Chao anh!!

So I am going to start today's post with a quick picture of my fellow Takeo Tartlet, Miss Badsha, since I blew out on yesterday's post !!! Sorry sweetie !!

So today is a rather dull and boring day at Seiryo Koko (only got 1 class !!) and since I don't have much in the way of EXCITING news to tell I am going to backtrack to what I did during Golden Week...

I spent Golden Week in the incrediably beautiful country of Vietnam. My two fabulous travel companions for this trip were Sarah and Busi. All I can say is that I fell completely in love with Vietnam.

It is probably the most amazing country I have ever visited, and I know that I will be back there ASAP.

We flew into Hanoi and spent a few days up north, including a two day boat trip around Halong Bay. Then we travelled down south to the coastal town of Hoi An, before flying down to leave from HCMC.

I think one of the first things that struck me about Vietnam was the friendliness of the locals. Everyone is was willing to talk to you (IN ENGLISH !!) and help you in any way they could. The second major plus-point of the country is the food... Oishii with a capital 'O` !!! Go out and buy a Vietnamese cookbook and if you can master at least 50% of what they can do then it will still be unbelievably good !! While in Hoi An we actually took a Vietnamese cooking course with a hilarious little chef called Tan, so I'm all set to cook up a storm on my one unit that they call a kitchen here !! (I've got a few receipes from the course if anyone wants to give it a go !!) And the third major plus was daily freshly baked French Baguettes.... YUMMY !!! ohhh how I miss good, proper, non-thick, non-stodgy bread !!!!!

So our first stop on the trip was the crazily busy capital city Hanoi. Seriously I don't think I have ever seen soooo many motorbikes in my life. Whole families of 4 and 5 pile onto them and speed off, weaving their way through the streets in a random criss-cross fashion. Apparantly there is no need to stick to your assigned side of the road in Vietnam !! And when crossing the street on foot... "It's OK, don't worry, just walk really slow and the hundreds of bikes heading towards you from all different directions will swerve to avoid you... don't worry!!"

Bikes parked safely... but just waiting to get in on the carnage!!

While up in Hanoi we ventured further north to Halong Bay. Legend has it that the Gods from Heaven sent a family of dragons down to help defend the land. Upon hitting the sea the force of the dragons formed the hundreds of limestone islands dotted around the bay, thus providing a formidable fortress against invaders.

We spent two days up in Halong on a small wooden boat sailing around the bay.

We also did a spot of night-time kyacking, which was sooooooo cool cause we were attempting to make our way around the bay guided only by the fairy-lights on the few boats that were docked in the bay.... it was ever so romantic !!!

Now this is the life :) The photos really don't do this place justice.

This was one of the communties that had been established on the bay. Families set-up home on boats docked in the bay and made their living by selling items to tourists.


We also visited caves which were created by the mother dragon thrashing her tail... can you see what this is?!?!?!?! All natural... apparantly !!!

Then we finished off our time in Halong with a guitar, some bottles of Vietnamese wine and nine strangers on board this cool little wooden boat... a good time was had by all !!!

Our next stop was further south in a place called Hoi An. Hoi An is a small, tranqil coastal town, famous for made-to-order clothes. So of course we took full advantage of this and each bought an extra rucksack to take all our new clothes home !! So if you see one of us looking particularly fabulous you'll know it's all down to our troop of about ten tailors who worked wonders for us in only three days.

We also spent some time at China Beach, which comes close to being one of the nicest beaches I've ever been to. Looking at it you would never have guessed that it was previously a base for the Vietcong and then later one of the places where the boat people fled the terror of the Vietnam war... in the words of Sarah... "strange events, strange ending"...

Why would you ever want to leave a place like this...

That is actually a good way to sum up our whole trip... we encountered many strange events while in Vietnam, including over-excitable Vietnamese men, a cabin filled with beasties and a mouse, a blow-out with the Mausoleum times (next time, next time) and having to hang on with all our strength to our three motorbike chaperons (their masterplan I'm sure !!) as we flew over a road not quite finished yet... and it all ending in a blowout at HCM airport where we spent from 8.30am till 9.30pm sitting outside the airport. We ran out of $$$ (but look at all the pretty things we bought !!) and they wouldn't let us check-in and therefore actually get into the airport until two hours before departure... we arrived thirteen hours before our flight and had no money to go anywhere and nothing to do but sit and sweat !!! We really do deserve a pat on the back for not killing each other that day !!!

So if you take any thing away from this (apart from a good chuckle) let it be this... GO TO VIETNAM. Honestly, I could rant about this country for days (but I won't !). I will be back there ASAP, I still have so much to see and I just can't stay away from all that delicious food for too long !!

I'm going to love you and leave you all now.

Till next time

Tan biet

xx xx xx