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Merry Christmas from Nha Trang, Vietnam...part 2

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Hello all,

Hope you all had a fantastic christmas and Santa brought you everything you wished for! Hope you have eaten yourself stupid, drunk yourself into a stooper and getting ready for new year merriment!

Just want to say that i had the most Sober christmas eve that i have had in years if i didn't mention it in my last entry. We just went out for a lovely meal at a seafood restaurant after we shopped for christmas presents and i resisted having spaghetti and had mussels with rice, steamed veg and potatoes instead. During the day we went to a mud bath and hot spring spa resort. Getting into a pool of cool mud that smells of tea tree is very bizarre but makes your skinn feel great. Once I got out i let it dry on my skin...imagine that girls (and some of the boys i know!) like the mud pack you put on your face, but all over your body and leave to dry...crispy!!!

So I told you i would let you know how the rest of christmas turned out....Well I think we can honestly say that we celebrated to the extreme this christmas day. After heading to the oh so local cultural bar... the Shamrock for a beverage or too we made or way to Shorty's for a traditional christmas dinner, or in my case sauage and mash (sorry mum, you know my love for the roast dinner isn't strong).

Every bar had 2 for 1 offers so within a few hours it became slightly messy. Emily and I got accousted by the Vietnamese biker bitch thiefs we had heard about. Their trick is to come over in a gang and one picks you up telling you how beautiful you are while the others try and fleece you of your purse! I was on the ball and told those tramps to politely go away!!

We ended up in the Sailing club as it is the only place to go after 1am. We danced, we drank and in Emily's case she pinballed her way home. At 5am, Em and I got a motorbike back home and had the traditional omlette baguette (best hangover prevention if you ask me!). It if it wasn't for the promise of cheese back in our hotel room i am unsure whether i would have been able to get Emily up the stairs!

At 10am boxing day morning, Lucy and Kelly rolled in. They had carried on drinking through the night and were trashed. I couldn't cope with the drunken antics so i headed for the beach. Boxing day was spent at a nice secluded spot under a palm tree with my book and the beautiful scenery. All 3 girls did themselves proud and continued the binge all through boxing day until about 3am in the morning. I went on a boat trip the following day, you can safely assume correctly that they all stayed in bed with monster 2 day binge hangovers!

The boat trip was brilliant. We went to four different islands. At Mun island i got to go snorkling. Even though the equipment was rubbish I got to see a blue fish, a couple of yellow fish and a black and white stripy one! The sea was quite rough so it was hard to swim back to the boat. On the way to the next island i dried off in the sun on the top of the boat. Mot Island was where we ate. The food was lush, rice, noodles, bread, beef, tofu, spring rolls and bananas. We then got to get in a ring and float around the boat. The boats crew made up a band and sang and played a DIY drum kit and guitar! They sang a few vietnemese songs and then some English ones including yellow submarine! The floating bar then came out. We had to jump off the top of the boat first to get a drink which strangly i was scared of to start with...stupid after all the lines and swings in Laos, tubing! The dodgy dalat wine which looked like cough medicine was quite potent after a few cups. We then sailed to Tam Island where we just went to the beach resort and had a few beers. When we got back to the boat there was a whole array of delicious fruits for us to try. Watermelon, green oranges, dragon fruit, pinapple, mango and of course bananas! The last island was where there was Tri Nguyen Aquarium. It was full of strange looking fish and some amazing tortoises which i loved. Tried to take lots of cool pictures of them. We then sailed back to the harbour and all taken to our hotels.

So Nha Trang was spent on the beach and in Bars & restaurants when i wasn't on a boat trip. Not a bad way to spend christmas I think you'd agree!

T xx

Posted by Tina Bean 01:42 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Things that annoy me most..people with no spatial awareness!

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Hello all,

I great you from our new guesthouse - Phong Nha hotel, for the next couple of days in Hue. We have just arrived from our 10hr bus journey from Ninh Binh. Now, i'm cool with buses and can generally sleep as soon as we set off. Oh no, that wasn't to be while i had a man sitting next to me who thought it perfectly acceptable to practically lie on me. First he lent against me but soon progressed to resting his head on my shoulder! I kept shrugging him off but he didn't seem to get the message. If this wasn't bad enough he put his feet up on kelly and Emilys chairs!! I moved at my earliest opportunity using that my chair didn't move back as the reason as not to offend (after all i was going to be stuck on a bus with this guy for another 8 hrs.) When i had moved a seat forward he still felt it fine to rest his foot so it was nearly in my face....nice!

We spent a few days in Ninh Binh as i explained in my last entry. We went on the day trip to Tam coc. This is definately the reason to stop by Ninh Binh as the scenery we saw was breathtaking and correctly described as some of the best in Nam.

We left at 8.30am for Tam coc. We took a rowing boat along the Ngo Dong river amoung the rice fields and three grottoes (caves which we went through). Lucy and i were in one boat and the other two in another. Our rowers were an 18 year old girl who took the side paddle and her Auntie who was in her 40's who took the main rows. She was a true pro and like all of the other ladies was adept at rowing with her feet!

It was quite chilly as we went along the river through the limestone rocks that surrounded us and through the caves...which i nearly banged my hed on several times! The views were stunning. When we got back on dry land we were taken to the Thai Vi temples which were dedicated to the 4 Kings in the tran Dynasty in the 13th Centry.

After this we encountered a bit of a technical hitch. Simce we had driven through in the morning the only road out had been dug up! A hole about a metre wide and 10 metres long was now a slight hinderance. Our driver and guide took us back to a nearby restaurant and loaded the minibus up with logs. Surely they are not going to try and build a bridge...oh yes they are. We amused ourself by running races and dressing up emily in all our clothes and bags (such children)as we were told to stay in the reastaurant grounds. Curiousity got the better of me and i had to go and see the bridge building. I arrived to see the mini bus half way over pracariously balanced on about 4 logs for each side of the bus. I went to get the others but by the time we made it back they had successfully got the van over. It was some sort of miricle. I couldn't believe how resourceful they had been!

From here we went onto the Bich Dong Pagodas, they were called Chua Ha, Chua Trung and Chua Thuong. They were positioned up the mountainside, each one being further up. Each one has its seperate sections to pray in and are decorated beautifully.

After lunch we then drove to Kenh Ga where we went on a motor boat trip along Hoang Long river (King dragon river) where we were surrounded by limestone mountain scenery and rice paddies. We saw the locals preparing the fields for the new crop and small children pilled into a boat that it was nearly sinking whilst we sailed through the village and were let through the lock.

Unfortunately due to the bridge building incident we didn't make it to the hot springs which was a shame.

The evening was then spent waiting for the bus to Hue.

I am now in my 2nd day in Hue. On the first day, while the others slept off the bus journey i decided to take a walk around. First off i checked out the local vacininity, lots of clothes shops and even a shoes shop called 'Tina's Shoes!' I then took a walk to Notre Dam Cathedral (Dong Chua Cuu The). On my way i was asked if i wanted a motorbike or cyclo every few seconds. One particular guy chatted to me for ages and tried to persuade me to try out getting on the back of a motorbike when i expressed my fear. Thuan (the motorbike man) said he would take me to the Catherdral for free to try it out. I declined and after hearing all about his family made my own way there on foot. The catherdral was beautiful, very modern but quite so structure! The local school was across the road and Thuan was there collecting one of his 4 children (well he has 3 and one is due in the NY). The kids all crowded around me and some asked my name and told me theirs. It was so sweet. To get the crowd from around me I told them to get together and took a picture and showed them. After saying goodbyes and waving lots i headed back to the Hotel...not before i bought tinsle to add to our christmas collection!

We are staying opposite one of the recommended bars in Lonley Planet, 'Cafe on Thu wheels' It is really small but loads of character as the walls are all graffitied and so are the Jenga blocks that we played with (I beat lucy!). This was the start of a very messy night. We moved onto the why not bar and then a place where we danced called Brown eyes. We were promised a good western crowd but at its busiest there was 2 other westerners and a handful of locals! I fell asleep on one of the benches and let the girls continue partying till 6.30am Eventually we got to bed about 7.30.

So today has been a bit of a washout as the weather has been cold and wet. We made the most of it by buying lovely cakes and getting tea on room service! Off to the market a bit later.

Tomorrow we plan to hire motorbikes and a driver to see the sights of Hue and then move onto Hoi an on Monday.

TTFN, all my love

T x

Posted by Tina Bean 17:18 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Hanoi and Halong Bay

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Hello all,

Apologies for any typos...keyboard is bad, can't see letters and they stick!

Spent 3 days in Hanoi. The city was buzzing, it appears each street is dedicated to one type of good, there is shoe street, cabinet street, christmas shop street, you name it there is a street full of that product crammed into many 2m wide x 5m long shops! I checked out the water puppet shows, I saw an embalmed tortiose and of course the dead body of Ho Chi Minh! He looked very white! I also went to the womens museum. It showed the emancipation of women in Vietnam, how they were involved in the war, tribal dress, politics and then modern day life including being involved in miss world!

By the third day i had mastered the traffic and felt safe enough to get in a cyclo (rickshaw type thing you sit in attached to a man on a bike). Being among all the traffic was one hell of an experience.

We sailed on a boat from Hanoi to Halong Bay on the 10th December. The first day we just took in the sights of Halong bay and was taken to 'surprise amazing caves' after our lunch on board. The guide was hilarious and had watched far too much western films as he used phrases such as bloody bastard tortoise! to describe some of the myths of the caves. The caves were amazing, really vast and beautiful. We sailed on and then taken to Cat Ba. We should have stayed on the boat but were told we were staying in the hotel...hot water, clean warm beds (as it is freezing here, well our summer, i was in a hoodie) TV, fridge, i'm not complaining! We assumed we would spend the 2nd night on the boat. Ended up in an irish bar with karoke and lots of sweedish travellers. Interesting but fun after a several tiger beers.

2nd day we had to be up for breakfast at 7.30. It soon became apparent that we weren't going to be on the boat tonight but will stay in the hotel. I went on a trek at 8.30am in the Cat Ba national park (i know what is wrong with me!) which was more like a mountain climb. Saw some beautful sights and worked off a few pounds. I could have gone Kayaking to Monkey Island but due to the weather i decided to save watersports until the Thai Islands when the sun will hopefully be out! Emily and Lucy went and saw the Monkeys attack a guy...nice! I just wandered around in arvo, saw street life including markets and played pool of all things with an american guy and two german girls. The evening was spent in the irish bar again with a few tigers. We checked out the local disco but due to its emptiness decided against it!

On the third day we got back on the boat for 3 hours sailing around the other side of Halong bay.It was still lovely through the mist and fog, seeing all the fishing boats and spectacular limestone rocks, larger on this side of the bay. For the last 15 mins of our cruise the sun came out and the true beauty of Halong ba could be seen.

So now I am in Ninh binh, north of Vietnam. We decided to get a bus straight from Hanoi last night.I am in an internet cafe surrounded by kids playing computer games in a very narrow dirty room (not really a cafe). We are going to tam coc tomorrow where we see paddy fields, go on a river boat and see small villages. We guess that here is just a place to stop off to see tam coc as it is a dirty little town! No restaurants or anything! Have just had vietnamese tea with some locals which was cool, talking about their travels...it is all very random! Have spend the afternon wandering around. Took photos of the children at school, they got so excited to see me and loved me showing them the photos i took of them! You could feel like a celebrity walking around as everyone says hello and waves... in 3 hours i only saw two other westerners! I went to the market area where i saw snakes being gutted and frogs in cages! They eat everything here! Haven't seen any dog as yet...well not that i know of anyway!

So all is well, will be in Nah trang for christmas which is on the coast of south eastern vietnam. Have booked a nice hotel and are promised lovely beaches and plenty of places to eat, drink and be merry in. Still won't be the same. Trying not to think about it and gutted on missing out on all the xmas parties! Have fun at all the parties and please someone have a red wine for me...or some mulled wine!

Will be in Ho Chi Minh city for new year we think, should be good. Told there is lots of parties for the NY.

Thats all from me at the mo. Hope all are well and i have one last thing to say....

....Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

T xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Posted by Tina Bean 03:41 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Good Morning Vietnam!


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Hey again,

Not much to say, just that i arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam this morning. We flew at 7am from Vientiene and it certainly was less stressful or mind numbing than the alternative 24 hour bus journey.

The plane was very small and i hadn't heard great things about Laos airways. I was plesently surprised, staff were lovely and the plane was in good condition. The short flight meant that the incline and decline were extremely fast so not one for the fear of flying. I was happy as we were served a patti type sandwich with a chocolate muffin and tea!

Have settled into a guesthouse for the night and we may check out others to see what we're missing. The traffic is extreme, there are no rules and crossing the road looks like an impossibility. Women with the two hanging baskets over their shoulder somehow manage it...think it may take a while to perfect the art. At any one time you just appear to be surrounded by about 50 motorbikes, honking horns fills the air all the time.

Will let you know more about Hanoi soon

xx

Posted by Tina Bean 20:52 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Heaven is a place on earth...i've found it!


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Hey all,

So last time I posted i was telling you all i was planning to go tubing. Well i didn't go once, not even twice, i loved it so much i went a three times!

Vang Vieng was the most chilled out place on earth. This may have something to do with the abundance of weed available in all sorts of forms...Happy shakes, happy pizza or just you good ol' joint! If that isn't hardcore enough however you could always try a musroom tea or even opium! You have to watch out though as we saw a couple get pulled over whilst tubing by guys on a boat who first showed them ID and then the handcuffs came out. Heard many a story of $100 bribes going on with the police.

So tubing...what can be better than floating down the river in a rubber ring, stopping off occassionaly at a bar with zip lines and rope swings to play on??? Aptly enough as i left one of the bars, Belinda Carlise, 'heaven is a place on earth' boomed out as i lay back on my tube and soaked up the afternoon sunshine. I tried out most of the swings and lines, the largest one being a real hair raising experience as you first have to climb up a vertical bamboo ladder 30 feet into the air and basically hang on for dear life from the launch pad area as you swing with the river below. Needless to say a tina bean scream was let out for the crowd to hear. Saw some pretty awsome sumersaults...of course i went for the more pendulum swing approach!

When i wasn't tubing there wasn't too much to do apart frop eat from one of the many cafes and restaurants. Most of these play Friends, the simpsons or family guy and you can lay around a low table in a bamboo sectioned booth whilst you wait for you food...the perfect stoners paradise. I did hire a bike one day and took a look around the local area. There was such a difference in types of housing. Some was no more than a wooden shack whilst some were bricks and mortor mansions! I went of the main roadway and saw women and children at work on the land...back breaking work in such humid conditions.

So after 5 days we headed onto Vientiene, the capital of Loas. We fell on our feet with the most amazing hotel,(the Riverside) silk pillows, beautiful fresh decor (it was just opened)and the bathroom was to die for. Oh and did i mention our breakfast ws included in the price...joy! Our 1st night we chilled out in the room with a couple of bottles of white and some home comfort foods.

We visited the Pha That Luang, a stupa and is the most important national monument in Laos. It was quite a spectacular sight, large and gold! Surrounding it were several wats, some yet to be built or being reconstructed. A local artist was displaying his work in an exhibition around the walls of the stupa, some of the pieces were amazing and would have been great to have got one if it wasn't for the shipping costs! We attempted to watch the sunset when we got back but it was very cloudy...my choco ice (v.cold chocolate milkshake) more than made up for it however!

The evening was slightly drunken, starting with a Mexican meal (really embrasing the Laos cusine, can't you tell!)and my first couple of glasses of red in a month. Was starting to get withdrawals!!! We asked to be taken to a late night bar just after 11 and were taken right out of town to a hotel club called Lunar 36. Wasn't too bad as we were on the roof terrace, complete with Christmas tree. One problem, it shut at midnight! We then went onto another hotel bar that a couple of guys told us about that served us until 4am.

Wednesday we headed to the national museum only to find it closed, so we took a wander around the town. Improvements are going on all the time. Some of the city, like its town square is beautiful other parts are very dirty and run down...just like London really! Health and safety just doesn't exist here and the pick axe just lying on the pavement not being used was a paticular highlight! Most streets are filled with internet cafes, cafes and restaurants, guest houses and retail shops. Overall though Vientienne is very sleepy.

We sat and watched the sunset, this time it was really visable and a perfect end to our few days in the capital. To top it off we treated ourself and had an italian meal. As you all know i am rather partial to a Carbonara so i was well chuffed. The girls all had a desert too which were fantastic. An early night was needed as we had to be up at 4 to catch a plane at 7am to Hanoi, Vietnam!

Lots of love to all and take care xx

Posted by Tina Bean 20:03 Archived in Laos Comments (0)

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