This trip to Vietnam, Hanoi was made in March 2009. It's grossly overdue. I left off at Day #4 at my last burst of posting. You can read more about my trip to Hanoi here.
This is Ah Long San (ALS aka Derek) and Kerk saying Good Night to Hanoi!
12 hours later, Hello SAPA! It's my fault that I decided there and then when we got off the train that I needed to pee. The toilet was..... traumatic to say the least.
1) No Door. Main Entrance to Female toilet don't have nvm... indvidual toilet also don't have!!!!!
2) Erm, Small. If missed a step, my bare ass would touch the gross tiled wall
3) The dustbin was incredibly near your nose when you squatted
Holy macaroni. I peed as quickly as I could and ran out gasping for fresh air.
We took a walk around town and here's where the avalanche of images of the quaint little Sapa town will come.
The Sapa Tribal Touts!!
More of the touts awaiting for us outside the hotel!
A closer look at their dress
View from our bedroom to the great beyond
The local market
Some were prettily (almost cruelly) "customised"...
And some, well... weren't so lucky.
Yup. My stomach churned and I nearly lost my breakfast at the sight of that.
After a short rest, we will be meeting with our guide and making the hike to the nearby tribes. Blog entry on this coming up real soon (Part 2, of Day 5 at Sapa!)
Hello! Am back again with Day 4, Part 2.
On the way back from Halong Bay, we stopped at this handicraft halfway stop for toilet and (overpriced) snacks. No obligation to buy anything at all. But I was drawn to this when I was here on the way to Halong Bay.
Pretty damn amazing right! HAND-SEWN! With nothing more than creativity and a piece of paper as guideline.
I was contemplating which to buy when the bus had to go so I told myself, maybe I'll look again on my way back. So here I am again and then I discovered that I can actually bargain at this place!! So remember! Bargain!!!
And I bought these:
Looks great on a wall! It didn't come with the frame. I bought the frame from Ikea.
It wasn't cheap but it's a great momento for my trip here.
We arrived into Hanoi City about 4pm + and Mr. Trung at the Lucky Hotel was extremely kind to let us shower before we make our overnight train ride to Sapa.
I was really looking forward to it. Everything I have seen and read about on the Internet promises it to be something I have never seen or experienced before. People that still live in mountainous areas in tribes and wear clothes that are unique to their own tribe.
Super. Can't wait.
We had a couple of hours to roam Hanoi a bit before we had to go wait for the shuttle to the train station (Yes! The package I got from Lucky Hotel even includes the shuttle there! Be sure to ask for yours!).
So we went to shop a bit and DAMMIT!!! That very sewed drawing I vbought, is selling at a fraction of the price here!!!
And Kerk was telling me how if they are selling it in masses this way, it's NOT HAND SEWN!
*sigh*! Heart very the pain now!!
There the usual touristy stuff and the Hoan Kiem Lake... and the TRAFFIC of course!
Kerk has been nagging about eating KFC and so we went. It rained, so it was a relief to have some shelter at KFC.
Seriously, Singapore's KFC is better!!
We went back to Lucky Hotel, showered, bought some water, some snacks and readied up for the shuttle that was to come.
It was a cab and in the cab, there was this 2 other old couple whom I said Hi (rather chirply) to.
It was like close to midnight and the station was FULL of people!
I thought the above shot looks kinda lonely. Invokes a feeling of waiting, of longing. Pictures of empty train platforms seem to have this effect.
This train to Sapa is made up of many cabins. Each of these cabins have slightly different comfort levels. Livitrans, friendly train, tulico, pumpkin, TSC, Hara, Royal and the list goes on. I chose King's Express because it was recommended by Lucky Hotel's Mr Trung (whom yes, is thankfully reliable).
It was a comfortable 4-sleeper cabin. Make sure your choice has air con!! Ours did but as with all trains, the air con is never good enough.
The bottom beds are way cooler than the top beds! Slept so well at the bottom bed (on the way back). The top one is kinda shaky.
One more cheeky shot and we're on our way merrily to SAPA!
Day #4 started out early with a nice breakfast at Holiday View Hotel.
After that the Iranians requested that we swing by a store for them to purchase some alcohol. We were at the port belong long to await our junk back to Halong Bay for the end of the tour.
Along the way, the Iranians opened their alcohol and offered ALS some. After a drink or two, his whole face became SUPER red - causing more than a few people asking if he's okay. It must be irritating for him.
We sailed to where we kayaked the day before to change to another boat. It was a much nicer boat as well. During that transition, we saw the water taxis again.
Much to our amusement.
Guess what we were all looking at with much interest.
Yes, the horror.
ALS got up the basket and wanted to row. He was accompanied by a very brave Duc (guide).
The basket was fast filling up with water...
And Duc decided to take over...
Check out the priceless video:
After that, we were served lunch and enjoyed the slow, quiet sail through the bay again.
Lunch was VERY VERY good! The best of this whole trip. We think it's because this junk is part of a more expensive package. Very nice!
Have a look - it is nicer than the first junk we took.
And wait! Before we say bye to Halong Bay, ALS had to be fined! For the paddle "flap" of course!
Good bye, Halong Bay!
If you missed my earlier editions about my Hanoi Trip, you can click here for more!