Sorry that this blog post is again so long. I’m will try to improve. This is what happend the last days:
I booked a 3 day tour to Halong Bay at the Hostel in Hanoi. Halong means descending Dragon. The bay is full of little, completely untouched islands with huge rocks on them. We took the bus from our Hostel to Halong City to take the boot from there. On the way I saw a lot of flooded rice fields and also factories of Panasonic, Canon and Foxconn. We were a group of about 20 people. Most of them were couples. Once we arrived at the boat, we checked into our rooms there. I shared a room with the only other guy that came their on his own ;).
The first day was amazing. We had good weather. The scenery was unbelievable beautiful and I tried my best to capture it with my camera. We saw a lot of other tour ships on our way. Halong Bay is probably the main attraction of Vietnam. On the way we did a lot of activities. We visited a cave, went hiking, swimming and kayaking. It was so much fun! We also got spoiled with great lunch and dinner. At the end of this day the crew tried to make us sing karaoke. Not many people were interested and even those who where didn’t find much songs that they knew. So I had to help out and I made a great performance of “Land down under” and “Stille Nacht” ;). After that the room was empty pretty quickly and I followed the others to the rooftop of the boot ;). It was dark, the crew continued to do karaoke on their own for at least another hour and we enjoyed the view of the bay at night while drinking a few beers and talking to each other. After that we went to bed and slept very well
On the second day it was rainy and misty. We went to Cat Ba Island and took the bus to the nature park there. It was closed because of the heavy rain. The administration said that we can not enter because it’s to slippery and dangerous. So the bus went on to the hotel. During the day the weather improved and we took the boat to Monkey Island. Monkey Island is known for, you probably guessed it, MONKEYS! But when we arrived there we didn’t see any. So a few of us went hiking. The path was super steep and very often is was more like climbing than hiking. The ones of us that only brought flip flops went back as it was just too difficult for them. After an half hour hiking we were exhausted and relaxed in the water. While we cooled down in there, we noticed that a crowd was gathering around a tree. So we went out of the water and a few monkeys sat there. People feed them cookies and someone even gave them a can of Fanta. It was fun watching them as they ate the food very human like. These monkey weren’t shy at all. We were all standing just about a meter away from them. I took a few pictures and made a video. Later we left and went back to the hotel. We spent the night together in a nearby bar. We found the bar cause staff put a flyer on our hotel dinner table. The bar claimed, I quote, to be a “great place for foreigners”. So we just had to go there
The last day of the Halong Bay Tour wasn’t very exciting. We were all dropped at our hotels. I waited a few hours at the hostel and then I took the night train to Sapa. Sapa is a small town in the north of Vietnam. It’s a famous hiking place. It was so much cooler there, we had only about 20 degrees Celsius. After 2 months of hot weather I really enjoyed this climate. I remember someone saying “I missed being cold”. So this night was the first night I slept without an AC, but with a blanket since a while.
The next day I meet a few Australian guys that I knew from the Hanoi Hostel again in Sapa. They were planning to hire a motorbike and to discover the area. Me and 2 others decided to go with them, as we didn’t had better plans. I actually didn’t want to drive. But everyone told me that an automatic motorbike is super easy to drive and that there would be no reason for me to be scared of that. I decided to do it and we left. And yeah, they were right, it was surprisingly easy. The first place we went to was a waterfall. When we saw the waterfall we stopped and parked our motorbikes. The way we chose to walk to the waterfall was super steep and soon turned out to be the completely wrong way. So we went back and discovered that the actual way to the waterfall was just around the corner at the road we were coming up the mountain. This way was much easier to walk up and we got a beautiful view of the waterfall :). Now we were hungry. So we went back to the motorbikes and drove down the road in the hope to find a restaurant. We found one after about an half hour of driving. Now we felt stronger again and went on our way to the next waterfall. This one was much nicer and bigger. All the fog made it feels like we’re in a tropical jungle. Just that it was way too cool for that. Then we decided to go back to the hotel. On the way back, I fell a bit behind and after a while I couldn’t see any of the other motorbikes anymore. Then I suddenly saw them again at the side of the road, standing there. I stopped and they told me that one of them fell. The motorbike slipped on a piece of mud on the street and the boy and the girl sitting on it fell with it. They both had wounds on their elbows and knees. The locals guided us to a pharmacy nearby. We bought some disinfect there and used the bandage of my first aid kit to take care of the wounds. So this day was the first time I drove a motorbike and also the first time I needed to use my first aid kit.
For the next 2 days I had booked a hiking tour with home stay. Claire, my ex roommate from this Hostel did it before and liked it. I walked with a woman from the H’mong tribe. The H’mong people are a minority in Vietnam. They only have a few villages around Sapa. They look very different from regular Vietnamese people. They are excellent hikers and offer private tours to earn some money. My guide was called Sah. She was 34 years old and gave birth to a baby just one month ago. She carried it on her back. We walked a few hours from Sapa to her village. The first 2 hours it rained cats and dogs. The way was very muddy and I nearly fell a bunch of times. Sah, who is much smaller than me, had to hold me a few times. When we arrived at the village, my shoes were soaked and fully covered with mud. She walked the whole way with plastic sandals without even slipping once. At her house I met her husband and her other 2 sons. They cooked over fire a delicious meal for everyone. I was told before by other travelers, that a lot of rice wine will be consumed over food. This turned out to be right, about every 5 minutes her husband wanted to drink a shot of rice wine with me. When food was finished, we had also finished a bottle of rice wine
The next day I felt surprisingly ok, despite all the rice wine of the previous day. We started walking the way back to Sapa. On our way, we saw a Vietnamese guy on a motorbike falling. Luckily I had a bandage and a disinfect with me. I told my guide to tell him that I can help him. I took care of his wounds on leg and knee. Even though he didn’t speak a word English, I clearly saw that he really appreciated what I did. After all this hospitality that I got, it felt got to give something back. This was the second time within 3 days that I took care of the wounds of a motorbike accident. I ran out of bandage now and I need to buy some new soon.
When I arrived in Sapa, I took a sleeping bus to Hanoi. Once I arrived there, I booked at my old hostel a sleeping train to Dong Hoi. Around Dong Hoi is a national park. The park is famous for its huge caves. The day after I arrived there, I did a tour to two of these caves. The first cave we entered in a boat. It was light out with colored spotlights. It looked beautiful! I took some long exposure shots there.
That’s it so far! Enjoy the pictures!