A Travellerspoint blog

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu...

I am currently sitting here in the dark typing up this blog, as I realised last night that I had yet to post my blog about Halong Bay, I haven’t said anything about Hanoi, and I even missed out a blog about Hue and Hoi An!

As it would stop the chronological flow of my blog so far (and I can’t be bothered, as it’s 6:30am on our last day in SE Asia and before our airport transfer at 12, we still have a few things we want to do!) all I shall say about Hue and Hoi An is that they’re beautiful, definitely worth going to if you’re ever in the neighbourhood, and there are some photographs on my facebook. Short and sweet!

I cannot believe that we start our journey home today. We have a 2 hour flight from Hanoi to Bangkok and a 4 hour wait there. We then have a 7 hour flight to Abu Dhabi, and a 2 hour wait there, followed by an 8 hour flight to Manchester, where we land at 7:25 GMT. Oh the joys.

The past three months have gone so quickly, and we’ve genuinely enjoyed every minute of it. It’s so hard to pick a favourite, as I’ve enjoyed so many aspects of each place, but (in no order at all):

• Sukhothai (Thailand) was one of my all-time favourite places, everything about it was great, and I would very happily return there
• Cycling round Chiang Mai (Thailand) searching down all the temples was lots of fun
• Singapore just in general was amazing (especially the zoo)
• Kuala Lumpur was a favourite city, the Petronas Towers are worthy of a visit in their own right
• The Reclining Buddha in Bangkok
• The slow boat along the Mekong River to Luang Prabang
• The journey from Luang Prabang to Vientiane
• Halong Bay!
• The food in Penang (Malaysia)
• Angkor Wat
• Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon, Vietnam) was just a great city, with a great character and atmosphere

And I’m sure that doesn’t even touch the surface of my favourites! People have kept on asking us the same question along the way: ‘If you could return to one place, and one place only, where would it be?’ this has always been difficult for us to answer, and there have been so many places we’ve loved. But I think my honest answer would have to be Hanoi. I have absolutely loved Hanoi. (obviously I then ramble on to list all the other places I have to go back to…!)

Hanoi though, has just been an extremely enjoyable city. You don’t get harassed by people, it’s vibrant, crazy, busy, beautiful, friendly, and despite me describing it as crazy (because the traffic really is!), it’s also kind of relaxed!

We’ve seen the cathedral (and heard the bells chime one night, and seen the Maundy Thursday service), seen pagodas, prisons, a mausoleum, museums, temples, water puppets…so much! We’ve eaten great food and bought presents (you lucky people!) and souvenirs. And I don’t want to leave!

So if you’re contemplating a trip to SE Asia, then you have to do it. You’ll see beautiful landscapes and beautiful buildings, meet really friendly people, and eat amazing food. You’ll constantly be shocked at how cheap the beer is (how cheap everything is), how crazy the traffic is (and how you have managed to not be killed by a scooter), and how beautiful everything really is.

A SE Asia trip was the first (of many) on our list of places we will go to, and I’m glad it was, as Singapore and Malaysia gradually got me used to the craziness of it all, and Cambodia and Vietnam just left me wanting more!

So thank you for reading my blog, whoever you all are, it’s been nice to know that there’s been so many! Keep your eyes out for our next blogging trip, which Lee is apparently already planning, Peru anyone…?

Posted by Jen90 17:41 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Halong Bay

I find it hard to explain how much we loved our Halong Bay trip! The bay itself is a 3 hour journey from Hanoi, and the scenery along the way is pretty cool…they need to buy a minibus with more leg-room, but it was still a good trip. Apparently our cruise had been lucky, because a lot of the permits (that a boat needs to enter the bay) hadn’t been given out today, due to earlier bad weather, but thankfully we had ours. Our guide got us all to know each other by telling everyone a bit about our trip which was funny, especially when he said that Lee looks like Wayne Rooney!!! (He doesn’t) Funny though!

We eventually climbed aboard our ship (Glory Cruises), and after welcome drinks were given our room key. Oh my gosh our room. We were expecting a tiny little cabin, but what we got was amazing! We had a huge window, pretty much the size of the whole wall, and the bathroom was bigger than bathrooms we’ve had in our other accommodation along the way! There was like a spa shower, and we even had air con which was delightful!

We were taken to a floating village which was pretty cool. We were supposed to be kayaking, but they ran out and so a lot of us were taken round the caves in bamboo boats, before we got a quick 15 minutes in a kayak. Kayaking was really fun, though me and Lee tended to go round in circles…(as I was at the front, I’m blaming Lee)!

We stopped at our place for the night, and once we were anchored we could go for a swim. I was expecting the water to be freezing, but it was actually quite warm! This is going to sound stupid, but it was also really salty, like, exceptionally salty! A couple of fish may have touched us while we were in there (or at least I’m hoping they were fish), but it was ok. We were in the sea as the sun was starting to set, so it was beautiful and red, and an eagle was circling not too far away, it was beautiful. After amazing showers, we were enjoying some Hanoi beers on the upper deck before we all went to tea.

The food here is just ridiculous, sat on a table of six you get all eight courses (between you) from the menu…the food just didn’t stop coming!
We were really lucky because in the night there was a huge storm, which we love. Lee was probably slightly less appreciative as at 3 am he was trying to get back to sleep, but every time I heard thunder I was up out of bed and staring out the window! The thunder was so loud, and lasted forever; I saw a bolt of lightning and heard the crackle again (like in Kuala Lumpur), and the flashes of lightning lit up the little bay so it looked like it was the middle of the day – beautiful!

The following day we stopped at ‘Surprising Cave’. It’s called surprising because all of the stalactites and stalacmites look like ‘things’. I saw things because for the vast majority of them, you definitely need to either use your imagination, or still be drunk from the night before! Though the cave was beautiful, and the views of the bay were amazing.

So basically, Halong Bay is amazing, and you have to do it! It’s so ridiculously beautiful, it really does deserve to be a current natural wonder of the world. Even though I did get eight mosquito bites…

Posted by Jen90 17:40 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Are we really in Hanoi?!

We have finally arrived in Hanoi, our final destination (if you don't count an overnight trip to Halong Bay as a separate destination - which I'm not going to do as we'll return to Hanoi). To get here we've:

Got a bus from Singapore to Melaka; then a bus to Penang, followed by a boat to Palau Langkawi and a flight to Kuala Lumpur. We've flown to Phuket; got a boat to Koh Lanta; a bus and a boat to Koh Samui followed by a flight (and bus, and boat) to Bangkok. We then flew to Sukhothai, before getting a bus to Chiang Mai, a bus to Chiang Rai, and a bus to Chiang Khong. We then took a slow boat for two days to Luang Prabang (via Pak Beng), followed by a bus to Vientiane. We then took a bit of a detour and flew to Kuala Lumpur, before flying to Siem Reap. We then got a bus to Phnom Penh. We took a bus to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon); a bus to Da Lat; a bus to Nha Trang. We flew to Hoi An (via Danang), then got a bus to Hue and a car to Danang (over the Hai Van Pass). We finally flew to Hanoi.

Most of these bus journeys averaged around 7-8 hours, with a 10 hour journey in there too. Some of these journeys (well, most), have been amazing, the scenery we've seen along the way is definitely worth it. Some have been full of people being travel sick, and they have all put me to sleep for at least an hour along the way (lucky Lee!). For someone who never used to sleep in cars or buses, I definitely do now! We've been pretty lucky in finding cheap flights along the way, which have saved us time, and prevented us from taking horribly long journeys! Flashpackers anyone?!

So, we're trying not to think of the horrible 24 hour journey to Manchester (where it'll most likely be pouring down when we get home, as it's always raining when I land home) via Bangkok and Abu Dhabi. Instead we're going to chase down the rest of our presents, last minute souvenirs, and have fun in the last city of an amazing trip. To all who have never been to SE Asia, you should!

I realise this all sounds a bit final, but we've got plenty yet to do, so you'll definitely be hearing from us again before we come home. And hopefully I won't be dropping any shorts on this two day boat trip...

Posted by Jen90 03:27 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

A Lesson In…

How not to laugh when someone’s giving you a foot massage.

As you may or may not know, I got myself a pedicure in Koh Lanta, that pedicure was about 6 weeks ago, and so I figured it was probably time to get a new one. To be fair, this one has lasted extremely well, I was pretty impressed. The hotel had recommended a spa down the road to go to, so I decided I’d go in the afternoon.

After a lovely morning walking round Hoi An, buying a couple of presents (oh you lucky people you!) having lunch, sight-seeing etc, we came back to cool off, have showers, and for me to write out the million postcards we’d just bought (Lee trying out his bartering ‘skills’).

Off I went to the spa, I even got picked up which was fun. Unfortunately I hadn’t realised the pick-up would be via scooter, and so I’d worn a long skirt, which I thought would be sensible, as I could just pull it up for the pedicure! Getting on a scooter with a long skirt, is really, really hard work, and you look kind of stupid, or at least I did, in all my ungainliness! I’d opted for the ‘Aloe Vera Deluxe Manicure and Pedicure’, which was very nice. Unfortunately I’m very ticklish, like extremely so, and I was a little worried that I may embarrass myself.

Luckily they were playing ‘soothing’ music, or at least the instrumental versions of relaxing, well known songs. It turns out that even if you start off by tickling my feet, if a musical rendition of the Titanic comes on, I will almost immediately stop laughing. Instead I will actually become quite sad, how embarrassing!

Once my hands and feet had been beautifully pampered, and my nails were once more coloured, I was taken to the back (I wanted my hair washing, as I still couldn’t get the Cambodia dust out), and had the ‘delights’ of seeing a man getting a massage. He had a hairy bum.

I apologise for all my blogs coming in bulk, I write as I go and forget to post them..oops! Also, as a line back to a previous blog, I still have Christmas songs in my head, only thins time it's 'Jingle Bells', all thanks to a tv show on in a cafe in Dalat...thanks Dalat!

Posted by Jen90 20:32 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Would you like tiger balm in a spider-man?

So here we are in Hoi An, visiting the old town in multiple short blasts to prevent me from doing here what I did on Angkor Wat…

Hoi An is ridiculously pretty, full of shops selling multi coloured lanterns (I wish they came flatpack so they’d fit in my rucksack!), lanterns hanging across streets, lantern filled doorways…basically if you like lanterns then you’ll love it here. Lots of the buildings are really old and full of character, the river’s full of cute little fishing boats, and there’s nobody asking you if you want a tuk tuk or massage…bliss!

Every other shop is either a tailors, or a shoemakers, or both, so it’s pretty crazy, but so many lovely dresses everywhere! Sadly we don’t have the time here, but we also saw the shop where ‘Top Gear’ bought their clothes from (when they travelled north on their bikes), fun times!

Even though you don’t get hassled about tuk tuk’s or massages here, there’s still a lot of people trying to sell you a lot of stuff. Some of it’s nice, some of it’s lovely, most of it is unnecessary, but some of it is just plain odd. We were sat eating food on our first evening, and a lady came up to us:

Lady: Hello, where you from?

Lee: England

Lady: England! Lovely jubbly, you make nice couple!

Jenny: Thanks

Lady: Would you like a lucky coin necklace?

Lee: No thanks

Lady: Would you like a postcard?

Jenny: No thanks

Lady: Would you like a bracelet?

Jenny: No thanks

Lady: Would you like tiger balm in a spider-man?

Lee and Jenny: *Momentary Confusement* Erm, no thanks

Lady: Ok, bye!

Lee: Did she just offer us tiger balm in a spider-man?

Jenny: Yep, and the spider-man was in the shape of a grenade too.

Lee and Jenny: Weird.

You may be surprised to know that this wasn’t the last we heard of the spider-man, it’s a recurring product that we’re seeing everywhere…last night we even saw a spinning spider-man, with glowing lights, singing the crazy frog song. Bizarre!

Posted by Jen90 20:06 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

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