Thursday, December 10, 2009

Vietnam Trip (Hanoi)

I sat at the window seat so I managed to take photos of spectacular view. Lucky me~

*Gateway to heaven*

After arriving in Hanoi, we took an hour long bus to our 3-star hotel. Yes, 3star! There isn't any 5 star hotel. At most 4, but we chose 3 star. I don't know why, but I would like to recommend that hotel to you. It's call Hanoi View. Really nice! The decoration and the service really is like 5 star! Next time you guys want to go Hanoi, check out that hotel.There's free internet and as you can see, computer.

Second day, we packed our stuff into a smaller bag and then got ready to go on a Junk. Again, we didn't pick some luxury yacht. The reason is not because we can't afford but because Junk is much smaller than those luxurious yacht. And that a junk enable us to go to places in which bigger boats are not allowed. The bus trip to Halong Bay was a killer! It took us about 4 hours. Argh! What worst was that there wasn't much scenery on the way unlike China so I don't really enjoying riding on the bus.

On the way I learned that the school uniform throughout the schools are the same. They usually wear jacket that are either white and blue or white and green. They also cycle to their school because of the long distance between the school and home.

This is the bigger room. The three of us (My siblings and I) are slept on this bed. Kind of comfy. As the junk was booked by us, we have to privilege to keep the deck all to ourselves. We saw really nice scenery. We spent the either day on the deck while the adults sat at the dinning room their busy chatting. It's very comfortable up here. If you shout to the hills, you will hear an echo. So my brother and my cousin spent half an hour yelling at the hills. Morons~ The rest of the cousins just laid down and enjoyed the breeze. Completely ignoring them.

The junk stopped at some person's house, floating house? They are fishermen. I saw quite a lot of fishes.

As usually, every time we go on a trip, we will always have a cousin (group) photo. This time it's missing 2 people. But never mind, we will have chance next time.

The kissing Rock. The left one looked more like the male than the right one but my cousin argued otherwise. He lame, nothing better to do than to argue with me. We stopped at TiTop Island and climbed the really long stairs just to have a bird eye view of the place. Hmm.. actually I can't say it's really worth the climb but at least I didn't miss something out.

At night, it was really cold. There's no stars so my relative spent the night watching 2012 in the dinning room while the cousins played poker. I was writing diary. Later on we got bored and then went to Yong's room to watch Ice Age 3. Halfway through I was too tried so I headed back to my room to sleep.

Honestly, I think today's such a waste. Spending the whole day on junk only to look at scenery. I mean looking at the scenery is nice but to spend the entire day? The view is beautiful-no doubt, the whole place is so picturesque. After cruising for what seemed forever, we finally reached the TiTop island. I climbed all the way up to the pavilion. The tour guide said that the whole trekking will take about 45 mins up and down, but we didn't really spent that much time. *The rest of the diary is confidential*

Third day. I woke up early just to catch the sunrise but unfortunately, there's none! Argh! Should have gotten more sleep. We are getting off the junk today and back to Hanoi. Then from Hanoi we are taking a train to Lao Cai. Before that, we will stop at the "Amazing Cave".

I didn't take much photos as it's very dark and the photos taken weren't really that good. So I won't bother posting up much here.

It was another 4 hours trip back to Hanoi. We took a night train to Lao Cai. Let me tell you, I am sooo scared! At first I am not really bothered that we are actually boarding a train but after getting on for the first five mins, the ride really scared the hell out of me. It was shaking terribly. It was on the bed that I realised that if give me a chance to take China's train I wouldn't dare. And wasn't Vietnam supposed to be worse than China? It shock violently! Oh my god, to make it worse I slept on the upper deck. You can feel the vibration a bit more vigorously. After a while I got used to it. I didn't really sleep well. I woke up and then sleep again, woke up and sleep. Furthermore there isn't any scenery so I was quite bored.

I purposely wore sluggish clothes because of what the tour guide said. She said that at sapa there are many ethnic minorities. And these minorities wear traditional clothes. They have this custom that they bring the girl they like home for three days. Within these three day, the guy will flatter the girl up and try to persuade her to marry him. At the end of the three day the girl will be offered three cup of wine. If she is satisfied with the guy, she will drink up all three cup. If she is not she will drink one cup of the wine and then smashed the cup on the ground. It is only then can the girl allowed to go back home. I wasn't afraid as I know I won't be bring home by some guy. I just don't feel like wearing nice clothes since everyone of them is wearing traditional clothes. Moreover I would look so out of place. In addition, they won't want a dark girl, their local girl would be better, more submissive.

We reached Lao Cai station at around 5 plus. The toilet was really cramp and when you sit on the toilet bowl, you can feel the wind gushing against your butt. Damn cold. Originally I had stomachache but after sitting on that toilet bowl, all the shit were gone. Really eerie. The first place the local tourguide brought us to was the Bacha market. The baby in the photo above is cute! It kept stretching up its hand to say "buy from us". From what I observed that's what the mother did.
At the market they sold all kinds of animals. From cat to cows. There's this one particular group of boys all acting punk. Their hair were gelled up. Somehow noticed me passing by and because of my dressing they know I am a tourist. So they called out to me "oie oie" . I was a bit pissed so I ignored them. The reason why I was pissed was that I noticed a lot of shops the owners were female and majority of them were carring baby. What were the male doing? Just when I was pissed about the guy not doing work, those group of punk ( age around 14-16) happened to disturb me. Ok, the truth is I think I sort of snarl at them. I know I am mean but the thought of male slacking off and just to "make baby" kind of irritate me. I don't really know if the males were slacking off but I do hope my assumption isn't true.
If the tradition of the moment male touched the female they must get married still exist, then I am this little guy's wife. Wahha. So cute. His mom was really happy when I took photo with him and asked me question but unfortunately I didn't know what exactly was she asking so I gave a blank look. Xp.We spent about 2 hours shopping in that area. I really saw a lot of stuffs that can't be found. Especially the soup they boiled. It was a 'any-o-how' mixed pig soup. As my grandma's memory is failing, she keeps cooking this kind of soup. It's really simple, just pour all meat into the soup and boiled it. But this 'any-o-how' soup is more scrumptous than grandma's. Grandma only put the meat and intestine, this one put every part of the body part into the soup. So it really disgust me.

"Any-o-how" soup.

After shopping we went the nearby village to take a look at the condition in which the villagers lived in. It's not any bigger than a five-room flat Though they have padi field. To be polite, the tourguide asked the villagers if we can take a look at their house. Of course they agreed but I can tell the ladies outside the house were a bit unhappy.The guys were watching tv in the house though, squatting on the floor. Neverthesless we still went in. Inside, it was really dirty. There's spider web on the ceiling. To add, the kitchen was the messiest of all. There were no bedrooms. So it was just the living room and the kitchen. Thank god I live in HDB.

We watched some kids played tops. And when one of them wins, we cheered. All of us cheered.

The ride down the mountains was really long. Many of my relatives vomited. We stopped by the border for a while. On the other side is China ( Yunnan). So basically if I were to cross the 200m wide river, I would be in China. Cool right? Later we proceed with an hour long ride to Sapa.

It was mountains and mountains, grass field and more grass field. So I somehow expect Sapa to be very "kampong like". When these buildings come into my view, I got a shock. There is a city on top of the mountain and to add , it is modernize . Very different from the kampong I saw earlier on.

The beds were really comfy! There's heater underneath the mattress , to add, Sapa was really cold so them moment I am in the room, I quickly snuggle into my bed. After washing up, we are going to visit the village.

The moment we alight from the coach, a group of kids start to crowd around us. Many of them are holding bamboo sticks and so they asked us if we want to buy from them. This girl greeted me once I alight from the coach. Being polite, I smiled back and then smartly she began to follow me. We talked and she told me she is eleven. She asked me back how old am I then with hesitation I told her I am seventeen. I know that people there married early so I don't think it is a good idea to tell them my age. She have three other siblings. Two elder sister. One is same age as me , married with two kids. From her I know that many of the kids there learn English from the tourist and their skills are much better than those in Hanoi. Strange as those working in Hanoi get in touch with the tourist more often than these villagers. So these kids brought along with them some pencil case, bracelet and scarfs to sell. It was sold at a very cheap price so I bought some for them for my girls. Then I bought a pencil case from the girl just to show gratitude for telling me her background and taking photo with me. She stopped schooling as they have no high school there, so it makes me feel fortunate. But everything has it pros and cons.

When we saw this pig, we were awed by its fat stomach. Haha! That pig led a luxurious life.

The fields were really beautiful. It was so beautiful that we don't find that hour and a half long walk tiring! We were busy looking at the scenery, shooing off the kids because they were busy bugging us to buy stuffs from them.

This is their so call primary school. Their classroom was really cute! I really like it! They were doing morning exercise but they were really dancing. The teacher just played the music and then they danced.

Next day, free and easy. We decided to shop around the area. There is this big field where people just set up stalls and sell whatever they have. Most of the stalls sold scarfs. I bought three. And the third one was the same as the first scarf I bought. ARGH! I was trick! I thought it was a different scarf. The scarfs are all folded up so you cannot see the full pattern of the scarf. So the way the two scarfs displayed were completely different. Sad~ Waste money.

Most of the women there wear traditional clothes.

Some alley we went to. The stall keeper was busying sewing a pouch ( which she had a lot to sell to). We noticed that some of her fingers were black. Apparently she sew till her fingers turn black. I don't why maybe she kept pricking her fingers then got blood clot and then they turn blue black eventually black? After shopping we went back hotel to pack up and check out of the hotel. Back to the train station and back on the train.

This time I wasn't as scared as I was back then. We were going back to Hanoi. Back to Hanoi and check in the same hotel. As we reached home in the morning and the train doesn't have any cafeteria where we can buy stuffs , we decided to send a representative from each family (there's five family) to buy something back for the whole BIG BIG FAMILY. So my second and third uncle, my aunt, two friends of my third aunt and me went on a shopping trip. Not many of the stalls were opened in the morning so we walked really far just to buy breakfast. The trip was quite funny. We managed to find a stall where the aunt sell bread. As Vietnamese loved beef, they usually put them into their bread but being taoist/buddhist, we don't eat beef. Also Chinese don't usually beef because buffalo are usually used to plough ( can't remember the word) the field. Out of respect we don't eat beef. They already helped us to plough the field still we want to eat their meat, isn't it a bit cruel?

So my uncle pointed to the aunt that we don't want beef. Because they don't understand beef, the adults all went (moo!~) .

"No moo~"

Damn funny! I was laughing damn hard at my elders. Then my aunt saw some duck meat so just in case she want to confirm it.

You know how she ask? Same thing. First she point to the meat and then give a questioning look.

"Quack? Quack?" She sort of leap into the air. HAHAHA!

Then stall aunt replied by doing the same thing, "Quack Quack" and leaping into the air.

Last day, free and easy. We went to Dongsuam market. There's really not much to buy. So we decided to go for lunch. We decided to try out the stalls by the street. Only me,second uncle, second and third aunt and the two friends went shopping. The rest and my cousins went back hotel to play. My dad was sick he had diarrhea (hint hint) so he stayed at the hotel the whole day. Their beef which cause S$2-$2.50 depending on the stall. It was yummy!

I walk until my feet was aching. We went back hotel to rest for awhile before shopping again. This time, they shop for bags. I bought mine heehee. Branded one. heehee. Won't say anymore. At 7.30 we went to watch the water puppet show. A lot of french people and also some American teenagers here for an exchange. They were so excited that they took photos and photos and photos and photos! I can tell you out of the $4, I only watched $2.50 worth of the show. It was really boring, doesn't have a story and that the scene keep repeating like..: act 2 :dragon swimming. And then it showed how the dragon kept swimming and swimming and swimming and swimming. I can't help but fall asleep and strangely, while I was sleeping I was completely aware I was asleep. So in my dream, I told myself to open my eyes and wake up which I did. Amazing right? The best part was the show casing of an ancient instrument. I was sooo mesmerised by that instrument. Never see any instrument like it and it really sounds.. I don't know how to say, but the instrument is really expressive, not the musician, the instrument. As in the instrument itself is very expressive. So no matter how you play, it sounds really emotional.

When we got out the theater, a lot of my relatives were yawning. My mum slept, only my bro and my sis didn't. OH yeah, there were toy shops selling nothing but soft toys! Even a big big bear!! I wanted to get one as it is cheaper but my mum wont let. She say that our luggage will exceed the weight limit. Sad~ So I just took a photo with the toys. SAD~ SAD~ SAD~

The day has come where we have to return to Singapore. The nice hotel people woke up early just to make breakfast for us. So nice! But the journey to airport is frustrating. There was this particular junction where the green light was on for 20 seconds and then red light for a minute. Therefore we were really worried that we might not be able to catch our plane. After passing the junction our drive step on the gas pedal, driving at full speed. It was okay since the road we took had hardly any cars. Lucky or unlucky, we happened to pass by an accident. It appears that a truck drove into the train's track and the photo below show the truck. The train have no choice but to stop moving. Thank god when I was on the train nothing happened. Wahha.

Within a few moments, the airport was in sight. Wasn't really glamorous and all. It really is a small place. And then the airport was really packed! But thank god we didn't miss our flight. Vietnam airline not bad. Although on the outside the plane looks crappy but the inside is really neat. Though there's no video but still they have radio. So I still can listen to Korean songs. haha!

Overall it's still quite enjoyable. But after I reached home, I had stomachache so. You guys know what to do when you want to visit Vietnam. The air also damn polluted.

There's this guy in the hotel next to ours, price hotel? He works at night helping tourist to carry luggage. OMG his quite cute lah! Kind of look like Korean. ^^ but too bad I can't see him anymore. 

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P.s : Edited on 12/03/2012. This blog post is at least five years old. Some parts were edited and others were left to convey the feelings of that time. Meant for leisure reading, should it help you in your planning of itinery, would be great. Otherwise, refrain from using this as a main reference.