Thursday, October 11, 2007

3 Week Travelogue In Summary

The Beginning

Carrying my 8-9Kg Green Backpack, I embarked on my long-awaited 3 week travel to Vietnam & Cambodia with my new found travel kaki - Meei Ting Aka Ting Mei. 1st Stop - Vietnam Hanoi.
After a 3hr flight (Tiger), 45mins bus ride and a short walk, we finally checked into our hostel and laid our beds for night and prepare ourselves for Halong Bay tour the next morning.

The Tour started at 830am. After a 3hr bus ride, we reached the bay and boarded our ship for the tour ard the beautiful Halong Bay. The weather was great - Bright & Sunny. Cruised ard and made a stop at the local floating fishing village & was greeted a loads of live seafood! Then it was a mediocre lunch on board the ship. Funny way of serving our food. The rice came only after we had finished the 1st 3 dishes. Then after a few mins, the next dish was served, then a while later, another dish served. After we had almost finished the dishes, came the veggies. Then the fish and tofu. How funny....
Me on Halong Ship

Then came the visit to the caves where we saw amazing stone formations. I must praise the people who came up with all those descriptions for the stone formations. How the hell did they manage to liken the stone to lions, dragons or fish? Maybe i'm just not imaginative enough...

Stairway to heaven..Inside the cave

Our next major stop in Hanoi was the Ho Chi Minh complex... The Mausoleum! Yes, the other time i missed the opening hours, now I redeemed myself! The Vietnamese really LOVE Uncle Ho! There were more locals than tourists! It just seems like it has become their daily ritual to pay Uncle Ho their respect whenever they can... Anyway, it's so not as stress an environment as compared to when I went to visit Lenin. It was noisy inside the Mausoleum & the guards are not as stern.

We went for the water puppet show. It was great entertainment! The puppet masters had to stand in water to control the puppets. Abt S$4 for the 1hr show, worth it!

We tried local street food as well. Some fried dough with stuffings inside which they eat by dipping in some sweet sauce. Interesting way. Ok they really LOVE mint leave. They put it in EVERYTHING! Noodles, springrolls and as side dish & i hate it!

THen it was back to our hostel to wait for the time to head to the train station for our overnight train to Sapa. We met a lovely couple on their honeymoon (Robert & Juliet) from UK. They were really cute & the wife really had the traits of a French (yes she's French, he's Scotish). N They were really very lovely dovely ekekke... It was entertaining to talk to them during the train journey.. & the coincidence -- We were in the same bunk as them on our return train ride!!

Ar Sapa... Nice plc with great scenery. Majority of my memory card was spent taking pictures in Sapa...

Reached Lao Cai ard 5am & took a 1hr bus to Sapa. Checked into our USD10 per night hotel & took a short nap.

Refreshed from our short rest, we embarked on our 1st stop - The Silver waterfall. After a 20mins motor ride, we finally reached. Though not majestic, it was nonetheless an amazing sight. Then another 20min motor ride back to hotel (by the time our faces are masked in sand). After a light snack of local bbq, we headed off for a trek to the Cat Cat village for more waterfall. Keke.. The hike was not easy..esp the return, but we did it! 1 thing to point out -- Thinking that Sapa is s'posed to be cooling, we were decked in Long Sleeves & Jeans. BIG MISTAKE!! It was HOT HOT HOT!! & with all those trekking, we were all perspiring underneath those warm attire!! We learnt our lesson. THis is summer time. Sapa has 4 seasons in 1 day - Summer in the afternoon & winter at night. If only we had known earlier...

Me on the bike..Stylo ya

Silver waterfall

2nd day embarked on a guided trek to 3 local tribes. Having learnt our lessons, we were dressed more appropriately - shorts & t-shirt. Luckily we did tat cos it was a long trek under the BIG BRIGHT SUN. We were 'escorted' throughout our journey by the tribes pple, right from the start to the mid point lunch break which was at least 2hrs! Their aim is to ultimately get us to buy things from them... but i feel sad for them to have to endure the trouble...& ultimately we might not buy anything from them (ok at least i didnt...cos i just don't see anything i fancy). & they can speak pretty good english! All from just talking to tourists after tourists...

Scenery of Sapa

Me with the Lao Chai girls

Back to the trek. The view was AMAZING!!! The rice fields, rivers & streams.. Just simply amazing! Mountains, mountains & more mountains...Any shot can be a postcard shot! I think the amount of greenery I saw in one day there equals to the entire amt of greenery I get in touch with in Singapore in a year!

Ban Ho Waterfalls. Acting cool here (like the temperature of water)

One our last day, we went to Ban Ho village, an almost 1hr motor ride to get there (and more sand dusk mask on our face). The place is so much more quiet, undisturbed by tourists & no 'buy for me buy for me' pleas by the villagers. We went for a dip in the waterfalls (ok we only dipped our feet in the water) and rested in the hut of one of the villagers. Then it was back to Hanoi at night.

Interesting point to note. We had TV in our room in Sapa but unfortch, there was no english channel. Only vietnameses shows. So we ended up watching snippets of vietnamese dubbed shows. & the thing is, they don't have professional voice-overs. Yes, the same person does the voice over for EVERYONE (yes, guys, girls, uncle, auntie) in the show, & emotionless. Absolutely no ups & downs or expression in their voices. Well at least it makes for interesting laughs... Luckily we got better tv shows in other hotels we stayed in...

To be continued... More to come - Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh, Mekong Delta & Cambodia...

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