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Snail Trail

We've left the sleepy safety of Snailwell and set off on our big adventure...hope you enjoy our diaries and photos, although even if you don't, we are sure we will! Please keep in touch and send us messages back through this site or on our email mikeandjayne@hotmail.co.uk x
Our plan is below, although can't promise we wont miss the odd flight or two!
25th Sep LA
1st Oct Fiji
10th Oct New Zealand
22nd Nov Australia
12th Jan Malaysia
Feb Thailand
Mar Cambodia / Vietnam
31 Mar Home!

Diary Entries

Monday, 20 March 2006

Location: Hanoi, Vietnam, Vietnam

Well, had a great time in Ninh Binh - our swiss friends that we have met periodically through Vietnam joined us and we had a few eventful days. Weather was pretty bad - raining mostly and much colder than we are used to - had to get our jumpers out! Ninh Binh much quieter and less set up for tourism, which was good in some ways, but more complicated in others! We decided between the four of us to hire a car for the two days and go to see the surrounds - would have hired motorbikes but after the amount of crashes we have seen and after our swiss friend matt had a accident on a bicycle, we opted for the car. Saying that, the roads here are pretty scary and we are really glad that we have no further bus journeys to do - the one to Ninh Binh was petrifying, our first driver got stopped for speeding and then our second kept driving head on towards other traffic in the wrong lane! not fun......
First day we went to Tam Coc with a driver - the hostel told us that all the posh cars were booked up so they asked if we minded a lada - of course not we said, trying to pretend not to be snobby...well, there are ladas and ladas. The guy turned up, opened the door from the inside as the catch was broken, started the car up by basically hotwiring it.....spoke no english...things weren't going too bad although we should have learnt more vietnamese..until the driver slammed on his brakes 'one minute please' and then ran out of the car up the highway...to our complete bemusement he returned with his windscreen wiper which had sheared off! so , the remainder of the journey was pretty scary as he couldnt see through the rain - with Mike giving him directions through the passenger window! then the car overheated despite the cold, so we had to wait for that to cool! all in all, a great laugh!
Second day we got a different driver. we went to the national park eventually, although he kept thinking of excuses to get us back quicker, - pretty overgrown and difficult to get around, but we had a pretty nice walk, which was good except for the rain. Then they tried to rip us off in the local restaurant, with gone off noodles, which we werent so impressed by and refused to pay. Went to the monkey sanctuary which was really nice - some of the gibbons there have less than 30 of the species left in the world...
Getting more tired now and was glad to get the bus journey to Hanoi over and done with...however, arrived in Hanoi with the swiss guys, with the plan of staying a few days and then getting the train to Sapa...when we arrived, Eveline and I went looking for accomodation, the boys stayed put in the first place we looked at..to cut a long story short, we ended up in a row with the owners of the first hostel, who were trying to rip us off...we decided that we didn't want to hang around Hanoi - a really built up city, not our sort of thing...made a decision to call up Singapore Airlines and see if we could make our flights a little earlier, in time to surprise our mums for mothers day - to our amazement they said we could fly tomorrow - so that is what we are going to do! mad dash round for presents this afternoon, a meal tonight to say goodbye to our swiss friends and then home Wednesday am (won't put this onto the web until after just to make sure of the surprise!! so excited about seeing everybody!!!!)

Now home - time to finish off the blog.
We have had the trip of a lifetime and dont regret a single second, although really missed our families and friends. We have learnt so much, had a great time together and had some great laughs. Most of all, we have made some great new friends who we hope to stay in touch with...and memories that will last forever.http://www.michaelhallphotography.co.uk

Friday, 17 March 2006

Location: Hoi An, Hue, Vietnam

After our biking days were left behind us in Dalat, we headed on the epic bus journey from Dalat to Hoi An - 6 hours journey then 5 hours waiting in the beachside town of Nha Trang before the night bus 13 hours to Hoi An...actually, not too bad, somehow managed to sleep on the bus. Not so bad we thought, we can easily do this again - quit while you are winning we have now learnt...Our latest journeys from Hoi An toHue and then Hue Ninh Binh overnight was much more of an ordeal...on the first journey, although short with great views, the bus driver managed to crash into a motorbike with a man and old lady on it - the bus ended up giving her a lift to the hospital after knocking her onto the road.... at least he drove steadily after that! can't get any worse though? could it? wrong again. the night bus driver was erratic to say the least, driving into oncoming traffic, making his own lane..we were petrified....add to this the loud vientamese karoake music in the speakers all through the night, people sleeping all up the aisle, overcrowding and about 80 stops when the bright lights would be switched on, loads of vietnamese deciding to shout at each other across the bus at all hours....an experience never to be forgotten or repeated. still all is well thankfully and we finally got to a hostel at 4 this morning.

Whilst spending four days in hoi an we updated our wardrobed (although with a little more than mikey planned) so now suited and booted well. its really cold up north here (although probably not as bad as when we get home ) - we have had to wear jumpers..how bad is that? hoi an was a beautiful quaint french colonial influenced town lit by lanterns and full of tailors shops.. Hue, the next town up the coast was okay although a large city - we hired a boat up the perfume river to see some tombs (with some friends we have met), called ourselves 'same same but diferent tours' (you'll understand if you have been to asia!) with name badges and all much to the bemusement of the local guides! we left hue pretty quickly as we got mad with all the sellers - children with postcards, ''motorbike sir'', ''okay, cyclo, okay'' etc. we got followed by about 20 people trying to get us into their hotels when we first arrived and they would not go away, no matter what you said....gives us such aheadache after a while - cant go anywhere without being mobbed...

Now in Ninh Binh - much less touristed town which is nice, much less hassle - hope to spend some time in the coutryside the next few days, and then head to Hanoi en route to the Hill Station of Sapa, where we may even have to wear a coat....! vietnam is beautiful, really enjoying this far more than Thailand...on the whole the people are really friendly and great fun xxx

home in less than 2 weeks! roast dinner and no more website!

Thursday, 09 March 2006

Location: Dalat, Vietnam

We have now been in Vietnam a week, arriving from Cambodia by boat. Since we last wrote, we have spent three days in the Mekong Delta in the south, then two days on the beach and two days in the mountains in Dalat....seems like loads has happened!

Mekong Delta
Decided to be cheapskates and make life easy on ourselves by booking a 3 day trip which took us from Pnhom Penh in Cambodia to Saigon - the old saying 'you get what you pay for comes to mind!' picked up by a really rough bus, (the aircon on the leaflet was actually windows which couldnt open as they were broken and taped shut) with a crazy driver who constantly leant on the horn, we were harrased and glad to get to the boat terminal in one piece...until we saw the boat... still, an experience!
when we got to the border, we were told we were going to have to wait while our guide took our passports through customs - never been able to get through without showing our face before! - and we were told which cafe to eat in - just to be obstinate we all went to the cheaper one next door! anyway an hour late, finally got through the border (without any monetary bribe which was a plus) and got taken to our first 'homestay' guesthouse in Chau Doc via a beautiful river trip with stilt houses and fishing villages...ride was amazing but guesthouse less so - pretty grim, still, free entertainment provided in the room in the form of mice playing scratching music behind our heads in the wall - altogether a wonderful nights sleep.......what do you expect for 50p!
second day was the saving grace - we spent the afternoon and night with a local family on the river in a wooden home, which was a fantastic experience - the family were lovely and the food great and they tired to teach us vietnamese (not that we were very good students) - they showed us around the village and attmepted to get us to play chinese chess although we lost abysmally as we couldnt remember what each of the pieces was....
mike managed to endear himself to the mum so much that we somehow got a double bed to ourselves in a separate room while everyone else slept together - spoilt rotten as ever!
trip around the floating wholesale veg market the next day was a real highlight, but glad to get to saigon and do our own thing! the only downside was that we met a swiss couple (who were great) but who shattered our illusions - we cant believe that milka is not swiss and that swiss army knives arent red and dont have toothpicks or scissors...devestated!

Mui Ne
This area is beuatiful - a small and quiet beach area, and we found a great little bungalow room 10 yards away from the beach...so got great sunburn...in mikes infinite wisdom he decided that we should get up at 5am and see sunrise over the sand dunes.....only to find, exhausted after climbing the dunes that it was the only cloudy day of our whole trip and the sun was nowhere to be seen! still had a good time burying each other in the sand and walking the fairy stream of red rock...very pretty and peaceful here - we had been walking for three hours and it was only 8am.....still, thank god for siestas (hence the sunburn!)...

Dalat
Finally got to the central highlands after a pretty interesting bus ride which involved closing our eyes and gripping onto the seats for a fair bit of the journey, wearing ear plugs to block out the symphony of horns! worth it though - decided today to hire two 'easy rider' motorbike drivers - hopped on the back and they took us around for the day - saw terrace upon terrac of vegetables and flowers being grown, met the locals on the farm, drunk tea with an ex soldier who now weaves bamboo, had lunch with another local family (amazzing food and people) - didnt see another traveller all day...the people were incredibly friendly and we had some amazing conversations via our guide who was excellent - and we didnt fall off the bikes either! tempted to go with them on a four day excursion to hoi an but budget overruled us...and we could hear our parents screams - a motorbike? what?!!!!! so, another hair raising bus for 19 hours instead....choices are so good heh! still can now spend the money on getting outfits made to measure in hoi an - our next stop...

will be in touch - looking forwards to seeing everyone in April! cant believe it is nearly over! oh - and why arent you all sending us messages - is it getting too boring now?!

Thursday, 02 March 2006

Location: Cambodia

The 13 hour train was actually very enjoyable with stunning scenery on the way, it only went belly up when we arrived in bangkok to argue with taxi and tuk tuk drivers who wanted to rip us off, so caught the metro to the hotel and then walked the wrong way..........got to the hotel hot & shattered and late. Only in bed for 20 mins before being woken by rats banging against the air conditioning vent....one irate phone call later, we moved rooms, first being offered the room next door as if!!!!!!!
Anyway, now in Cambodia, spent three days at Siem Reap first, trecking around the many temples - built between 9th and 14th centuries....all by hand. They are truly amazing - photos can't do them justice - just sprawling, some in ruins, some with beautidful carvings still intact...you could spend weeks wandering around them and still not see everything. Some are being restored, others are being taken over by nature - beautiful tree roots growing around the stone , like scenes from Narnia!
Traffic rules here are by far the most amusing we have seen....in theory traffic drives on the right, but nobody stops at junctions, roundabouts etc....basically the rule seems to be (if there even is one) biggest vehicle goes first - so if you want to turn left through the opposing traffic, you just do it, and they all move around you...as you can imagine, crossing the road is a real feat! if there isnt a traffic lane for your bike, you just make a new one, even if its not wide enough for you!
Now in Pnhom Penh and we have been to the El Chouek Memorial (killing fields)...up to three million people killed in whole country, many of them here, buried in mass graves in the late 1970's..they have exhumed some of these graves and they have a huge memorial to those killed...just impossible to contemplate...we also went to S21 prison (which used to be a high school) which was the administrative centre and torture area for those captured locally before they were sent to the killing fields..this place is absolutely horrific to describe....they have photographs of all the people kept here in cells, with their legs chained..and the images of torture are impossible to forget..cant really explain....
On a positive note, we have luckily managed to spend time at a school in Siem Reap and an orphanage here in Phnom Penh, which has been really moving. we are wishing we had more time, and had thought to be a more selfless and spent more time volunteering at one of these places, helping with English or something. The children are so happy to spend time with you, and they are so keen to learn..so engaging..a really beautiful sight...so many orphans here in Cambodia, and the poverty in Pnhom Penh is so tangible...street children come up to you regularly to beg or sell goods..its so hard to descirbe the way that we are feeling right now....kind of helpless and a bit self centred maybe.... this is one of those places that makes you think a lot about your life and how lucky we are and how unfair that now seems.......yet we are constanly amazed by how happy many people are, and how far they have developed already considering the Khmer Rouge was only 30 years or so ago.. its amazing.
Anyway, on a lighter note, we cross the border to Vietnam tomorrow where we are going on a homestay in the Mekong Delta so likely to be out of touch for a few days....looking forwards to catching up with everyone in April.


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Recent Messages

From nortons
hi
one of the guinepigs has died(ginger) .we are going to see you on 1st/2nd apirl.i realy can't wait till you come back.
i have to go to the ortherdontest because the dentest said a have an over crowded mouth.i realy like your pictures they are great.are you going to fool me when we see you?
lots and lots of love laura
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hi
my guinepig is died and im very very sad.cant wait till i see you.i have not learnt how to frow my bomerang laura hasn't either.
lots and lots of love lucy
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Response: Sorry to hear about your loss,not long now before we
see you all again.Keep your messages coming!!!!!and good luck at the dentist!
From
Hi mike and Jayne
Will catch up april 1st - No joking or any april fool jokes!!
enjoy the sunshine while U v'e got it as it's still very cold here!! Mike your missing all the F.A cup quater finals!!! Football on tele all week!! U might get alot of e-mails from me then!! Josh went to Karate tonight and got his first certificate!! Did mum tell you that we had a suprise guest at the christening!! John walk turned up at the pub where the reception was!!!! Being alot of our friends are ipswich supporters they were well impressed!!! ( but not dad!!) Got some great photo's to show you!! infact I will bring all mine I have taken since you ve been away and we can do a swop!!! ( I might have nearly as many as you!!! Ha, Ha,) Byeeeeeeeeeeee j9 x
Response: John WHO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! you mean the dodgy bloke with a tash! tell the karate kid i will be ready for a fight when we get back! see you soon M&j
From taff and taffette
Hiya both, this week will fly by and you will soon be home. Yipeeeee! see you 28th hopefully. xxxxxx
Response: YIPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE- EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE- EEEEE
From J9
Hi me again - J9
will c u at mums on sat 1st april ( not joking! and No fools!!! if mum has got the right dates!) Don't worry about Freya as she goes to any dodgie strange people that we know!! Norwich beat sheff utd at home today dad went to match! Make sure you have your thermals ready on your return if not bring the sunshine back with you!!
J9 & Family
Response: Thanks for the message sorry for the delay been on the delightful night bus.
From J9
Great reading and catching up on the pics!! Only 2months behind!!! now on line!!!!!Josh is doing well at school, swimming & football lessons and now wants to start Karate!
so watch out mikey! Freya can nearly sit up on her own & talks more than me!! Reconised some of the places you visited in phuket.
Return date is on calander!!
Have fun j9 x
Response: Looking forwards to seeing you all - you;ll have to let us know your email address! can't believe freya is sitting already...she must be so different to when we last saw her xxx she'll say aunty and uncle who?!!
From Charlie
Forgot to say. Your pics are brilliant.

Charlie
Response: so are you...!!!!. xxxxxxxxxxxx
From Charlie
Do they sell chequed shirts in Vietnam?

Can't wait to see you two again.

Love Charlie, Barbara and James
Response: no alas, no checked shirts but two new stripey ones!!! tempted to buy travelling garb with embroidered dragons but just stopped him in time!!!!! cant wait to see you too, will call you when we get back xxx
From Rob
Ok England are crap - I agree :-)

Hope you're having a great time still guys. No tips for Vietnam - sorry to say not been there yet. I hear it's very much like Aldeburgh though...

Come back soon please - I can't stand the jealousy much longer. There's a foo tins of IPA with your name on 'em here Mikey. Bon voyage!

Rob
Response: cheers rob - save them - we'll hold you to that!
From nortons
hi
i meant your clothes .can't wait till you get back.we are all fine.did we tell you we have got giuniepigs (ginger and peenuts).mum enjoying her new job.dad is going on a brick laying corse.ownly a few more weeks till you come back.lot and lots of love
laura
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Response: cant wait either - hope to see you all at grandmas on the 1st/2nd April. hopefully we can meet ginger and peanuts too soon! lots of love xxx
From taff and taffette
Hello travellers, not long now and can't wait to see you both. Hope you are free Jayne 6th May (same wkend as Mike's stag do) to come on my hen do to minskys- tacky but should be a laugh. Hope you are both well. Bet you can't wait for a cuppa and a decent bed. Loadsa love. k and m xxx
Response: count me in babe - tacky but great fun! cant wait for a cuppa, decent bath, bed and cheese! so excited about seeing you all!
From jess and jamie
Finally got to see your site - jamie has been promising to let me know what it was since you went!!! Looks like a fantastic time, some fab pics and notes - very envious. Looking forward to seeing you soon - better get that spare room sorted!! Take care

Jess, Evie and Jamie xx
From Taff
Let me know if you want the England v France result...
Response: mmmm
From nortons
hi
jayne what on earth are you wearing?mike have you died you hair?hope your having a great time .i am spending lots of money on my mobile.can't wait till you come home.by the way its not getting boring.
lots and lots of love laura
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hi
I miss you.hope your having a good time.i have not learn't how to throw my bomarang yet.love from lucy






Response: oh - lucy we will try and help you throw it when we get back - less than three weeks now to go! laura - you are really sweet - thanks for telling us we are not boring - mikes hair has been dyed from the sun...what do you mean what I am wearing?
From Liz
Hi there,
Still looks like you're having a fab time - although it'll be back to reality with the rest of us sooner than you know it! Things here are changing - Ben's gone and I'm off to work in PR at the end of the month - its a pity you won't be back in time for the leaving do! Hope you'll be up this way at some point soon after getting back - would be good to see you. Take care, Liz xx
Response: Congratulations - where are you going to be working - is it with Patrick?!! will definetely arrange a catch up soon - back in three weeks ! say hi to everyone for me - the place will be so different!
From Taff
Let me know if you want the England v Scotland result...
Response: yeh okay, but not so bad a defeat as wales ireland, so best not wind him up!
From mum
Those poor women with those rings on theit necks must be in a lot of pain Ido not think its my cup of tea I did not like having my ears piecered!!!!!!!!Pics are up to yuor usual but nothing for me to wow about.
From Rob (again)
Let me know if you want the England v Wales result... ;-) Sawadee krap, Rob
Response: we are just lulling you into a false sense of security - know the score - we just know that england start playing badly when they get cocky!!! its all in the planning......
From Rob
Hey guys,

Recommend the Riverside Inn in Chiang Mai, great food, good music! Don't forget you're babysitting on 1st April...X
Response: only the first april?!
only just got message and left chiang mai! got any tips for cambodia ? - sawadee ka xxxx good luck for new arrival!!!
From norton
hi
sorry we have'nt sent lots of messages.we miss you lots.hope your having a great time.mum enjoying her job.i realy like my mobile.cant wait till u come back.
lots of love lauraxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx- xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Response: ohh babe - that is really sweet - you made us cry! we miss you all lots too - not long now until we see you! good to hear that you are all happy
lots and lots of love mikey and jayne xxxx
From Daz & Mel Fiji
Hey you guys, i see that you are slowly getting round quite a bit... Glad Mike is still finding time to take one or two pictures...
The wedding plans are going good and yes you did get it right, Oct 14 2006 is the date i think you will be back before then !
You are both looking good and i see the tan is coming along at long last Mike, although you seem to have the white marks where your floatation bands were in Fiji still.
Keep in touch guys, be great to meet up when you get back. Jayne you make sure to take care of him now ! you know he needs to be looked after....
Response: damn those flotation marks! You'll be pleased to know he has now progressed to only a life jacket without the ring! looking after him as usual....good to hear wedding plans are good - how are the businesses going? will definetely be home soon - tan or no tan - its tiring drinking coffee all day!
From James
Oh glorious justice at last you gorgeous world travellers. All the con trick windups of the past five years have come home to roost well and truly thanks to a fake monk called thong. It even makes the red nose nightmare possible to bear. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Whatever else you do on your travels you cannot beat this one single joyous moment. By the way - how much did he skank you for you duffer?? xxxj
PS - I may fall for the odd wind up but I've never knowingly given my money to a conman. Wonderful!!!!
Response: knowingly , mmmm perhaps you just never knew! he didnt get us for too much really, just enough to stop us buying a home when we return! glad you are sympathetic to our plight!
From Jenni
you could have given 'thong' the christmas present i sent you! i'm sure he would've loved it! it's not like you to part with your hard earned cash - you must be getting soft!xxx
p.s if it's any consolation stephen was taken in by a psychic monk when he was in thailand - but that's another story........
Response: ohh please tell!!!! sorry xmas pressie already gone!
From MUM
Pics fairly good fancy you two being taken in by a monk I bet all the tourist are conned like that and they make oodles of dosh sure he is not a monkey upto monkey buisness!!!!!!Only a few more weeks left and then back to reality!!!!!!
Response: yes - we are suckers we know....he may be genuine, we'll never know...looking forwards to seeing everyone when we come home x
From Taff (Tafettes at ho
Thong... a monk with the name Thong...

Sounds like you are still having a good time out there, I know Thong is!

I need a hot tub but can't afford one and haven't been able to for over six years! My elders will tell you that I have wanted one for some time now. Any chance you could help me realise my dreams - I will wear a habit if it helps!

Keep the messages coming.
xxx
Response: if you wear a habit you'd have to pay us ! its not a good vision! thong is having a great time with his new cd's I'm sure! we'll see about the hot tub - rememebr when mum and dad said that it always meant no!
From lucy
Jayne and Mike, you put the O into organised. I have never seen a travel journo like it. Hope you are good, did you get our text on Fri? Not long now, you poor things, you'll soon be back in reality. At least you'll miss the worst of winter. It is impossible to get out of bed and go to work these days, it's freezing. Miss you guys, wish we were there. Lucy x
Response: Hey lucy - so good to hear from you babe..miss you too. didnt get text as we are in laos and there is no network - will probably get in a few days when we go back to thailand so will let you know....not sure how we will adapt to getting up for work again, but funnily enough we miss the cold some days! so many english blokes here at the moment drinking lager that it often doesnt feel we have left home!!!!!