Natalie's great adventure 2012 travel blog

Hello from Laos

I have had a very busy few days, with a few different weather changes.

We took a risk on our second day in Hue and decided to do the motorbike tour, which started off amazing. I thought I would be scared driving around on the back of the bike but it is surprisingly safe, despite the manic way some of the people drive in the city. We all brought ponchos before the tour, which turned out to be an essential item, as it started to rain just after we set off. At first it wasn't to bad, we stopped at a village where we walked around the local market selling seafood that was still alive, fruit, veg and meat. By the time we reached our second destination, we were all soaked, the poncho helped keep my top half dry but my legs were soaking and my leggings were sticking to me. We walked around the temple, the stairs looked like a waterfall as the water level rose. Driving to our 3rd destination was the most interesting, we came to a road that had flooded. The locals were pushing their motorbikes up the flooded road, the water coming up to their thighs. Our drivers didn't let a bit of water stop them and floored it through the water. By then I had given up on staying dry and the water was nearly up to my knees. We cut the trip short as it would have been to much of a risk to go up to the mountains in such heavy rain.

That afternoon we boarded our last sleeper train in Vietnam. It was strange as usually we catch them quite late, so by the time we get on them we only have a little bit of time before going to bed. This time though we departed about half 3 so we all had time to sit and chat before getting an early-ish night. We arrived in Hanoi at 4:30am, and got straight on a bus for a 3 and a half hour drive to Halong Bay.

The weather was completely different to what it was in Hue, and me and Philly were sunbathing on our balcony before we headed off for our boat trip around the islands. At one point our balcony resembled a laundrette as a few people wanted to dry their clothes from the day before.

That afternoon we went on a private junk boat around the islands, it was incredible. We started by having a seafood lunch and then headed up to the top deck to sunbath. A few of us decided to do some kayaking to explore the caves and secluded areas, it would have been so peaceful if it hadn't have been for the hundreds of other tourists. Later we were taken to one of the islands, to explore some caves. Which were beautiful, some of the rocks looked like groups of jellyfish.

The evening was a complete let down after such a lovely day on the boat. We went for dinner, where the food was horrible and the cleanliness of the place wasn't very nice. We wanted to go for a drink after the meal and ended up going to a club where the music was so loud and the place looked like we had been transported back to the 80's. we didn't stay long and after walking around for a bit I decided to head back to the room.

The next day we headed back to Hanoi, this was our last stop in Vietnam. I have to say it was probably my least favourite place out of everywhere I have been. There are just so many people, and it is just chaos everywhere. You take your life in your own hands when you cross the road as there are so many motorbikes.

When we arrived in Hanoi we went to the puppet theatre which was very random, the show told the story of the different ethnic groups in the area. In the afternoon we did abit of shopping and chilled out. The evening was quite good though we went to an "Irish" bar which wasn't really Irish at all, which disappointed the Irish couple on the tour. We then went to a club, where we were sat at a table crossed legged on the floor with our shoes off. At midnight the music was promptly turned off and we were quickly ushered out of the club before the police turned up. It was quite a strange experience.

We visited the Hoa Lo prison the next day which was quite interesting, on the way back to the hotel I had a bit of altercation with a rude local. One of my sandals had split a bit and this guy offered to fix it for me, before I could say no he had grabbed my foot and took the sandal off. I told him I didn't want it done as he was going to charge me and extortionate price, he carried on anyway. Two of the girls tried helping get it back and when I said I wasn't paying him, he ripped my shoe even more and told us to F**k off. Needless to say that only increased my dislike of the city.

We decided the previous night to welcome the newbies in and say goodbye to some of the group by buying the same I love Vietnam t-shirts and customising them to wear out in the evening. We went back to the same club from the previous night, and again at 12 we were ushered out before the police turned up. Most of the group went to an illegal after party, I didn't go as I was so tired so I walked back with the newbies.

Yesterday morning, I said goodbye to some of the group that were leaving early and then headed off to the mausoleum with the new people. The mausoleum is where the body of President Ho Chi Minh is preserved in a glass coffin. We only got about 20 seconds to walk around the body which was guarded by 8 soldiers. He was a very small man, and to be honest he looked like a waxwork but we were told that every year the mausoleum is closed and the body is flown to Russia to help preserve it.

We walked back to the hotel, and after lunch it was time to say goodbye to more of the group as we were heading off to fly to Laos. It was so sad to say goodbye to some really nice people.

Our flight to Vientiane the capital of Laos took less than an hour, which suited me fine as by this time I had a really bad headache that was making me feel sick. By the time we got there it was time for dinner, however felt so bad I had to leave early and head back to the room.

This morning the rest of the group went for a tuk tuk tour to one of the temples but I still wasn't feeling so good so I stayed in bed and then had a slow morning sorting myself out. About midday we started our 4 hour drive to Vang Vieng, which seemed to go really quick. We have just arrived and a few of them have gone on a boat trip which I'm hoping to do tomorrow instead as I have to sort out my washing. I realised this morning I'm running out of clean clothes.

Anyway sorry it's such a long one, its been a very busy few days. Hope everyone is still enjoying my blogs :)

Hope everyone is well, missing you all so much.

Nat xxx

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