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Week 2 in Vietnam

VIETNAM | Saturday, 22 December 2012 | Views [1184]

21st December 2012  Exchange Rate 10,000 Dong = just over 30p 

Right, the world hasn't ended, so we go to the airport to meet Rhian and Lucy, our friends that are flying in from England to travel with us for 3 weeks. We are really looking forward to seeing them after 10 and a half months! (Matt's been great company, but it will be nice to have someone else to talk to!!).

We catch the Vietnam Airlines minibus taxi from town to the airport for 40,000 dong, it's about a 50 minute ride away.  Their flight arrives on time and we have an emotional meeting, well, 'I' had an emotional meeting, but I don't think anyone noticed - too much. (Watch out Skinny & My!).

We get back to town for mid-day, then we head straight for the train station, to book our tickets for Sapa, on Sunday.  I have booked 3 nights in a hotel there for Christmas. It's right up high in the North of the country, not far from the Chinese border in the mountains, so it will be quite cold, but it's suppose to be very beautiful, (especially if the mist raises and the sun shines, fingers crossed).  We then take them to 'Com Chay Nanh Tam', the vegetarian restaurant, that we went to yesterday. We had a great selection of food, a lot of which, looked and tasted like fish & meat! (it's very clever!), but Luce thought it was really 'weird'!

Lucy is pretty much falling asleep in her lunch, (literally), so they go back to their room for a couple of hours sleep.  We pick them up again at 7 p.m. and walk to a market that is not far from their hotel. It's not very touristy in this part of town and now that there are 4 'whities' (as Matt & I call ourselves), we are getting even more 'looks' (especially, the lovely Luce!).  One girl behind a book stall, even takes a photo of us and tells us that we are beautiful,  - she was wearing glasses, I hasten to add! 

From here we walk across town to the 'old quarter'  and the mayhem of Hanoi.  Rhian is made up, - shops galore! We have a couple of beers (or very strong 'long island iced tea' cocktails, in my case, well, I am celebrating the fact that I have someone else to talk to!) and return to our hotels at midnight.

Matt has a walking tour planned for the day, unfortunately, it doesn't quite go to plan, as the girls spend to much time shopping!  We have a fairly chilled (and chilly) day though and find a great little café for a leisurely lunch (and Bailey's coffees!).  We go the night market and get some goodies for our 11 hour train journey the following day.

We  meet Rhian & Luce at 5.30 a.m. and walk to the train station. The journey to Sapa is pretty uneventful, but scenic,-  rice paddy fields, mountains and rivers.  The 11 hours go pretty quickly.  When we get off the train we then have to negotiate a price for a mini bus to Sapa it's self.  We manage to get the robbing little bastard (excuse my language) down from 200,000 dong to 100,000 dong for the 50 minute journey. Its only about 30 miles away, but because its a mountain road up to Sapa, it takes ages. 

Our hotel is perched up on a mountain side.  We have log fires in the rooms and electric blankets on the beds! I now have 4 layers of clothes on. Matt and I haven't been this cold since New Zealand, back in April.

We go and get some supper in a restaurant called 'Nature', it is so cold, that the staff are wearing woolly hats and outdoor coats.  We get as near to the log fire as possible and crack open a bottle of local red wine! After we eat, we walk around the town and I start talking to 2 hill-tribe village sellers, they tell me they are called June & Su, (well at least we can remember their names), they are a good laugh and June, (the more outgoing of the 2), say that she will do a trek to their village for us and will cook us lunch.  I ask her how much she will charge (there is nothing for free in Asia!), she has the good grace, to look a little embarrassed and say's she doesn't know. After some more chat, it turns out that she did the same for some Americans not long ago, so I ask what she charged them, $10 was the reply (around 6.00p), so a deal was done.  Christmas Day will be spent in the hill-tribe villages!

Christmas Eve - Matt & I wake at 5 a.m. we are so cold.  Matt lights the fire & we put the electric blanket back on and doze back to sleep until 8! We spend the day mooching around town.  The mist lifts and the sun shines enough for us to see the amazing views of mountains and terraced paddy fields.  The owner of the hotel, as invited us to join them for a barbecue and drinks at 8.30 p.m. for free! We have a lovely night with them, we all had slightly to much homemade rice and apple wine! and in my tipsy state, I proceed to tell the owner how he could improve his business.  Well to be honest, I do think Matt & I are qualified to give advise on the 'perfect room', for example. what's the point in providing mugs and tea bags, but no teaspoons for example? or having no hooks in the bathroom and so on! He did seem grateful (honest)! 

We look forward to Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas to all of you and thank you for reading our blog.

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