Sunday, April 6, 2008

Ha long bay, sapa

While in the north of Vietnam I did the two standard tours, Ha Long Bay (including Cat Ba Island) and Sapa.

The first leg was the much hyped Ha Long Bay. Having booked the tour with the hostel, and knowing many of those on the tour, it was always going to be a fun trip. The bus ride to Ha Long Bay was a barrel of laughs as, we had three tour guides all trying to outdo each other.

Ha long bay itself is pretty, and would have been far more enjoyable had the weather been good. Unfortunately, we couldn't really enjoy the sun deck on the boat due to the fog and rain. Overall, though this didn't pose much of a dampener on the trip. It wasn't too cold and we were still able to enjoy the cave and some kayaking.

The kayaking was good fun even though I snapped my paddle - too much strength - and ended up spending most of the time out-rigging. The food on the boat was also pretty good, as was the evening entertainment - Beers and karaoke. After I butchered a song or two, I decided to leave it to some of the irish songbirds on the boat to take of the singing.

The next day and night were spent on Cat Ba Island, given the weather. The island itself is quiet pretty however, it wasn't possible to take advantage of the beaches due to the weather. The following day was spent almost intirely in transit - we left Cat Ba Island, then went to Hanoi, where I waited for a few hours before jumping on the train to Sapa.

Sapa turned out to be one of the highlights of my time in Vietnam far more enjoyable than the mekong or ha long bay. The landscape was trully impressive, particularly as we scurried through the mountains and along the rice paddies. I was fortunate to have numerous helpers as we walked through the rice fields. Although I still managed to take more than a few tumbles in the mud. I ended up buying a scarf off the lady who helped me the most, and given the number of times she saved me for falling in the mud, it was a steal at the five dollar I paid for it.

I think the reason why the trip was so much fun was because of our guide, Chu. She was lots of fun, constantly taking us off the beaten path and then trying to hide and surpise us. We also got to meet some of her family and see her house. The first day was finished perfectly by a dip in some hot springs then a hardy dinner with a shot of rice wine.

The following day was spent walking to some more local villages and meeting more of the locals. The second days hiking was far easier than the first, however by the time the group got back to the town and had some dinner, we were more than ready for the overnight train ride back to hanoi and some well earned rest.

Again, I am having some troubles uploading the pictures to go with this post but they can be found at my facebook page.

1 comment:

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