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tappers’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 03 Sep 2006

Location: Hanoi, Vietnam

MapWelcome to 'Nam - the land of sars, bird flue, and motorbikes!

First impressions of Veitnam were not so good, after travelling India i thought that i was prepared for anything but this country is nothing but a scam! So far we have had taxi's taking us to the wrong hotels for comission, people trying to sell us train tickets for double their actual price, and everyone tries to rip you off and short change you. As a tourist in Vietnam it seems as though everyone is out to get your money at any cost! The majority of the people here are pretty unfriendly towards foreign faces, which sometimes makes you feel uncomfortable.

Spent our first day in the city of Hanoi which is actually a really chilled out city with lots of parkland and lakes - the streets are filled with quaint little cafes and bars, and we are staying in the winding streets of the traditional Old Quater! Spent a day browsing many of the cities temples and pagodas (including the famous temple of literature and one pillar pagoda), as well as the POW museum. Our main reasn for being in Hanoi was to arrange some excursions and onward travel.

Yesterday we day tripped to the perfume pagoda which is a beautiful cave temple located high in the mountains. To get there we drove out into the rural countryside of rice fields, and travelled on the river between the mountains! The temple itself was beautiful and well worth the day trip.

It is strange to be travelling in peak season for once, as all of my trip so far has been in the rainy season! The weather here is great though suprisingly hot and sticky! Today we visited Tam Hoc which is a complex cave system only accesible by river - it was such a beautiful ride along the clear water with karst rock formations towering above you on both sides. The one thing that Vietnam really does have going for it is sheer natural beauty of the place, it is awe-inspiring everywhere that you look!

Tomorrow we are off on a two day excursion to Halong Bay the most famous site in all of Vietnam, consisting of thousands of islands jutting out of the sea! After that we are taking the night train up into the remote northern mountains of Vietnam to go trekking and to see the minority villages - am very exicted and can't wait.