Vietnam Diary Part one

Hi guys, as promised I finally want to share everything about my trip to Vietnam with you. Let me say this first: It was amazing! I was a little nervous about going to Asia I have to admit, but it was simply incredible.

We started our trip in Hanoi, which is the capital of Vietnam with more than 6 million inhabitants. When we got there I was so tired from our 17 hour flight that I really wasn’t capable of coping with all the hassle in the city. It was loud, it was full of motorbikes and it was freaking hot. After a good long sleep though, I was finally able to appreciate the city. Yes, it is loud and busy and yes, it doesn’t smell too good. BUT: The houses in Hanoi are so pretty. Most of them are quite old and a little deteriorated, but they still have their own individual charm. It reminded me of those old houses in colonial style. Also, there were so many cute cafés and stores, I really didn’t expect that. Of course you could also find those typical street markets in Hanoi, which I found hard to deal with. From all the different food the smell there was really unbearable and we saw so many animals in cages wich were about to be killed, it was so sad. Still it was an experience. What was really great about the markets though, were the different fruits they sold there. You could get everything there and it tasted so different from german food because it was just really fresh.

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Lantern Lounge in Hanoi

From Hanoi we traveled to Sapa, Lao Cai. It’s an eight hour train ride to get there and we took a sleeping compartment as our journey started at nine in the evening. This was honestly no fun. The ride was so bumpy, the air conditioner was either blowing in our faces or they stopped it completely which left us with no air at all. And as in most trains the toilets were a disaster. However, it’s the best way to get to Sapa, which you definitely shouldn’t miss on your journey. For a train ticket it is best to go to the train station yourself. Of course you can also purchase tickets online or at your hotel, but then they are much more expensive. We only paid 20 $ per Ticket while the more comfortable way leaves you with a 43 $ bill.

From Lao Cai train station it’s an approximately one hour bus ride. I was so tired I just wanted to sleep but I honestly couldn’t get my eyes of the beautiful landscape. I have never in my life seen something similar. Everything was so green, you could see ricefields and mountains and the early sun bathed the landscape in such a beautiful color.
When we arrived at Sapa station, a dozen of screaming women welcomed us. Those are the so called Hamong women, an indigene tribe in Asia. They sell the most beautiful fabrics and offer tours through the ricefields and to their homes. After checking in to our hotel we needed some breakfast, which led us to the café Sapa O’Chau. However, Sapa O’Chau is not only a café, but an organisation for the education of children. They also offer homestays, tours and typical Hamong products. Thus, every product you buy, every tour you take part in and every coffee you drink helps to better educate children in Sapa. I was really impressed by how business oriented those women were.

We stayed in Sapa for two nights and had the best time ever. We rent a motorbike to go to the different villages in Sapa, such as Lao Chai or Cat Cat. I can’t even describe in proper words how unique this experience was. It was not only the ricefields and those beautiful green colors that took my breath away. There were animals everywhere, from dogs to ducks, pigs and bulls, they were simply walking on those streets, something that is so normal for people living there and yet so strange and unbelievable for us. The houses, where those people lived in, were so basic. Even less than basic most of the time. But what impressed me the most were the people we met during our trip. There were so many children and they were playing football with bottle caps or chinese jump rope and they were so happy when they saw us driving by, always greeting us and trying out there english. And they just seemed so happy although their life standard doesn’t even come close to our western ones. I was really touched by that.

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From Sapa we took the train back to Hanoi and took the next train to Ninh Binh which cost around 3 $ if you buy the ticket at the train station and takes around 2,5 hours. Ninh Binh is said to be the dry Halong Bay. As we didn’t go to Halong Bay, because we think it is just too touristic, it was nice to see something comparable. For me, it was a good choice, because Ninh Binh was really nice and not as touristic. All those rocks and lakes looked really amazing and there were palm trees and animals everywhere. Of course we also did a boat tour in Trang An (a village in Ninh Binh), passing giant rocks, temples and driving through caves. Such a tour cost around 6 $ per person and is totally worth the money. Again, we rent a motorbike and drove to the Mua caves. There we walked up the Lying Dragon and had the most amazing view over Ninh Binh. From there we made it to Tam Coc, another little village and a more touristic but still very nice one. There are plenty of little shops and restaurants and of course you can also do a boat trip there. We also visited the Bich Dong Pagoda there. From there you had a really nice view over Tam Coc and it was really interesting to see that the buddha was in a cave. When we made our way back it was already starting to get dark which made it kind of scary to go back through the cave. But of course it was our only way out.

IMG_0103 IMG_0093 IMG_0089 IMG_0088 IMG_0087 IMG_0080Our home in Ninh Binh. The cutest bamboo houses ever.

Next wednesday I’m gonna tell you more about my travel in central Vietnam.

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