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Lyn & John's Northland Safari travel page

Diary Entries

Tuesday, 05 November 2019

Location: SA PA, Vietnam

Our journey to SAPA began about 7:30am, the four of us from our tour and two Dutch honeymooners. The trip up to the mountains was 5 hours in a luxury transit limo. We eventually arrived after travelling up hill for most of the way. After checking in we left on our first trek. The weather was somewhat misty and the path/road was not exactly smooth in fact it was very rough. There is a lot of building occurring with new hotels and roads and tourist outlets being built. We feel that SAPA will one day become one of Vietnam’s major attractions. The trek took us through old villages, rice paddies and we were constantly hounded by Women from the MON tribe trying to sell us overpriced junk that we did not need. We finally managed to get our guide to tell them scram. This was all very interesting and an eye opener as far as the conditions that the villagers lived in. After about 2 hours our guide arranged for the driver to pick us up and take us back to our hotel. That at least was the plan however like Robbie Burns said, things change!
There was a traffic jam and our guide said we were only10 mins from the hotel after 25 hot uphill mins we arrived thoroughly exhausted. A shower, change of clothes and out for a meal then bed, end of day one trekking. A massage was now needed for us both to survive, $20 each for one hour of absolutely bliss.
Next morning after a nice breakfast it was off again but this time it consisted of about 2700 steps up to a huge waterfall and back down then off for a walk through a very tidy and quaint village area. By this stage we had invested in two selfie sticks and two walking sticks which made the final part of the journey bearable but only just. The good part being that we actually completed all the walking and saw some great sights. The weather had been quite cool but the visibility was ok. That afternoon it started to get dark early as the clouds came right down low so we spent about $9;00 and We got a windbreaker for Lyn and the plan for the next day was to take the train up to the mountains and then cable car to the top. Unfortunately the rain arrived and the visibility disappeared. We took the train and had an enjoyable time at the top with a Japanese Shinto temple and some great shopping. Back to the hotel,a final pack and back to Hanoi by limo. 5 hours later we arrived. Had tea, bed and then homeward bound. Fly from Hanoi to KL and then it was KL to Auckland. All in all a really great experience but not a restful holiday but feel privileged to have done it together.

Monday, 04 November 2019

Location: Halong Bay & Hanoi, Vietnam

To wake up to a beautiful sunrise on a boat is something to dream about. Breakfast and off again on an excursion. This time to a large cave system, they euphemistically call them the surprise caves as they actually 3 caves in one system, quite mind blowing and about 4 thousands steps later we were back on the jetty for our trip back to the boat minus about 3 litres of sweat, it was well worth it though.
Once back on board it was a case of clean out the cabin, pack your bag and get ready for lunch. after this it was settle your bill and get off for the return bus trip to Hanoi, did I mention that Lyn’s massage cost a whole $40 NZ for an hour, she said it was lovely though. Back not Hanoi about 3 hours later and then off to a water puppet show and a meal for 6 of us. The show was well done and quite humorous at times. The meal was 4 - 5 courses and very scrumptious. Back to the hotel and pack again for a 5:30am wake up and off to the mountain town of SA PA.

Saturday, 02 November 2019

Location: Hanoi-Halong Bay, Vietnam

Early start this morning for our flight to Hanoi, 12:45!!!
The flight was good and most importantly the weather was excellent and the hotel once again was nice. After we had settled in we headed off with our new Aussie friends; Robert and Helen Ayers. The plan was to go to the restaurant the was recommended on foot and then onto the night market. Well it turned out none of the four of us could find our way out of a paper bag. However after asking directions many times we finally found it and had a thoroughly enjoyable meal. Next the markets were vast and hundreds of outlets selling the same product ie. shoes, handbags, shirts scarves and dresses. Altogether an amazing but very daunting spectacle. Back to the hotel on foot and into bed ready for our Halong Bay cruise.
9:00am pickup and away we went, all 16 of us. Two stops on the way to fill in time before boat was ready, a gem factory and embroidery display centre and a pearl farm, all very entertaining but nothing on our bucket list.
We arrived at Halong harbour which is undergoing a huge tourist expansion with hotels and condominiums. Onto our boat which is the Majestic Legend. Our room is quite stunning and easily surpassed our expectations. First stop was about 1 hour away among lots of volcanic and Asian type islands. We disembarked and were towed through a series of caves into a sheltered lagoon.
Next it was onto an area converted into a false beach. There were 2 options, first was a 40 min climb to the top of a small mountain which we declined or a paddle and relax on the beach which we chose: even Lyn was brave enough to get in. Then it was back onto the boats tender and back aboard for the evening. Tea consisted of 4 courses of yummy Asian food. Lyn chose to have a leg and foot massage and we were tucked up by 10:10pm.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Location: Saigon - Hoi An, Vietnam

An early start for the travellers today with a 7:00 am pickup and 5:30 wake up!!!
It was then off to the airport and on to Da Nang, mostly cloudy and somewhat very bumpy, finally got down to experience tropical rain, they had the tail end of a cyclone the day before and the evidence of trees down and roads flooded was there for all to see. Arrived at our hotel in Hoi An about 2:00 pm and settled in. Venus Hotel quite posh.
Later we went browsing at the shops and ventured into the old city. The city is divided into two parts, the old and the new. The old part is mainly filled with small shops selling everything from coke to full restaurants to hand made shoes, Taylor’s, Paintings and souvenirs.
The old city is divided by a river and at night is lit up by heaps of lanterns and yes it rained!!! However it was still a great experience.
After having a meal it was back to the hotel and I had a massage ( one hour for $20.00 NZ) and very good and relaxing.
Tomorrow it is off to MY SON, an old temple area in the mountains and thankfully no rain, the only negative was that I got Adelphi’s Belly the night before and did not feel too flash. I will use Lyn’s photos for this segment. On the way home we stopped at a government controlled restaurant for lunch. We also learned a bit about water coconuts.
After it was back to the hotel , rested up a bit and then off shopping, you soon learn how too many options make shopping and choosing difficult.
Back to the hotel, Lyn bought a couple of nice scarves for about$15:00.
Tomorrow it is off to Hanoi and good weather we hope.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Today was an earlier start and we were off to see the CU CHI tunnels.
These were dug to provide a huge safe underground area for the Viet Cong during the war. They were at least 3 levels deep and housed a hospital, weapons manufacturing area, accomodation and trading areas. They built in death traps, disguised air vents and blind end off shoots to trap the enemy, unfortunately that included us. The tunnels were about 18in tall to prevent anyone charging down them.
All in all a very hot but informative day.
We were dropped off before our hotel and walked to the war museum. This was on 3 levels and told of the Agent orange tragedy, the murder of villagers by US soldiers and the weapons used during the war. Unfortunately history is always written by the winners of any war, so this is all very one sided against the US and Aust and NZ Forces
We then decided to go to the Catholic Cathedral, this was more than a small short walk, about 4 km in very hot conditions, crossing roads packed with thousands of motor bikes and getting thoroughly lost in the process. We finally found it about 4:50pm and went in to pay our respects. Seeing as how Mass was due to start at 5:30pm we stayed. When we left it was dark and we headed off to get back to our hotel
And got thoroughly lost again. We finally found a hotel after walking several K’s I’d, explained our predicament and arranged to get a taxi to take us back to our hotel, by this time all our clothes were wet with sweat so had tea and then back for a shower and off to bed.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Explore, explore, it’s off to explore we go. Our first tour was labeled the Mekong delta boat trip. The bus drive to the delta was about 2 hours. On the way we stopped at the largest Buddhist temple in Vietnam. Then off to the river, if my memory serves me right the delta covers an area of about 1800 square kilometres. There are 4 main islands here: unicorn, Phoenix and two others whose names I can’t remember. We saw bees at work, had some honey wine and some honey biscuits, played with a python watched coconut being extracted, went on a river rowing boat ride, had a lovely sea food lunch, bought some sugar coconut candy and finished with a tut tut ride. All in all a great but tiring day, then a 2 hour bus ride back to the hotel, showed etc and then off to our usual eating place. By this time my( John) legs were had it. I found a massage place and had a great 60 minute massage for $22 then off to bed.

Monday, 28 October 2019

Location: Saigon, Vietnam

Well our latest adventure got off to a slow start with issues getting into the airport car park and then finding out that our flight would not be leaving until 11:45pm.
The flight itself was good but the leg room was non existent.
Arrived at KL about 5:00am and then on to Saigon about 10:00am.
Up till now we could only imagine the heat, after standing around waiting for our transfer Lady to get all her passengers we remembered what 33deg and 90% humidity actually felt like, B hot!!
The trip into town and our hotel was interesting to say the least, the traffic is unorganised chaos with thousands of motor bikes going in all directions.
The hotel is modest but more than adequate,
After a shower and a snooze we headed out to explore the area and play dodgem with the traffic. We found a huge market selling everything accept cool temps, the conditions were just too hot for us so we headed back, did a stock up at the local
Grocer and back to our bed for a nanny nap!
Later it was off for tea, we found a below ground level shopping area with aircon, had tea, did some browsing and then back to our room. The only problem being the monsoonal rains, we got soaked but at least it was warm!

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Location: Gisborne, New Zealand

After yesterday's excitement, the drive to Gisborne was almost without incident, we visited Tikitiki, Ruatoria, Te Puia Springs and then Puaua, and Makarori Beach on the way into Gisborne. Filled up with fuel and got rid of the dump but no sooner had we finished this than the heavens opened up, the rain was so heavy and lasted a fair while that all the roads were flooded and we could only travel about 5km/hr.
It was good to catch up with Maurice and Lyn spent some time with Richard Bernstein , unfortunately Richard is going through Chemo for prostate cancer and his Daughter Aimee who lives in London has had to have a breast off and she too is having chemo.
That night the temp dropped and Maurice insisted we sleep inside, it was too cold to sleep outside.
Next day it was off to Napier and Perfume Point again for the night. It was a good trip down and we arrived to our usual pRk with no issues, a small shop, tea and the Lyn beat me at Crib and Rummyoh. Just proves you can teach some people too much!!!!!
Thursday morning off to Ormondville and the family. They had just got their first two calves and had to learn how to feed them, it was good being a bystander!!
Friday saw us off home 3800 km after we had set out.
It has been a great holiday and as usual we have seen lots of sights that we did not expect, but that's Caravnning.

Monday, 09 April 2018

Location: Hicks Bay, East Coast, New Zealand

The Mercury Bay Club was full to overflowing when we got there, they had reached the point in their membership draws when it had to go and at $2,000 it was very popular. It eventually went and the place just emptied out and we ended up watching the rugby almost on our own. What a great game, go the Canes.
Saturday saw us on the road to Tauranga with lots of Kodak stops on the way at some of the beautiful beaches. We eventually got to Bethlehem, visited Mrs Maddock (Lyn's old neighbour) and then after a few missed directed turns from our GPS we finally got to Colin & Robyn's place. We had an enjoyable evening with them, next morning it was off to Mass and then a visit with Sue & John McOviney, they have an enormous and very modern home at the Mount. It backs on to the Golf course and a swimming pool and a large spa pool looking out over the golf course.
It was then off to Ohope and Mike and Irene's for a quick lunch then on to Noel and Judy's (Lyn's favourite cousin). Noel was still working driving a truck taking Kiwi fruit from the orchard to the pack house, I had the pleasure of going with him, each load was about 46 ton. The harvesting and collecting vehicles were a real revelation. Finished about 6:30pm and then home for a few beers, lots of talk and tea.
Today it was on the way again going south around the East Cape. We have not done this since the kids were little when we lived in Gisborne.
We decided to go this way as the views of the different bays are said to be quite spectacular going South and they certainly were with deep blue water and special coves and bays. It must be mind blowing to do this in December/January when the Pohutakawa,s are in full flower.
We have decided to stop on the beach at Hicks Bay but not before getting stuck in loose sand but hey it's all part of the experience and no harm done in the end.
Tomorrow it is off to Gisborne and a visit with Maurice.

Friday, 06 April 2018

Location: Thames, New Zealand

Once again the morning started fine and warm and remained that way all Day. The drive through to Coromandel town was very slow as there were lots of road works and it is quite narrow but the views west toward Auckland were stunning which made up for the stop starts along the way.
We called into Coromandell town but parking with the van was non
Existent so we did a crawl through and headed off to Whitianga. We had a few Kodak stops on the way and arrived here about 11:00am. After setting up it was onto town, info centre, op shops and then back to the van for a quick lunch and then off to see Hahei and Hot Water Beach. They were lovely spots and the water at hot water beach had just started flowing when we got there and there were heaps of people with spades digging there own little spa pools. Some of the water coming out of the ground was too hot to stand in, however I managed to scrounge a spade and dig my own little bath!
After this it was back to the van, a quick tea and we intend heading off to the Mercury Bay club to watch rugby. Tomorrow it is off to Tauranga.

Tuesday, 03 April 2018

Location: Whangaparaoa, New Zealand

We had a good evening with the Kids and of course our bundle of joy, Christopher (CJ). We arranged the programme for Lyns 70th birthday and then off to bed in our van. Next day it was Happy Birthday to the 70 year old and then around to pick up CJ and into town on the bus and the main one was a double decker and he loved being up the front on top. We had a Maccas ice cream and then up Quenn street, boy it is noisy and busy. I managed to get my Vodafone acc sorted and then Lyn had a shop while CJ had a nap, then it was off to Burger King for lunch and stroll around the water front before Steven picked us all up and then off to home, get changed and out to the RSA for a nice family meal, then off to bed. Lyn had lots of phone calls and messages from family and friends including Auzzie and our Zimbabwean friends.
This morning it was on the road again and then off to Thames on the Coromandel for the night. We have a lovely spot overlooking the sea and waiting for the sunset another warm day.

Sunday, 01 April 2018

Location: Whangarei, New Zealand

April Fools day began with church with our new Christchurch friends, Bev and Mark Taylor then after this it was off to visit our God Daughter Meagan and her family just out of town. They have a lovely location and a 1930's that will keep them busy for a long time. Their two Sons were really neat young adults and all in all a really great time before heading back for our Wellington group photo.
It was then a time for Lyn to browse the craft stalls and attempt to not buy too much, which she nearly achieved!
Happy hour was with our safari group which was a nice way to Finish as the departure and shocks at Kaikohe cast a damper on the end of the safari so it was nice to end on a happy note.
Then that evening it was a Vaudville Caberet act which was both entertaining and heaps of costume changes. The huge marquee cost $60,000 to hire.
Monday it was the closing ceremony and then breaking camp and bugging out about 2:00pm. In the mean time we had a really good catch up with Margaret and Ruffy, from Blenheim and Lyns school friend and we may end up going down to them in early August for some fishing which will be good. The meal and catch up with the cussys was really good and some family history was revisited!
Next morning it was off to Whangaparoa and our Auckland family.

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Recent Messages

From B&B
How many on your tour & from what countries? Don't get run over by the motor scooters. All well here.
Response: 16 of us. 6 NZ and x10 Aust. We’ve had a typhoon pass through streets flooded and trees down drizzly rain at the moment. Nice hotel posh even a bath. 3pm at the moment. Plastic shoes and umbrellas provided so we are off out soon. Toodle loo. XX
From Val & Geoff
Hi Lyn & John,
Tried texting a birthday msg for Lyn but must have the wrong number because it kept on not going through. Hope you had a lovely celebration or drowned your sorrows ...just depends how you feel about the years passing. Jennie is in Katikati and I know she likes having visitors. Some lovely places around Tauranga so enjoy. Love to see you if you are passing Feilding.
Response: Thankyou both for that, we are now on the beach at Hicks Bay, we will spend the night here and then on to Gisborne tomorrow.
Home Friday!!!!
From Joyce Moss
What an interesting time you are having up North. Really enjoyed reading your experiences throughout your Northland Safari.
Happy Easter and safe journey home.
All our love
Bradyn and Joyce
Response: Thankyou, now that we are back with internet service I will try and fill in the last week.
From Shell
Looks like u having a great time
Have fun love u lots
Response: We are, Thankyou
From Sheila Shead
What a great blog Iv got muddled where we stayed already ,on our two jaunts around the North Island.hope to see you at another Rally have not been to any since our 1st with you at Otaki,Best wishes Sheila.
Response: Snap, we hope to go to the next one.
From Annie
Happy Birthday Mrs Jarden - hope you have had a wonderful day. it is rainy, cold and windy here. I am loving your pics and felt quite homesick when I saw Akaora and Okains Bay. As for the pic of John cooking - it looks to me he has donned an apron and is pouring you both a cuppa from the flask lol. Much love. See you soonish x x
Response: Thanks Annie, John here, I was cooking the most tender of steaks. Lyn said hers was just the best.
From Nan & Sam
So pleased you got to see the memorial wall and Christopher's bench in the botanical gardens . So pretty this time of the year as the autumn colours are stunning ..
They did a service at St Patrick's Church when we went there a few years back with my Mum and sister for Christopher , very heartfelt for us all xx safe travels you nomads 😊
Response: We were so pleased we saw the wall and found the seat.
See you Sunday/Monday
From Mary
Hlad you did the cchocolate factory tour. Wehen we did that 45 years agao everyone got 1 kg box of chocolates.Mum was born in Timaru so think of her when you go through ccxx
Response: Did you and Wayne go to the chocolate factory....where did you go on your honeymoon....I couldn't remember having been there.....
From Annie
Have finally got back to the computer - your blogs are great and your photos truly beautiful. I am so glad you had a look thru E Hayes - were you meant to be in Bert's bike? The Catlins are an an absolute hidden secret - I love them. A shame you struck some very cold weather. Missing you but rapt that you are having a fabulous time. Well done to the photographer(s) Love Annie xx
Response: Yes John was allowed to get into Berts Bike....I had to hurry with the photo as it was a tight squeeze. Good to hear from you.xx
From Nan & Sam
Been keeping up with messages and photo ... Brings back memories !!! Cruise ship in Milford bought back happy memories too X Our niece susie from surfers was in Arrowtown at a friend's wedding same time as you were ... And our daughter in law and grandson Liam and family were in Queenstown same time as you ... You most likely passed each other on the street 😊 Safe homeward travels ... Nan xxxxx
Response: Good to hear from you had another awesome day in at Mt Cook. The scenery is mind blowing..had Mass at the tiny church of the Good Shepherd at Tekapo now back in Twizel having baked beans and eggs for tea....yummy.....having a nice cuppa now with a super wine biscuit.
From Mike and Veronica
Hi John, Lyn
The intrepid travellers!
Sounds really cold down there. Not missing much here - lots of rain and more to come. Your trip though sounds fascinating. We will take the time to read everything. Just catching up and saying hi and take care
Warm regards
Mike and Veronica
Response: Thank you, we hope to be able to catch up with Sarah & Grant next week.
From mary
Good work two days in a row
Response: We are getting better eh!!!
From John C
Just read all your trip reviews. Certainly brou8ght back lots of memories of our many trips around the South Island and how beautiful it is. We must visit Stewart Island before we have to do it with angels wings!! See you again soon.
Response: You sound optimistic!!!
In Catlins tonight for a game of golf and then Mosgiel.
From Pania and David
Thought we'd let you know we have found your dairy, we can now follow you on your travels.
Love Pania and David
Response: Well done, I will make another entry tonite.
From Mary
Glad to hear the weather is kind to you. Skin specialist to-morrow. Cold here morning and night.Looking forward to next blog great reading...
Response: Thank you.....night night off to bed now.... Luvnahug...xxxx
From Annie
Your pics are making me home sick for the good old south. Our country is so beautiful. I loved the hoki to haast ones. Sounds like the weather has been reasonably kind to you. Hope those bikes have had a bit of use. All good here. Love Annie 🙆 xx
Response: Yes the bikes HAVE been used.
We are waking up again this morning with the sound of a hot air balloon going over the top of us and a cloudless day.
From Carol
Margaret W is OK and recovering at her son's 9052705. Brian W is coping by himself with help from Peter. The street is very quiet and we miss you both. We have heaps to do before our trip to Chch on the 25th. Matt has two nights planned at Hanmer Springs on 26 & 27 and then we will be at 86 St Martins Road until 25 March
Love Carol xxx
Response: Have a safe and enjoyable trip, unfortunately we will not be in your area till later.
Thanks for the update on Margsret W.
From Carol
Great to hear of your travels.
The South Island is beautiful even when is rains the West Coast just shines. The weather here is very warm in spite of the rain which has been falling for a few days now and expected to last. We have a busy month before Chch on 25 March. Take care xxx
Response: Thanks, good to hear from you.
Say hi to our neighbours.
Do you have Margaret W's cell number, do you know how she is?
From Bob
Just seen your mail. I check for it each day.Not a very good weekend for me so far this weekend. Fri.No Luck at Housie.Not even a line.Hospice bowling tournament cancelled today.Supposed to be playing in a pairs tournament at Pahiatua tomorrow.Horses going slow.Account getting low.Under $50.Well overdue for another decent collect.Only 2 more BCG treatments to go.Seems to be going OK. Bye for now Bob.
Response: What a terrible time you are having so so sorry for you. Great to hear from you though!
From Corrie
Sounds just great. Weather been great here too and also new road. Dont know how you got to Japan though on Wed!!!
We'll be thinking of you esp on Sun as we have our PFM gathering here.
All the best XX
Response: Thanks Corrie, Japan was a typo and we are really looking forward to using the new road.
From Sam & Nan
Hi Guys
glad you got my email on the 21st about Pips Mum X we had an amazing time in ChCh ... Wall is lovely, also got to see Liam and Christine X Annie took us to the station and picked us up yesterday ... So lovely of her to offer ... Keep safe and enjoy your trip X big hugs from us both 😊💕
Response: Thanks, so pleased it all went well for you.
We are having a really enjoyable time.
From Carol
Suddenly summer here at home also.
The South Island is so beautiful and we hope you good weather continues.
Pip's mother passed away yesterday and the service is 28th February. Pip and her sister are still away but I guess they will come home in time.
Carol xxx
Response: You are kind to write to us. Nan also sent an email about Pips mum haven't we got lovely neighbours...we will contact Pip its John's birthday on that day too. Go well....we will get the bikes out today. Toodles GBYATUL xxx
From Annie
Hiya - you lucky things. I love Picton. Pelorus Sound is beautiful and the Pelorous Bridge would have been a great area to stay. Spent a bit of time there in the Air Force days while training at Blenheim - in another life! It can be a real scorcher in that area at times. Loved your pics. Beaut to hear you are so relaxed. Can we swap? Don't forget to stop and ponder at 12.51 today. Kia Kahah ChCh xx
Response: Thank you....I hope it all went well for Nan and Sam and their family...and all those would know the feeling. We move into the Rally this morning not so sure about all the 550 odd vans. Be nice to catch up with friends and relatives...I think it could be very hot.... Toodles for now. GBYATUL xxxx
From Ian
Suppose I had better get the golf clubs dusted off!!
Glad to have you back safe and sound
Response: Thanks Ian, make sure you get lots of practice !!!
From Val & Geoff
Really going to miss your newsletter. What wonderful memories. You will laugh about the trying times although
you don't seem to have had many. Enjoy the wonderful weather we are experiencing. A welcome home to you both!
Response: Thanks for that. We were really blessed the whole time we were away and pretty well incident free after the first day.
Enjoying our time in Auckland with our new "Christopher".