A Travellerspoint blog

Da Tong

Yungang Grottoes and Hanging Monastery

sunny 0 °C

We arrive by train with the tapping of our feet telling us it's time to get up. We get off the train and are smacked in the face with the chill and figure it has to be -5 or worse. From research we need to find a place called CITS which does day trips to Yungang Grottoes and The Hanging Monastery for a good price as it's way out and difficult to reach.

We find it and there are four other ladies looking to see the same thing - one of them points out to us that is -17 degrees today! We sit in a cold room waiting for the tour guide to make an appearance. Chloe wants to use the toilet - bearing in mind this is in a hotel - we find it and on opening the door are smacked in the face with something else - the strongest stench of urine! We quickly retreat - there is no way we are going inside - it was that bad! Chloe nips into one of the empty rooms.

We end up in a neat little mini bus on route to the Grottoes - not knowing much about them but enough to know they are worth while to see. I've copied the following bit - In 1961, the State Council of China declared Yungang Grottoes a National Key Cultural Relics Protected Unit, and in 2001 the site was listed as a World Cultural Heritage Site.

The grottoes are located 16 kilometers to the west of Datong City in Shanxi Province, on the southern ridge of Wu Zhou Mountain. They were carved into the mountain and extend for a kilometer in length. Their carving began in the first year of the Northern Wei dynasty, or 460 AD, and most of the work was finished before the Northern Wei moved its capital to Luoyang in 494 AD although some work continued to the reign of Zheng Guang, 520-525 AD. This is the only complete set of Northern Wei stone carving groups in China. Fifty-three grottoes remain at Yungang today, with some 51,000 statues. The tallest among these is 17 meters high, the smallest is only a few centimeters. Carving techniques build on and further develop the traditional arts of the Qin and Han dynasties, but also absorb and merge into these the artistic traditions of both India and western regions. The grottoes are divided into three distinct sections, east, central and west, and brief descriptions of those follow.

It was amazing to see these huge Buddahs carved out in the mountains and painted too! In our group there was a Chinese Historian and she told us that these statues are falling apart so the Council are considering closing the site to the public from next year so to be able to see them makes us very lucky indeed.

We then went to the Haning Monastery which isnt hanging out of the sky just latched onto the side of a mountain. When we arrived it was clear to see - you were able to go up close to it for a high fee and we decided against it having read the best view of the Monastery was from where we were stood, so this time we actually saved some money! Yeah! Then we went to the ladies and spent about half an hour trying on hats in the toilets that the caretaker was selling. I did buy one too which is made from Angorra for less that 4 quid - bargain! A warm head a last!

Two of the ladies on the bus were french and we had dinner with them in a tiny cafe eating dumplings of egg and spring onion. Very nice and very cheap - more money saved!

I have to admit to one thing though - having this opportunity to see all these amazing sights and temples we are quite templed and buddahed out. I am ashamed to say that - one buddah looks like another and so with the temples so when I say what we have seen is amazing it really is. We went to the Forbidden City in Beijing and didn't stay to long as it was really boring. How terrrible to say that but its true. Too much of a good thing?

Posted by Vicky Bailey 23:54 Archived in China Tagged religion history train caves china journey mother_daughter blog buddah world_trip back_packing chloe_bailey flash_packing da_tong Comments (0)

Beijing and the Train Station Fight

The Great Wall of China, Acrobatic Show, Olympic Stadium Water Park and shopping! Beijing West Train Station Fight

sunny 2 °C

You soon realised when it's colder than you expected and this is what happened to us arriving New Years day in Beijing. We knew we didn't have the right clothing and decided to buy on arrival. The train system here is very upto date and you can get anywhere fast on the underground subway and im not talking about a sandwhich! We found it easy to walk to our hostel and on the way we were already talking about what we were going to buy clothing wise. Here is where I should be the sensible one but no what with my facination for new coats this was top of my list - and bottom of Chloes. "We don't need coats - we have them already." Yes we have them already but they are exactly the same and not as warm as I would like them to be, having talked about it for a while I decide yes we should save money on coats and keep the ones we have.

Our hostel is easily found and when we walk through the door with our red raw ears and shiney red noses the heat hits us immediately - central heating - ummmm - im going to like it here! The bar/restaurant area is full of people and I wonder if they ever go out - the area was always full day and night with various ages. The oldest we spoke to was about 65yrs - good for him - he was from Canada travelling on his own. I couldn't help notice his socks and sandles and sank as I looked down at mine - "We are going shopping!".

The shopping market is inside with central heating too - bliss. Shop after shop after shop - jeans, jumpers, t-shirts, boots, shoes, bags, purses - this is what I would imagine heaven to look like along with an endless supply of money in my pocket - and someone to carry my bags. I say that now because this is something I miss - buying nice things or personal stuff. The most personal stuff I buy at the moment is hair conditioner - we're getting through it big time (maybe because I forget to pack it when we leave the accommodation mostly!" I also miss perfume - alot - I have brought a quarter full bottle with me for 'special' occassions but I don't know what they will be. I have used it though when my bag began to smell from some clothes that weren't completely dry and I packed them - that was a 'special' occassion - one so that I didn't smell 'special'. We don't have hairdryers either or irons - if we have these in our accommodation we consider it a luxury. Another luxury is a hot shower - we have showers but mostly they are initially hot (first three minutes) then they go cold. It's catch 22 you get a hot shower and stand there soaking in the heat hoping it will last, then it doesn't and you shower as quick as you can taking in deep breaths as it gets colder. Oh - washing powder with fabric conditioner - I miss that too. We wash our clothes but it's not the same without the washing machine - imagine being at home and when you're in the shower you do your washing - well thats what we're having to do. We've done job lots out of the shower but can only do that when there is enough time for them to dry. This is the bare truth of travelling! We were in a restaurant and I picked up the napkin to wipe my mouth - instead I took in the smell of the fabric conditioner. How sad is that!!! Im looking for a hostel now with washing machines so we can do a big wash - with fabric conditioner!!!

We bough fake Uggs for 12 quid - good copies, fake jeans for 8 quid, fake Abercrombie and Fitch joggers and hoodies for about 5 each and best of all we bought coats! We had to bargain hard to get them for these prices mind you and just for this little lot we spent about 5 hrs in the shops. They start with wanting about 100 pound for each item and you have to haggle them down - having been to South East Asia we are now professional hagglers and we did well. As for our coats the weather just got colder and colder and they were our best purchases, not only that we have our own identity too. This brings me to remember when we were in Hanoi and tried to find some jeans to buy for Beijing. Chloe is an easy size 8 and Im a 10 but we were refused entry to one jean shop because "you too big!" Charming! Looking at the labels the biggest size was 26......so we are officially fat in Hanoi!

We took a trip with the hostel to the Great Wall of China which was thoroughly worth while - it was freezing and not many people were there. We soon warmed up though as the amount of steps at the wall is unimaginable - talk about thigh master and feeling the burn - crickey! Again I thought how lucky we were to be there and I was soo thankful to Mr Hilton having fixed my back - there was no way I would have been there if it hadn't been for his nifty surgery!

The way down from the wall was so much fun - there is a metal tobogan ride where you control the speed. I zoomed down and on reaching one of the bends a guard shouted at me to slow down. I loved it. Part of the trip was lunch in the restaurant at the foot of the wall opposite Subway - yes the sandwhich bar. As we got close to it we saw the owner with a net hoiking out a large fish from their pond - someones luch!! Yuk!

That evening we went to watch an acrobatic show at the theatre. This was very entertaining with a girl who could raise her body up onto one arm then stretch her legs behind her back over her head resting her face onto her feet! A tap dancing juggler and lots of flexible men jumping through 8ft high hoops. There was a woman who spun towels on her feet and umbrellas on her feet and head. Very odd.

When we left we had to get onto the pavement by stepping onto a very high kerb and Chloe gracefully managed it with a leap - I congratulated her and said they would want to recruit her. "Do you think they will want me?" I said as I raised my right leg to leap up as graceful as Chloe onto the kerb.....only to trip and fall flat onto my face - bash! I laid on the cold ground face down on a drain cover wondering how many people would have seen. "Are you OK?" I hear in an American accent above the roar of Chloe laughing. My hands are stinging and my elbow and knees hurt. "Yes, only my pride is dented" I say bravely as I'm getting up wondering if they heard what I said before my fall - I hope they didn't hear - that would make the fall more accidental rather then inevitable.

We took a day to look at the Olympic Centre from 2008 and I can honestly tell you it is like a ghost town. You can only imagine how busy it would have been back then and I wonder how London will be after the 2012 olympics. I've seen the aftermath at Barcelona and it echos Beijing. We decided to spend a day at the Water Cube in the Olympic Centre as a pleasurable day splashing out in the water and the money as it was 200y each (20 quid each) I figured that this was a good price to pay being in the Olympic pools etc. What a mistake! The Water Cube was run down - dirty and a complete waste of money. We stayed there an hour because most of it was closed - they didn't tell us this either. The floor of one of the pools was broken up - so you had to be careful where you stood so you didn't cut your feet. Some parts had been repaired - some tiled floor then cement then tile then broken tile, cracked cement and so on.

We had a relaxing stay in Beijing and left plenty of time to leave to get the train. We decided to get a taxi - another mistake - it took too long and guess what......we missed our train! I don't know how many we have missed now but the feeling I had the first time of gut renching no longer happens - oh we've missed our train - oh well we'll get another. Simple - so long as we get our money back for the tickets which we did. It just meant we spent a day around the station waiting for the next train. What we didn't know was in China you need to treat the train station like an airport - you need to arrive 1-2 hours before or else you have had it. So before we had got our taxi we had without knowing missed the train.

Our next train was at 0240hrs and we were already tired so when it arrived - I climbed into the middle bunk - put in my earplugs and fell asleep to the snoring of the guy next to me. Not exactly right next to me - I know they are friendly here but not that friendly - the opposite bunk sounds better I suppose. With the swaying of the train the next thing I knew was tapping on my foot with the guard waking me - 0730 we have arrived in Da'Tong.

UPDATE- I completely forgot to add this - when we were waiting for our train there were two ladies cleaning the waiting room which is approximately 45 x 45 with strips of chairs. We all had to get up - move the chairs- sit back down wait for the floor to be cleaned and then move again. After this everyone settled down for about twenty minutes until there was some shouting about ten feet away from us. The two ladies were tugging at a bag that a man aged about 55yrs was carrying. In one hand he had a large laundry style bag and in the other a plastic bag containing empty plastic bottle (worth a few pence over here). Now who knows what they were shouting about or what had lead upto the events but the next thing was one of the ladies began to kick his bag whilst tugging at the carrier. The man kicked her back and so the other lady started to hit the man over the head with her hand, the bag split and the bottles went all over the floor which the ladies then kicked. The man kicked the ladies. During this all you could hear was the shouting of the ladies echoing around the room which despite being full of about 300 people was extremely quiet with people WATCHING. It pained me to sit there and do nothing, it goes against everything in me but I figured I was in another country not knowing what it was about and no one understands what I say here so best keep out. Chloe was finding the whole even hillarious and honestly it was the most unusual thing I have seen EVER! The next thing I hear is a slap and one lady brings her hands to her face, the man has hit her. Im looking around for the guards - no one is there - she walks aways - good I think she is getting security. She comes back almost marching (just so you have this right it wasn't like a fast fight or a fast scuffle more like a dance) with a broom and then starts to whack the man over the head with the broom. Their brooms are not like ours, more a stick with straw bristles, whack, whack, whack over his head then the broom snapped in half. There were gentle kicks and gentle slaps all over the place and by now I wondered who was actually in the wrong? The ladies for keeping on at this man - there was an easier way to get him to leave or the man for what ever reason he didn't want to leave. The ladies grabbed his scarf and were pulling it and they ended up dancing across to where we were sat. This went on and on - they moved further up the room - all the people in that room and no one did anything to help - not even me - they crowded round and the next thing I saw a another broom in the air. I couldn't see anything else as there was a large crowd around. Then all went quiet for about five minutes until I heard a piercing scream. Oh my god I thought - what has happened? This time I could hear a bad scream so I was going to do something at least - I got up and left the room as did many people looking for the ladies and the man but couldn't see them. I looked above to see a woman standing on the first floor by the railings screaming at people as they walked past. This place is bloody mad! I thought to myself。 She had a newspaper she was waving at people still screaming. Crazy. When we walked past her she threw the paper on the floor. We carried on walking then saw the two ladies stood outside a cupboard with the police - the door was locked and inside was the man.

We understood what had happened the following night - it was full moon.

Posted by Vicky Bailey 22:04 Archived in China Tagged train_station beijing journey mother_daughter blog world_trip back_packing chloe_bailey flash_packing beijing_train_station fight_beijing Comments (0)

Hue to Hanoi to Monkey Island and back to Hanoi

Celebrations in Hanoi for New Year

overcast 17 °C

We only spent a night in Hue as we were just stopping off on our way through to Hanoi. Hue is a large town with the Perfume river running through - again markets, shops, bars etc. We were tired and needed to get a good nights sleep so headed back to our hotel, which rated very high on trip advisor. Trip Advisor is my bible here and I am reluctant to stay in any place that hasn't got a good review score the problem is that many staff will put their own reviews on so the place will appear good on advisor but isn't so great. The hotel in Hue was ok but our room was damp although we were too tired to do anything about it and besides the staff were so nice I think if we had mentioned it they would have been mortified and I certainly didn't want to upset them - they were far to nice and would move the earth to make your stay comfortable.

We caught the train to Hanoi - yes we actually made it on time - but the train was late. We were on a sleeper train with a room to ourselves so we sat and watched Top Gear on the Ipad which was an hour well spent. I love Top Gear and despite what ive heard lately about Jeremy Clarkson - he is still brilliant in my eyes!

We arrived in Hanoi at 430am - and it was chilly. Immediately as ususal we are approached by about 20 taxi drivers all begging for your business to take you to a hotel. I had researched hard for this next bit of the trip but there was hardly any information on the internet to get us to Monkey Island which is a small Island off of Cat Ba Island within Ha Long Bay. I read up about getting the bus to Ha Long bay and then finding a boat to take us to the Island but it wasn't as simple as that. Having looked at everything the following happened at the bottom of this blog. (im putting it on here in hope that someone else might find it to make their trip easier).

As we walked through the back streets near the harbour we came across something I was hoping we wouldn't see, a meat market. There were live ducks sat on the ground feet bound together as were chickens. Live fish flapping on the pavement as they await to go onto the wooden block to be chopped with a hacking blade from the woman cutting them up. Being vegetarian I can't get my head round this, its just something I could never do, same as some meat eaters they couldn't do the killing but they can eat it. Each to their own though - but I can't change my mind on this im sure there must be a better way.

We got a taxi to the hydrofoil and then we were off cutting through the water as if we were a hot knife in butter. So far all had gone well, we caught the train on time, we woke up on time, we got off on the right stop, our taxi driver didn't con us, we got onto the ferry all was going so well - too well! CRASH!! "What the hell was that?" I shouted to Maggie who was sat up front with the biggest window infront of her. "We just went over a boat and there were people on it!!" I jumped out of my seat - wondering if to put on the life jacket - we were still moving - at the same speed. I was waiting for the boat to tip and wondering if Maggie had got it right or was kidding me. I heard a lot of shouting so I got up to go to the top deck where the staff were gathering "SIT DOWN" was shouted to me.

Going off on a tangent now - I watched a programme once about how people do what they are told when they dont particulary know anyone else or they follow what the general concensus is- they studied this when a large group of people were killed in a fire despite the alarms going off etc. The example they used was they tricked people into thinking they were applying for a role in a play (I think that was the scenario). They were all sat in a large room like a class room with chairs and desks. They started the fire alarm and the people began to talk amongst themselves but no one moved, then they put smoke under the door into the classroom. Bearing in mind no one knew in the classroom that this was a trick they still didn't move. One man began to panic and tell everyone that maybe they should get out and leave the room. There were conversations about no one coming in to get/warn them etc but only one man in the group left. They said the group may not have survived. Funny how people just sit there and wait for someone to tell them what they should do.

Did I sit down - no! I pushed past them to get to the top of the deck to see if I could see ANYTHING.....a broken boat...people in the water....a concerned captains face who has seen a big hole in his boat. Nothing - no boat, no people - but huge panic on the captains face. Lots of radios and mobile phone calls around me from the staff - "SIT DOWN LADY - SIT DOWN" I still wasnt comfortable with this so stayed up deck. I could see that we were now reversing this after a good five minutes after the crash. I still couldn't see anything, we hadn't sunk and I went downstairs to update everyone. We then went forward back on track of our journey - speaking to the staff didn't help - they either didn't understand the English or they didn't want to talk about it. I was told the week before how unimportant taking a life is in Vietnam and I couldn't quite fathom that - surely they wouldn't just sail over a boat with people in and leave them to drown? No Coastguard here though and from what I witnessed no one cared. It was horrible - and I still don't know if anyone died.

When we arrived at Monkey Island I spoke to the Manager, she spoke excellent English, she repeated to me about how low life is thought of and yes people may have died - it happens a lot she said. I thought about researching it on the internet - maybe it would be in their local paper - but then what could I do.

Monkey Island is a very small island which has been turned into a resort with Bungalow huts which are right on the beach - they are truely beautiful. There is a large area as a restaurant/bar and play area. Staying here though you are prime for high prices $5 for chips (small portion) $5 for this $5 for that .....very expensive with a small menu.

We had a stroke of luck when one of the employees took us out on his friends boat for 2 quid each from memory into part of Ha Long to kayak through the limestone peaks. This was fantastic and a time when you just stop paddling and sit back admiring the view. Looking at floating houses (tin huts) resting on large polystyrine blocks and bamboo paths. Dogs on the small housing blocks barking at the boats going by. The quietness of large rocks reaching out of the sea. "VICKY, VICKY, CKY, CKY, CKY, cky ky" I hear as my name is shouted out echoing out around the peaks. We all start shouting random things listening to where our voices reach. There are crab pots underneath the water as many as the sea bed and passing some of the floating houses the stench of fish is too much but this is their living here. We were invited to go into a cave which we jumped at, a small boat ride ducking under the stalag - tites? or mites? They invited us to look at their accommodation they were building for their cave. Build and they will come - I remember thinking. I wonder if they will come though - they have called it Bamboo Island. The paths are made of carved bamboo, the railings which protect you from falling into the sea and the rocky ground underneath are made out of plumbing pipes painted black!! So not save - but you soon learn that health and safety doesn't exist in South East Asia!! The beds are concrete with a thin bamboo layer with a blanket ontop. I won't be staying there anytime soon.

Our journey back to Hanoi went well but took quite some time apart from our taxi driver who gave us the meter price, he hid some of the money under his leg and told us we hadn't given him enough despite we needed change. Chloe was sat in the front of the car and told me she could see it sticking out from his leg. I leant over and saw the money - I was cross and pointed to the money and he put his hands up as if he did't know what I was talking about. I leant further pointing and saw the shame on his face - I was shouting at him at this point and smacked his hand as if he was a bad behaved child (can't believe I did that!) he gave me the money back that we could see but he was sat on more we think because he wouldn't budge from his seat. We got the bulk of it back luckily.

We had an enjoyable stay in Hanoi -- there was so much to see and not enough time. We walked around the lake which had been decorated on the banks with floral displays, some rather odd and some quite facinating.

New Year Eve we spent in the main square by the lake where they had erected a large platform stage where there was a man singing and ladies dancing. The crowds were going mad!! Jumping up and down to the music thrusting their arms in the air - they didn't sing to the songs though - all English Songs - then Chloe said "Thats Lemar" Now I vaguely remember the name and there is no way I can repeat what Maggie said incase anyone is offended! Turns out it was Lemar. What was he doing singing in Hanoi New Years Eve - how odd! The group around us were really friendly wanting to hold our English hands and hug us. They warned us of the pick pocketers around and pointed out a group or trendy looking lads with the latest hair cuts - bad lads - thieves thats how they afford their clothes etc.

Come 1230am all was over - they were leaving - so unlike UK - this is when the party would start. Not in Hanoi - it was all over - time to go home - good night!

It was a good night too - and the last one we spent with Maggie and Ellen. The next day we were up early and at the airport ready to wave them back to the UK and we were getting ready for our trip to China. Worried about the lack of warm clothing we had and the weather reports of us going to Beijing which was a shivering 2 degrees. Fashion had gone out of the window what with me and Chloe wearing our Ski socks and our Merrill sandles with leggins on top.

I wondered if I would have a seat grabber on the plane behind me - but no - a new annoyance - the man infront of me spent most of the journey (4hrs) rolling his head around - Chloe managaged to film some of it - it made you feel abit dizzy. Otherwise it was a good flight.

We got off the plane and it was freezing!

How to get to Monkey Island.

1. Hanoi to Haphong (bus or taxi) we took taxi for 850 vnd - 1 1/2 hr at the most.

2. Ben Binh harbour Haphong - Cat Ba by hydrofoil - 150 vnd - 45 mins

3. Contact staff at Monkey Island to get a free boat to them.

The return trip was really difficult.

1. Boat to Cat Ba

2. Bus to another port on Cat Ba

3. Hydrofoil from Cat Ba to Haphong Ben Binh

I think from doing this it would have been easier to purchase a trip at HaLong Bay for the two nights, we didn't do this due to costs.

Sod that I thought - sit in my seat and then wait to drown if we sink....nope!

Posted by Vicky Bailey 21:57 Archived in Vietnam Tagged ferry journey mother_daughter blog world_trip back_packing vietname monkey_island chloe_bailey flash_packing hue_to_hanoi ben_binh Comments (0)

Hoi An

Christmas at Hoi An Pacific Hotel

We hit gold with this hotel and I remember back in August booking it for Christmas knowing it was a special place so we paid a bit more. Our rooms are really spacious and on the first night was the Christmas Gala Meal. The list of events included Ball kicking contest, who has the longest tail, beer drinking contest and dancing contest. Before going we made a pact that if one of us wanted to do the contest we all would have to. Deal! First was the drinking contest and Ellen and I got up and went onto the stage to be placed with a man each having to sit on their lap and feed them a babys bottle (yes with a teet) full of beer and the first one to finish was the winner. My guy was really fat so I thought I was onto a winner with his beer belly - but alas no - Ellens guy was much quicker out of the five men and they won.

Next we got up to dance - all of us - to some really odd music. The contest was between 10 of us and when it finished the compare said he had to get rid of 4 - yes - Me, Nana, Ellen and Chloe - were we really that bad?? Chloe says I dance like Nana - but she dances like me - so work that one out! We lost that anyway! I took part in the longest tail which meant our team had to make use of anything on us to make the longest lenth (including body, shoes, hair, laces, belts) hard to explain but we won --- 24 pints of beer and the team gave me the ticket as they were leaving and already won loads of beer. At this point I still have 24 pint tab at the bar!

The best bit was the final lucky draw where they put your room number in a tombola and got a young girl to pull out the number. They pulled out the first one and the people had left the room, so the remaining people shouted "redraw!" we convinced the hotel to keep pulling out room numbers until we get one where the residents are actually in the room. I heard "VICTORIA......" Me I thought.....no someone else different surname. About 10 names got called out and then 'BAILEY' 'YESS!!!!" I shouted - not even thinking there may be other BAILEYS here - but it was us - we won! We won our accommodation for free - how cool was that! We were buzzing!

Christmas day we got up and did our secret santa, I had a colonial hat as well as nana didn, Chloe had a panda purse and a watch and Ellen had a t-shirt. We went into the town and ate at Streets (no 1 on Trip Advisor) It is a restaurant sponsored for the local youths to learn catering from top chefs. They don't get paid but are given accommodation and tuition for free and they learn a trade where they can then work in 5* hotels. What a great place, really good food and it felt right to be eating there. It was more expensive that anywhere else but to know that you are helping in the community by just eating there makes the food taste even nicer.

So I am upto date now and tomorrow we head of to Hue (pronounce Heway and not hugh as i''ve been saying for months and months....no one corrected me - I did the same with Laos (pronounced Lough) - I was telling people "We're going to Layos" One girl called Lucy from work, and I thank her for this, said to me " Are you going to Laos?" "No - but we are going to Layos" Lucy told me it was pronounced Lough and thanks Lucy - you stopped me looking like a right idiot (for a while anyway!).

Posted by Vicky Bailey 04:54 Archived in Western Sahara Tagged journey hoi_an mother_daughter blog world_trip back_packing chloe_bailey flash_packing Comments (1)

Nha Trang - Do the boat trip!

Go with the flow!

sunny 27 °C

What a refreshing place Nha Trang is with its wide beach, up together properties, people that can communicate (yes I know its me thats the problem - I should learn the language). We were only staying here one night so we had to make the most of the time we have here. We went out for a meal in Guava - simply because on our bus journey from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City we met a guy sat behind us (Sam) who said to pop in and have a beer with him - so we did! What a great place and we bumped into Sam and his lovely girlfriend who gave us complimentary drinks. We had a fabulous meal which included a barbeque on our table, they take out one of the tiles on the table top and slot in a clay pot of coals and presto - barbeque! Being vegetarain this can be a pain when trying to find stuff to eat but not here - there was loads of stuff and all the sort of stuff we wanted after our nightmare journey that day - mozzerrella cheese sticks, bbq veggie platter, veggie pizza, veggie noodles - we had all of it as a big buffett and scoffed the lot down!!

We noticed here that they wanted dollars at shops etc and when we saw a boat trip for the following day for $6 each we thought why not - an all day thing - lets do it. We paid in vietnamese dong which meant it cost us 4 quid each for all day with lunch and transfers - BARGAIN!

We were collected at about 830 and Chloe said she was getting a headache so when I got on the bus I wondered what the big grin was on her face. It didn't take long to work out - there were god knows how many lads there - all very nice looking - from about 20 - 30 years and Chloe and Ellen were beeming!

These guys came from South Africa and what a brilliant bunch they were and such good senses of humour. We laughed all day, ate well and met loads of people, some from Australia and the South Africans. The entertainment was funny too, one of the guys dressed as a woman and sang - it just looked so odd. They had a band with drums made out of cooking pots! People got up onto the stage in the boat (it was a very smalll boat, they just turned the seats into a stage) and sang songs relative to their country. We swam in the sea and after the trip we all went out into the town. Everyone on the boat loved Maggie 'NANA" they shouted and they even tried to bargain with us for her to go travel with them in exchange for four of their guys! Ha ha - it was tempting. Our train was at midnight - yes we made it. It was a shame to leave as we really liked it here but it's a huge difference to the vietnam everywhere else.

The most unfortunate thing happened though is Ellen's camera went missing and we can only assume she was pickpocketed. We were told that you could be walking down the road and they can get your wallet out of your pocket - open it - take the money out - put it back in your pocket as quick as you thinking "did someone just take my wallett?" you check and it's there - minus the money but you think nothing has happened. These guys and girls are professional with it so it's the most likely scenario despite Ellen not knowing it happened. At least she is ok.

Posted by Vicky Bailey 04:37 Archived in Vietnam Tagged vietnam journey mother_daughter blog world_trip nha_trang back_packing chloe_bailey flash_packing boat_trip_nha_trang Comments (0)

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