Saturday, March 3, 2007

Heading South

After a month of rambling through the hills, seeing countless temples, small villages and having small children chase after my motorbike, I've decided to beeline for the beach so I can do some maintenance on my much faded tan.

I landed in Hanoi, Vietnam 10 days ago. I spent 2 days in Hanoi where it was busy, loud, dirty and I loved it. There is an energy in Vietnam that Thailand and Laos are missing. Katy and I signed up for a 3 day tour through Halong Bay. We spent 2 full days sailing through the 3000 islands only stopping twice, once to hike 3 hours to a beautiful look out, and also to jump into Kayaks and spend 3 hours kayaking around some of the islands. We spent the last night on one of the islands, cant remember the name, but it was bizarre. Since I'm here during the slow tourist season all the towns are eerily quiet; the island we stayed at had crazy lights everywhere like a carnival and all pubs/clubs were blaring music, but there was NO one in the clubs and the streets were empty. I felt like I was at the carnival a day too early.
I've decided, against my better judgment, to stick to buses in Vietnam. In Vietnam they have the best system for backpackers, open ended bus tickets. I've purchased a ticket for Saigon, I have a month to get there and I can get on and off the bus anytime I want. Our first stop was Ninh Binh, a quiet town which boasts the Tam Coc and a floating village. The Tam Coc is a river surrounded by beautiful rice fields and mountains. The locals are out working in the fields as you paddle by, the workers are men and women of all ages, working in a foot of mud and 6 inches of water. We hopped on a canoe styled boat to paddle along the Tam Coc with two local women as our guides, I grabbed a paddle and started helping out, every local we passed laughed, shouting things to our guides; I guess the tourists don't usually paddle but, as I tried to explain to our guides, if I'm alright with paying $5 to get in a gym at home I should be happy to help paddle during a 5 hour canoe ride that was costing me only 2.50$. The next day Katy and I rented a motorbike and tried to find the floating village. Luckily we got amazingly lost and, instead of reaching the tourist-ridden village, we rode for 4 hours through dozens of villages and rice fields. Later that night we hopped on a, supposed, 10 hour bus ride to Hue. The bus left Ninh Binh at 10pm and arrived in Hue at 6:00am; we arrived 2 hours early because the driver had no apparent desire to live and drove like an absolute madman; there was no chance to sleep because the bus was shaking violently from the speed. 6am we arrived safely in Hue. Not wanting to waste any time we joined a river tour that left at 8am, stopped at 4 different sights and returned us, exhausted, to our hotel at 5pm. It was a long day.
The next day brings me to today, it was wonderful, we'd originally planned to visit the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) but after listening to another backpacker describe the 10 hour bus tour we decided against it. Instead we rented a motorbike and got lost in the hills. Another amazing day filled with beautiful sights and friendly people. I love Vietnam.
Tomorrow morning I board the bus again, this time only for 4 hours, to Hoi An. We will spend only 2 days there and then head to Nha Trang, where I have no intentions of doing anything but suntan, swim, dive, and surf(if the timing is right) for 4 relaxing days. We are calling it our 'vacation for our vacation'.
I hope life is treating you all well.
If you are wanting to leave a comment and are having troubles you can email me directly at
miss you all.


Anonymous said...

Hey girl, you sound like you are having such a blast. I'm glad you hooked up with someone to travel with, sounds like way too much fun. We had a skiff of snow and the crocuses are coming up, but besides that you aren't missing too much, same old, same old. We love you. Thank you for keeping us updated, I'm always checking it.
Love R,D,M & C

Kris said...

hey sis I am now a full time volunteer at the fire hall 2 weeks now and have been on three calls. waiting for spring to come it was -10 every morning this week. Katie had a doc appointment and the nurse said the baby is doing very well and great heart rate. be safe have fun sun tanning and surfing love
k k e b and baby

12th century burn said...

Ash and I read your blog together last good. We both laughed out loud when you said that bus driver had no desire to live :) I could just picture you takin that paddle and taking charge on the canoe kari. I am so glad you are having such a good time. Love and prayers, Rachel

Alana said...

I'm with Rachel, I could so see you grabbing that paddle and just givin' er. I love it. We're missing you here. Liam is getting huge... he's already over 15 pounds and is trying to pop some teeth out. We can't wait to hear more of your adventures! Love you! the McKenna's

Kelly said...

Kari, I always look forward to reading about your adventures. It sounds as if you are having an awesome time and the way you describe things makes me want to be there too. What great times you are having and memories you are making. I have a feeling the travel bug has sunk its fangs in so deep that you'll be wanting to see more of the world after this. I think of you often...with! Love you much, Auntie Kelly

Anonymous said...

Hey! Sorry I don't drop a note more often...sounds like your doing super well. When are you heading over to this island? You better solidify your tan before you do, everyone here is transparent, you won't even recognize me anymore. Love Ash

Megan said...

Hey girl! I havent checked out your sight since the end of january and im amazed with all the cool stuff you've done. im so excited for all your adventures and, as usual, im impressed with how you have made so many connections with total strangers to make your trip that much better. I hope i'll have the courage to be more of an extrovert like you when i go to europe in sept (four months baby, so stoked!!) Well, keep having fun and god bless!!!

Luv, Megan Handley

Anonymous said...

Hi Kari

So excited to get your site from V at the pool yesterday! I'm so glad to hear about all the amazing things you have been doing. Brought Abby to the pool last week & she asked for you. Can't wait to see you and hear about all your adventures first hand. Stay safe and take care of you!


Mom said...

Hi Kari
Its still snowing in Whistler. How is the heat? Love you Mom

Anonymous said...

Ca Caw!!! Ca Caw!!? Hey are you there? Ca Caw!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mandie said...

Sorry I haven't written you in a while :( BUT I have definitely been keeping up with your site :)WOW! It sounds like you are on an adventure of a lifetime. You've experienced SOOOO many interesting and wonderful things. Just listening to your stories makes me regret never taking the time to travel like that. I'm so glad that you are having such a fantastic time, you deserve it! You still have a few more months but it will go by fast so enjoy it while it lasts. Sure miss ya and can't wait to see you when you get back. CHEERS!

Maisie said...

Keep up the good work.