Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Hello Everyone,
Right it's back to me to do the blog this time,.It took a lot out of Charlie to do the blog last time, which by all accounts everyone enjoyed, especially her showing me up with her fancy long words and something called "Grammar" (never heard of it....), but don't fret, she has promised she will be back soon, I think she might even reveal a few secrets of what it's like to travel with myself...... I hope the relationship can take it.......
(That's a joke mum, don't worry, everything is fine..)

Right, after spending the first part of our week in Hoi An getting fitted for our clothes, we used the last couple of days just to wonder around and take a few more pictures and check out the surrounding countryside:

Picking rice. (I don't actually know if picking is the right term, but im gonna stick with it.)

After speaking to a local person about the money earned from farming, we found out that one acre of crop earns a family about 100 euros a YEAR. Vietnam has one of the lowest wages on the planet. Worse than China, and that's saying something.

They are cheerful souls though, after spotting me they started waving at me and laughing because I was taking photos of them. I would also like to point out that 99% of people working the land use nothing else but their hands and tools, no motors, tractors, maybe the odd water buffalo if you're loaded, even irrigating the land is done by buckets.

Vietnam is covered with rivers and deltas and other types of waterways making fishing a way of life.

The control they have over the boats is cool, they seem like they are more at home on the water than dry land.

If anyone is interested, they way I normally take photos of a place we are visiting is to only take the camera out on one of the last days we are in an area. This means for the first few days I just soak up the place and don't worry about photos, of course im taking mental notes of cool stuff and places to return to on the day I do take photos, and charlie has the smaller camera just in case. We have found this really works and we (or sometimes just me) whizz around on the moped hitting all the cool spots for photos and this also means I can go to places when it will be quieter or the light will be better. We always see people who are just walking around snapping away and not really taking the time to really see the place. So if anyone is going away or takes alot of photos it's a great way of doing it.

On the "photo days" I can get kinda camera happy and charlie can get kinda unhappy.

So we find a nice balance and I drink beer and she fills up on coffee. That glass of beer cost 15c. It made me very happy.

Charlie gazing at a wall (???) (I like the photo, Charlie insists there was something else there.)

After getting a few compliments (I blushed) on my new attire shown in Charlie's blog, I'd like to show you what I normally look like, then have a look back at the suit photos, that's how good those tailors are. Oh, and that's my favourite T-shirt, it's a picture of Jesus on the cross holding shopping bags ("Shopping Jesus" by Banksy). To my surprise, every time I have ever worn that T-shirt (Im not lying here, EVERY time), I've had people come up to me and comment on it, from religious missionaries who though it was great, to fat Americans who looked like they wanted to kill me and told me very angrily that I disgusted them. (Just to clarify: I'm not having a go at Jesus, I'm having a go at the commercialism of Christ.)

This is Yaly and it's the tailors we used in Hoi An. I got 2 suits and 5 shirts made, I went for fairly high end material and the whole lot including postage back to Ireland was just under 350 euros.
You can get suits made for $30 but I wanted proper suits and had budgeted for this, so while it was a splurge, it was worth it. The 2 suits were exact copies of suits by hugo boss and Paul Smith, each with price tags of between uk£1200 and uk£1800. I had 4 fittings per suit over a few days to get the fit just right and I just can't explain how happy I am with them, so if your ever in Hoi An and need a suit, then Yaly is the place. I can also email them anytime I want and get more suits/shirts/slacks. Sweet.

A woman crossing over the Japanese bridge.

The streets are really narrow and no cars are allowed, so it's a great place to wander around.

All the buildings in the French quarter are protected and are very well kept structurally. Some could do with a coat of paint but it adds to the feel of the place when they look a bit tattered.

These baskets are only ever used by the women and can carry anything from fruits to lazy kids.

Hoi An's selection of stuff to buy was a step up from the mass produced stuff you see in every city or town the length and breadth of Vietnam.

On the last day we had in Hoi An, we went for a spin around the surrounding areas and were pleasantly surpised with how beautiful it was:

We went for a walk along an area looking over the river. It was a little outside of the town and was mainly fishermen and a fish market run by the women.

The boat never did come.......

These are the fishing boats, they are all over the area.

Now, Since the day we left Charlie has been harping on about staying away from chickens and foul in general because of bird-flu, an example of this would be when Charlie got really freaked out in Thailand when an Eagle sneezed on me.

But as soon as we walked by a house with an old guy sitting in front looking after his geese and ducks, Charlie was all over them.

Although you can't really blame her, look at the little blighters.....

They were the softest little things I've ever seen.

A couple days after this Charlie was getting freaked out thinking about bird-flu, if I even sneezed she would be looking all worried. Then we saw on the news that bird-flu had hit in Suffolk in England. (That's where Charlie's from). Strange huh?

If I remember correctly Charlie mentioned something about a cafe that had a cabinet of Chocolate delights in... Well here it is. Sights like this are pretty common back home, but when Charlie saw this it was like she had found treasure. She had not seen anything like this in a while and over the week we were here, she pretty much tried everything...... twice. We would have dinner somewhere cheap and then stop here after to have something that cost the same as our dinner.

Well, we had heard alot about Hoi An and it didn't disapoint. It would proabably be the nicest place we have been to in Vietnam, the food, the shopping, the people, everything.

After 7 nights there we got the train to Hanoi. It's a 16hr journey and we picked to do the first part during the day as we had heard that the first 3 hours (between Danang and HĂșe) were spectacular.

Waiting for our train. It runs the length of Vietnam and is known as the "reunification express" (The reunification of the north and south of vietnam)

Charlie guarding the bags while I'm taking photos.

My Bag, I absolutly love my bag, it's brilliant and it makes carrying 25kg+ of stuff very easy.
If anyone is thinking of buying a decent bag, then the North-face Catalyst is the one!! (you may want to start dating someone who works in an outdoor shop as its the guts of 400 euros, thank you Charlie and your staff discount!)

The journey started off with a pretty steep incline, the train picked up another engine at the back for a bit of extra "umph"

It was a pretty long train and it was a fairly windy track.

You were not really allowed to be leaning out the windows, but after sweet talking a train-guy they let me!!

It followed the coast for about 400km and then went inland.

As you can see from the photos it was a pretty dull day and was pretty cold. I'd say it even got down to maybe 20'C, chilly.

As we went higher, we passed over loads of cool bridges which spanned deep gorges.

We also passed loads of coastline, that isnt reachable unless you have a boat.

This is our room. We were very lucky and didn't have to share with anyone (there are two more beds in the room).

Charlie has taught me how to play backgammon. I'm hooked and I've even won a couple of games, though we can only play for very short periods of time as I'm a terrible loser and suffer from uncontrolable rage ("hissy fits") if I loose more than twice in row. I would also like to come clean and admit that I'm possibly a worse winner, throwing dice at Charlie and calling her a loser and claiming I'm the best in the world are a few examples.......

Have a guess where she bought that Chocolate delight from? Yup, you guessed it.

Right, well thats it for a day or two. Actually here is one more photo:

We are just back from a boat trip around Halong Bay which is about 3 hours from Hanoi. We signed up to a tour group thingy a few days before, where you join a load of other tourists on a boat trip for two days and sleep aboard this amazing boat. We are not really fans of these tours as you can sometimes get stuck with drunk Canadians, or even worse......... sober Americans.......... aagggghhhh, but this was kinda different, different because no other tourists signed up to go on the boat on the day we chose. Yup, that's right, myself and Charlie had this entire boat to ourselves for 2 days. We had a staff of about 7 serving us amazing food and booze and generally waiting on us hand and foot, while cruising around the most beautiful bay I have ever seen. Now, if you're all not getting violently sick with envy, then I give up.........

More photos to come...

Lots of Love
Sean and Charlie.

No comments: