Thursday, February 25, 2010
Wow! I can't believe it is almost the end of February already - time is going so quickly, I have almost been in Vietnam for a month and my time is almost up :(
I spent 2 days in Hanoi while waiting for my Laos visa to be processed as I decided that I would cross over the northern border by bus rather than fly. During that time I met a couple of French boys in my dorm with guitars, and knowing me and music i got sucked in hook line and sinker and ended up buying myself a guitar for about $20 - just a little one, for me to carry around and play. I ended up spending most of my time in Hanoi playing guitar subsequently, we got a bit of a band happening and other guitarists and musicians just joined in on a jam on the side of the road outside the bar where our hostel is. Think we brought them in quite a bit of business too!!
So naughty me, didn't end up doing a whole lot of tourist stuff while in Hanoi. I did go to the prison, which was interesting, and went and saw the water puppets which was amazing! They are extremely intricate, i took some video of it, and at the end of the show they lifted the curtains to show that they are only manourvering the puppets with bamboo rods, but there must be wires or something inside the pole as they can make the puppets do all these crazy sorts of things. for example, at one time they had 4 dragons swimming around, overlapping and spitting water at each other! Definitely worth seeing if you are in Vietnam.
I am now in Sapa in northern Vietnam, I arrived here very very early wednesday morning after a sleeper train from hanoi to lau cai. That was an interesting experience! I actually slept quite well I think, but still woke up tired (understandably) at 4am when we arrived. I ended up being on a 'luxury' sleeper train and had 3 vietnamese in my room who spoke French. My passport fell out of my pocket as I was on the top bunk and they were kind enough to give it back to me! It did take a while to get to sleep initially though, because one of them had some vietnamese music playing from his phone as loud as possible, and I am definitely not the best sleeper.
After arriving in Sapa in the morning I had some breakfast at the guest house I chose from the collection of women 'selling' their guesthouses on arrival to the town. Then I put on my hiking boots and headed into town to walk to Cat Cat village which is one of many villages where many of the handicrafts are made. Almost immediately after leaving the hotel I had a few ladies following me trying to sell me their jewellery, clothing and other souviners. One particular old lady 'Me' from the H'mong people followed me for at least 2km down the mountain side towards the village, (hopefully the photo has attached itself) so I ended up feeling sorry for her and caved in and bought some earrings from her. Walking down the mountain wasn't so bad, coming up though was a completely different story! oh so high!! I ended up getting blisters from that walk alone, before I had even started my home stay so that wasn't the best. The views were amazing though. Because of those blisters I began to second-guess myself as to whether it was the smartest idea to go on a 2day trek and home-stay. However, when I was in Hanoi I'd had this discussion about not wasting our lives (think it was based on a John Piper book that I'm going to have to read at some stage), so decided that I would give it a go regardless of the pain...
It is now Friday afternoon and I have just arrived back at the guesthouse I am staying at after a 2 day trek. To say that I am a bit weary is an understatement. We trekked I think 17km on Thursday and about another 13km today. I'm scared to take off my boots as I know the blisters are going to be BAD!! I'll update on the last 24 hours in another post after I've had a shower and some clean clothes and hopefully my brain will be in working order again!