Phong Nha National Park and Caves

22nd – 25th August 2014

Now, I never knew how much I liked caves. I mean, I’ve been to Wookey Hole and Cheddar Caves, and they are great, but Phong Nha caves, wow, simply wow! I never thought I could be blown away by a cave but these were something else. Phong Nha cave was an experience itself.  You take a boat which chugs along the river to the large entrance of the cave, and then once inside the gaping entrance,  the engines are switched off, and the boat drivers get out their paddles.

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An unexpected arrival…

The worst thing about the overnight trip from Sapa back to Hanoi?  Arriving in Hanoi unexpectedly at 3.30am, and nobody had anything booked because we all were told the bus would get in at 6-7am.  Hanoi is a city where everything has to close by midnight, and this is enforced.  So, arriving at this time, was not ideal.  Far from it!

Whilst still on the bus, we were all woken abruptly by a guy who was shouting and coming round handing out bits of paper that read ‘Do not get the taxi from here, they will drive round and round and charge you lots of money, it is not far to walk to the Old Quarter, do not get a taxi!  No taxi!’ Continue reading An unexpected arrival…

Trekking through the rice terraces of Sapa

9th – 12th August 2014

After my trip to Halong Bay, I had one hour to change my stuff over from the luggage storage and then to set off on my overnight bus for Sapa.  Not sure if me and sleeper buses are going to get on…they are extremely uncomfortable, slightly claustrophobic, and only allowed for about 3 hours sleep!  I have been poshing it upon trains for too long obviously!

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Vietnam – Halong Bay

7th-9th August 2014

My three day trip to Halong Bay was lovely.  Halong Bay is an area of beautiful limestone mountains (called karst here, similar to those I saw in Guilin) rising out from the sea.  I met a great group of people on this trip.

The area is very pretty, although the sun didn’t want to play so the pictures are a bit drab.  It was similar to Guilin in China, except the karst mountains were jutting out of the sea, and not out of the river.
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Vietnam – Arriving in Hanoi and a taste of culture shock!

2nd August 2014

On my overnight train to Hanoi, Vietnam, I was in my cabin with two Vietnamese ladies, who were absolutely loopy and excited about the fact I was in their cabin with them!  They were taking photos, sharing their fruit, the older lady even called a friend who could speak about three words of English, and asked me to say hello down the phone to them!  It really was funny, as they sat there giggling like kids and staring in awe at the Westerner in their cabin! Continue reading Vietnam – Arriving in Hanoi and a taste of culture shock!

A Spider so big, it deserves a post of its own!

30th July 2014

I can’t believe I forgot to include this monstrosity in my Guilin post, but then that’s because it probably warrants a post of its own!

So, I’m sitting at the huge dining table of the lovely house in Langshi that I was staying at, and Sergio, from his room, shouts out that there is a big spider in there.  Mark came out and promptly said it was fake, so I went in there and took a look for myself….

Continue reading A Spider so big, it deserves a post of its own!

The Lovely Guilin

29th July – 2nd August

My train to Guilin was like a spaceship!

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And went pretty fast too…

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On arrival in Guilin my taxi driver picked me up, and we had to get to the Li River in Yangdi before nightfall, where the bamboo boat driver would be waiting for me, to take me to the remote rural village of Langshi.  It became apparent as the night drew in, that we would not make it to the river before it got dark.  As the taxi driver spoke no English, and I no Chinese, I was unsure what this would mean, would I have to find somewhere to stay in Yangdi? Would i stay with the taxi driver? I had no idea!  When we arrived in the pitch black it was evident that the boat ride would still go ahead, as the boat driver was waiting on the pier for me.  Once afloat, he used a torch to check how close we were to the edges of the riverbanks, one side being sheer cliff faces of the karst mountains that fill this area.  I was a little concerned to say the least, especially as I was told the journey could not be done at nightfall, and here we were doing it!  It was also less than pleasant due to a hideous number of mosquitoes slamming into my face as I interrupted their night on the water!  There were a few other bamboo boats also still on the water in the dark, it was quite scary trying to work out if there was a boat heading straight for us or not!

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The Houhai Lake area of Beijing

28th July 2014

After the Great Wall walk and a much needed shower, not wanting to waste my last evening (after deciding I could have easily spent another four nights in Beijing, I really liked it here) I headed out again to find food and explore a little more.  Heading West of the hutongs I had visited the night before, I stumbled across another tourist hotspot, this time a plethora of brightly neon lit bars, restaurants and souvenir shops. 

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Continue reading The Houhai Lake area of Beijing

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