The Journey is the Destination

Trip Start Dec 22, 2010
Trip End Jan 21, 2011

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Wednesday, January 5, 2011

All good things come to an end and it was time for us to leave Lovely Ko Adang behind us. A short longtail ride away and BAM we were in Ko Lipe, a beautiful but very touristy island where we joined about 70+ another passengers on a speed boat with destination mainland. The 5 gigantic engines roared as our captain went from first to 6th gear in less than 30seconds. The beautiful limestone formations shooting up hundreds of meters from the ocean just zipped by like gray and green streets as we literary bounced over the stormy waters. For you who read my India blog about 3 years ago might remember my journey on a "beater bus" to Hampi. This would be the equivalent on the water. I would call it the Beater Boat. We all held on for dear life and I'm pretty sure we might have lost a few screws and bolts on the way. Perhaps we even elevated and flew. All I know is that most of the passengers got off with bruises and minus their breakfast.

Next step on the journey was a minibus to the city of Hat Yai. For some mysterious reason Josh and I had to get off the first one we got on and had to wait for another 1,5 hours until the next one was ready to go. Luckily he ended up getting his guitar out and had a little street concert to get the time to pas by.

Our new driver, a chubby man in his late 30's with pilot sunglasses and a dirty tennis shirt sat down behind the steering wheel and took his time to chose the music for our ride. He rolled his finger over the buttons and several pieces of songs started but it just wasn't the right one until he finally found it. Our poor ears were abused to a three hour 80's rock ballad extravaganza performed by a Thai cover band. The speedometer shivered over a steady 155 km/hr and we just decided not to look trough the front window as it simply would have made me pee my pants. Trough half the trip, the passenger seat behind us reclined and a couple of Russian passengers had to complete the rest of the ride lying down. This made us all laugh out loud. On the road, you simply learn how to go with the flow.

Somehow we managed to stay alive all the way to Hat Yai, a lovely melting pot of Thai, Chinese and Muslim culture. We got ourselves some much needed massages and had no less than three dinners from the magnificent street stalls lining the streets. What a day!

Rising before the sun, we were arriving at the airport at the crack of dawn just to find out that Josh forgot his money belt with our tickets and his passport (or copy of passport to be exact). My heart dropped as we knew that we had a plane to catch to Hanoi in Bangkok but we managed to pay the driver enough to take us to the hotel and back (on two wheels. Almost.) and the hotel staff found it with everything in it. Amazing. We made it. Another Hallelujah moment.

Well back in Bangkok we felt like locals heading down the river for sunset, hitting up our favorite food stall in China Town for some fried pig skin and mushroom with cooked rice, having a Chang in our lovely guest house courtyard. The following day Josh took a cooking class and learned to make green curry, Tom Yom soup, pad thai and more delicious Thai dishes while me, being domestically disabled, headed up to the magical town of Ayuthaya for the day. A spectacular town. Once Thailand's capitol city and now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Not as impressive as Angor Wat in Cambodia but well worth seeing.

Now we have arrived in Chic, sophisticated and lovely Hanoi, Vietnam. I absolutely adore this town. It is full of life and energy but with no "sin city"-feel like Bangkok. Staying alive on the streets of the city, is no easy task though. There are pretty much no traffic lights here and everyone just goes. Yeah, they just drive. To a serenade of honking. I have heard more different types of hoking here than anywhere else. It's like they have a whole language in honking like short for heads up! and two short ones for I'm passing you on the left or a long mean one for get the hell out of my way! and so on. To cross the mad tangled streets (built to confuse the enemy), often with intersection of up to 6 streets. You have to do anything but running. If you do you are roadkill baby. It is a delicate balance of slowly walking and stopping so that the drivers can make the judgment of what side to pas you on. It is a scary but yet victorious feeling every time you make it over to the other side of the streets. And if you do it good, you will get lots of smiles from onlookers as they sip their Lotus tee and eat their Pho on the sidewalk.

The people are so sweet and the food, well guess, is fantastic. The mix of Asian fusion with the French kitchen is a match made in Heaven and makes up for the fog and very cold weather. Here we are switching back to hiking pants (in my case thermals), jackets and hats.

The architecture is so beautiful and today we visited the Women's Museum. What a tribute to Vietnamese women! From marriage to birth and family life to their participation in the American war (called the Vietnam war in the US). Heartbreaking and gut wrenching photographs and stories about war heroines as well as hard working mothers. It is simply a must-see if you are visiting Hanoi along with a visit to Highway 4 restaurant where you can experience dishes like fresh springrolls, osterich and Josh's favorite: Fried crickets in a yummy sauce.

Tonight we are jumping on a 9 hour night train to Sapa where we will start a one week long trek in the mountains where we will do home stays with several hill tribe families.

Much love from a shivery cold but yet so warm at heart: Hanoi
PS, I'm having a hard time finding a place where I can download pictures. But stay tune :)

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Rebecca Edwards on

Always a pleasure reading about your bumpy rides and funny adventures! :)

judeezoom on

Thanks for taking us along~! that was very interesting and exciting. I loved your description of navigating the streets of Hanoi. your mountain adventure sounds exciting... have fun and stay safe. Hugs, Judy

Gunnar on

Du skriver bra!

Jo Kilburn on

Micaela and your adventures! You two are so good together!!! I am home from the snow and hit the ground runnig as usual! I started both your car's this morning and they are running smoothly. Don't know if another friend is stopping by, but thought it might make the car's happy. I look forward to hearing your adventures in the mountains.
Much love and hugs, Jo

Mamma on

Hej älsklingar! Nästa resa vill jag följa med på!!!!!! När blir det och vart? Mickis du skriver heeeelt underbart. Vi har problem med att komma in på internet av och till. Hopplöst. Fortsätt med att njuta av resan. Puss!

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