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Trip Report North Vietnam - such a delight!

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We travelled to North Vietnam in May 2013. Here are some of my notes that are yet to be transferred to my blog! I will get there.

We sit here totally fogged in. Sapa is really foggy and now drizzling and visibility is non existent. Not sure if we have to make a call to return to Hanoi and maybe do a beach town for a couple of days. The trip has been awesome and very full on. It is a bit of sensory overload at first with many sights, smells and noises to take in but awesome none-the-less.

{Hanoi}
Booked a room for the day just so we could drop our bags somewhere. It was called Charming Hotel and for US$18, really cannot complain. The room had no window which was quite interesting but the staff were fantastic and it was in a great little lane way with an abundance of local life to see. We booked a street food tour with Mark of the 'Sticky Rice' blog and it was fantastic. I must say though, it was quite funny when a local merchant threw a chilly at me for being in the way of a potential customer. You would certainly understand the humour of it but reality is, there are thousands of merchants in Hanoi and I was left wondering how they all make a living. This certainly sets the context for the chilly throwing woman!! Thank god we have hotel room for the day as as we could shower after our street food tour and in time for the overnight train. The street food tour was awesome and Mark had heaps of knowledge about great food and the local culture. The Pho was amazing! You should definitely do this tour!

{Sapa Overnight Train}
Booked with an agency and the little terror was early picking us up from our hotel. Meant we were scrambling to get our showers finished and the other tourists seemed frustrated but hey, not our problem! The train itself was a hoot and it was called 'The Orient' and was booked through Train to Sapa online for only US$75 pp return. We shared our cabin with two french girls who were lovely but very basic english. We were so tired from all the transit and walking around Hanoi that the swaying of the train just rocked us off to sleep. The beds were sufficient I guess given we slept so well. Arrived in Lao Cai at 5 am and straight to the market with our private tour. It was a blessing to have a private driver waiting for us at the station with a little sign and my name! We booked Twee (who was just gorgeous) through our accommodation provider in Sapa.

{Bac Ha Markets}
I am so glad we had a good driver as I imagine it could get pretty hairy. On the wrong side of the road on ocassion as a big truck comes along. Our driver handled this with ease though and I have a strong stomach. The scenery is amazing on the 2 hour drive and we both manage to sleep part of the drive. The markets themselves are full of beautiful hand woven products, livestock for sale, a wet market that has meat chopped up just sitting there in the open (all incredibly fresh though), produce and medicinal herbs from local tribes and this amazing open area with little food stalls were the locals meet and have Pho with intestines. Mmmmm, yummy. Grey food somehow does not work for me! I especially loved the wet market here and it was a really great day. Worth doing a private tour as you get there much earlier than the tour buses. By lunch time it was crazy busy with tourists.

Afterwards we went for a 3 km walk to a local village. We were able to walk through a hut and it is so basic with dirt floors and an open fire they cook on. They have a telly though. Got the important things covered off. The scenery is magic on the way so it was a good glimpse at how locals live. Such a lovely day.

{Sapa}
Drive to Sapa another two hours. Everything in Vientam requires loads of travel! We get here and our accommodation as amazing gardens. The B&B is Sapa Gardens B&B and just lovely and very good value for money. We are a couple of km's out of Sapa so have a shower and head in. We had planned to hire a scooter to hoon around but, oh my lord. Totally fogged in with no visibility. Had arranged a taxi through B&B and when dropped off, people all around us. Again, everyone is fascinated by my daughter's stretched ears and has been so funny to watch them as they look and try and touch her ears!! Had dinner at a lovely little place - but cannot remember the name. I think Sapa is a little touristy for my liking but we ventured in most days. We had thought about returning to Hanoi early with the weather but decided to stay. We had to buy fake North Face jackets last night because it was bloody cold. Can you believe it! We were trying to find the heat. I certainly did not think that would happen.

Will continue ......

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