Friday, February 16, 2007

Hello everyone,
I was meant to update this a few days ago but we have been pretty active and any downtime has been used for either eating or sleeping or watching episodes of "Heroes" (and new lost!) Well since Hanoi we have been in 3 different city's, all very different and strange in their own right, We flew from Hanoi (1hr flight or a 30hr bus journey - you choose) to Vientiane the capital of Laos and its like somebody has pressed a slow-mo button on everything! Compared to Vietnam everything here runs at half pace and its really nice, compared to Vietnam's 85 million people, Laos has about 5 million, and its not even that much smaller!! but firstly here is some photos from Vietnam's Capital Hanoi:

We instantly took a liking to the city, its pretty big but is also quite pretty with lakes and a nice french influence, not that this photo shows any of that because i was kinda lazy with the camera and only took about 5-6 shots, but here they are anyway:

Some Statue, I could not have been arsed to walk over and check out who it was but anyway, I'm pretty sure he is fairly important.

We quickly came to the decision that getting a moped would not really be a smart idea as its was crazy busy and probably faster by foot.

Each traffic light was like the start of a race. Nuts

We went for a stroll around the lake and it was really really nice, loads of people just chilling out and enjoying the views.

Compared to Ho Chi Minh citys sprawling mess of concrete, Hanoi was stunning, still pretty noisy, but nice to look around.

Bikes rule the roads over here, whether they have an engine or just a pair of legs moving them!

The Lake at nighttime.

This is around the old quarter where we were staying, its a pretty crazy place and the sound of moped horns was unbelievable, It made Charlie go insane, after a couple of days it was kinda getting to me, you could barely speak outside on the street without being drowned out by the horns!!

As I said at the end of the last update, we booked a couple of days on a boat around Halong bay, we were so happy when we found out we had the whole boat to ourselves, instead of sharing it with 12 people, it was just us and the crew of 7 to look after us!!

The boat or "Junk" was pretty pimping.

Just Us.

No body else.

Well, maybe 2 little stow-aways resting on the pillows! (Woolly and stripy)

Proudly flying the Vietnamese flag.

That's not actually our boat, but it looks cool!!

Halong bay is just amazing, the scale of it was crazy, it just goes on as far as the eye can see, there are roughly 1800 larger islands in the bay, and countless other smaller ones.

Its was so nice to get out of the city and just relax and check out the amazing bay.

It was pretty hard not to take loads of pictures, every time we would sail between islands it would just open up and just take your breath away!

Amongst these islands, there are loads of cool places to visit, the guide mentioned going to a few caves, We were not really that pushed as we were loving it on the boat, but we went to one called "Surprise cave".

After walking though a small cave, it just opened up into this enormous cavern, both myself and Charlie just stood there totally shocked at the sheer size of it. These pictures don't really show how big it was. Think way bigger than a football stadium.

The lighting in side was pretty cool.

Apart from the lights and the paths, the caves are totally untouched.

Everywhere you turned there were just amazing formations. Who ever called it surprise cave, got it spot on and myself and Charlie were really blown away by it, It made the aillwee caves in Co. Clare look like a cupboard under the stairs.........


Me sitting on the front of the big boat.

Charlie took this shot, Savage isn't it?

Another Charlie Shot.

Ah, Its a hard life.

Inside a cool cave that was open on both sides!

The other side.

A bit Cloudy.

Setting Sun.

After a huge dinner, the boat stopped in a secluded part of the bay and we had a few beers up on deck, the moon light over the rocks was just amazing.

The View from our bedroom window. (I know its not called a bedroom on a boat, but Im not gonna get nautical on your asses.) (Charlies photo)

On the way back into the dock. (C)

Wide panorama.

Charlie caught me napping, I was pretty tired and had a slight hangover.

Right, after an amazing time on the boat, we went back to Hanoi and a couple of days later we flew to Vientane in Laos.

Now, we were kinda naughty here as we only had 2 days here, but we were feeling kinda lazy

and because the town looked like this,

We did this,

Here for an entire day!! For $5 you get to spend the day at the poolside of a very expensive hotel, much to the annoyance of the suckers who payed hundreds of dollars to stay here!!

So, after 2 days in Vientane, we headed north to a place called Vang Vieng, Im gonna struggle to find a good thing to say about the actual town.

The town is a nasty collection crappy loud bars and these terrible restaurants that just play DVDs of "Friends" over and over again.

See the 2 TVs? Friends is played on them all day long, but after walking around the town for a while we were overcome by the urge to get some food and we ended up watching 2 episodes of friends. Whats that I hear you say? Why on earth are we in this town? Well, this is the reason:

The Town is surrounded by the most amazing scenery, it just rises out of the flat rice fields and goes straight up!!

A quick blast on the moped outside of the town and it was heaven.

The road out of town runs parallel with the mountain range, and it is simply stunning.

We had decided to get a place outside of the town, and we got a great little hut by the river for $10!

This was the view from the balcony! pretty swish!

It is dry season, so some parts of the river were, well kinda dry.

This little bridge went across to a little island where there were a few bars!!

Even in the dry season, the main part of the river was huge.

Now with something so amazing and beautiful as this river near them, What do you think the locals came up with to make money from us tourists? I can just imagine the town meeting now, all these people coming up with these grand plans to do tribal village treks and great things to develop the cultural tourism in the area, When one smart bastard shouts:

"Stick them in an inner tube and send them down the river, and while your at it, sell them booze" Yup, thats what they came up with, and boy its great fun, for $4 they drive you 15km up the road and give you an inner tyre and say see you later!

All the way down the river there are places to stop and buy booze and food.

Now, this is a blog 1st, VIDEO!! you might need to let the video load to see it properly!

Press the play button (you will need broadband)

Thats Charlie swinging off a 15m high rope swing over the river. I would just like point out that I was sooooo impressed with this, there were guys who would not go anywhere near the thing, but up charlie goes and shames them all!! We met a canadian guy who kept trying to do the swing but just could not hold on, he just kept falling off!! the one thing Id like to point out is, watch Charlies legs when she lets go, She hs no control over them, she just starts running.

This is me doing another swing a bit further down the river!!! Letting go on the first swing is pretty scary as you have a huge momentum behind you!!

Right, that took me bloody ages to do, We might not have another entry for a while, but we have something good (SO good) coming up, so stay tuned.

Just to finish up:

Here is me annoying the crap out of Charlie with the camera!!


alex said...

fair play to you charlo - that's some swing!

when i saw your "boat" (floating hotel for TWO) i puked up on my keyboard a little bit.

keep the pics a'coming!

vive le rock!

Snow said...

This is great info to know.