Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Halong Bay to Sapa: 4 seasons in one day

From Hanoi we headed for the coastal delights of the magestic limestone islands of Halong Bay. On our junk cruise boat we were joined by some Spaniards, some Germans and a lovely English couple from Cornwall. The first day ended with lots of swimming and jumping in from the boat, until we spotted some serious looking jellyfish slinking about beside the hull of the boat. At night Pamela and Kathy were transformed into Karaoke Queens, dragging the Spaniards and the English into life. I put on my best evening dress, a little bit of lippy and performed a baritone version of Madonna's 'Like a Virgin.' At night there was the most severe thunder storm. The lightning flashed like gunfire outside our cabin window.
The next day it rained and rained. We did a spot of kayaking. A rather snobby Aussie lady joined us for a while, reluctantly joined in our postit game (she had never heard of Freddie Mercury - she preferred jazz singers...), but then dined alone on a beach at a table all by herself. See ya. We spent the final day lounging at our hotel with the English couple. The hotel fortunately doubled as a water park resort. Just like the end of 'We Are the Champions'!

Our next adventure took us to the hill town of Sapa, very near the Chinese border. The train journey was a bit of a nightmare. We were unable to get any sleeper berths so shared an 8 hour overnight 'soft seat' carriage with a group of Vietnamese who played and betted on cards all night long.
Sapa is the closest to Scotland we have come to yet on our travels. A beautiful, stunning landscape. They also have the saying 'four seasons in one day' to explain the dramatic change in weather that can strike the town. After the searing 38 degree heat of Hanoi it was also lovely and cool. On the first day we hired a couple of motos in search of the silver waterfalls, an abandoned catholic monastry and fraternised with some women from the local Red Dxao hill tribe.
The next day we hired a jeep and a guide who took us to Ban Ho, amongst the people of the Black H'Mong and Day hill tribes. At lunch time the guide got tipsy on rice wine. Fair enough, if you offer some to your party - which she didn't!!
The train back to Hanoi was less of an ordeal this time. Sleeper berths for all.

Our last evening in Hanoi was spent enjoying the food and old colonial ambience in the classy Green Tangerine restaurant.
The next day we said a teary goodbye to Pamela at the airport. It was an amazing 10 days, full of laughs, full of adventure, full of delicous food and many songs about geckos - it's a long story. Another time.
Pamela. We love you. We miss you. Good luck in your new school!

Little did Kathy and I know that we were to spend the next 28 hours after Ms. Hills's departure stuck in the depressing oversized double garage that is Hanoi 'International' Airport...


Keir said...

Greetings big nose. I gather my last message was much too rude for the youthful audience..... apologies for that and to stop the same thing happening, I'll get all my sweary words out now - ****, ****, ****** ******* and ********. Surely I can say boobies though? Knackers? Dingle? Spong?
Anyway, time for the real message....


Well I have the best excuse for not sending you a card or present because I have no idea where you are. However if you want to feel more at home, here's the excuse I would have used if you were here : well, i went to buy you a present but every single bank machine i went to was all bunged up with custard and there was nothing i could do about it. then i went to the bank but due to computers being more efficient than humans, there was no one there, only a bunch of machines with no arms to give me any cash. i mean i could have robbed the place what with there being nobody to stop me but i didnt have a gun or getaway plan, so there was nothing really i could do. nothing. then i asked my friends for a loan but they're all so skint they couldn't remember what money is and i didn't have time to remind them. Then my head collapsed and there was nothing i could do about it.

What do you think? Pulitzer prize winning stuff eh....
Hope yous are both well, thankyou so much for the gifts, the t-shirts were indeed very cool. give us an e-mail if you like at



Matthew said...

Hello travellers!

Just wanted to say thank you very, very much for the lovely things you sent Iskra. Can't wait for the winter to put those boots on.

Here's a wee message from Iskra.

Did we thank you for the letter already? If not, then THANK YOU; if we did, then thank you again. It's already in Iskra's box and she'll treasure it when she's older (but we love it now!)

Our travels to date have consisted of trundling from one end of the promenade to the other with an occasional diversion to the park but next Friday we're embarking on a rock'n'roll adventure to Macedonia (where the sun shines - yes, sun, that thing we've forgotten exists - by the sounds of it you've been enjoying a little more warmth than here). We'll continue to follow your slightly more exciting exploits! When do you return?

Lots of love,

Iskra, Ljupka and Matt

p.s. Belated happy birthday to Kathy!