And then there were three

Trip Start Jun 13, 2008
Trip End Jun 12, 2009

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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sooo...... now there are three of us traveling together.  The third member being a Mr Thomas Mills.  He went to Uni with me and ZoŽ and he is also the guy I traveled around the US with in a car.

Tom traveling with us has not really changed anything ... we do what we want and Tom does what he wants to do.... if we want to do the same thing we do it together :)

The day tom arrived me and zo took a bit of a trek to get to an open air swimming pool....just as we arrived it started to piss down.  But I think there is no better way to spend your time in heavy warm rain, than led on the side of a swimming pool :) loverly!

Having booked Tom into the guesthouse, we waited for him to arrive from the airport and all had a little hug before digging into some munch and drinking the local beer...very nice to catch up and hear about the 6 weeks Tom has spent traveling so far in Indonesia.  Catch up over, the next day we were greeted with torrential rain (you may have heard there has been flooding in Vietnam! sand bags and everything)  We decided to ignore the rain and venture out bare foot, it was strange wandering around a large city with the water reaching to just below the knees at points!  We ditched our shoes and trekked around bare foot.  Some of the electrics here are pretty funny, I took a picture of one box of electrics that was a nest of wires and getting hit by the rain.  As we were walking around we even passed a shoulder high hanging wire that was hissing and crackling as the rain hit it... dodged that one.  Other than getting very wet we visited the Prison in Hanoi, dubbed the Hanoi Hilton by American prisoners of war...a very interesting visit, it even had pictures of John McCain when he was captured as he ejected from his plane.

The plan was to book a train to our next location, as im still a bit nervy on these buses since the bus crash, but we found a sleeper bus that will let us jump on and off all the way to the south of Vietnam for a stupidly cheap more busses it is!

Before taking our first bus we took a trip to Halong Bay.  A beautiful bay surrounded by heaps of islands and rocks jutting out from the sea... they say it was formed when a dragon fell from the sky and broke up all of the land ooohhhh.  It was a three day trip, getting taken to different locations on a large wooden boat.  Our first stop was bunch of caves on an was pretty impressive, but they still managed to ruin it a little with disco type lights...The pointed out random rocks that are nothing like what they claim (as they did in china), this time we had a dragon, a waterfall, a tit, and a nob....hmmmm. 

Back on the boat we cruised around a little and dropped the anchor for the night... swim time!  Water felt a little oily, prob because of the amount of boats that pass through but still it was a gorgeous swim in warm water in the dead of night :)  We tucked into some seafood on the boat and drank... a lot :)  The people who ran the boat were a bunch of thieving bastardos....I took a crate of Tiger beer on board with me and after only having two beers, we returned from the cave stop to find four missing!  When I asked them they denied everything, started laughing and carried on chatting in Vietnamese.... I took it as boat tax.....but after the trip they even charged us corkage for having our own beer!

Day two having got over the loss of my 40p beers was a good day.  We stopped at Cat Ba island... our home for the next day and night.  Day began with a hung over and pretty strenuous trek through some jungle to the high point of the island.  En route we seen a sad looking monkey in a cage...poor bugger, at the peak ventured up a very high very wobbly platform made from wood and rusted metal....the entire thing was buzzing with some massive black bees (they told us they were bees, but ive never seen any bees that looked like these!).  I had to make way down the wobbly death trap when another group of about twenty people turned up and all started to climb to the top.  After the trek my hung over had disappeared... strange how exercise can do that for me.... maybe since the days of working at the paintball site my body is used to it?  Talking of the paintball site... I have realized how much I miss working their since doing lots of jungle and woodland treks on this trip :(

Having never attempted to ride motorbike or anything before we rented mopeds as the traffic was reasonably quiet... I didn't realize how easy they are to ride and pick up, but after half hour we were whizzing around checking out different spots on the island.  The afternoon was kayaking time... we set off, me sharing with Tom and ZoŽ sharing with a Kiwi called Roxy (she turned up from the airport on the same bus as Tom and we decided to do the trip together)  We weaved in and out of the rocky islands and after a failed attempt at capsizing the girls we were on monkey island... so called because of the ummm ... monkeys :)  The monkeys were pretty playful but you could see that they were ready to get aggressive.  Someone bought some Pringles and started feeding them one by one to a bunch of the monkeys until about three Pringles in one jumped up and snatched them from her screeching and scratching at her foot as he left.  Another num nuts decided it would be a good idea to let their baby have a go at feeding the monkeys so they put some biscuits in the babies hand and held the poor babber at arms length towards the moneys.... they were lucky and nothing happened but it did end with the dad kicking a screeching monkey away!

Hmm this blog sounds boring.... is it boring.. I think its boring...maybe because im not feeling so creative at the moment, just knackered after a night bus... or are all of em boring hmmmmm....

Anyways.... finished kayaking > slept at the hotel > back on the boat > read and enjoyed the sun > back on land heading back for Hanoi > Same night on the bus to Hue.

We woke up in Hue, grabbing a coffee and sat back listening to the different touts pitch their amazing hotels to us, we then sat back and let them argue over who could give us the best price... we ended up with a pretty spanky three bed room , air con, balcony an all that for $10 between us :)  Having had a little practice at mopeds on the island we felt confident enough for a full days rental in a slightly large city...anyways at the time of rental the roads were looking pretty quiet and they told us that it wont get much busier ..hmmmm.  We whizzed around the countryside, down side streets and basically taking in some beautiful views of Vietnam we wouldn't have been able to do on foot.  Stopped at a pagoda and at one point it started to piss down.....Tom luckily had two water proof jackets in his bike that him and ZoŽ donned and he lent me his purple poncho.... great I looked like a big purple nob whizzing along.  Stopped for a coffee and the sun burst out, the poncho got put back in the bag and we set off on quite a long ride to the beach (I think we covered around 80km)  We swam in the sea, enjoyed a beer under a thatched umbrella and decided it might be wise to head home before dark.  After getting on the main road we discovered the trip home was not going to be as easy as the rest of the day... it was packed...mainly push bikes, a few coaches, trucks and other motorbikes too.  From this point on it became a computer game... the aim to get home safely but as we headed on the levels got harder.  It started with shit loadsa push bikes.... they had no problems riding along in lines of four or five taking up the whole road so we had to wait for gaps in the opposing traffic and motor on past (finger firmly on the horn)  After getting past these we ended up on quite a large motorwayish road with trucks, busses and more bikes....safely on the other side and now almost dark we were lost and had to back track.... we managed to head into the city but at this point concentration was at maximum as other than half a foot we were surrounded by other traffic all the way.  The cross roads were a challenge but pretty funny at the same traffic lights, just shit loadsa traffic crossing at the same time without stopping (it was almost like that film...I think minority report where the vehicles can detect each other and pass by with millimeters to spare).  Strangely though it seems to work really really well, as long as you concentrate on the people crossing in front of you and either shoot forward or slow down, they do the same and the traffic never stops moving.  Anyways we made it back in the dark with the rain just starting to get heavy again.... a really good day, the only couple of mishaps when Tom almost got hit by three bikes at the same time when we maneuvered out of the way of two trucks that had boxed us in and I almost shot through the window of a bar when riding up onto the curb...pretty successful I'd say :)

I decided I was fed up of my greasy wig... it was getting in my face playing pool, sticking to my forehead with sweat, and I looked like a grease ball so I went for a chop.  After picking out the best looking hairdressers I had to get past the language barrier.... I used sign language to show "blended in" and "messy spikey"..with my fingers crossed.  I had a loverly shampoo that ended with me getting hit all over the head with a rubber hammer?  And then ended up with an army cut... ah well it will grow and I am happier looking like a coconut head than a greasy sleaze :)  Finished the day playing cards in the sun then jumped on a bus for Hoi An

We arrived in Taylor town AKA Hoi An, and as you do in all new cities had a wander and found a cheap restaurant.... a litre of cocktails and some beers later (Toms a bad influence) we had booked ourselves on a tour with a villager that was in the restaurant... Mr Trung

We met Mr Trung bright and early and followed him on push bikes, during the day we visited his local fishing village with a detailed history provided by Mr Trung.  We had a go at making pottery on a pottery wheel (powered by a woman sweeping her leg over it), had a go at fishing with bamboo rods... I think mine was faulty as I managed to catch nil, but Zo and Tom bagged 2 tiddlers each :(  In the afternoon we went to Mr trungs house where we enjoyed a home cooked meal by Mrs Trung....tasty :)  I made a bit of a mistake by telling a couple that joined us on the tour how much we paid (three dollars less than them)... it ended up with me arguing with the girl ... trying to tell her that you have to pay the price that you first agreed (she gave in eventually) and Mr Trung looking very angry and doing a spitting sound in my direction.

Being in Taylor town we decided to have a look at a few tailor shops to see if anything was worth buying... I decided to save for the future by investing in 2 Italian wool suits, 2 shirts and 2 ties... all at a very good price and tailor made... god I looked smooth :-P  9after only 1 alteration as well)  I actually ended up with three shirts as when we went back to the store a day after getting measured up, choosing styles, and choosing materials. ... the material I choose for a tie had been made into a shirt!  They realized their mistake and made me a tie also but I ended up getting a super discount on a shirt that fits me like a very well fitting glove :)... its all in the post.  ZoŽ picked up a coat, 3 dresses, a suit, trousers and a skirt....Tom a suit with a waist coat.  The only real issue was with a dress that ZoŽ picked up it took around 5 alterations to get it almost perfect, but running out of time she was as happy as she could be with it when we stuck it in the post.

Tom and ZoŽ must have eaten something dodgy (we think it was prawns) as they both felt bad the next day... we all rested up through with the TV, cards, and lovely lovely room service :)....after three days of ordering food + drinks, the total bill came to around 15 quids each ... it included accommodation and a free gift from the hotel !

We have just arrived in Nha Trang on a night bus...a lovely looking town on the coast.  We will prob be spending most of our time checking out the beach and maybe scuba diving ( I hear visibility is bad here this time of year so I will prob save it for Thailand).  We negotiated with a guy for a swanky three person room in a beach front hotel and managed to get it for $8 between us...bargainus!

I think we are getting to the stage of our trip where relaxation is the name of the game.  We will still be visiting sights when they are their to be visited but a lot of time will be spent on the beach and general outdoorsy beachy activities :) Whoop!

As always catch the rest of the pics here:

Zoes pics are a lot better and can be found here:


P.s unable to weave photos into this entry...something to do with the pc...will weave them in later but you can still view them from the top :)
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