In an attempt to include only my own posts on our trip through Vietnam in October 2006, here’s my own little index of the trip:
Thursday, October 5th, 2006: On plane to Hanoi. Successfully nagivated baggage claim and customs in Malaysia, found the shuttle to our hotel and caught it. It was only about 5 minutes or so away – Concorde Hotel – and we checked in (first in line! same with the passports!) and were taken to our room by a porter. It was hot and muggy – hit us like a wave when we got off the plane. Swimming in soup. Room luckily had air-con but it took a while to come on.
Tuesday, October 10th, 2006: Finally a chance to write! Things have really been go-go-go for the last four days or so. It’s always horrible to go back and try to recount what you’ve been up to. Today, however, was pretty relaxed, so I feel like I’ve finally got the chance to write an entry – more than scribbled notes.
Wednesday, October 11th, 2006: We’re on the mini bus to Ha Long Bay. Quite a few others on board, including some paranoid americans who didn’t want to give up their passports. We’ve been driving through towns, past coal-fuelled power plants, rice paddies, shitty houses and ritzy estates. Anyway… back to the Sapa catch-up.
Friday, October 13th, 2006: We’re on a boat leaving Cat Ba Island in Ha Long Bay. It’s 8:30 in the morning and crazy to think of what I do on most other mornings at 8:30. Anyway, back to the market. It was totally crammed with Flower H’mong people – all carrying things and selling – food, animals, silver, embroidery… apparently it is the main point of social contact for them, so you’d see them in big groups together, all having a good time… old men drunk and staggering on corn wine, big covered areas where they serve pho, market after market stall, an area where all the animals were being sold (ducks, chickens, water buffalo, puppies, etc…)
Friday, October 13th, 2006: people plowing rice fields with water buffalo / lush green gardens & banana palms / busses passing trucks passing scooters / cone-shaped hats bent over rice paddies /
Friday, October 13th, 2006: We’re now back in Hanoi, after a fantastic three days in Halong Bay. We spent most of the time travelling around the incredible limestone karsts on gorgeous wooden junks. We spent the first night on the boat, and the second at Cat Ba Plaza hotel, on Cat Ba Island. In between, we kayaked, went on a two hour hike in the Cat Ba National Park, where we met an old couple who had moved there from the mainland, 20 years ago, and who go out once a month for rice and other supplies but grow everything else themselves.
Sunday, October 15th, 2006: After a lazy sleep-in, then chicken pho, some internet time (no email from parents), we caught a couple of xe-oms to the army museum, but unfortunately it’s closed until 1:00 (or quite possibly 1:30). We’re now in a park just off Lenin Square, enjoying the shade, as it’s more than a little hot! Last night we went to #14 Pho Cha Ca Street…
Wednesday, October 18th, 2006: We’re sitting in a lovely cafe in Hue, called “Tomten’s bar – gallery”. There’s a pool table in the middle, a huge bamboo ceiling, and gorgeous lacquered paintings on the walls. A song about ‘beautiful blue eyes’ is playing. We’re the only ones in here, and the man who owns this place has a real penchant for country music – mind you, when we first arrived here, it was so hot and we were so exhausted, we spent 3 hours here on the 16th, drinking cocktails (banana daiquiris and Vietnamese rum) and playing pool and he played the Fleetwood Mac album ‘Rumors’…
Friday, October 20th, 2006: Amazing that it’s Friday yet it’s taken until now (3:40pm) for me to realise. Another end to another working week – but fortunately I’ve been left off the ride for a few merciful (but brief) weeks. I’m in a cafe. Steve’s ridden a bike to the beach for the afternoon – I guess in an attempt to purge himself of the shopping that’s been going on lately. To date I’ve ordered 3 skirts, one pair of pants, one white collared shirt, a kimono, a corduroy jacket and four pairs of shoes to be made. I’ll be a brand new girl when I get back to New Zealand. Incredible.
Tuesday, October 24th, 2006: We’re sitting in the restaurant/bar at the Saigon International Airport, waiting for our plane to Phu Quoc Island. We’re going to be staying there for seven days. I can’t wait. Our bags are bulging with souvenirs, including two pith helmets for Ben & Ben (green with star), two oil paintings (one framed, one rolled in a plastic tube), a china and bamboo tea set, some more china plates and bowls and spoons (for two), at least three chopstick sets, six or seven t-shirts, a host of tailored clothes, three lanterns, two fans, four or five scarves, a lacquered box, two silk sleeping bag liners, four hats, four new pairs of shoes, and a colour picture of Ho Chi Minh that I intend to frame and hang on the wall, in the manner of the people in Hoi An.
Sunday, October 29th, 2006: Fried rice with egg for breakfast, and ca fe sua da – coffee with condensed ilk and ice. It’s warm today ad I have a heat rash on the backs of my thighs. I also think I’ve been bitten in the night – there’s spots of what could be blood on the sheets. I’ll try the sleeping bag liner tonight be it gets so hot at night… in that respect I’m looking forward to sleeping in my own bed soon. Everything itches like crazy and flies follow you everywhere.