Rachel and Matt’s World Tour
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Vietnam Part 1

Good Moooooooorning from Vietnam!

We are 11 days and 3 towns into Vietnam, and so far so great. ‘Nam is
gorgeous. We stayed in Hanoi for 5 nights as there is not a huge amount of tourist sights but it has a really good ‘feel’. It’s bustling and friendly and we enjoyed wondering around the markets and Hoen Kiem Lake in the old quarter. Paddy bought a conical hat, he says he wants to blend in with the locals. I reminded him he is an 8inch tall bear. Matt is enjoying a new adrenaline sport – road crossing. A slow, confident stride across is usually sufficient to part the tide and increase the heart rate. I’m too much of a wuss for this sport and am usually left trembling in Matt’s wake. In Hanoi we visited the Ngoc Son temple on the lake (see photo of gant stuffed turtle?!), the Ho Chi Min Mausoleum complex (see photos of his house, no photos allowed of stuffed man), and the temple of literature; a nice garden/temple area to wander round in the heat of the day.

From Hanoi we took a side trip to Halong Bay. We stayed on a chinese junk and cruised around some of the 2,000 limestone islands and caves for 2 days. We kayaked around the fish farm, where the families that live on the small boats here never go back to the mainland! In the evening we drank beers on deck, watched the sunset and talked under the stars until bedtime, the whole group avoiding our guides pleas to come downstairs and sing karaoke – man they love it here.

The next night we stayed on Cat Ba Island but after a morning climbing up what felt like a mountain in extreme humidity, we were far too tired to explore the beaches, so it was a social drink in the evening then straight back to bed.

Our next stop was Ninh Binh. From here we hired bicycles and toured the surrounding area. We visited Tam Coc for a trip in a row boat which they all seem to row with their feet! Tam Coc has to be some of the most gorgeous scenery we have seen on our whole trip; a peaceful river drifting through cave tunnels, surrounded by rice paddies and limestone cliffs. We also visited Bich Dong, a temple set in a cliff, which was worth the visit for the journey there alone. We cycled through picture postcard Vietnam; ladies working in the rice paddies, water buffalo cooling in the streams, local villages with kids tearing around on their bicycles and shouting hello.

On day two from Ninh Binh we cycled to the ancient citadel at Hoa Lu, there were a couple of temples but not much else as it has mostly been destroyed.

We are now in Hue, but leave today for Hoi An. Hue is a great town for very different reasons than Hanoi. For a start it is much more sophisticated! It is clean, and there are parks filled with sculpture all along the river, which is bridged by modern structures. We walked around the huge citadel, where the walled inner courtyards of the King are now open to all. Much was destroyed by wars and typhoons but they are busy restoring and the new builds are almost as gorgeous as the old crumbling ones. Yesterday we took a boat trip along the ‘perfume river’ (I don’t know why it’s named that – it doesn’t smell nice). Many Kings are buried in tombs along the banks and we visited a few of the most impressive of these, and the Thien Mu Pagoda where many monks still live. In ’63 one of them burned himself alive to protest the policies of the then president!

That’s all for now. Sorry it’s a long one but I expect you can tell I’m very taken with Vietnam already, hence the enthusiasm.

Laters x

PS. After hearing so much about the Top Gear Vietnam special from fellow travellers we watched it online. Apart from being hilarious it accurately portrays the Vietnam experience.


1 Fee { 07.26.09 at 11:35 am }

Awesome post guys! I love Paddys hat, it really suits him. Tam Coc looks amazing, really beautiful! Not sure if you have heard about Felipe Massa but a spring came off Barichello’s car in qualifying and hit Massas helmet, and he then went into a water wall at 150mph. Unconscious for a while, and has 2 fractures to his skull. Had emergency surgery last night but he is stable now so fingers crossed. Bit freaky especially after the Surtees accident last week. I’m at the BBC next week, exciting!

Love Fee x

2 Mum and Dad Silsbury { 07.26.09 at 8:26 pm }

Hi there
Vietnam looks and sounds appealing.Paddy has gone native then ??–watch he doesn’t desert you and try and find a job in the paddy fields to subsidise his travels or even go hunting for trash,he velly crafty !! We enjoyed all the nice pics and your obvious enthusiasm for the country. Stay safe

Love Mum and Dad xxx

3 Matt { 07.27.09 at 4:15 am }

Hey sis.

Glad you like the pics. Nam is really beautiful.
We saw Massa’s accident. Lucky he came around before he hit the barriers. He could have died. Rumours are that Schumi might be making a comeback.

Sue/Bob, you velly funny! We have just had the best breakfast of the trip so far, even better than Hotel Citrus. Poached eggs, crispy bacon (real), french pastries, hot fresh breads, coffee and juice for 1.50 each!

4 mum & dad Doran { 07.27.09 at 2:19 pm }

Hey guys, fantastic blog as per usual. Vietnam looks very lush and green. There appears to be lots to see and visit. Dad thinks that you look like a buddhist monk with your latest haircut Matt!! We have just had a visit from Aunty Kath and she has worked her way thru most of the past blogs and pikkies. Took her up the Spinnaker Tower on Saturday but she chickened out of walking accross the glass floor! No N Zone for her in NZ I guess. Thank you both for my birthday card and phone call. Weather is pretty poor in the UK at the mo, so much for the long hot summer we were promised.Hope you both enjoy the next stage of the trip. Oh, Barry & Jacqui have just been to Byron Bay. Think they got caught up in some sort of festival!! Like the area tho. Keep snapping. Paddy looking good in his hat!! Till next time. N & P send their love to you both.xx

5 cool car { 08.01.09 at 8:13 am }

I have heard from other people vietnam is nice ,a bit better than when the americans were there in 1960s ,Everything they touch turns to mud. Mr abama barrack to me said john what is your advice on politics and i said well barrack best to keep out and let the fuzzy wuzzys get on with it .I think he was very pleased with that advice.well must go another monsoon day to get on with.

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