plain. Our first stop was in Hoag Lu, the first capital of Vietnam, circa 1010. All that remains is a temple. The other buildings, including the palace, had been floated down the river to Ha Noi. This temple was restored in the 18th century ... read more
Hanoi Apartment building
Hanoi Temple Figure
Hanoi Temple Carving

Asia » Vietnam » Northeast March 6th 2016

I guess the antibiotics are working. I slept through the night with no coughing fits. Very quiet, much like home. A western breakfast at the resort and we were on our way under a fine drizzle. The trip was to last two and a half hours, but as anyone who has travelled with a guide knows, they exaggerate. After the allotted time, my butt was getting sore. I asked that we stop for a few minutes to stretch. Ten minutes later we had not stopped yet. Claudette reminded the guide. We turned around and backtracked a few klics to a restaurant. Lunch time he says. It was 11 am. He had said we were going to stop for lunch at the AutoRoute. Now the story was that this was a better place to eat. We continued ... read more

Asia » Vietnam » Northwest March 5th 2016

We were prisoners in our room. We couldn’t unlock the door. There was no phone in the room to call for help. The system here is upon entering the room, you put the key tag in a slot above the light switch. This turns on the electricity. When you remove the tag, it cuts the current, so we were struggling with the lock in the dark. I remembered that I had a crank generated flashlight in my pack. It did not work like a magic wand to open the door but at least we could see what we were dealing with. It finally released and we went back across the street for breakfast. More of the same soup and vegetables. Back on the road again for another long drive. We were supposed to go check out ... read more
Mountains 2
Mountains 3

Asia » Vietnam » Northeast » Mèo Vạc March 5th 2016

Breakfast was Vietnamese style, a thin broth with vegetables, fried rice and a meat dish. We were then hustled down the slippery, mist-sprayed dirt path to the end of the road where our guide and driver awaited. He seemed to know where we were going. He mentioned a few place names I had written down as possibly interesting. We had a 7.5 hour drive ahead of us to get near the Chinese border. He would have to take our passports to register with the authorities. Sa Pa was larger than I thought. It took us about 15 minutes to get through the centre of town. It was then miles and miles of barely two lane roads, working our way up the valley we had descended the day before. The driver skilfully worked around slow moving vehicles ... read more
Guide's Homestay
Guide's Family
Driver and Father-in-law

Asia » Vietnam » Northwest March 4th 2016

Our local guide came by while we were having breakfast with a few clarifications about our itinerary. He asked what we had paid. It seems that La Beauty de Hanoi makes a good commission. Today we have a 12 kilometre trek ahead of us, down into the valley to a couple of Black Hmung villages. We sleep in a “homestay”. I am not quite sure what this is as I have read that it illegal for locals to have foreigners sleep in there homes. The trek was 95% downhill. Some places we had to catwalk down an especially deep step. Other times it was skipping over rocks. This entailed a delicate dance and the quick decision of what foot should go forward first and plan a few steps ahead. Other times it was a leisurely walk ... read more
Claudette's Personal Assistant
Preparing Hemp Thread
Hand Spinning

Asia » Vietnam » Northwest March 3rd 2016

We got up early and separated our luggage so as not to haul all of it around for the next 5 days. Although we had time to eat breakfast, the hotel prepared a boxed one for us anyways. We were first picked up by a 15 seated and driven a few blocks. A bigger bus would never fit in this lane. Since we were the last to sign up, we had the back row seats. A light snack was served while we made our way through the building rush hour traffic. It was clear sailing along the auto route for the next several hours. I noticed that a few other passengers had internet access. Imagine, I had to travel half way around the world to experience this technological wonder. The driver made two rest breaks at ... read more
Cat Cat Village
Love Waterfall
Bamboo Irrigation Wheels

Asia » Vietnam » North Central Coast March 2nd 2016

Sometime during the night I was awakened byClaudette’s purring (a polite way of putting it) and I reached out to give her a nudge. Icoudn't reach her. I tried again, this time with my foot. Nothing. Igads this bed is big! Today’s number one project was to plan the next asix Day’s itinerary. We had mostly decided where we wanted to go so we asked the folks here at the hotel to put a trip together a trip for us. We thought that on our way to the ethnology museum we would stop at a travel agency to get another price. That never happened so for the price of a weeks all inclusive in the Caribbean, we have 8 days of the same in northern Vietnam. The museum was a wonderful introduction to the various cultures ... read more
Women Rule

Asia » Vietnam » Red River Delta » Hanoi March 1st 2016

Up early to take our taxi to the airport. For the first time, breakfast was late to be served. A touch of class for our departure was the girl at Aquarius Inn with whom we had mostly dealt with, came to the gate to wave good-bye. We had given ourselves an hour to get there, just in case. We had a driver that spoke some English so he offered a running commentary on the countryside we passed and local customs. I must say that this is the cleanest part of the country we have seen. There is very little plastic litter along the sides of the roads. Even in the towns and villages, the rearing piles of rotting compost or plastic. I think I saw only one bottle floating in a canal or on the lake ... read more
Farmin Vietnamese Style
Proud Papa
Airport Woodwork

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