8 Days of bliss in Ao Nang, walking every morning and galloping home in time for breakfast buffet before 10am. Lazing around the pool, more walking, daily massages and sun-downers on our patio watching the huge karst in front of us change colour– that’s about it!
Flew to KL and overnighted at Tune Hotel which is within 10 mins walk of the airport through walkways and a very complicated lift system. You can tell we’re getting soft – ordinarily we would have slept at the airport hugging our packs but 12 hours of wriggling in hard plastic seats does not appeal any more. Tune was $51 and though the room was tiny, was clean and quiet. In a typical Asian “this does not make sense” situation, reception said they could not give us wake-up call because they didn’t have the facilities (i.e. no phone in room) – HANG ON A SEC – NO WAKE-UP CALLS IN AN AIRPORT HOTEL?? Finally persuaded the security guard to knock on our door. Amazing!
Met up with Ali and Joe at the airport the next morning and flew to Hanoi. Both Peter and I were keen to introduce them to the specialties of Vietnam; spring rolls, sitting on tiny weeny plastic stools on the footpath eating or drinking bia hoy (the local beer), baguettes stuffed with pate and river moss etc but most of all CROSSING THE ROAD!! They were very impressed with all of the above but we were disappointed that they managed the traffic without a tear or tantrum in sight. Considering on our first visit Peter and I got stuck on a roundabout for 20 minutes with me near hysteria, they could have been a little less confident. Ah well.
3 Nights in Hanoi eating, drinking and walking. Did go to the well-known bia hoy drinking corner where the minuscule stools are actually on the road on three sides leaving only a car width between each vendor’s site, consequently late comers (us) sit with our knees around our ears, motorbikes and cars slowly nudging their way through only inches away from the revellers. And this we do for fun!!
Next stop Sapa, 6 hours bus ride north of Hanoi (near the Chinese border) and at 1600m above sea level, very misty, very mountainous, very cold. Ali fell for the Hmong ladies selling traditional garments (well actually so did I) so our packs are a bit heavier. One day walked 7 km of twisting vertiginous road to a village (very touristy but a lovely damp and drizzly walk anyway) almost to the bottom of the valley, taking about 3 hours. Hired 4 motorbikes (with drivers of course) to get us back. The $2.60 each was worth every cent, whizzing up and around hair-pin bends, avoiding potholes and buffaloes, lightly raining and so foggy we could hardly even see each other, taking 20 minutes. What a buzz.
After 3 days in Sapa caught the o/night train back to Hanoi then straight into a taxi to the bus station and after 2 buses, a ferry and another bus arrived on Cat Ba Island just slightly shagged – 21 hours of moving….the beers last night on Ali and Joe’s picturesque verandah tasted very good.