Jojo' Adventures

Joined September 2017Living in: New Zealand
  • Day12

    A rainy day in Sapa

    September 16, 2017 in Vietnam ⋅ ☁️ 18 °C

    A lazy morning with breakfast at the hotel ... such friendly staff. Luckily we held onto our umbrellas as it is very gloomy & wet today - they kindly have given us a late checkout, free of charge & organised our car transfer to the train station $US30. Off to explore Sapa town, the weather is not conducive to sightseeing as the mist from the hills is quite thick. Wandered down the Main Street, just taking it all in - many local village woman trying to sell their wares, but they are very cheap & not great quality, but there are some lovely shops selling local handcrafts & many shops selling active wear, the north face (likely rip offs) and other similar brands .. a little kiwi $$$ injected into the local economy today. We stopped for a coffee in a cute little spot (The Hill Station), not bad coffee & a lovely cheese & bread board ... of course had plenty of time for a head, shoulder, back & leg massage ... then cake & a fruit smoothie at Bagguette & Chocolat (a wee cafe that many staff are students at the Hoa Sua School for disadvantaged children) this afternoon on our way back to the hotel to chill out for the afternoon, put our clean laundry away & repack our luggage.Read more

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  • Day12

    Trekking in the Sapa Valley

    September 16, 2017 in Vietnam ⋅ ☁️ 18 °C

    Just up after a great sleep in the Sapa valley ... no hurry this morning, two choices for breakfast - either pancakes or traditional rice & local fare, of course we opted for the latter & just as gorgeous as the night before. Thankfully dry weather today & cloudy so not too hot which will enable us to trek on the tracks rather than having to take the sealed road. We walked through rice farms, bamboo forest, up & down hills through to the town where Lan's parents live, where we were able to walk through the rice terraces, watch the locals cutting & 'banging' the rice (which we had a go at too, what a labour intensive process it is harvesting the rice). We stopped for lunch & Lan cooked for us, which again was delicious, we also met her family. Following lunch we walked a little longer up to the road where we cheated a little & got picked up for the 9km up hill ride back to Sapa. Lan was kind enough to get the driver to pick our luggage up & drop us off at out hotel - the Sapa Dragon hotel, which is lovely & so welcoming. A very well deserved shower & rest, then headed out for tea at a local restaurant & home for another early night.Read more

  • Day10

    Our journey to Sapa & trekking

    September 14, 2017 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    So we made it to Sapa, flight from Luang Prabang to Hanoi (we had pre arranged our Vietnam Visa paperwork which made it a very easy process), then a taxi ride in a thunder storm to the train station (wow - crazy busy place!), we then caught the overnight train to Lao Cai, which we had pre booked & paid for through our trekking company, it was an 8hr train ride on a sleeper train, it was surprisingly comfortable. Finally, an hr mini van ride into the hills to Sapa Town. We had breakfast & a shower at the headquarters of Sapa Sisters trekking co (@ The Graceful Hotel), where they have a room to store luggage. We then met out trekking guide - Lan for our two day trek & overnight home stay, she showed us some options on a map of which direction to trek & agreed to head down into the valley. It was torrential rain when we set out & Lan convinced us to buy an umbrella each to keep us dry (so glad we did!) ... sadly it was raining until lunchtime, loads of water & mud- but wow what a place ... We trekked down into the valley & had two local women follow us & help us (who in turn expected us to buy their wares @ lunch time). Stopped for lunch at a local village, then continued on for another couple of hours to get to Ta Van, the village where we would spend the night @ a homestay. Our hostess was super welcoming & as we arrived mid afternoon, we just showered & chilled out on the front veranda. She cooked us an amazing dinner of meats, vegetables & rice ... of course a beer, then some 'happy juice' (homemade rice wine @ approx 33% alcohol). Early to bed tonight as we were knackered!Read more

  • Day9

    Luang Prabang to Hanoi to Sapa

    September 13, 2017 in Laos ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    A wee sleep in today, as it was much needed (busy days, early starts & the heat take their toll), Re packed the suitcases & off to hire a couple of bicycles to go exploring $NZ6.60 for the whole day
    Headed off around the city & its surrounds for a couple of hours, very cool & so much to take in & look at! A must do, traffic is extremely considerate! A little cooler today @ 31 degrees, still plenty of sweating.
    Stopped in at the local daytime markets & then another visit to Zurich Bakery for a iced coffee & pastry followed by a half hr foot massage & pedicure (1hr total) $NZ13 - bliss!!
    Back to our guest house, grabbed a sandwich on the way (first western food so far other than the bakery treats - French influence), a quick shower, then off to the airport - we had our transfers organised by our tour company... but no shortage of offers for rides (always negotiate price prior). Off to Hanoi - Vietnam.
    We are not joining a tour in Vietnam .... just following our noses (eeeek). Whilst out & about today we organised a taxi to pick us from the plane to the train station in Hanoi as we need our transfer to go smoothly $US16 for both of us 45-60min ride (www.Hanoitransferservice.com).
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  • Day8

    Luang Prabang Day 3

    September 12, 2017 in Laos ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    So today we were up early 4.45 am to head out to the street to give food to the monks, a daily occurrence, they collect food from tourists & locals as they do not cook or have food in the temples - this is the only food they get for the day & are not allowed to eat past 12.00, quite an honour to be part of this tradition. After breakfast, we dropped our laundry off to be done for USD1.50 per kg! So great, cheap & convenient.
    We then met our local guide & a lovely English couple for our trip up the Mekong river in a long boat to the Ban Pak Ou caves ... a lovely peaceful 2hr each way boat ride, two caves to explore (full of Buddhas), more steps to climb to see the upper cave, then across the river to a local village for lunch & then a stop in at another local Whiskey making village on the way back. Such a hot day today, bright sunshine & the forecast said 35 deg that feels like 45deg .... this warranted a nana nap in the afternoon - laundry pick up, washed, dried & folded. Then out for a cocktail (Mango Mojito) & a taste of the local river weed @ the Indigo Cafe terrace bar. Then dinner at a local restaurant, of which there are plenty to choose from & so cheap $65,000 Kip = $NZ10 for main & beer!
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  • Day7

    Luang Prabang day 2

    September 11, 2017 in Laos ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    After wandering around central Luang Prabang, having another full body massage, that Leanne felt like it was a mild form of torture .. we headed to the hills to the Kuang Si falls & bear rescue centre - truly magical.
    More street food for dinner 👍

  • Day6

    Passed thu Vientiane to Luang Prabang

    September 10, 2017 in Laos ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    Made it to Laos ... first stop Vientiane (Vien-chen) - arrived late & knackered so out for a quick bite to eat & beer (local of course) ... then bed!!
    Today up & off for a quick hour tuk tuk ride around the city .. many more cars here & lovely pretty green spaces & of course the Mekong river that is following us!!
    Flight to Luang Prabang .. wow, what a contrast, hills & green!
    Our local guide & driver met us at the airport, took us to lunch by the Mekong, visited temples & the Royal museum followed by a 300+ step climb to another temple - bloody hot in 30deg, but we made it & what a stunning view of the city & hills!!
    Now chillin with a beer!!
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  • Day5

    Off to Laos

    September 9, 2017 in Cambodia ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    Breakfast with our fellow Kiwi travellers, then it took us ages to download & print our voting papers (special overseas vote, given we will be in Vietnam for the Election Day) ... far out, what a palaver, no wonder some people don't vote! Then the post will take 2 weeks to get to NZ.
    Picked up our washing from yesterday @ a local laundry, $2 per kilo ... note to self, don't wash local cheap pants with other clothes!! Many shades of pink 😰throughout the rest of the load!! ... changed some $$ into smaller notes as have learned it is hard for the locals to change large denominations, just got kinda used to the local Cambodian Riel & now we will change again ... USD are accepted everywhere, just sometimes the change is given in both currencies as there are no US coins. This hasn't been hard as the locals are so patient, helpful & friendly.
    Had an hour to kill, so hired a tuk tuk to take us for a 30 min ride round the city, then a quick shop in pub street.
    Off to the airport for our two flights to Vientiane, Laos ....
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  • Day4

    Temples of Angkor

    September 8, 2017 in Cambodia ⋅ ⛅ 33 °C

    3.30 am alarm this morning, 4.30 am into the Tuk tuk's & off to Angkor Wat for sunrise - wow, what an amazing sight, so much history & so many people (can't imagine what it is like in the peak season). Then to Angkor Thom & ....... all quite unique in the stories they tell & phenomenal as to how they were constructed & the now huge job to restore them from piles of rubble.
    Back to the hotel for a 'rest' ... we made the most of that with a 30min foot massage & manicure (for $9) & lunch ... then back on the bus & off to ...... (a mini temple), needed umbrellas as we arrived at the end of a thunder storm, was quite nice to keep away the hawkers & cool it down a little. Finally Ta Prohm temple, the least restored to show how nature has taken over & huge trees grow out of the temple, this temple was the setting for the Tomb Raider movie.
    Back to the hotel for a swim & Mojito @ the pool bar, shower & out for farewell dinner, not a late night as it has been a long day!!!
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  • Day3

    Phnom Penh to Siem Reap

    September 7, 2017 in Cambodia ⋅ ⛅ 32 °C

    Transferred from the hotel to the airport for our flight to Siem Reap, a 45 minute flight ... well, no change in temperature .. still hot & humid.
    Stayed on the bus & headed out to Tonle Sap lake (second biggest forest water lake in the world, the amount of water in the lake dramatically changes between rainy & dry season) ... did a boat tour around one of the thousands of floating villages on the lake, the village had a school, market, police station, restaurants & many houses.
    Back on the bus & into the cafe/market scene of Siem Reap called 'pub street' for lunch, we had a looksee around the markets, then to Artisans Angkor where they sold handcrafted silk & ceramics, we then braved it & walked a couple of k's back to our hotel (with over 20 offers of a ride by tuk tuk mind you).
    A swim in the hotel pool with a jug of Sangria to share with some of our travel companions ... off out to Pub street again for dinner with 3 others of our crew ... then home for an early night as need to be up early tomorrow
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