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23rd September - Thailand

VIETNAM | Saturday, 23 September 2006 | Views [866] | Comments [1]

I think I'm not really a proper traveller because I've got to admit, I was quite glad to leave Vietnam in the end. We did have a really good time there but I'd had enough of the traffic and the hard sell you get from everyone.  The difference in people here in Thailand is amazing, it seems like people are happier here. It's all smiles and friendliness, people stop and offer help if you look lost, even in Bangkok.  And there are a lot less motorbikes here, hurrahh.

Motorbike Taxis

Speaking of motorbikes, the whole of Vietnam is full of men sitting around on street corners shouting "Motorbike" at tourists, they are offering taxi rides and from the start I have been adamant that I would not be getting on one.  So when the guy from the bus company came to pick us up from our hotel (for our three hour bus ride up the coast)  and went out and started his motorbike I was horrified.  He and his friend assured me that no, this was not a joke, the bus station was 1km away and they were going to transport us and all our luggage on two motorkies. Once Eoin hopped onto his one, I didn't have much choice but to do the same.  I hadn't a clue as to the etiquette of motorbike taxi riding but I thought it was probably a bit inappropriate to follow my instincts and cling onto my driver for dear life.  I tried to sit upright and adopt a calm poised facial expression, a la Vietnamese. I found a metal bar at the back to hold on to, I think my white knuckles gave away my fear, as well as all my yells at the driver to slow down.  All the while I was thinking that my mum would kill me if she saw me now, flying down the road with no crash helmet on.  It was the first of four motorbike rides (the other three were on a day trip) but I never really got any calmer about it.  One of my drivers had a bit of a body odour issue which was unfortunate because on the back of a bike you're in close proximity and always downstream of any smell.


Hanoi was totally hectic, the old quarter is very charming looking with trees in the steet and is totally packed with people selling things, cooking things, riding their motorbikes (of course).  You have to concentrate to walk anywhere but there is always something good to look at.

We managed to get tickets for the opera - the opening night of The Magic Flute.  Being opening night there were lots of government big wigs there, the Austrian Ambassador and lots of speeches, all in Vietnamese and English, I thought the show would never start. The opera house is a gorgeous restored French Colonial building and the performance itself was fabulous, but the audience had to be seen (and heard) to be believed.  There were mobile phones going off, people texting, people getting up out of their seats, camera flashes going off, digital camera LCD screens lit up everywhere, incessant plastic bag rustling and even men noisily moving phlegm around their nasal systems.  Unbelievable.   I thought Eoin was going to get up and confiscate an old man's plastic bag at one point but we both just sat there, silent and polite, trying not to get cross.

Halong Bay

We managed to leave Hanoi without getting run over and took a three day trip to the very stunning Halong Bay.  We slept one night on a junk (boat) in the bay and the second in a beach bungalow on a private island.  It was just like Celebrity Love Island - really luxurious, our group got along really well and we even had the added entertainment of following the attempts of a very smooth Russian guy to woo an Australian girl.  Very amusing.  We went swimming, kayaking and cycling and ate ridiculous amounts of the seafood that they kept cooking us.  I was gutted when it was over.

Military Coup

The news of the military coup did dampen my enthusiasm for flying to Thailand the next day, but it looked ok on the TV and Eoin really wanted his picture taken with a tank so we went.  We haven't seen a single tank, just a few soldiers on their way to McDonalds for dinner. You wouldn't know anything has happened or that the country is under martial law.  It does make us sounds like pretty intrepid travellers though I think.

Tags: Adventures



Hello There, Looking at what an amazing time you are both having makes me dull to be stuck here in the uk. It brings to mind the old questions of "What If I Had...." and "I Wonder what it would have been like if...." At least you know the answer.
It's great looking at the photos of you both gorging on exotic foods (Like dead horses raw, Ugh!) and basking in glorious sunshine. I guess it`ll be six months at the gym to burn it all off when you get back. Keep Trekking and carry on having a great time. Looking forward to having a beer and a Kate cake when you get back to the uk. Take Care, Chris

  chris keoghan Sep 28, 2006 5:42 PM

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