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Brian Thom’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Location: Hanoi, Vietnam

MapThe last time I wrote on here was awhile ago, and then it seemed like everytime I was going to write I would have to backtrack so much... since so much has happened. Now I finally have the time to do it!

The 16 hour bus ride from Ao Nang to Bangkok was less than fun. I had an asthma attack and like a genius left my puffer in the undercarriage of the bus. A Dutch guy decided that I would make a good pillow... in general... fairly uncomfortable. I was able to finish another book though, but apparently according to Jon I'm not allowed to write about that.

We flew from Bangkok to Hanoi (northern Vietnam... capital city). It is a massive city of about 3.5 million and INSANE streets. There are 2 million motorbikes. The rules of the streets that we know in North America are simply non-existent. Red lights don't matter, stop signs dont matter... really nothing matters except getting from point A to point B. There is one intersection... about 7 streets feed into it. Kind of like a mini Times Square... there are BIKES EVERYWHERE... just flying... so fast... so dangerous. The most intimidating street I've ever stood on. Crossing the street was like a game of Frogger. I can't see how these people have any less accidents than like 60 a day. Just think of mass chaos. Chaos... that's probably the best word to describe it. On the way in from the airport we saw a guy who had just crashed his bike.. it was disgusting.. he was definitely not alive.

Anyways... on the bright side we ended up meeting a Vietnamese guy who made us follow him to his hotel. The hotel, he explained, was run by his family. However it's pretty hilarious because it's not so much family... but moreso sibblings. There are like 15 brothers and sisters all who seem to be from the ages of 12 to 25... so its basically like a bunch of kids running a hotel. None of them are taller than me, and they are all very kind people who would walk to the end of the Earth if they were asked to. Since they are all smaller, seem young, and we find it hilarious that a hotel is being operated by kids, we have dubbed them the Munchkins.

The first night in Hanoi we found a rooftop pub. We went to the roof where they were hosting Frog races! 6 Frogs were placed in a cage and when the cage was lifted the frogs would race to the edge of a circle (I use the term 'race' here loosely). You could bet on which frog you thought would win. It was a great time.

The Munchkins hooked us up with a couple tours. One was Ha Long Bay, which is the east coast just south of China. We boarded basically like a luxury boat, ate seafood and kayaked. We went to an intricate cave system which was really neat and then we sailed the boat around some amazing islands. Ha Long Bay is pretty much one of the most amazing sights we've seen on this trip. Huge jungle islands in some clear waters.

We came back to Hanoi, and then boarded a night train (the night train RULED... except for the wake-up part) to Sapa. Sapa is about just 30 km from China and is a bunch of rice fields built into some hills. It is a mountain town that was basically constructed by the French during their rule. The blend of European architecture is very recognizable. It's an awesome town and we hiked all throughout the small region. We got HOUNDED by saleswomen the whole time. The phrase "you buy from me" has become famous between us 4. It is spoken softly either by an old lady or young girl and it's tough to say no... but you have to, otherwise you'd be broke (there are like... 400 women all selling the same thing). Anyways... after we left you buy from me... oops I mean Sapa... we came back on the night train and hoofed it back here to crazy Hanoi... which brings me to today.

I missed a bunch... but I am short for time. That's the just of what we did. Our hikes in Sapa were very long... (at least to me)... but so far the trip has been awesome. The Munchkins like to read what I write on their computers too, so I have to be a bit indescriminate. Hope everybody is having a great time at home.

Ross and Tyler leave in 2-4 days... after that it will just be Andrew and I. We are thinking of making it down the east coast of Vietnam and then going through Cambodia and Laos on our way back to Thailand. Will post soon.