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Showing posts from July, 2006

Untitled!

I've been too uninspied to post. Being home is nice and cosy, but that's about the only plus involved. I told myself, well i'll pick up where I left off. But I quickly realised that I wasn't doing anything. I had nothing to pick up. Why did I come home again? Oh, I remember, my Visa expired and I had to go to work on Monday. I need a hobby.

Here is a photo. I am still in the process of retrieving them all from my infected iPod, so it will be a while before our photo page is up and running.


Anyway photo. This was at the PLAN kindergarten. I assure you all the other children were much happier to be there. I think this little tacker had just woken up. I tried to ask her permission to take the photo, but she didn't blink, so I had a good minute or two to line this one up. Colour adjustment was done very skillfully by Claire. Go Claire!

the pickled corpse of unky ho

We weren't allowed to bring cameras in to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum so in respect, I've done a doodle of him instead. Well, I guess it's no less respectful than turning his body into a Madame Tussauds exhibit. Like Lenin, Unky Ho's body was preserved against his will. It's a pity he can't turn over in his grave because if he did, he'd have those four armed guards on duty to put him back. And if he dislikes the way his body has been treated, I guarantee he'd be upset about the souvenir shop just outside.

- Paul

back in time

Yes, so we've been back home now for almost a week. But that doesn't mean the blog is dead. Remembering that I shot over 15 hours of video, I've been going through it slowly looking for stuff to upload. Here are the first nuggets of goodness.

I can't believe I used up almost half a tape before we even got to Vietnam. Here's part of our flight from Hong Kong to Ho Chi Minh City.



Vidblog - Hong Kong to Saigon on Vimeo

And here... from tape 7 or 8. Fun at a truck stop.



Hoang Long Hotel, Hotel on Vimeo

Also, I'll be heading back over to Vietnam about the same time next year - but with about 10 relatives. We're going to be the same giant group of tourists that gave us the shits this time. Looking forward to it.

- Paul,
Melbourne

Home Again

Why didn't anyone tell me that i'm going to be totally out of sync with my life?
Coming home has been a bit of a shock for me, I have gone from having a routine of no routine to 'Damn what is my routine, what should i be doing with myself'?
Vietnam has been an amazing experience, I have definatly been bitten by the travel bug and i don't want a cure, I am going to start saving asap to get my ass back there and hopefully to travel the rest of S E Asia. I have heard Laos is an amazing place and of course all about the parties in Thailand (I will be careful not to get a real 'Thailand Tattoo') If anyone has any advice of S E A or anywhere else to travel let me know! I would like to get one of those around the world tickets that have a years validity and have a stop almost everywhere.
Here are some random pics of our trip

These are the beautiful jarrasic parkesque islands off the northern coast of Vietnam, near Cat Ba Island



This is Paul in DVD heaven in Hanoi



This …

farewell

So...
it will be goodbye Vietnam, i am feeling quite sad.
It has been very easy to be in this country, everything is so simple, yet the difference in culture is enough to make it a slight challenge. The change in weather from Viet to Aus will be hard i think, i will have to crank up my portable heater and try and simulate intense humidity to make the transition a little easier.
Right now we are in our little cheap internet cafe, which had been the best internet connection we have had the whole trip and only costs us 2,500 dong per hour (around 15 cents) which is much better than 15,000 dong in cat ba (BAH!!) that wouldn't even open hotmail without a struggle.
It just so happens only a few days before we leave we found the best grocery store, we found chocolate milk, sunnyboys, fruit juice. we stashed a heap of sunnyboys and froghurt in our hotel freezer for snacks! There has been nothing i have missed here in vietnam, the place has everything, i can't wait to return!
Our flight hom…

Home James

This will be our last post from overseas. Unless we get upgraded to business class and find ourselves with some air-borne internet. I am very tentatively charging my tainted iPod. If no-one touches it and no-one speaks to it, I think the computer I am on will remain safe. I carry no guilt about stuffing up the computer at our hotel, but this place is fantastic (2.5 thousand an hour) with top speed and friendly customer service, so I don't want to stuff them about.

My Lonely Planet book has certainly served us well here in Vietnam. It was pretty much new when I left Australia, but now we have to carry it around in a plastic bag for fear of losing pages. Last night it slept in a puddle of water (we got caught in a killer storm by the way. Everything flooded!) and this morning the entire cover peeled off. I'll post a photo of it when I get home.

I almost managed to rid myself of dong just in time to leave the country, but I realised I would like to eat some lunch today (and maybe b…

sorry about the swears

I promise I won't swear anymore.
We're flying back today. This is your official reminder to pick us up from the airport at 10am. If you are not there when we walk out the gate, then NO PRESENTS FOR ANYONE!
I kind of went spend-crazy in the last day or two. I mean, I still only spent about $150, but it's a lot. I still have about 350,000 VND to get rid of before we fly out. It's gonna be a struggle, but I think I'll be able to rid myself of it. We're heading over to a propaganda art gallery to get something later on today. Really, I haven't bought much of anything while I've been here. My pack is about as full as it was when we left. We've lost a few things though: my hat, my sunglasses, Bec's travel pillow... so it all evens out.
When in Hanoi be sure to look for the Bodha Cafe near DVD lane (the name we gave to the street with all the DVD shops)... um, sorry I can't give you less vague directions but I can't remember the proper name of the…

thrifty traveller, happy traveller

Cheap internet is not neccessarily CHEAP internet, I guess. I mean, we are upstairs in a cramped corner of the cafe; the roof too low for us to stand. It's hot, and I'm sweating and I'm really worried about being electrocuted (ed: Bec is more worried about falling through the floor), but at least it works.
I haven't blogged properly for a while now, the girls have really been picking up the slack for me. Really, I've run out of things to say about the country. For a while I was having a really shit time. Many local people out to make money off us have left me somewhat jaded. I can't count the times I've been lied to, ripped off, or just been left with the feeling that something is a bit dodgy. The place we are staying at is a little off. The room is okay, but they tried to charge us $25 a night for it. It's not even as nice as Sa Pa, and that was $12 with breakfast. Anyway, just a warning that when you come to Vietnam you WILL BE RIPPED OFF. This is not …

Sick as an iPod

Goddamned Cat Ba Island has ruined my life. I think i'm going to coin a new word in its honour. Cat Ba: Disaster. Usage: What a Cat Ba! This whole thing has been nothing but a bloody Cat Ba. Anyway, my moaning is almost over, I just have to break the news that Yakumoto has contracted a virus. It happened at that piece of crap place with the overpriced dial up. I don't know how a computer that crap could even support a virus. Suddenly my iPod is riddled with applications disguising themselves as Folders. They double up every folder, put the new one of the same name inside the original and give it a folder icon. But you double click on it and all of a sudden the computer you're on has the same applications all over everything. It also disable's the computer's ability to view hidden files. You can't do it via the tools menu anymore. Maybe some round about course of commands might help but what the hell do i know about computers anyway!? It doesn't seem very ma…

shop till we drop

Hey there peeps!

Right now we are in a fantastic restaurant in Hanoi with free internet and an amazing decor, kinda chinese style, loads of polished wood and mood lighting.
We are having a great time shopping in hanoi, it has worked out quite well travelling from the south to the north as the shopping is much better here. Yesterday We visited Bich in her village, it was fantastic. She was a little shy, though it was great to see the facilites plan has given to the community, i really appreciate Ian and Dee (Pauls grandparents) for their generosity as i have now seen first hand how important a their assistance is to the community. The village have now got a kindergarten, schools, community health centre, and healthy drinking water. Plan also supply the sponsor children and families with animals to raise like chickens, cows and buffalo. Visiting the Kindergarten was great, the kids were a bit confused at the start but opened up and had a great time. They loved our digtal cameras, they we…

Fuck the Cat Ba!

Back in Hanoi, and we're having trouble contacting Plan. We've tried calling them with all the numbers we've been given, but they are either the wrong numbers or we're doing something wrong. Anyway, we're going to head over to the office today and see them in person. Hopefully it won't all fall through. At worst we might have to postpone the visit for a couple of days, but that wouldn't be such a problem because we'll be in Hanoi until we fly out anyway.

Anyway, Hanoi is a big relief after the Cat Ba travesty. We are finally paying reasonable prices for internet (2,500 VND per hour), and it actually works. I can finally access my email. Plus the best thing about Hanoi is that less people stare at us as we walk down the street. In planning next years trip, please do me the courtesy of avoiding Cat Ba Island! Halong Bay may sound nice, but it's more trouble than it's worth.

Once again... Sa Pa is the place to go. Do not book a tour without including…

iuhefO*^7*($djiygs!

Man why is everything so difficult? We can't get onto Plan in Hanoi and we're meant to be going tomorrow. The telephone numbers we were given didn't work from Cat Ba but hopefully a local call will srve us better. We gots to get on over to the post office quick smart. Hopefully the whole thing won't fall through or I do'nt know what we'll do.

We managed to find a room last night and got a 10 dollar discount because we're a trio of cheap bastards. The guy wouldn't let us leave and eventually dropped the price far enough to justify sleeping next to the train tracks. That's no small thing, by the way. We caught the train back from Hai Phing yesterday and still have trouble hearing each other speak. I didn't know anything could be that loud. Really! I won't get over it.

Anyway, we can't dilly daddle. We'll keep you posted on the PLAN disaster.

So long,
Bec,
Hanoi.

Hannoying?...only in Cat Ba!

Well don't be sitting there thinking we have neglected our blog duties. We have just returned to Hanoi after our short stint in Cat Ba (island) town. We encountered a sprawl of vietnamese tourists (imagine rosebud at it's peak) and skyrocketing internet prices, and dial up to boot! We were used to paying 3,000 dong in Sa Pa per hour and in Cat Ba they were asking 15,000 ...stuff that (did i mention it was dial up!?) so we went on strike, and rightly so!

We are currently abusing free internet as the hotel we want to stay at finds us alternate accommodation for the night as they are full. Poor Paul is waiting for us at a cafe with all our luggage whilst we scout.
Though he had a flowing supply of vanilla icecream that i hear is amazing. I have however tried the coconut wich is amazing....also.
so enough of my ramble, i don't want to get to involved in a topic just in case we are whisked off on a moped to our other hotel room.
we have just heard news that the hotel room that was …

HelloMoto

Claire made friends with some aussie guys last night. They're from WA I think. Claire had organised to go with WA#1 on his moto to the Silver Falls today. But he "fell ill" with a mysterious illness called Veronica. So his two mates (or maybe brothers) took us up there. Paul and i squished on with WA #2 (shannon) and claire went with #3. The roads were apparently the worst they'd encountered out this way. Pretty muddy and very pot holed. But no one died so it was fun fun. The waterfalls were huge!

We've gone the way of the lazy and booked the bus to Lao Cai from our hotel (15000 extra) just so we don't have to carry our bags all the way to the church. (it's not that far)

Today I feel not so bad, still hot but no need to puke my guts up in the street. I have had half a banana and half a baguette with jam. That is all since Tuesday. All I kept in anyway. I think i'll risk some Pho tonight. Broth will be good for me.

And mum, don't say i didn't warn…

beware the spring roll!

Well we are still in Sa Pa having a great time.
last night we got a little food poisoning from some vegetarian spring rolls, bec and i were vomiting all night, yukky!
i am here now with two of the local girls, They live in lao chai, near-by Sa Pa, they are very good sales girls. They are very cheeky and are alot of fun! even though they are very traditional they all have email and to my surprise are amazing at pool.
Tomorrow night we will be leaving Sa Pa i wish i could stay here forever, it is such a warm hearted place and absolutley stunning.
i don't have much time to write now but i'll make up for it tomorrow or tonight.

-claire
Sa Pa

Sick as a Bec

At least it happened in Sapa. Where I don't have to worry about the heat. I think Claire and I ate some bad spring rolls (not to mention the pork one that they told me was vegetarian). I have never puked so badly in my life. Did you want to know that? Too bad. Claire was sick all night too and is sleeping now. But wait there's more! I have had a sore throat for about a week, which just yesterday developed further and here I am with flu-like symptoms. Then this morning I wake up with a fever but i'm bloody cold. Everyone is staring at me wondering what the hell i'm doing in my coat. So of course it's a unanimous decision that I have contracted Malaria and will die very shortly. We mosy downstairs and ask about a doctor in Sapa. The nice girl says the doctor can't come to us for reasons too complicated to try and translate. So she hails us two motorbike taxis and says hospital. We say great! At an emergency crawl of 30km an hour we head for the hospital and arriv…

Sapa-rty time!!

Well we arrived in Sa Pa this morning via the surprisingly comportable train from Hanoi to Lao Cai. We purchased the hard sleeper this time and were lucky to stumble apon our irish buddies at the station so we all shared a cabin. Even though the beds were hard, it is amazing the difference between being sitting in a cramped bus and being able to lie down. We all had a sound nights sleep.
Sa Pa has blown me away it is absolutley amazing, we are surrounded by mountains that are dotted with rice paddies and villages. The mountains are so high that you can't see the top through the clouds. We were greeted by some children from a hill tribe 7 km away who walk to Sa Pa every day to sell their handy crafts. They are all dressed up in their traditional costume and speak english very well. They are cheeky and playful and have a great sense of humor.
The first thing we did when we got here was wound our way on foot through the hills to the waterfall. It was a fair hike on the dirt road and up…

Chillin in Sapa

We made it to Sapa in one piece. Our sleeping quarters on the train were brilliant fun. It was two narrow beds and an aisle wide, and three bunks high. You could sit up straight on the lowest level, lean back to save your head on the middle one, and on the top you could barely rest on your elbows. Our train buddies were the two Irish guys we met in Hoi An and a nice Vietnamese girl who taught us all a card game. We stretched a sleeping mat between the two middle bunks and managed to play alright. Once you had your bags away it was prettty comfy. I got to use my sleeping bag so yay! We were, however, invaded by a drunk Vietnamese guy who didn't speak enough english for him to clearly communicate that he wanted one of us to give up our beds. I was topping and tailing with paul on the bottom bunk. After about twenty minutes on the top one I actually felt like i was going to puke. The rocking is amplified the further you are from the ground. So this strange guy (technically he had alr…

I'm a multi multi millionaire here.

The clothing on the back of my neck is damp and stuck to my skin, and it's old sweat too, so it's cold - which isn't a nice sensation like it should be, it's actually quite gross.
In an hour or two we catch a 9 hour train to Sapa(ish). We've decided to splurge on a sleeper, since busses are terrifying and the last train ride (in which he only had a seat) was horribly uncomfortable. We didn't get a 'soft' sleeper though, so we have to bring our pillows (I'm going to use my laundry bag - it's only got clean stuff in it), and maybe use our sleeping bags as mattresses. We'll have to get our bags soon, they're in the 'lobby' of the guest house we stayed in. The people there don't speak any English, so it's always awkward trying to communicate, but I think they understand we'll be back to pick them up later.
Apparently there are no ATMs in Sapa. This isn't a problem for me, but the girls are freaking out. They definately …

Hansel loses Gretel

I realise now that trying navigating Hanoi using a map is just silly. It doesn't work. All you have to do is leave a trail of bread crumbs. There are a lot of one way roads here with a constant stream of traffic so crossing the one wayers is tricky tricky. And the general direction rule doesn't work either. We know the lake is off too our right somewhere, let's head in that general direction and get some ice-cream. But we end up at the train station and find ourselves buying a baugette from a lady with a basket on her head.

It's really weird but we can't access our blog anymore (again). The overpriced, slow running travel office internet got us there no worries. But from here we can't find the server. So rather than walk all that way and pay all that dollar, I'll reply to comments via this post.

MUM: learn to use the keyboard already and say hi or i'll think you don't love me. I have so much cool stuff to buy (gonna wait till last minute in the countr…

pho (minus the accents and pronounced fer)

Well i Have found my favorite (common) vietnamese dish, i am quite excited! It is called pho (pronounced fer)and is a rice noodle soup. you can have it with beef chicken, shrimp pork but usually i just get it with veg. (cheaper that way) They bring it out with a green salad little dishes with soy and fish sauce and lemon to squeeze in. YUM!
The bus trip to hanoi was a litte horrific but i did get the window seat so at least i had somewhere to lean.We were one of the last to get on the bus, well we thought we were when we took the last seats, but there must have been an over booking because one guy ended up sitting on a tiny stool in the isle. I was sat at the back of the bus with bec and paul (with the bad suspention) with a young vienamese boy sat between us. Half way through the trip he must have got out for something to eat and came back with a little yoghrt drink for me, It was really lovely because he didn't speak much english and i have no idea with vietnamese but we manage…

Sapa tonight

So we found an internet cafe that is three times cheaper than the travel angency ones! Yay! And it has better computers. Still no dvd burner. I have already used 14Gb of space for photos alone. I have 7.5Gb and two weeks left. I'll have to start deleting music! This can't be the most thrilling news about my overseas adventure, but it is the most pressing.

Why don't I update you on the weather? Boy is it hot. Still. However it's a lot wetter up here! We were walking in squares looking for this internet cafe we could have sworn we saw last night when it started raining really lightly. But there's still bright sunlight but everything is wet. We're loving it! We feel right at home and are more than happy to use our ponchos to cover our bags and just soak in some water ourselves.

I'm really looking foreward to Sapa. We're not sure Halong we'll stay because we are hoping to get a bungalow set up for a few nights on the bay. I'm so funny.

Bec,
Hanoi.

Not Least

Hanoi is just like Hoi An if it had been picked up and dumped in Saigon. Nice to look at but difficult to see. We're not exploring too much yet as we're catching a train to Sapa tomorrow evening anyway. We got a cheap room just for the night. $8 (between us) gets us quite a large room with tv and a really great fridge. We're currently trying to use this to make Froghurt but it's slow going. Our bathroom however is not so much of a bargain. There's a shower nozzle but no shower so you just treat the whole bathroom as your oversized novelty shower room and wipe down the toilet seat when you're done. It's great fun getting even the cieling wet!

My main concern right now is charging my iPod but I can't find a decent internet cafe. This really blows me away because we're in the capital city of Vietnam for god's sake. The only two places we've found after lots of asking and walking, are two rival travel agencies of the same name, boasting equally c…