Senaste inläggen

Av Magnus Ekstrand - Söndag 25 juni 17:04

First of all. Thank you all for reading. This will be the last day that I record for my Vietnam travels. It's been a great trip but I am really looking forward to returning to Sweden. This could well be noticed since we spent most of the day just taking it easy. We slept late and after this I went out solo to do some souvenir shopping but found surprisingly little. I bought a few things and am proud to say that I haggled for everything without angering the shopkeeper. After this we bought tickets for a water puppet show which was amazing. The scene was a decently large pool where the puppeteers had their puppets enter from the back and sides. They handled them with quite the skill. And even if all dialouge was in Vietnamese both me and Martin enjoyed the show. It also feautured traditional Vietnamese music and some instruments I've never seen before.


After this we met up with Esther to have dinner, we acually had Burger King which was decent. After this we walked around one of the local lakes where all cartraffic had been blocket to allow for various activities such as street performances, games and socializing.


Right now we are both back at the hotel and are resting for our travels tomorrow. Martin will be working 6 days straight after arriving back at Sweden so I can really understand him wanting some rest. Even I who've a week off when I get back feel tired and kinda weary after our travels. I guess I am not the scout I once was. I would like to end this journey with a poem, just like the last one. But it doesn't come to me as it used too. But who knows maybe one day my mind and heart will sing in unison once again. For now, I am content to let them ease down and enjoy the feeling of tiredness take over. As I said above, thank you yet again for following me. Even if I also write for my own benifit it always nice to share with others. 


Goodbye, farewell for now,

and untill I see you again,

stay well and healthy


ANNONS
Av Magnus Ekstrand - Söndag 25 juni 08:00

We arrived abou 04:30 am to Hanoi and went directly to the hotel. The gates was barred but there was a doorbell which we rang 3 times before a drowsy looking guy opened the door. Much to our amazement we were allowed to check in at this time and we spent the morning sleeping until 10:00 am. After this we set out to see some of the temples and museums that Hanoi has to offer. Yet again the weather was too hoy(35 degrees C) and we spent most of the day in the shade. We went by a templeTran Quoc pagoda), the presidential palace, Ho Chi Minh museum and Tomb, they were however both closed for the day. We continued on to the  Hoa Lo prison and the Woman museum. While doing this I tried to make plans for the night with both Max, an old hightschool friend and Esther which we met in Ho Chi Minh city. It ended up with us meeting u with Max for dinner and then we also met up with Esther. The evening was rather uneventful, we spent most time reconnecting and strolling the streets of Hanoi. We had a glas of fresh beeer and also icecream from a place we'd never found without Max.


         

The pagoda      

Ho Chi Minh mausoleum

The guards official gear, was happy enough to pose for a photo  

Ho Chi Minh museum  

Temple of litterature, unsure what brought about the name      

The prison, feautured a number of unpleasant facts and scenery.  

The woman museum  

Was a nice exhibit even tho the womans role was maybe a bit old fashioned. The first room was dedicated to marrige, second to birth giving, third to family life and only at the fourth came historical personalities(which most had to do with women who were recognized for supporting the armies during the war...)  

Local art  

Traditional garb  

Finally found some penguins for Hotch to chat with  

local church  

Meeting up with friends! Me, Martin, Max and Esther.  

Went out on the local pub streets, this night they feautured alot of street performances, made for a good feeling.  

Sat down at the green table for some fresh beer, the chairs are literally like 20-30 cm tall.  

Icecream!  

One of the lakes by night, my camera doesn't really like dark setting so picture quality is fairly low...     

Ended at the operahouse, from here we grabbed a cab back to the hotel...

ANNONS
Av Magnus Ekstrand - Fredag 23 juni 13:55

So today we yet again had a private driver to drive us to some of the scenic points of the area. This happened to be the Love and Silver waterfall as well as the Fansipan mountain. The Love waterfall was the first and it was a really nice view. There was alot of walking, which was after yesterdays trekking a bit tedious. But never the less being out in true nature with no sound of cars and civilazation made for a good mood. Even the roadtrip to the waterfall had been scenic as it was a bit further up the mountains than Sapa itself. The silver waterfall proved to be easier to access but also very enjoyable. There was also a market with stands occupied by local minorities outside the waterfall. These people seemed alot calmer about acquiring customers and I could browse at ease. The mostly sold the same things and I ended up not buying anything.


Lastly we went to the cable car that had been recently built(2 years ago) that would take us up Fansipan mountain. Visiting the place you could very well tell that it was newly built as nearly everything about the place was flawless. We ended up eating at the resturant that was probably a bit on the high end, but the prices was still reasonable compared to Sweden(almost everything is...). After this we went on the cablecar to the top. It soared above the valley and then entered the clouds itself. Sadly it didn't go above the clouds and we found that the top of the ride was still heavily clouded. But we set about exploring anyway. Actually the reduced sight and the way it changed and shrouded the buildings made for some very cool effects. After the top(3143 m) we went back to the hotel and had a shower before leaving with the buss to Lao Cai where our night train would depart. As I was checking my bankaccount I found a message from the bank itself saying to contact them imedietly. I also found two separate transactions to the same website in america, both for about 120 SEK. Calling the bank I found out someone had tried to withdraw 8000 SEK and 5000SEk(which I didn't have on the account). After those purschases they also had barred my creditcard. Hearing that my card had been compromised of course made me feel uneasy. But also loosing only 250 SEK made me kinda happy about it. I will be borrowing money from Martin during the reminder of the trip. We only have hotel, food, some souveniers and drinks left to pay for anyway. And also this might've easiely have happen earlier in my trip which would've caused alot more trouble. I will probably have a new card by the time I get back to Linköping. So all good I guess.

                

Path to "Love waterfall"    

The waterfall itself     

They guy that had a bath in said waterfall, did so alone however, partner status unknown  

Some of the way to/from the waterfall required some sure footing, and good shoes. I haven't been using anything except my sandals and they have worked out fine for everything so far.      

View from Silver waterfalls  

Market just outside Silver waterfalls  

10 point question, what are they selling? :)  

View on the road when going to the cable car.    

Temple just outside the cable car station.  

Inside the cable car station, was very neat.  

Lunch! The waiter insisted on taking a picture.  

Aaand take-off!    

On top of the mountain. Was chilly(autumn i Sweden perhaps)  

Felt storylike walking in the mist/fog/cloud   

 

Gong and a temple in the background.

Inside the temple  

Stairs, stairs and some more stairs...  

The top :D, they also had flags that you could borrow, we ended up taking alot of pictures here but I'll spare you from all of them.

Going down, also stairs!

And going back by the cable car, was about a 20 minute ride

Outside the cable car station these were danceing and playing music. Sadly we could not stay since we already agreed to be picked up at as set time. But I sneaked a photo atleast.


So tomorrow we will be back in Hanoi and will check in to a very nice hotel. We will mostly do shopping and meeting up with friends(Max from Sweden, Emilie from France and Esther from U.K) All in all some easy days to end our journey here in Vietnam.

Av Magnus Ekstrand - Fredag 23 juni 04:40

So we arrived to early. The train stopped in Lao Cai which is a village close to Sapa. I was a bit curious on how we would actually get to Sapa from here but it didn't take long until we had a ride for 50 000VND(which is nothing). Directly after being let of by the buss about 4-5 women came surrounding us, asking our origin and how long we'd be staying an so on. The insisted on taking us on trekking tours and when I asked the price and then said that we'd time to think they followed us around a while longer. Only when I'd said no in every polite way my imagination could come up with did they relent. And instead started asking if we would not buy some of their wares instead. This being our first encounter with these women ment that I still had patience to say no yet another 4-5 times.


The hotel allowed us to check in early and also set us up for a trekking tour. I figured we rather trust the hotel than the first person we met in town. The tour was amazing. The nature of Sapa is exquisite and I also found very little littering. For the day we were joined by Lisa and Jackie from Australia as well as Emilie from France. Our tourguide Cu was very polite and had plenty of information. More than that we were also joined by "minority women" from the villages we travelled thru. They didn't do much except some sparce conversation and help us down when the road was too slippery. In each respective village they did however expect you to buy a "minor thing" from them and the prices they started at was laughable. I found however that some of the wares was really nice and if you did some hagglnig you could get a semi decent price. However I am not to fond of these kind of practise, it seemed like a convinient way for these people to knock some money of the tourist. Also whenever this happen Cu happened to disappear for the duration the harassment took place. It was a well set up tourist trap. But even the armies of small children trying to sell their bracelet(each child you had to say no to at least 2 times) and the women(which you had to say no to at least 5 times or straight out ignore) could not ruin the day.


After walking for about 14 km a bus from the hotel picked us up and drove us back to town. We ended up walking the streets with Emilie and had dinner before she left for her night bus to Hanoi. After this we spent most time at our room. Martin had gotten a cold and I was also a bit low on energy so just relaxing for awhile was really needed.

 

View of the valley of Sapa before we started our walk.  

Ricefields in different levels.  

Water buffalo was around in plenty. Seemed friendly enough tho.  

Our fellowship of the day. Here we are followed by the Hmong women.  

Closer view on the ricefields.  

The path was sometimes very slippery, and sometimes also very steep. Made sure to tread lightly and carefully.  

Our guide for the day, Cu.  

Local river that we ended up following for a time.  

Lisa(left) and Jackie(right) with Hmong gifts in their hair.  

Martin, Emilie and me.  

Whereever I go i think I will never end stopping to watch chickens, puppies and other young animals. They are just too cute.  

More of the valley of Sapa.      

Mountains in the background made for some nice views.      

River grew bigger the further we went.     

Back in Sapa itself, exploring the minor streets and watching people go about their everyday life. There was alot of construction(more than usual) going on. Almost every quarter had a building being built.


So tomorrow we will go to see two waterfalls; love and silver waterfall. If the weather is good we will also go to the highest mountain in Vietnam - Fansipan.

Av Magnus Ekstrand - Torsdag 22 juni 15:27

We woke up, fortunantly without any sign of cockroaches in our cabin and had a below average breakfast. After this we had some leisure time before the crew dropped us at a pearl museum. It feautured some monitors, a guided tour about pearls and oysters. But to keep it real I learned more from the elderly singaporian man. He told me that the technique used in articifial breating of the pearls had been developed in Japan and then later on imported to other countries such as Vietnam. It used a crafted pearl that was done from inner fragments of the oyster itself. This was made round and then implanted into the oyster's ovarium to grow larger and into a pearl. Of course the museum also feautured a shop where one might buy pearls or jewelery inlaid with pearls. The prices were outrageous.


After this we yet again had some leisure time before arriving to the harbor where we had set out yesterday. We waited some for the buss to arrive and then drove for four hours to Hanoi. In Hanoi we went to our previous hotel and had a shower and left our bags behind. I also made sure to ask about what kind of messages I had started recieving from the phone company where my internet had been set up. As I guessed it had to do with me and Martin using too much data and therefor the speed had been limited. I ended up asking if they could help me buy more data and the doorboy(doorman?) was assigned this glorious task. As he spoke english only one-three words at a time communication was limited while we waited at the somewhat busy telecom company. When it finaly was our turn he spoke for about 1-2 minutes before taking my phone and wiggling the messages I recieved at the saleswoman. I then got a chart where I guessed I could choose to buy data for different prices and I pointed at what would set me up for more than what we could possible spend in a week(since it was cheap and all). Further discussion was had between the saleswoman and my dear doorsman, he then proceeded to take a amount that was 1/3 of the price that I pointed at and then paid the woman. Me being lost already since the start didn't really bother protesting, but I was not too sure of what had actually been purschued... Back at the hotel I found out that he acutally had found a better deal and set me up for a lower price. Yay I guess. But why am I writing of this? Because sitting around waiting at a Telecom company with a guy dressed in his very fine working clothes while listning to conversation I could not understand at all was a very strange experiance. The kind of random one that only happens when you tread on a path where you don't really know what to expect. And it was super fun.


After that I joined up with Martin, we found a Café and had some coffe before taking a taxi to the trainstation where we took the night train to Sapa. The cabin we had paid for was really nice and the beds large enough for me to lay straight and wide enough to be comfortable. The toilett was also fully working and had a generous suply of toilet paper. We went to sleep and I am happy to say that there were no cockroaches at the train and that I slept the entire ride.

 

Ha long bay early in the morning.    

Part of the pearl museum  

Guy inserting the articifial pearls into oysters  

Cut up oyster which reavealed a pearl inside  

The waters where the oysters where kept. It can take from 4-8 years to grow a single pearl.      

Back in Hanoi again. I realized too late that I really hadn't taken too many pictures today. But then again, there was not too much action at all...


Tomorrow we will enjoy the mountain village of Sapa

Av Magnus Ekstrand - Onsdag 21 juni 16:35

We had a really nice american breakfast before leaving for Halong bay. A bus picked us up outside the hotel. Yet again we wre the only westernes. However we did befriend an eldery couple from Singapore that spoke excellent english. Sadly, yet again, their name fell out of my mind over the days. They however did not forget ours and spoke it freqvently which I noticed that it makes for a much better impression. We spoke of many things, similarities and differences between our contries, work and leisure time and I felt a certain fondness for the retired couple who still treated each other as they where out at their honeymoon. He also happen to be a former engineer which may have sparked some similarity to my own dad.


The tour itself was maybe semi interesting. They took us to see caverns, kayaking and swiming. Halong bay however made it worth it. The nature was serene while still powerful. The area seemed to be a archipelago with small mountains instead of islands. I was amazed to find little bird life around, we saw some crows and eagles but no other birds. Maybe the wrong season? Also this was one of the first time in Vietnam where I truly relaxed. The boat had a uppr floor with sunchairs where you could lounge just watching the passing scenery. I eased down and did nothing for as long as I could before I was joined by the eldery man from singapore, his wife soon followed and we lay speaking about all and nothing watching the sky grow ever darked. At night the air con in the room was started and we retired semi early to realax. Or so we thought, the room proved to have several more inhabitants than just us. Normaly I am not to squemish, but sharing about 2.5 squaremeters with cockroaches the size of of my little finger(I have large hands) was not plesant. I killed four of them before finally easing down to sleep. There might also have been some "girly" screams while killing the first two. Of course we told our guide, who didn't really seem to understand what the "big" fuss was about. He also tried to grab one of the larger ones with his fingers as if it was a disobedient dog. I contented myself ofs watting away at the creatures using one of the plastic shoes that belonged to the boat, staying as far away as I could while still killing them. Needlesly said it took me 15 minutes after turning the lights out to finally go to sleep...



 

Breakfast!  

Our bus, on our way to Halong bay, guide spoke some of the history of both Hanoi and Halong bay. Seems it is named dragons bay and that there is a legend day dragons decended to help man against an invading force. When the war was won they did not wish to return to heaven, but would rather stay among the beautiful islands.  

As with many tours this one stopped at a shop where you could buy statues and art at outrageous prices. But there was no attempt to force you into buying so I guess it was more ok than it could've been.  

Some of the statues.    

Closeing up on Halong bay.    

At the boat, more information from out guide before departing.  

what the tourboats looks like. Some seemed equipped for overnight stay with rooms, others just had viewing platforms.  

Some pictures from Halong bay.  

Sundeck.  

 

To get around easier they also had a smaller boat to go in to the islands.

This is how you started the boat, just push the jumpercables together, no key needed...

The "suprise cave", our first stop for the day.

View outside the cave.

Real pretty sights, was told that this is the largest cave in Halong bay.

Second stop, 30 minutes of kayaking. On the other side there was supposed to be monkeys, saw none however :(


Third stop  Ti-Top island, named after a russian who was close to Ho Chi Minh. Also apparently it is aid to be 1968 islands in halong bay because this is the year Ho Chi Minh passed away(?) - so that people may remember him.

The beach at Ti-Topsland

View from the top, beautiful!

Dinner. Very short cooking class on how to make springrolls...

Nighttime view of the boats in Halong bay, add some frequent flashes of lighting and you have what we spent 1 hour watching. Was really relaxing and gratifying sights.


So tomorrow we go to an oyster fram before returning to Hanoi. Then in the eveing we will take a nighttrain to Sapa, a northren mountainvillage. It is said to be cooler up there!

Av Magnus Ekstrand - Onsdag 21 juni 15:29

We left early in the morning to catch our flight at 08:15. We dared to take a random taxi(from a company with good reputation) just outside the hotel. Turned out to be a nice guy and we arrived to the airport safely. I really should've taken a picture of it as it was no larger than a medium sized conviniance store in Sweden. It feautured only two gates and only one flight in the morning so we felt no need to be worried about sitting at the right gate/boarding the right plane. I slept most of the flight, but was still tired when we arrived at Hanoi.


The driver from the hotel picked us up and we drove for about 35 minutes before arriving at the hotel. About 40 minutes later we had checked in early and had been given a deluxe suite instead of a regular room. We did however get some mixup between Twin room and a Double room and as such it seemed that me and Martin was to share bed. We don't really mind, but it is always fun to wonder what the staff might've been thinking about us. After this, we set out to explore a minor lake inside Hanoi as this seemed to require a minimum of energy. To be honest both of us was reaaaally tired. On the way to the lake we saw a MC driver and his passanger speed by at a insane speed(80-90km/h inside the streets of Hanoi). 2 minutes down the road he'd been stopped by the police. I then did something which was maybe stupid, and most surely uneccessary. I tried to sneak a photo. This earned me some stern shouting from a police I hadn't seen and earned me a scolding from Martin, which I deserved. I probably got off easy and could've ended up with a fine or some trouble we didn't really care for. This did however spark an unexpected turn of the day with me trying to figure out exactly how corrupt the vietnamese police was. I also ended up reading about frequent scams in Vietnam and found out that the peddler taxi(surprise, surprise) had a really bad reputation and was to be avoided. There also seemed to be several scams specific to the hanoi region. One that I almost had been exposed to: While I was walking a guy started shouting and brought my attention to my shoes. Since he was very insistent I stopped to see what he ment. He then procceded to kneel down and try to spray sometime inside my shoes. Luckiely I was quick enough to pull away. It seems they either attach glue or a detergant that ruins the seams of the shoe and then offer to either fix the shoe or to get rid of the glue. While doing this all types of merchants will supply you with "the things needed" to fix the shoe for a not totally extravagant, but still pricey sums.


This and said event with the police had both me and Martin on edge. Hanoi also didn't feel as trustworthy as other cities we had been in. We couldn't really say why but that was the way it was. We therefore spent most of the afternoon at the hotel, reading and relaxing. In the night however we did a food tour which was really amazing. It brought us to many smalltime places where we could try the local food and beer. It also made so that we met John from america which was doing his first days in Vietnam. Very nice fellow. Nice enought that we ended up going out for drinks later on in the evening until late.


But more than the foodtour there was also heavy rain. The kind of rain we never get in Sweden - the skyfall one which floods streets and drenched anything that even goes outside for a couple of minutes. It lasted during the entire foodtour, only letting up when we returned to the hotel. I enjoyed it immensly as rain is by far my favourite weather. It makes me feel alive in ways that are hard to describe. The joy of walking the flooded streets, not caring that my sandals got wet. Feeling the slow chill of the everlasting flow of water against of my rainclothes really reset and turned my mood for the better.

  

Our flight to Hanoi  

The smog was slighty worse here  

The local lake that we visited.   
Pavements are as clouded by scooters as usual, streets as busy as any other cities.  

Local temple we didn't visit because we were feeling low and also there was an enterance fee.   

Art in our hotel room. The bed was also laid with roses, litteraly...  

Going out on the foodtour.  

First stop where we had egg coffe,.  

Was really delicious, even if the chairs was about 2-3dm in height....

Second stop, local bar! Draft beer directly from the "barrel"   

Rain, rain and rain! :D  

Us at the local bar, yet again not so big chairs.  

Streets flooded kinda quickly.  

Mashed banana thingy that surrounded something that tasted meatballs.  

Duck egg oumelette, kinda tasty(?)    

Eel and noodles   

Picture from the cleanliness of some of the streets in Hanoi... People just throws their trash outside...

The first of the bars we visited, loud music, louder singing from the patrons.   

As many places in Hanoi, at happy hour they serve buy one get two for free. Also happen to include their "bucket drink". I didn't have one, just seeing John and Martin drink theirs was enough.  

After this we went to a place where they also "served" laughing gas. It is used as anastetic in emergency departments and at maternity wards when giving birth. Here in Vietnam it was just another way to enjoy the night. I didn't have any but instead sat around observing it's effect on ´people who was also (slightly-majorly) intoxicated. It seemed to be harmless enough, but what really amazed me was that people smoked at the same time as they inhaled from the baloons(which was how they served the gas). If i remember correctly the gas is also expolisive...(?)  

Seems that Obama visited the district awhile ago and dined at a local resturant, since then many resturants have clamed to be the one favoured by the american president.


Tomorrow we leave for Halong Bay!

Av Magnus Ekstrand - Tisdag 20 juni 14:43

So yesterday and today's input will have to wait. Right now me and Martin are out in the middle of Ha Long islands. Also, yet again, we are surrounded by a really pretty thunderstorm. We seem to be perfectly safe from it as it is far away enough that you can't hear the actual sound. The boats laying at anchor around us also make for a really scenic view and I will just be enjoying laying around drinking in the serenity and awesome power of nature. Hopefully I'll write tomorrow! 

Skaffa en gratis bloggwww.bloggplatsen.se