Australia, Vietnam · 12 Days · 23 Moments · November 2017

Cathy's tour through Vietnam

1 December 2017

So excited, got to Hue and checked in... went for a walk to stock up on drinks and food. Found a small store and had a look but kept walking for forever and found a supermarket! With trolleys and aisles and everything! So excited!🤣bought some cheese and bread sticks and beers and back to the hotel for an early night and early start 8 in the morning.
Woot woot, us pulled up out the front of the hotel and we looked at each other and said too nice for us... but alas it was our empty bus with pleather seats and all! Stayed really empty and so we had two seats each and it has WiFi- very Schmik! Loving it great views of the country side. No idea where we are but I think we’re nearly there..... 1743, waiting to hear how EmBems play went❤️
The skies started to spit and Sarah after feeling 2 spots was like HAHAHAH I told you so.... then KABOOOOM! It was raining like I’ve never seen rain the streets were empty as people flocked to any awning to stay dry... then Sarah and I just pranced the streets like we owned the place 🤣🤣🤣🤣 Only thing was, within 5 minutes it was half way up my shins. Sad had taken her Nike’s off and was in bare feet which really who cares I was water ploughing in thongs! Suddenly it was there.... that good old, unmistakably familiar scent- SHIT! We were knee deep in the fucked up sewrage here! So I said to Sarah.... let’s Get Ice Cream! And then get the hell out of here after we buy beer 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂back to the hotel pool to wash the grime off..Loving the laughs and chats with my eldest girl xx Awesome times, thanks for the memories Viet and Sarah xxxx
After cooling off in the room and talking to home- I was pretty sad and we walked back down to the Ancient town for a walk by the river some lantern watching and drinks. Sarah said it was gonna rain and we should take umbrellas. I thought she was nuts cause there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and was stinking hot, but she got me one anyway. No one else had them so we felt pretty stupid but at least we had our self defense sticks! Spoke to Philip again and was even sadder crying in the street now, someone touched me to pull me into the restaurant as I walked down the street and I thought I was going to rip her heart out but I just said with gritted teeth, BACK OFF! She did.... We sat down but the river chillin when suddenly.......
Woke up early yayyyyy! Breakfast and a quick chat with home before packing again to check out and await the bus for our 3 hour trip to Hue. Hilling on the sun lounges by the pool... wouldn’t be dead for quids!

30 November 2017

Slept in again this morning 0930 instead of 0830 but made it in time for breakfast. Came back to room chatted to home then showered and finished the washing. Bloody humid today, so need to reign the frizzy locks in on us both! Supposed to rain later so we have arranged the hotel bicycles to go down to the “Ancient town” and cycle around Hoa’i River. Friggan hot and humid but was so proud of Sarah for giving it a go! The conditions in there were somewhat stressful but by the end she was overtaking others even trucks #nailed it Tried to find some shade and have a beer we’d taken with us but their was a lack of trees and a lot of sweat so eventually we decided to finish the circle and make our way home. Great day!

29 November 2017

Left My Son holy lands and were taken for lunch on a cruise boat (of sorts) I had my first quails egg with noodles prawns pork and carrots in fish sauce. I was dreading it but it was actually really lovely. Then stopped off on the island and were taken to two carpenters stalls. One made figurines from stumps and the other made decorative housing pieces such as arches and picture rails. Amazingly fine work We were dropped back to the hotel about 3 and did some washing before going down to the Ancient Town where Sarah wouldn’t pay the 120000 for an entry ticket and so we snuck in the back way lol Celebrated Sarah’s brilliant marks she got back today with a scotch and coke 45000 and a beer for me 5000 cheap as. Did some shopping and had a great day. Tori was a bit sad today but I’m hoping she’ll have a better day tomorrow...
Whoops slept in again. Pick up is 8 and it’s 20 to 8 and we have breakfast..... of course we made it! Skulled our coffees but we made it. The people on the bus today were great. New Zealand mums, South African couple, con and joanna(now found out her name is actually Asha but will remain Joanna to me), two single ladies, one from Cambodia and the other German. About an hour out to Holy son temples amazing place. Built from the 4th to the 11th centuary with bricks held together with a combination of sap used as resin and something else that researches are yet to discover. UNESCO and Germany have tried to repair and preserve the constructions in places but have not been able replicate the neatness and mastery of that time.The Cham peoples work was amazing, did not grow moss and looked very neat.

28 November 2017

Finally off the bloody train and the driver was waiting to collect us and take the hour drive to Hoi An. Could happily get on a plane and go home today. Sarah is sick as and I couldn’t get to a chemist because I was on the train. Arrived at the hotel(the Venus) at about 12 and found we have been upgraded. Have to share a king size bed but beautiful room and even a bath. Looking over the pool, Love it. Walked down the road to the town center and bought some pills while Sarah had a bath and a nap. Called home while I had a bath and then just cried for a good hour. Sarah woke up but to unwell to go out. Grabbed food in the room and went to sleep.
An hour to go.... ready to get the hell off
Sat at the hotel waiting for the driver having another Hanoi beer. Met some people Con and Joanna who are now on the tour with us. They’re from Tasmania lovely people and travelled a lot. We all went together to the station and just chatted till boarding the jail train hahaha. This thing was 4 berth to each room. We got on, mine was bottom bunk Sarah’s top and two guys opposite. Seemed nice Vietnamese people but really uncomfortable so we ended up translator (iPhone) asking if the bottom bunk would swap so I was opposite Sarah on the bottom and the two guys upstairs- much better. Not a lot I can say, it’s different and I’m glad I don’t live here. Slept more than Sarah and she’s a bit sick poor thing.

27 November 2017

Whoops slept in! It’s 0940 and breakfast closes at 10 Quick bite to eat, packed and checked out of Hanoi sky for the last time😢. We left our big packs and off to enjoy the day and get some washing done from the mud bathes yesterday. Need to be back by 6 to get a lift to the train station. We went downtown and exchanged our American money for more dong. Can’t seem to find a laundry here at the moment so we bought some moisturizer that we need badly! Back on the street when suddenly this guy grabs my leg and rips my shoe off and glues tire rubber on it then takes my other shoe and before I knew it he was asking for $450,000 dong and wouldn’t give me my shoe back. I gave him $13,000 which he throw on the floor and took my shoe. Sarah stepped in and yelled at him to give us the shoe back which he eventually did. We then seemed our shelter in the western corner which consisted on dominos, Burger King, and Dunkin’ Donuts 🍩 which we sat and talked to home which dad reminded us of the $50

26 November 2017

Back on the sleeping bus at 4 leaving Sapa back to Hanoi 5 hour trip. Grabbed some dinner and checked back into the Hanoi sky hotel only to find we had the suite, a king bed and single with a sink and a great view of the city. Nailed it. Shower and went to turn the lamp on before promptly smashing my head into the sloping wall-ouch’s!
Ready for Sapa day 2 trek, picked up by our guide at 0845 and walked 5o pick up the others from their hotel. Only 2 boys coming with us Nathan and kristian, both 19 from UOW DOING PREMED. They were great company as we trekked for 41/2 hours 8n shin deep slippery mud. We had young ladies helping to hold us up and of course we had to buy from them. Sarah had two people help her and both expected top payment and got a little scrappy when she wouldn’t pay up. 😣. We stopped at the 2nd village for some home cooked lunch of curry and rice, pork and tofu (well at least that’s what I think we ate lol) Watermelon for dessert. Off again on our last hour. I asked the guide to let us know when we were about 10 mins from 5he end and bought us all a round of drinks from the poorest family I could find. I had a tiger beer which was bigger than I expected like a long neck and then found out she needed the bottle back so had to drink it all there....someone had to do it😳

25 November 2017

Cat Cat village is where the black h’mong ethnic people live at the bottom of a steep gully. We were taken to a local home and able to go inside, sad how different we live on comparison ... glad I live in Australia! Lots of shops and the constant begging of people wanting you to buy from them. Amazing workers and even the children. As young as 6/7 year olds carrying their siblings around on their backs while they sweep. We keep walking down to the waterfalls and the French built hydronic power station. We continue on and and eventually catch the bus back to the hotel. Shower and downstairs for dinner. Sooo cold we had to go and put more jackets on to be comfortable enough to eat. No air conditioning getting used here tonight.
Get to Sapa about 1300 and it’s freezing and raining. The bus doesn’t turn up to pick us up but the local guide is there and really sweet and funny. She has a 3 month old boy on her back in a blanket made baby pouch and is cute as a button and quiet too. The usual pushy sellers are trying to grab our hearts and money as always truck g to make a bond before the old “you buy off me” line comes out. We eventually get to the Paramount hotel in the middle of town have a quick lunch and it’s off on our first trek to Cat Cat Village. Cat cat village was intense. So many people pushing for us to buy off them whilst I was busy catching my breath! The way the Vietnamese ancestors have hand cut into the mountain was insane. Foggy today but still looked amazing.
Picked up early 0645 today in the bloody lil bus again! I could have cried this bus s soooo cramped... met some lovely people ‘the south Africans’ George Sean, Nikki and Dante. Really made us laugh. Suddenly we pull into a bus stop and all our dreams come true when we realize I’m being changed to a BIG bus! So excited and then find out it’s a sleeping bus love it. 6 hour trip with some really beautiful scenery. Nice to be out of the city.

24 November 2017

Well.. we were supposed to be up for the 6am tai clutch we missed it😂😂😂😂😂 Never mind some breakfast and off to do some kayaking through the Lunon Caves. Sometimes monkeys are seen but we saw none. Great experience! Cave was insane but watching Sarah and I get in and out of the Kiyak, priceless hahaha Back to the boat wet, showered and packed before making our own rice paper rolls, some carving of two doves out of radishes, then lunch and back to the dock ready for the 31/2 hr drive back to Hanoi.( well so we thought) Driver then pulls over, everyone out we’ve got a flat! He calls a guy who comes and changes the whole tube on the side of the road! The NRMA would have still had you on hold in Aus lol. Long drive back but happy to be back in Hanoi sky...

23 November 2017

Back to the boat for a hot ginger tea ( Sarah drank my poison) and back off again to Tito’s island to climb to the top of one of the islands for an amazing view of the the Bay. I was pretty grateful for the big queues, it meant I could get my breath back between flights of stairs, all 370 of them! Cold by the time we finished, back to the boat to get ready for dinner. Dinner was nice sat with a German couple who spoke some English and the rest we just laughed together at or translated with the phone.
Up early for packing and breakfast at the hotel before our first real tour day. 3 and a half hour bus trip to Halong Bay vspirit river cruise awaits! So excited, met some great people on the bus ride(as in mini bus with mini seats and no spares) Stopped at this statute masonry place on the way for toilets and snacks-western prices, nice things but not for us. Finally get to the ‘big bot’ full of character and charm and very rustic. I was worried of course about getting off the little boat on to the big boat but they just pull up alongside it open a gate and in you step. No OHS involved. Very busy schedule set out for the day ahead. Halong Bay has over a 1000 small islands which people believe grew from pearls the gods threw down to protect the locals when the French were invading. The islands stopped the boats from firing through to reach the locals within. Many of the islands have caves within them but the largest found so far are the Sung Sot Caves and I first excursion.

22 November 2017

Wow what a first day! Nearly killed at least 37 times, we’ll not quite but crossing those streets was terrifying until it became a challenge until it became essential and now, we’ll now it’s friggan awesome fun! Scarey but fun! Really have to be aware here.. watch your footing watch your belongings and watch the tut tut drivers but really had a great day. Huge learning curve that bought us even closer together. Thanks for a great day Sarah!
Got off the plane in HoChimin and was confronted by being in another world where no one knows what I’m banging on about! Got through the visa process with them saying two words ‘sit down’... then no idea what we are doing lol Finally figure out we need to leave international and go to domestic- sweating bullets we make the short walk at 1 in the morning to domestic buy a bottle of water and sit down on the airport floor waiting for terminal to open. Once in, happy to be back in air on... Sarah promptly falls asleep after her sleepless night and I try to order a coffee bahahahaha did not go well lol Sit down empty handed and watch some vids ‘getting on’ call family and watch Sarah sleep while my brain laughs and laughs at the overhead voice that I have no idea what they are saying... just having a ball !

20 November 2017

Can’t believe the day has nearly arrived. Have mixed emotions really- worried about leaving the girls, Philip and Mum but I know we have excellent relationships and that everyone will do their very best to look out for each other. I guess if the truth be told I’m worried that I’ll be so far away and if they need me, no one else will be good enough to manage it as well as I would....not arrogance but I take my role as a the career pretty seriously. I’ve just gotta have faith! I love my family so much and just want everyone to be okay.