On our first evening in Hue we bumped into Abi and Hannah, (a crazy pair of sisters from Holland) who roared past us on their motorbike, and convinced us to join them on a trip to Bach Ma National Park the next day. After picking up a few more travellers who we met later that evening in the bar across from our hotel, we set off early the next morning up the mountains where it was at least 5 degrees cooler and great to be out of the city. The day was spent trekking though the jungle surrounded by butterflies as big as your hand, to an amazing waterfall and fresh water pools to swim in. The next day we explored the historical side of the city and wondered round the mosoleums of the emporers and the citadel which is incredibly beautiful. Coming back along the river I met an old lady who came up to meon her boat, who had a pet roaster on board! Her chicken was clearly the love of her life and she kept hugging him. Along the way we sampled some of Hues specialities which included a crispy rice pancake filled with srimps and beansprouts and served with herbs and a peanut sauce - delicious!
After a traumatic overnight bus journey - people kept singing, whisteling, playing Vietnamese music on cellphones and the lady behind me kept on hitting me on my head? - we arrived in Hoian. While trying to find our bearings we bumped into the usual crowd who have been travelling on the same route up the coast and decided to go to Ha Long Bay the next morning. The bay is very beautiful although unfortunately quiet poluted and there are hundreds of limestone islands as far as the eye can see. The highlight of the trip was kiyaking around some of the remote islands one evening as the sun was setting, and then drinking wine and eating lichees on the deck of our chinese junk, with everyone as the stars were coming out. We also had a great group of people on board and 5 minutes into the journey we were all chatting away and swapping stories.
The last few days in Hanoi have been very lazy, with us passing the time shopping, drinking iced tea, taking in the sites and sleeping in. Cris, Alice and I are loving the fact that we are in one place for more than a few days and are enjoying justhanging out as we will part ways on Sunday. I am off to Loas on a mamoth bus journey with Lindsay who was on our Ha Long bay trip - at least we will have moral support and can laugh about things together and Cris and Alice are off to China. It is going to be strange leaving them after we have spent the last 3 weeks together while they have taught me how to master chopsticks - I am now a pro, bargain like an Asian and learn a few esentail Portuguese fraises - very useful while shopping!