Dong Hoi and Hue

So after leaving Vinh with a few minor set backs and snapping the clutch cable spirits were low! No one was quick to help us this early in the morning but eventually a young lad pointed us in the direction of a mechanic and he road off into the distance to buy us a new clutch cable. Yet another day of being soaked through all day at 11 Joe stopped and declared that he thought we should get the train. We were soaking wet at freezing cold and giving up on life! This was not fun and we were still over 100k from our assumed destination. We had a decision to make… to get the train or to carry on. We chose to carry on but decided to have a pit stop for lunch. The restaurant we stopped at was bizarre it had about 100 tables but was completely empty.

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The staff were really attentive and did their best to work out what we wanted and get us some food and hot tea – thats right we drink tea now. Washed down with a beer each and we set off. Nearly there and we stopped under a bridge to check the directions when the chain came off. ARGH!!!!

I really felt like giving up now but no no we must go on. Joe (being the hero that he is) managed to get it back on and we reached our destination of Dong Hoi cold, wet and at the wrong hotel but we made it. Had a bit of a power nap and a heated discussion about tomorrows plans then headed out to the most amazing hostel bar to get some food. I also took this as an opportunity to drink one too many whiskeys and embrace how miserable the weather was.

On to Hue… now there have been a few discussions about whether to head on today or get a train or just walk! Why not? But after all the discussions we decided that we would bat on and finish this how we intended come rain or shine. I have a theory that it doesn’t rain in the morning so I persuaded Joe that leaving at 6am would be a good idea. We got up early showered and put our soaking wet clothes back on. Off we went and it was better.. okay so it was still raining but more drizzle than actual downpour. Just when it was all going so well the chain came off…

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and then it came off again…

and again…

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then we decided now we had to walk to a mechanic as something wasn’t right 500m £2 later and we’re on the way again!! YEY. Nearly 10 minutes later and the chain came off again…

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and again

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2k walk and we’re at a different mechanics! We arrived in Hue by 11am and had a nap before heading out. We looked round a massive indoor market.

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Joe and I had previously had a conversation about how we need to start being a bit more careful with money as its running out and not by anything unnecessary. Within 10mins of being in the market Joe convinced me to spend 100,000DONG on a spanner so when the bike breaks again he can fix it. Later when we were home after looking at the imperial city and more markets he discovered that the spanner he’d brought didn’t in fact open. So much for saving money we headed to the pub and walked around the shops we bumped into some of the lads we’d met at Woodstock and Joe offered a free drink of choice to anyone who could open his new spanner. About an hour later a mechanic was able to bash it open and everyone was happy. All in all a good night but looks like we’ll be spending another day in Hue to see what else is around! I’ll keep you posted…

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We spent quite a few more days in Hue as we bumped into some old friends from New Years and Woodstock and got the party underway they had a themed night on called shit shirt night! We got dressed up for a few pounds and got buy one get one free on drinks all night.

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We also checked out an abandoned waterpark that was quite creepy but really cool! I wanted to go down one of the slides but it was very dirty and probably not very safe. The best bit was a massive dragon head that you climb right up into, rumour doesn’t really know why they shut the water park but apparently it was somethings do with a law suit and now its up for sale but currently no takers, anyone reading that fancied a business adventure this place was seriously cool! Joe and some of the other lads reckoned it was like being on a call of duty map. Paintball anyone? (as you’ll see from the photos the mood was made even more creepy due to the fact that yes… its still raining)

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Another highlight of Hue was Australia day which we celebrated with some Australian acquaintances and took part in a pub quiz! We came second and considering how drunk must of us were this was quite an achievement!

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Hue has been good to us but to be honest if you like a drink this place is a good party met some amazing people and bumped into some old friends now its off to Hoi An wish us luck! 

Paris X

New Years Resolution update:

28.01.2017 (Week 4 of challenge) Books Read:

  1. A dance with dragons 1: Dreams and dust – George R. R. Martin
  2. A dance with dragons 2: After the feast – George R. R. Martin
  3. Far from the madding crowd – Thomas Hardy

Status: ONE BEHIND (Catching up)

Tam Coc and beyond

 So as you all know we spent an extra night in Ninh Binh and decided to visit some caves and go for a bit of an explore. we headed to Tam Coc as this is a it more country side and also a popular tourist destination. We had a really nice day looking at the pagoda and hiking around to various view point the weather is still pretty rubbish but it didn’t rain today. Successful day i’ll follow with some pictures…

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After this we vowed to get up early the next day (which we didn’t but we’re on holiday after all) so that we could head to Vinh, the plan is to stick to the main road now to try and make he most of the sunshine when we get further down south. It was all going well, few navigational problems as Joe thought we’d taken a short cut by going 50km out of our way but you can’t help that. Then we got stuck in a torrential downpour and I have never been so wet in all my life. Joe seems to think he’s some outdoor expert and thats why his stuffs all dry! He has a point he does have a degree in outdoor pursuits, and I thought I was coming on a 7 month holiday in the sun not some kind of arctic exhibition therefore am less prepared. Overall not a bad day though, we made good time and got here safely Vinh is just a city and not much we want to do here so I think i’ll get my head stuck into my book and pray it doesn’t rain tomorrow! Fingers crossed!!

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PS. I think i’ve finally caught up with blog posts so unless the internet is rubbish in the next few days there should be one every other day or so.

Paris X

New Years Resolution update:

21.01.2017 (Week 3 of challenge) Books Read:

  1. A dance with dragons 1: Dreams and dust – George R. R. Martin
  2. A dance with dragons 2: After the feast – George R. R. Martin

Status: NO CHANGE

Top 10 things to do in Cat Ba

As we’ve been here nearly 2 months I think its safe to say we’ve sussed out the best things to do on the Island and heres the list people in no particular order… (If people have read ever post this might be a bit repetitive sorry)

1.Party at Oasis – here you will find the friendliest and trendiest vietnamese staff on the island, Chief, Twee and Moon (along with all the others) will make sure you feel right at home. Not forgetting the up to date music and free pool table. Plus with Happy hour beers coming in at 10p a go and some of the only draught beer available on the island you do not want to miss out on an Oasis party! If you are traveling on your own this is a good place to meet people and the staff will be sure to point you in th right direction for whatever you require!

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g737051-d5494198-Reviews-Oasis_Bar-Cat_Ba.html

2.WOODSTOCK – its been the centre of our lives since we landed here in Cat Ba and we have met some of the best people ever! There ain’t no party like a Woodstock party! We saw in Christmas and the New Year with these like minded nut cases and Woodstock has been the foundation for a lot of our memories of Cat Ba. Consider yourself a bit of a hippie or just fancy life in the slow lane for a bit Woodstock is the place for you, the staff will ensure your every need is looked after and you can sit back and enjoy the atmosphere and look out onto the stunning bay. Sleep in a hammock or treat yourself to luxury and enjoy one of the kitted out tents. Not to mention the amazing food including the family dinner which really makes everyone feel like part of the team. Woodstock has been a place for memories long may you rein on. One of our highlights has been seeing Christmas and the New Year in here and we’ll miss our Woodstock family as we continue on our adventure.

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3.Deep Water Soloing – How brave are you? This is a must do for adrenaline junkies and climbing virgins alike. How high will climb and will you dare jump from the top. After spending our first month on the island working as climbing guides we spent a lot of time deep water soloing and loved it so head down to Cat Ba Climbing speak to Mr Zoom and book yourself in for a morning full of fun! Add in kayaking for a whole day to remember such a brilliant time and the best way to see all of the bay.

http://catbaclimbing.wixsite.com/catbaclimbing

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4.Go to the beach – Cat Co 1,2 and 3 all offer a little bit of paradise with views overlooking beautiful bays. Nice way to enjoy the weather if its good. Cat Co 2 is probably the best in our opinion but they are all equally beautiful.

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5.Trek in the National park or anywhere else as we never actually made it to the national park whoops :/  – But seriously its beautiful. joe did a trek up the highest mountain on the island and said it was breathtaking lots of beautiful scenery to enjoy. And we enjoyed many a trek to hidden valley which you can get information about at Cat Ba climbing. 

6.Play games – We know it sounds lame we thought so to to begin with. But playing games is what everyone seems to do we surely felt like we were missing out so headed down to see what it was all about and the 4 of us were hooked. you really haven’t lived unless you’ve had a decent game of chicken invaders in your time and its a brilliant way to speak to local and feel apart of Vietnam.

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7.Hire a bike – I feel like a real grown up talking about beautiful scenery but the best way to experience all of Cat Ba is to drive around thats how you find closed of roads and hidden streets and old war bunkers. Not to mention secret beaches just round from Woodstock. Get a bike and drive round, the islands not that big so you can see the majority of it by just driving around. If you can’t ride a motorbike or aren’t as confident as some of the road conditions are questionable hire a push bike there are even plenty of tandems to hire in town which look incredibly fun!

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8.Visit the food market – The food market is eye opening. It starts with an array of fruit and veg and a few little food stalls. they have a lot of exotic fruits as well as your standard apples and pears. Next it opens out into a room full of butchery where there are various parts of various animals lacing the tables. Then it progresses into a fish market where as well as fish they have buckets and buckets of live crabs and squid, theres also a small live part at the back where you can choose your own chicken or duck. We enjoyed wondering around the market many a time when the weather was bad or we just fancied a bit of window shopping.

9. Yummy’s Restaurant!!  – Newly opened and not far of the main street this is the place to go for the best local Vietnamese food with a few Western specials chucked in if you fancy it. Bun Cha to die for (like a hot pot of meats and veggies where you cook your own noodles with it bit by bit) Not to mention the Pad Thai. 

10. Watch the sun go down at the Bungalow Hostel view point  – Total perfection is you get a clear night and normally a good crowd of people floating around.

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A bit of an update as lots happened already since Cat Ba..

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With Cat Ba done and dusted its mixed emotions and we are headed to Hanoi, our trip down was stressful as we missed the first ferry and then it rained and then Joe got something stuck in his eye so we had to stop for half an hour. And then it appears I take after my pops when its comes to directions as we got slightly misplaced in the middle of town down a one way street. But we made it! This city has truly charmed me and I love it a little bit more each time we return. We spent 3 nights here after originally planning 2 and adding an extra one. We had big plans of visiting museums, some shopping and a trip to the circus. Sadly we never made it to any museums due to being lazy and preferring the pub and the circus was shut. None the less we had a fun 2 nights with Harris and Bobby roaming round the city and drinking in the pirates den. I did manage to squeeze in a bit of shopping too and treated myself to a nice North Fake coat and got my hair done.

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We left Hanoi for the third time and headed south, to Ninh Binh, there are two different roads that you can take one is the famous Ho Chi Minh road that is classed as the scenic route and the way most tourists travel down south. We decided to bypass this for the first few days as the weather is rubbish and we wanted to make good time so headed for the less scenic duel carriage way if thats what you call it. All went well the first day and we made it to Ninh Binh in good time. We settled into our hotel and sorted out some washing and drying of clothes before heading out for a little look around and dinner. We had a really nice dinner and discussed plans to spend another day on the boring road tomorrow as then the weather should be greatly improved. We left the restaurant feeling very happy to be on the road again and traveling to new places once again. Then there was a minor problem. Motorbike won’t start. oh dear all mechanics were shut at this time so we pushed Hettie back to the hotel and decided we’d head to a mechanic first thing in the morning. Only problem being in the morning neither of us could get up. Haha, in the end we got Hettie fixed for £2 and it took the guy all of 15minutes if that, we’ve now booked another night and are going to spend the day sorting out photos and planning! We might visit a cave this afternoon i’ll do another post if we do! Speak soon…

Paris X

New Years Resolution update:

21.01.2017 (Week 3 of challenge) Books Read:

  1. A dance with dragons 1: Dreams and dust – George R. R. Martin
  2. A dance with dragons 2: After the feast – George R. R. Martin

Status: ONE WEEK BEHIND

Leaving Cat Ba

Well we finally did it. We finally left all be it a day late due to us both getting extremely drunk the day before we were due to leave originally. Our last few nights were celebrated by games of twister, cards and lots of drink. We’ll be really sad to see this place go and want to say a massive thank you and goodbye to all the amazing people we met on Cat Ba Island its been an amazing journey for both of us. A special thanks to everyone from Woodstock (you know who you are), Woodstock really is a special place where friends become family. the whole time has had its ups and downs but we are both really pleased that we chose such a beautiful place to spend two months. Next on the journey for us is a visit to Hanoi and then back to the original plan motorbike down the south. I’ll be sure to keep you more posted on our goings on now we’re on the move again… and look out for a but more detailed post on our best bits of Cat Ba. For now though i’ll leave you with our best bits.

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Paris X

New Years Resolution update:

17.01.2017 (Week 3 of challenge) Books Read:

  1. A dance with dragons 1: Dreams and dust – George R. R. Martin

Status: NO CHANGE

Painting the motorbike…

So today we decided we’d try and do something productive as all we really do now is sleep or lay in bed until working the evenings. So we went to the market in hope of buying some spray paint for the bike and thought we’d give Hettie a bit of a refresh before heading off soon on the second part of our motorbike adventure (South Vietnam). There were about 6 colours to choose from in the shop and I was in keen favour of a nice mint green colour, but Joe was having none of that! We discussed the options and decided in the end on a very reliable black. It saddens us very much that soon we will have to sell our beloved Hettie but we wanted to pick a neutral colour to widen are possibilities when we sell her! With paint and sandpaper purchased we headed off down the very bumpy road to Woodstock. Ollie (who we were hoping would be able to help us) was intact still in bed so instead we enlisted the help of Aaron! This is how it went…

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All in all we didn’t really need any help and it wasn’t half as hard as we thought it would be to take hettie apart and put her all back together! Joe did most of that anyway my main job was to help with the sanding and painting… look out for further customisations because i now think that hettie would look good with maybe a mint green racing stripe or peace sign!

Paris X

New Years Resolution update:

17.01.2017 (Week 3 of challenge) Books Read:

  1. A dance with dragons 1: Dreams and dust – George R. R. Martin

Status: TWO WEEKS BEHIND

 

 

New year new me!

So today is the day to PARTY I think we’ve all only just recovered from Christmas! But its all good, goat is on the menu today and a seafood BBQ which I am most excited about. The goat turned up live this time and we watched it get slaughtered by one of the Vietnamese staff volunteered though so we didn’t have to do the honours! Although Harris did assist with holding it still and Ollie helped de-hair and gut him. It all went quite smoothly but it did make an almighty noise and scared a lot of veggies and Vegans away. As soon as it was dead the Vietnamese staff collected the blood to be boiled and drank later; which is apparently a tradition. Not sure if i’ll be trying any of that later though but we shall see. I’ll include some pictures of the process. (Jacquie/Nansi you may want to look away or get someone to scroll down for you).

*WARNING PLEASE LOOK AWAY IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED BY BLOOD AND OR ANIMAL SLAUGHTER*

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The day was entertaining we all did a bit of slack lining and even the cleaning staff joined it! Then we all sat round the fire watching the goat and drinking beer. Quite a lot of rice wine was also consumed. Bobby and I, with the help of some of the other staff had organised a scavenger hunt for the guests where they had to take pictures of different actions and objects around the camp. That was quite entertaining as 2 teams took it very seriously and were more intent of savaging each other than completing their own tasks. But I think they had fun and we sure had a laugh looking at all their pictures in the end. With this underway everyone was to the beach to start cooking the goat, and yet agin the competition of Masterchef was underway! it kept me thoroughly entertained with comments like: “I think the fires too hot” “We need to cook the other side now” “It’s fine to eat goat rare” “Theres too much flame in that fire, we just need embers”. Safe to say dinner was delicious so you all did a fantastic job. half way through the cooking process the vietnamese staff brought us some blood and rice wine shots which i can honestly say were revolting. They also brought us some speciality dish which turned out to be boiled blood and fried testicles, this too was not really to many peoples taste but hey. When in Vietnam… 

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Aaron was set to work building Ollie a beach bar and it was quite hilarious to watch old man  (one of the vietnamese staff) constantly take tools out of his hands and attempt to do it himself! The man is incredible though I think I heard someone say he was nearly 90 and he puts all the lads to shame carrying wood and raking sand seem to be his favourite jobs, along with watering the plants.

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We also had a couple of guests who were very artistic and had began painting a mural on a brick wall so everyone enjoyed watching this progress through the day and enjoyed seeing the finished result. See the progress below..

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There was a momentary panic half way through the day when the champagne arrived and it appeared to be non alcoholic and merely grape juice! However this was later rectified. The day went smoothly and I think everyone had learnt their lesson from christmas and was taking it a little slower although I did catch Joe drinking beer at 10.30am!!!! The puppies that we’ve all been fussing over are up about and walking around the place now causing havoc and seeing everywhere so we got loads of cuddles with them as well, and of course Wolfie got loads of fuss.

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As the night went on we had a massive fire which the boys had spent most of the day talking about and partied the night away on the beach!! Yet again another night at Woodstock that I won’t be forgetting thanks everyone who was there you all made it amazing!!!  

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I’ll include a quick youtube vid…

Matt and I did most of the filming and Matt did the editing hopefully it’ll give you a bit of an insight of the evening as my photos seem to run out after dinner! I wonder why?

Now it is the New year and time for leaving the past behind us new beginnings and all that jazz I asked Joe what his new years resolution was going to be and he said “i’m just going to continue being a legend” So i’ll keep you posted on that. My new years resolution is to try and read a book a week on average over the whole year! I’m not off to a good start as its currently the 7th and i’m halfway through about 3 books but i’ve been busy. Anyway i’ll keep you posted at the bottom of here with how i’m getting on in the future!

Quick Cat Ba Island life update… We still plan to leave n the 14th though the weather is not looking good through some of our journey so not sure whether to get the train some of the way we still have a week to decide. Joe has started teaching and doesn’t seem to enjoy it, he spend the 3 hours before getting there complaining! We’re spending money as quick as we make it so although we love Cat Ba and being here it maybe hasn’t had quite the financial rewards that we were hoping for so I guess its back to the drawing board on that one. BOLLOCKS.

Paris X