Trip Start Sep 04, 2012
Trip End Aug 02, 2013

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Thursday, November 15, 2012

"HANOI NO MONEY HANOI NO MONEY HANOI NO MONEY" was what the bus driver bellowed as he kicked us off his bus (that we thought was going to Hanoi!!) at 10 at night, that we had been on for 28 hours, to getanother!! Shortly after THAT bus, we got on a 3rd....a minibus this time...and had to pay money!! Jesus!! There could be a few scams coming our way over the next few weeks! Hanoi is home to 9 million people, and what feels like about 45 million motorbikes!! They're EVERYWHERE!! Everyone's got one.....or 3!! The 'Old Quarter' was where we were staying and it wasn't long before we found ourselves (and ALL our luggage!) on the back of a bike that whizzed us to our hostel, beeping instead of braking at junctions!! Crazy! Kala on the back of a bike gripping the driver with her legs and her arms, in a helmet that REALLY didn't fit her peahead = FUNNY!!! The 'Old Quarter' is basically 36 tightly-packed grid-iron streets (a bit like Burnley then!!), BRIMMING with character! Market stalls sell everything you could want, locals eat their food (which is top notch by the way!!) on street corners and the constant drum of the bikes means that there is no let up here! Crossing the road is harder than China but there is LOADS to see here!! I've even seen 'foot-badminton' being played here....I've not got the touch for that anymore though!! It'd take a long time to get bored of this place!! Like it....ALOT!!
After spending a few days here we ventured up north again to a National Park called 'Ba Be', after being tipped-off by an Aussie bloke in China about it. Not many travellers get to this....mainly because it's an absolute ar@ehole to get to!!! 3 buses over 7 hours, paying probably 3 times what the locals pay, knowing that you're not gonna get dropped off anywhere near the park and it's dark is not a good day in anyone's book!! Still, we managed to get a hotel sorted and a tour round the park with them at a steady price so happy! Our meal out that night in the remote town of Cho Ra didn't disappoint again, but 2 minutes after sitting down we were sceptical. Jars full of dead animals (including a Komodo Dragon and a little chihuahua!!) and pictures of the fat bastard owner all over the wall of his holidays in Thailand didn't do anything for us, but still, a fiver well-spent!!
A nice bowl of Frosties for brekky the next morning.......yeah whatever...!!! Noodle soup with duck in it (for f@ckin BREAKFAST!!!) then a little motorbike taxi for us both to our boat for the day in our newly borrowed fake Puma (called 'Pamu') and fake adidas (still called adidas) trackie tops because of the cold! We had it to ourselves which was nice and our 'captain' took us down the river firstly to Phuong Cave which we had a mooch around. The shrieks of hundreds of bats echoed around us in certain parts which was a bit eeeery! (Hmmm, can I get a good enough joke in here about the 'Batcave'??.............no). So we got back in our boat and meandered down the river again towards the main attraction of Ba Be Park.....the lake.
The rapid change of colour of the water kind of gave it away that we were there and it didn't disappoint!! A beautiful blue lake surrounded by a little bit of our fave 'mountainous' scenery opened up to us. It was made all the more special because there were hardly any other boats on the lake at all. (I hear that 'chat' a lot amongst other travellers...."yeah I want to go to areas less travelled, off the 'beaten track' because I don't like all the tourists".....blah blah f@ckin blah!!!). It does my head in a bit, but to totally contradict what I've just said, it was nice to be in an area with very few other tourists ha ha!!
A shit temple, a cracking lunch at a local village and a shit waterfall later and it was time to head back home. A really nice, chilled out day......just needed to get our bike taxis back now......oh.......we're walkin then! "2 kilometres away".......wrong. More like 6!!! Still, people of all ages coming out of their houses and shouting "helloooo" as they seemed genuinely curious about us made us feel a bit special in Cho Ra that night!! A different restaurant for tea and with no English (or menu), we pointed at the cabinet of food to indicate what we wanted. Spring rolls and minced beef and potatoes (one of Kala's favourites back home). Except that the roast potatoes were actually 'deep fried boiled eggs' (Alright alright, they looked a bit like spuds!!). We never actually got the minced beef but that might have been a good thing!! The beansprout soup and 4kg of rice finished us off for the day though!
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Chrissie on

Another action packed blog...I am also a Peahead as Paul kindly reminds me to Hun so I understand ....xx

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