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.
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miss you all.