July 2017
  • Day23

    Homeward bound...

    July 29, 2017 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    Nice big breakfast to keep us going, we arrive at the airport by 10.30, takes ages to clear security but finally we are on the plane home.
    First stop Singapore, 6 hours to kill but we planned for this and donned or togs for a swim in the open air pool at the airport terminal 1. Warm sunshine and a cool swim is a perfect break between flights.
    Arrived in Canberra ACT ... This flight has to be about the worst ever. Seat was bulkhead Park Bench ... Seriously uncomfortable, food was appalling (never seen it tasted scrambled egg like that) even I left most of it. Not once were we offered a drink, so leaving plane thirsty. Entertainment system was terrible and I ended up listening to a downloaded podcast for the whole journey. Also there was a cold draft the whole flight. Sadly we have the same aircraft back to Wellington.
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  • Day23

    There and back again...

    July 29, 2017 in Vietnam ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    We went, we saw, we enjoyed...
    Out time in Vietnam is over, final breakfast then heading to the airport.
    How to summarise the trip in a free words?
    Great to spend this time with good friends and to dabble in the cultures that are Vietnam, for that is all you can do in 3 weeks is dabble.
    In Saigon, as most people still call HCMC, our senses were assaulted; the heat, the traffic (especially the scooters), the smells and the street food; even the famous embryo duck egg!
    In Da Lat we literally tasted the countryside ... Crickets and silk worms! We experienced the rain of the hills and funky cafes of the small tourist town in the hills.
    In Hoi An, the diving the weather improving and life by the river. Yes touristy, but a lively small city with a nice heart.
    The scooter ride to Hue was a highlight. Hue was bigger than expected and gave us the chance to see some great temples.
    Finally the Hanoi area. Ha Long is spectacular, but also a contradiction - busy, often dirty, but truly a world heritage site. Sa Pa, the hills give the quintessential terraced rice fields and the chance to meet some of the ethnic minorities.
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  • Day22

    A day in Hanoi

    July 28, 2017 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 32 °C

    Some of the group went out to the country for a day trip. Ros and I decided to have our last day looking around Hanoi.
    We went to the market and purchased some bits ... battery powered handheld fans, chopsticks and other really important items. Ros tried the famous egg coffee ... It tasted like egg!
    Lunch down a backstreet alley food place yummy!
    Walked around to see an historic house, the house where uncle Ho write the independence documents, the war museum where you can see planes and tank from the American war.
    A cyclo trip half way back ... Never trust a cyclo!
    Finish the day at a cafe called the Hanoi Food Culture ... Nice food lovely staff and a great ethic of taking poor country kids and giving them a job, training them on hospo.
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  • Day21

    Sa Pa and surrounds

    July 27, 2017 in Vietnam ⋅ 🌙 15 °C

    Lovely breakfast on the rooftop balcony then into the taxi for our walk around the hills of Sa Pa.
    We are met by a group of local drive people the M'Hong.
    They walk with us down the paths seeing the local crops and crafts. Some have very good English learned from tourists!
    Stunning scenary, the rice terraces are magnificent. Yes we did buy from these people but they went to pushy. Was noted as a tough walk, and a couple of people we meet said it was quite hard; in fact it was rather easy.
    Back to the hotel by 11.30 - some of the group went on to do the gondola ride up the local mountain to just over 3000m. Ros and I went into Sa Pa and walked up Dragon Mountain which was tougher than the morning walk - gardens built into limestone Rock outcrops.
    Then we are on the sleeper bus and back to Hanoi. Arrive in time to go out for a swift beer or three at the Hanoi Beer Corner. Choose the expensive craft ale I've the cheap local stuff.
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  • Day20

    Afternoon stroll around Cat Cat

    July 26, 2017 in Vietnam ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    Short taxi to Cat Cat, which could be more appropriately called Dog Dog ...
    Lots of traditional houses and making of local goods.
    They use a lot of hemp but the guide assured us they didn't smoke the weed!
    Stunning views and walk down to the river and waterfall.
    It is however designed to get the tourist to part with their dollar...a little sad that this is billed as a 2hour walk but was really a tourist shopping trip...
    On the"short" ride home we got stuck in a traffic jam on a very narrow street; the only traffic jam we've experienced in Vietnam!
    Cocktails and a lovely meal under the stars rounded off a good day
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  • Day20

    Long bus ride to Sapa

    July 26, 2017 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    Up at 5.30 for breakfast and get the sleeper bus to Sapa. On the top deck it's actually quite pleasant ... Not a lot of room but much better than smaller tourist buses. After 5hours and one short pitstop we leave the highway to start the climb to Sapa ... If you thought the Rumitaka Hill was looking and winding ... 😁
    The rice fields now become terraced and there is lots of sweet corn growing and drying by the road side.
    Arrive in Sapa have lunch in a hotel before coming to our hotel further up the hill. What a view!
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  • Day19

    Day 2 Ha Long

    July 25, 2017 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    Up at the crack of dawn for Ti Chi on the upper deck.
    Breakfast, fairly traditional Vietnamese with noodle soup, then put for some kayaking.
    We paddled through a cave into a little lagoon surrounded by the cliffs and hills of the bay. Just out of the lagoon a troop of small monkeys were playing in the beach and the cliffs.
    Back to the boat for a shower and pack up.
    Then we had a demonstration of making flowers from fruit and we made our own fresh spring rolls. Followed by early lunch as we hit the port ready for the bus ride home.
    Some thunder storms overnight and heavy shower whilst eating other warm and sunny.
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  • Day18

    Day 1 Ha Long

    July 24, 2017 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    Bus arrives at 7.45 for the 4hour trip.
    Guide explains that Vietnam was 100% clised communist state for nearly 10years, finishing in 1986. Everyone paid the same, most in vouchers. But this didn't work as productivity fell ... Lazy farmers paid the same as hard working farmers so why work hard!
    We do for coffee at disabled factory where they're making lovely embroidery clothes bags and marble sculptures.
    Arrive at the port about 12.30 and board the boat. It is and older style boat but beautifully decorated with dark wood. Cabin is a good size, air-conditioned with ensuite ... what more could you ask.
    Lunch is served as soon as we set sail ... 5 course mostly seafood. Very nice.
    The weather is warm but overcast. Lovely scenary but the water is quite polluted with plastic bags, polystyrene etc.
    We stop at an island with truely spectacular cave system.
    Then another island for short, steep walk to a view point then down to a beach for a swim.
    Cocktails on the deck followed a by a lovely meal, again mostly seafood.
    Tried our hand at squid fishing ... Not very successful but others caught a couple.
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  • Day17

    And on to Hanoi

    July 23, 2017 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 32 °C

    Breakfast in the French boulangerie then taxi to the airport and an hour to Hanoi.
    Picked up by taxi and on to the hotel ... Ummm which hotel 😀 eventually to the right one.
    We lunch at a small vegetarian restaurant - the best yellow curry ever!
    We walk to the women's museum ... on the way we see the big Hotel Metropolitan where Jane Fonda, Graeme Greene and Charlie Chaplin have stayed.
    Women's museum has lots about the women's role in the wars. Tough ladies!
    A walk around the lake and up to the Skyline rooftop bar to watch the sunset.
    A walk around the night market a little nibble to eat and the then back to the hotel ... no sleep to start as the sounds of the night market boom around!
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  • Day16

    Hue: boating ang biking pt2

    July 22, 2017 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    Leaving the boat behind, we set off to the tomb of Tu Duc. We only get a far as a cafe when we are delayed by the best coffee so far on the holiday.
    Finally to the tomb in the heat of the day. So we have lunch first🍴
    The tomb is truely memorable, a must do. Colours, shapes design. Lots of mosaics with broken pottery.
    From there we head home ... Not a long or difficult ride except it was hot and sticky.
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