Monday, 18 January 2010

First few days in 'nam

not sure if I can describe Vietnam to someone that hasn't seen it, but I will give it a shot, but it's probably best to look at the pictures. The countryside is beautiful, the people are very welcoming to the point of wanting to marry you, everything is bodged to the point of having live wires in shower rooms with just a bit of tape round, and the traffic doesn't remind you of traffic at all, it's more like people walking down a street, as you can go any way you like, for example over-taking someone on the wrong side of the road on the pavement wouldn't be that bad or going up the wrong way on a one way street is normal.

5 million Dong and our motorbikes.

on the train down from Nanning (China) I met Amanda who was also planing to travel around Vietnam, I said I was going to buy a motorbike and she liked the idea and joined me. We bought 2 big old Russian Minsk's, was extremely amusing to get 5 million out to pay for them, each of the notes in the photo is 100,000 dong.

the view from the top patio of the people we stayed with and a road we drove down.

for the first few days we stayed at a couch surfers house, full of nice people by the way. went out with them for a few nights out, which was great fun, but I didn't drink much as I had to drive us back. While we were there 2 more couch surfers turned up (Table and Max) and we hung out with them around Hanoi until our bikes were ready.

 a standard bear hut.

Heading off on our bikes was a lot of fun, and we encountered plenty of drama, falling off the bikes, breaking down, and crashing into things and generally not having any real plan for were to go. But luckily the bikes don't go that fast (60 at a push) and there are mechanics everywhere, which are master bodgers. and the views, oh my, wish you could see them yourself.

Thaun and friends.

Were ever you go you can easily make friends, as westerners are rare and everyone wants to hang out with you or marry you, which at first is a little odd, but you get used to it. And the best part is that if some one invites you over to hang out with them then they pay, it's like a rule, so I hardly ever pay to drink. So I definitely have been having fun! and that weird pipe is like a bong, but for their tobacco, tried it and was sure it was more than just tobacco, if I lived in Vietnam I would definitely take up smoking!

One great thing is the price of things, to buy a pint of beer you pay between 3p and 30p and a good meal is 80p! a cheap hostel can cost 1.20p. In Vietnam I am rich, which is odd.


Cam and his family.

While looking for a place in the rain and at night I met Cam and his family who nicely put me up for a couple of days. Everyone here is so welcoming it's hard to believe, makes me wonder how everyone can be so cold in the western world.

Oh and I ate dog for the first time, by accident I might add, I wouldn't recommend it. But snake is nice, tastes like chicken but better.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Leaving China for Vietnam


 R66 rotating restaurant. and the view from it at night.


Staying in Hong kong was amusing, as I couldn't afford a place (specially for new year, as everywhere was a lot more expensive) so I sneaked into Carl's room and kipped on the floor, but the hostels here are like fort-knox, they have security doors, and people roaming around the corridors watching for anyone on the steal, and cameras all around with it on a big screen at the reception of the hostel, so getting in each night was very tricky, but at least I saved a few bob, as my money is now hitting crisis levels, and am going to have to raid my savings now otherwise I won't make Vietnam, let alone home! We also had a meal in a rotating restaurant on the top of a medium sized skyscraper (62 floors) which was great as we got a good view of Hong Kong, and my favorite bit was it was all you could eat, so I gorged myself and didn't need to eat for a day after!


a real beggar, and a very annoying generator in China.


It took 3 trains, 2 of them being sleeper trains to get to Vietnam, also had to spend a night in an illegal hostel as I got in at 2am, which was a disgusting by the way, which from me is saying a lot! also I got woken up at 6 by the loudest generator I have ever heard, it was 2 blocks away and was powering a jack hammer, which I couldn't hear, that gives you an idea how loud it was, so all in all the trip from Hong Kong was long and tiring, but I did meet some nice Chinese people along the way. In Nanning I saw some of the most extreme begging I have ever seen, the guy in the photo above is lying on a wheeled cart and has many infected open wounds and is begging for enough money to go to hospital and feed his family (sitting next to him).


Amanda and the rubbish filled streams of Hanoi.

On the final train (China > Vietnam) I met Amanda (Sweden) and we decided to hang out for a few days, she had found a place to stay on couchsurf.org so that made my life a lot easier for Hanoi! The picture above shows some of the "beautiful" rubbish filled streams of Hanoi, one of the first things I noticed in Vietnam.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Map of progress through Asia

Here is the progress through Asia so far, and the next few days of travel. so far it has all been by train.

I haven't combined the map with the Europe part of my trip as flying doesn't really count as bimbling, but also the scale ends up being huge, so you can't see any detail.



Done so far: Blue
Future route: Green

Friday, 1 January 2010

Down through China


cool 2000+ year old clay stuff.

After Beijing I visited Xi'an to see the terracotta warriors (some young emperor more than 2000 years ago ordered everyone to make hundreds of clay warriors to guard his tomb, then everyone forgot about it until some farmer found them by accident 2000 years later). It was cool to see, but otherwise Xi'an was pretty rubbish, got a train later that day to Guilin, was a 30 hour hard sleeper. I stayed in guilin a couple of nights and saw a couple of touristy things, one being the weird mountains that are very beautiful and pointy, best bit is we went by raft down a river to see them, and we went on a bus to see the terraced rice fields, and some random village where they all had long hair (god knows why that counts as a tourist attraction in China)


pointy mountains.


terraced rice fields.

After Guilin we went on to Hong Kong for new year, as most of China only celebrates the Chinese new year, also there is a Vietnamese embassy so I could get my visa ready for the next country. Hong kong wasn't as I expected it, was even busier than London, and wasn't that pretty either. Looking forward to Vietnam more after hong kong! But we did bimble around a bit, sneaked up to floor 62 and got some good shots from some of the buildings.


clearly new year fireworks in Hong kong.

It's worth mentioning a couple of more food related things, saw dog on the menu for the first time, and a full snake in a massive jar of what tasted like vodka (but clearly more snakey).



 dog and snake in a jar of Vodka. mmm snakey.


and just one more thing, I spotted the most out of place Mc Donalds ever, set in the beautiful mountains near Guilin and by lovely lake with a pretty bridge. Mc Donalds do know exactly how to ruin everything.


most out of place Mc Donalds ever!

Time in Beijing


misc temple, near the sun temple I think.

Beijing was quite a change from Mongolia! for a start you can't go anywhere without someone practically forcing you to buy something super cheap, or experiencing a bit of mild racism, as they don't seem to like westerners that much except for their money, which is a bit saddening. The toilets are a disgrace to humanity, specially on trains, as it's just a hole in the ground, and in some toilets there is only a small wall that doesn't really hid much, so just imagine.


me eating a chicken foot. and a selection of weird food, scorpions and sea horses visible.

Wasn't as impressed by the food as I thought I would be, most of it is just odd and unexpected. When you buy something don't expect it to taste how you think it should, most things are a mix of different tastes that never go together in most foods normally. but I did try many usual things which you would never find in England or Spain, for example: scorpion, giant locust, sea horse, cocoons, chickens food, ducks neck and many other things I don't know the names off or didn't know what they were.


frozen lake. and a photo from the island in the middle.

We also went to the sun temple and the nearby lake was frozen over, so we walked across to the island in the middle, which was very awesome, specially as some guy was renting out homemade sleds.


Christmas meal. hostel Christmas party.


Christmas in Beijing was odd. for Christmas eve the hostel put on a xmas eve party, which was very bizarre, then we went out to a few bars, it was alright. For xmas day I was invited to go and eat a xmas meal, I almost didn't go as it was very expensive, but I am very happy I did, it was Delicious! and it was good to do something for xmas.