First off, Northern vietnam (along the tourist trail) is under construction, and it remain that way for a while. In the places we have visited here, it seems like that the economies are ramping up for the mother of all tourist invations, its hard to describe its scale, but imagine a block of 30 hotels x 30 hotels, all either under construction of newly finished….then times that block by another 30. Then you have some idea what it looks like in Halong Bay, which is the launch site for hundreds of cruise ships that take you around the UNESCO protected (whatever that means) Halong Bay area.
I think they are preparing for a Chinese tourist invasion and they intend to milk it for every vietnamese dong they can get.
That aside, it is beautiful,
Sapa was basically living in a cloud for 5 days, nothing ever got dry. Again a town under construction, high rises, roadworks everywhere. But you don’t come to Sapa to hang out in the dusty, dank town, you get involved with the countryside, rice fields, bamboo jungles, see water buffalo pull their heavy ploughing gear through the fields.
The kids suprised us on trekking 8km, 58 stories up and 29 stories down…and James did it in his crocs!
Hanoi was a shock to us, busy, millions of crazy kamikaze scooters all jostling to get there first, somehow the whole 8 millions inhabitants managed to avoid each other every day…..ok, apart from the 40 motorbike deaths every day in Vietnam.
The highlights were cooking 40 stories up in a Hanoi high rise with the wonderful Ha and her family, kids had a blast and we came away with the best impression on how a Hanonian family lives…its full of love and with a rock solid community of people that care around them.
Also making postcards with another Hanoian resident, and walking around the streets of Hanoi, eating the street food and soaking up city life.
The vietnamese landscape is beautiful, majestic Halong bay is impressive, but the real majesty is when you connect with people and experience the kindness of friends you have just met.
Cat ba island in Halong Bay was a great trip, we biked it around the island and got lost. The kids loved being on the little 125cc scooters with us. Epic days out. We stayed in the area where they filmed footage for the lastest King Kong film, proper jungle territory.
We can see that the kids are not massive fans of cities, no suprise there. The preferred setup for us is to have a large area to run around and hide in, a pool and a massive complimentary breakfast. That’s is, that’s the basic desired setup for our family that makes things easy. The other thing we have learnt is that we need to sit put for at least 4 days if we are to have enough peace for us all to settle. This is a key factor for us to have any kind of success with the school work.
We are taking a break from this part of Asia, its getting to be waaaay to hot right now, into the 39 degree plus territory, so the next stop is the land of the rising sun, JAPAN, where its less hot and humid….in a motorhome for a month!