Sa Pa at last!

Motorbike diaries day 3…

BEST DAY EVER!!!

Like seriously amazing day today.. so we left Son La early it was a bit of a challenge getting Joe out of bed but I managed it! And off we went heading in the direction of Sa Pa. I don’t even know how to describe today it was too brilliant, the best views I have ever seen. The road is the highest in Vietnam and we went past the biggest dam too. The roads went from being brand new tarmac to what I think we’d call off roading at home. We also had a strange encounter at a road side cafe where the toilet was in a pig sty. With a bad of pigs most bizarre. Northern Vietnam is truly  beautiful. We arrived early and settled into a nice little hotel, just to add it is freezing like being at the top of Snowdon. Pictures could never do what I have seen today justice but I don’t have the words to describe the views so they will have to do!!

Oh yeah and I got a new pink shiny helmet and I love it!! Never taking it off… might even sleep with it on.

img_8856img_8857img_8862img_8866img_8827img_8867img_8868img_8869img_8832img_8874img_8876img_8879img_8881img_8885img_8883img_8887img_8894img_8889img_8897img_8900img_8910img_8909img_8912img_8920img_8921img_8923img_8925

Enjoy, Paris X

Advertisements

Motorbike Diaries

Motorbike diaries – Day 1 

We picked hettie up this morning and she seemed in good working order, one of the hardest bits was getting back to the hostel the roads are busy and insane. But we took it slow stayed in the bike lane and stopped if we were unsure of the way. I settled up at the hostel and Joe packed the bags. Then we strapped them on and off we went.

img_8819img_8810

Joe was stressed and I could tell… the roads were mad. And I was a bit stressed on the back plus he’s not used to having the extra weight of all the bags on the bike. But we made it guys. I must admit I did say a little prayer when we got out of Hanoi. our destination was Mai Chau. It was the closet place that looked good slightly North west of Hanoi if anyones looking at a map which I know some of you are (Pops). So we kept going stopped for some lunch but no-one spoke english we ended up with some peanuts, dried fish and a crate of beer!! Don’t worry we had 1 beer each Joe ate the fish I tried it but not to my liking and I ate the peanuts also not my fave but they did. Then we carried on. Its hard work Joe was tired and my legs hurt sat on the bike. But oh my god I do not regret one minute of it the views were amazing. Joe seems to have the hang of when to beep the horn and it feels like we are proper traveling now!! loved every minute of today. We arrived at out destination at 17.00 it was just getting dark and we saw the most beautiful sunset!!! We’d researched a few home stays and were on route to one when a man pulled up beside us and asked where we were from. we told him Wales and he offered us a business card and said “follow me” we were dubious but went ahead… he took us through some fields and we got covered in hay literally they were throwing it over us as we rode through. We pulled up at a home stay he said “have a look” and then vanished. I went to see the room and it was nice £11 for both of us, one night stay dinner and breakfast. We snapped it up. The dinner was delicious and everyone who lives in this family run business seems to be so friendly all in all a really good call.

img_8830img_8825

Plus I used there wifi to sort this blog up and message home a few times!! Breakfast was great and the whole place had a really nice feeling. So in the morning we got up ate our brekky (american banana pancakes with local honey) and off we set. Watch this space…

Motorbike diaries –  Day 2

We left our lovely home stay and decided this was going to be a long one. The first half was so beautiful mountains like I have never seen them before covered in forrest.

img_8857

Vast spaces with local people farming and little villages where everyone just seems to do be working hard and full of smiles. Bearing in mind we’re still getting used to the bike, and the roads it was quite along day after setting off a little later than expected we stopped at just over halfway just outside Moc Chau for some food. Joe said that i’d pulled the short straw and had to try and order which can be challenging in these small villages as no-one speak any english and we’re still getting to grips with Vietnamese. Joe managed to get the drinks sorted.. 2 bottles of water and a can of coke. Now for the food, we observed the locals for a while and they all appeared to be getting a lot of food each we weren’t that hungry but I just fancied some plain rice or something. I bullied Joe into ordering, I think the vietnams think we’re some kind of comedy show this man just pulled up his chair and watched our conversation with a beaming smile on his face. Anyway Joe noticed that someone else had ordered rice so pointed and then tried to mime small as we did not want a whole platter of food. The owner seamed confused and pointed to a whole load of meat asking Joe which one we wanted Joe tried to explain just rice for about 15minutes then gave up and pointed at the pork. After pork and rice is a healthy meal and it wouldn’t go to waste. I could have guessed what was about to happen next as the waitress brought over a tray of soup, pork, rice, vegetables and an assortment of dips and sauces. Ah well we tried the whole thing came to 80,000dong so that just under £2 with the drinks as well.

img_8842

It was delicious too, even if we were very full when we got back on the bike. The roads are just amazing the bike is defiantly not been regretted saying that is it hard work… my bum really hurts after 2 days and i’m not even driving Joe seems to be fairing up well though and handling the roads well. Its slow progress because the bike is heavy with all our shit on it, that said though I have been made to dump things :(. Sadly the no7 face cream had to go… although Jenny if you’re reading I have managed to keep hold of my leg scrub (for now)!!! Winner! We stopped a few more times in the afternoon mainly to get water and apply some sun cream as it is HOT today, and Joe was starting to look a little pink. The km’s were counting down and we were getting excited to reach our destination of Son La, now Son La is a province so we’d already been in there for some time but we’d decided that the best place to stay would be the town. We actually took a wrong turn (i have to admit my trusted map app on the iPhone and my navigation skills were to fault here) but we found it in the end and settled down in a little coffee shop to look online for somewhere to stay it was about 15.30 so no major rush. We took this opportunity to text our dads who were both trying to help Joe out with some online banking that quite frankly he should have sorted out before we left the uk!!!  The hotels and hostel online were all expensive so we used our best vietnams to get directions to a home stay. We found one in about 2minutes and I started haggling the price down. The rooms not very clean and not very nice and doesn’t include breakfast but we got it for 160,000dong (just under £6 if my maths doesn’t fail me). So it’ll do!

Paris X

Sorry mums…

You all remember that night I was telling you about when we got drunk and pissed the hostel people off… well theres more. Joe and I made an important decision that night. We decided that these buses aren’t for us. We don’t want to go where EVERYONE goes. The only things we’ve argued about so far have been money and motorbikes and I have to be honest! On this one I backed down he was right!!! (I Know it does not happen very often) So we decided that the next morning before leaving Hanoi we would buy a motorbike! We’ve hired bikes in Pai and in Laos, as a test run, and I was a nervous passenger at first but I trust Joe and really some of the buses we’ve got on, I think the bus drivers are a lot more dangerous.

So off we went on the search for the perfect bike we’d been to the prison (museum) and were heading home admiring all the bikes for sale and looking at various shops. When I spotted a British couple struggling to attach a lot of bags to a very sexy motorbike. Hmm I thought and I looked at Joe “shall I ask them where they brought that” I said “go for it” Joe replied. So I stopped and asked them… they told me where they’d got it from and the advice they had it seemed pretty sound and they, like us seemed pretty sensible so we wished them luck and headed back to the hostel. Joe immediately set to googling the place and it had really good reviews and was within walking distance. So need I say it off we set… it was BUSY all british/european couples buying and selling bikes. We looked at a few and waited patiently for some guidance from the guy who worked there because to be honest neither of us really know much about motorbikes. So we got some assistance and it was explained to us some were £100/150 and he said they would be brill for 1 person. But I cannot ride a motorbike and am still recovering from mild injuries after trying to ride a moped at 2mph so we asked whats good for 2. He showed us one that looked pretty cool and very comfortable but to be honest a little more than what we wanted to pay at £400. This was a big powerful bike aswell so we asked for something a bit cheaper. He at this point showed us the mid range £200  and good for 2 his advice was it will struggle up hills with 2 and all the bags but its not impossible. We asked to look at the bikes in this range… 2 left. So obviously we asked what he would recommend and he showed us the bike. Joe took her for a test drive and said it seemed all legit. Brakes were good, tires brand new and he showed us reports of all the work it had undergone since they had it. We were sold and she was a beaut!!! She went off to the garage to have a final service and the racks for the luggage welded on. She came with 2 helmets and a complementary map and phone holder/usb charger.

img_8811

I’ve named her Hettie the Honda, Joe says that you can’t name a bike and that its gay, but I think he’s wrong. And with our lack of bike knowledge we don’t even know if she’s a Honda… but thats what i’m going to call her from now on in. So wish us luck but don’t worry!!! Love to you all.

– note from Joe; The bike is not called Hettie, it doesn’t have a name. This is because it is a motorbike, and that is what I will call it: The bike –

Paris X

Getting started in Vietnam…

As i’ve already mentioned, we arrived and this city (Hanoi) is mad… with a capital M. 10 times busier than Bangkok and just insane you take your life in your own hands while crossing the street and it feels like the pavements are more dangerous than the roads sometimes. This for us was also our first “hostel” experience. We came to Asia thinking we’d be in “dorms” the whole time sharing with other people etc. But it just hasn’t been cheaper. In fact, it has been a lot more expensive than getting a private room so up until now it has been private rooms all the way! (apart from when we shared in Luang Prabang with Char and Con but that doesn’t count they are basically family now). This hostel was different though as its all double beds interesting… £7 for the pair of us 3 hours of free beer every evening and….. free breakfast. Not bad at all. the room was lush very clean. We settled in and headed out for dinner… met some lovely people and true Joe and Paris style got hammered. How we got home I don’t even know this place is like a maze! If I was on my own I honestly don’t think i’d leave the room.

Successful first day! Not sure our room mates were too impressed with us rocking up at go dknows what time putting all the lights on then falling out of our top bunk and trying to watch a documentary  at full volume haha. Woops. We’d planned to get up early the next day and go to see Hoa Lo prison. But needless to say with this hangover no-one was getting up early. We had a lie in and waited for all are room mates to get gone before showing our faces. I was very sick I did actually think I was dying at one point and when we did make it to the prison I nearly fainted about 10 times the cells were looking quite appealing, think that it was dehydration, a terrible hangover and lack of food from the epic bus journey the day before. But on a serious note when I did mange to pull myself together Hoa Lo prison was really really interesting learnt a lot about the Vietnamese war and all about American pilots being imprisoned there would definitely recommend if anyones on their way to Hanoi anytime soon.

img_8806

 We bottled it when it came to local food that night as I was still feeling ill, we got a pizza and had a chilled evening catching up on the apprentice and watching some of the go pro footage. Hanoi is good but the plan is to depart tomorrow… watch this space.

Paris X

Little 4 week update!

Hello everyone and first of all I must say thank you all for ready cannot quite believe the traffic we’re getting and for those of you that have been commenting keep it coming we love reading your comments and makes us not miss you all quite as much!!!

Also sorry for the quietness for the last week and then overload today i’ve written everything as I go but been having issues with the wifi connection and WordPress website for some reason so thought i’d make the most of it now. For those of you that don’t know we have now been in Vietnam for 3 days we’ve moved north from Hanoi where we started but there will be a blog on that to come explaining all so you’ll have to wait for that one i’m afraid! If anyone did have any doubts (which i’m sure you don’t) we are having the best time and still love each other very much despite a few hiccups along the way!!!  (just joking honestly everything is fine!!!)

There is a new youtube video which i’m sure most of you have already seen but i’m going to post it here for the grandparents who are I know may be less familiar with the ins and outs of Facebook and youtube alike! Featuring in this video is myself, Joseff and the infamous Charlotte and Connor… We miss you guys loads and just hope we get to catch up with you soon (they’ve gone south while we’v gone north for the mean time). The video goes back in time to the amazing 4 nights we spent in Pai comments, likes, shares and subscriptions are all greatly appreciated and please remember we miss you all and love you all loads.

Paris and Joe XX

The night bus.

This was well and truly an experience I will not be forgetting for a while. We arrived at the bus stop via a mini van but the bus didn’t leave for ages so we had to wait which was fine. We got on and its more reclining seats than actual beds but thats okay we got settled in and both started reading our books! I started listening to some music and tried to sleep for a bit but wasn’t really that tired so got the book back on. Joe suggested that on the floor there were mattresses and the bus didn’t seem to be full so maybe we should sleep down there.

We moved downstairs and started watching some pre-recorded stuff on the laptop to try and help us sleep. Eventually I think I must have just fallen asleep when there was an almighty BANG. Everyone was suddenly awake. Turns out the bus was a bit broken and they were jacking it up to try and change the hell at the side of the road. Interesting. Anyway we carried on and I fell back asleep until BANG. Not again I thought but yes same problem something not quite right with a wheel.  Eventually the driver and his mate appeared satisfied that the wheels on the bus were all in working order and off we went again. Phew everyone seemed relieved we had a lot of toilet breaks as well but I didn’t leave my seat. In the middle of the night it started to pour down with rain we hit a really heavy monsoon. And much to my horror Joe discovered that it was raining on the inside of the bus as well as none of the windows had be sealed properly. the drivers friend ushered everyone down the front of the bus and we had to cram into the empty beds there but we all still got pretty wet. Oh well! Woke up and we were at the Laos border. It was slight chaos, young local lads running around all over the place but they seemed to sort us brits out pretty quickly. Half of our bus had decided that they had to walk to Vietnam now and off they went (idiots) Joe and I got back on the bus and waited for them to return. The Vietnamese border was pretty similar organised chaos!

img_8797

Right only 7ish more hours on this bus, lets go. No wait get your bags… new bus now and a new driver. This driver was the most annoying man I have ever encountered. At the time I thought it was just him but turns out this is the done thing in Vietnam are you ready for this… he drove right up behind every passing vehicle and then beeped the horn. I counted one minute and he beeped 38 times!!! This went on for the whole bus journey we were ready to strangle him.  I must at this point mention that the last time I ate was now yesterday lunch time i’ve hardly had any sleep we left our water on the previous bus and have no money in this currency. So the next 6/7 hours were long. We eventually pulled up at a  scrap yard thinking this can surely not be it! We were then put into taxis and had to pay for the last 10k. It wasn’t too much of a cheek really, it seems to be the norm around here and the whole bus had cost us about £15 each which at the end of the day is nothing considering that was that nights accommodation aswell!!!

img_8800img_8798

First impressions of Hanoi and Vietnam MAD…. lets see what the next few days in this crazy city have to offer us.

Paris X

Vientiane and the end of Laos for now…

We only stayed one night in Vientiane, got the bus there and it was pretty straight forward then checked into our accommodation that needs a special mention, it was actually a cell. I’ve heard some rough things about the prisons out here but they sound tempting to be honest after a night in this place no wonder it was cheaper than everywhere else! Think we paid about £7 for that night which is good between two of us. But it did leave me wanting for our little jungle hut in Pai which felt like a steal at a healthy £3 a night. Anyway we didn’t let this dishearten us and headed of for some food, Vientiane is known for good food so we splashed out and I have to say it was nice, and by splashed out we paid £19 for starters, mains and at least 2 beers each! So it still is a steal really. The first night that was all we did really, we found a little bar afterwards with cocktails so thought we’d share a large one before heading back to sleep. It took ages to try and explain what we wanted and I think what we ended up with was non alcoholic, well whatever it was it wasn’t very pleasant so we ditched that and headed back to the room (sorry I mean cell). I had the worst nights sleep of my life and spent all night watching Holby City and Casualty, 6 episodes in total. In the end at half 5 Joe let me share the bottom bunk with him and I got a few hours sleep.

img_8775

We had to check out at 11 and headed out into town it was hot, so hot you could hardly move. I would go as far as to say i’ve never been so hot!! We aimed for the COPE visitor centre and off we went. On the way we went past loads of pet shops and I just had to have a look, they seem to have puppies galore stacked up in cages and it is quite sad they all look so hot and none of them had water :(. They didn’t seem to skinny though i’d say they’re pretty well fed just hot and bothered, but the puppies are by far not the most shocking thing they had small tubs filled with baby turtles in hardly any water. What the aim is i’m not quite sure do local people buy these as pets? or are they some kind of dinner? Tropical fish also seemed to be popular! Fish in a milk bottle but shelves and shelves of them… how they got them in their I am not even sure, all in all a bit bizarre.

img_8788img_8787

And yes next to the baby turtles that is a hedgehog they too seem very popular??

We kept walking after a brief episode of thinking we were lost and ended up where we were aiming for. For anybody who doesn’t know COPE is a charity that sets to help people out with disability especially by helping to provide surgery and prosthetics. The museum takes you through the reasons this is such a big problem in Laos and explains that there are a lot of unexploded land mines that the young children in small villages play with. They also have a massive value for scrap metal so locals often tamper with them or attempt to sell them and this can result it death or loosing limbs. In was insightful and I was definitely we took the time to learn about this charity and the brave people of Laos. They had a small theatre and a list of documentaries you could choose to watch so we chose one and spent an hour watching that before the long walk back to the hostel.

We arrived back just in time to have some lunch/dinner before being collected for our 26 hour bus journey! And that is most definitely another story.

Paris X