Thursday, 10 November 2011

good morning Vietnam.

It is raining in Hue, a town on the central coast of Vietnam in which we have found ourselves. Two days ago there was a flashflood. It isn't the ideal weather to be doing much at all, apart from sitting in cafes or watching movies in bed. But, I hear you ask, how did we get from Siem Reap to Hue and what adventures have we had on the way?


We were able to catch the bus to Bangkok, though the schemer who sold us the tickets and promised the bus would take us to the airport spoke not a word of the truth and we sat fuming on the bus as it drove straight past the airport and into central Bangkok, from where we had to go back exactly the same way as we had just come to go to the airport.

We slept at the airport and caught our early morning flight to Hanoi. Hanoi is a fairly insane city. The noise is constant, there are literally millions of motorbikes and the smog is thick. There is a lot to explore though...crowded little alleyways, cafes, restaurants and shops.

We did a bit of shopping, a bit of eating and a bit of sightseeing.

We got accosted by a lady who forced us to take pictures of ourselves with her wares, the afterwards it was 'you take photo now you buy! you buy!'...but we didn't. We ran away.

Our first night there we saw a show of water puppetry, an old art form originating in northern Vietnam. It was great. There was a band of musicians accompanying the puppets, which were made of wood and stuck on the end of long poles at the end of which the puppeteers were in control as they hid behind a large wooden facade. The puppets re-enacted various scenes from Vietnamese life, but it was all done in a shallow pool of green water. My favourite part was when two water buffalo stopped working in the field to have a fight then a little man had to separate them...imagine that scene (you have to imagine it because tickets were more expensive if one wanted to take photos, so obviously we took no photos) in water, with funny looking wooden puppets and sound effects in Vietnamese. Oddly funny.

We also saw some sights...Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum (though we didn't get to see the man himself, as his body is currently in Russia for restoration), the Temple of Literature (Vietnam's first university) and we caught a bus out to the suburbs and found our way to the Museum of Ethnology, which housed a very interesting account of Vietnamese life, both past and present.

Will got his faced shaved with a razor finally (he wanted to since Phnom Penh).

The Temple of Literature.

We escaped the smog and the traffic and the people on a train up to the mountain town (former French hill station) of Sapa. Where it was actually quite cold, but the air was amazingly fresh. And he fog was engulfed all of the surrounding mountains until we were basically in a town in the clouds.

We hired a motorbike -I didn't drive!- and explored the mountainous roads and a waterfall in a national park. We met a lady from a nearby village (or, actually, she met us) and she took us over the mountain to have lunch at her house in a small village of 100 people.

The 'Love Waterfall' and me trying to make a loveheart (it's a subtle reference to the's ok if you didn't get it)

A pause in our mountain trek and our lovely guide Chou.

After we had our fill of the slow pace and fresh air of Sapa we caught the train back to Hanoi, in order to continue on to Halong Bay. And I think that might be a good place to leave this entry, or it's going to end up being too long and you will all get see 'good morning Vietnam continued' for Halong Bay and Hue.

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