Driving to Hué

We met for breakfast at 7:30 on the top floor and upon Phuoc’s recommendation I ordered the eggs (sunny side up in tomato sauce). This guy really knew what I liked.

Today we started with a museum visit and I heard Beth grumbling about it, because it was hot and who wanted to go to a museum in this weather. But the museum was so much more than just a building. It was a history lesson for me because what do I know about the Vietnam War (the Vietnamese call it the American War)? Veronica and Beth knew a lot about it since Australia was also involved in it.

                

The mother of Veronica’s daughter in law had fought here and an American marine who had stayed at the Farmstay as well. And these two who had been on opposing sites met with an interpreter and Veronica. So to hear Veronica talk about the thoughts of these people while we were on site was amazing. History came alive!

From there we went further south to get to our lunch stop. But until then there was still a long time to once again enjoy the scenery.

      

But also to get a glimpse on how the locals lived.

Suddenly dark clouds loomed on the horizon and I was sure we would need to change into rain gear again. But we drove through the first rain drops and made it to the lunch place just seconds before the big rain. Click here to see.

Lunch was delicious again. Phuoc really knew where to take us. So while the rain was pounding on the roof we enjoyed our food.

  When the rain had stopped and we had finished our meal we were off again to get to Hué. But until then there was still a long way to go. Dark clouds were rolling in again, so somewhere along the way we had to put our rain gear on again.

      

When we stopped for coffee it had also stopped raining and we used the time for a swim at a nearby waterfall. Coffee in a hammock, then swimming with an inbuilt spa (while sitting on a rock little fish were nibbling on my hard soles).

But it was really time to go and get a move on Hué. Phuoc wanted to arrive before the dark and we made it easily.

                

It was our last evening together and we celebrated in style. We went for dinner at “Le Jardin de la Carambole” and shared some sparkling wine along with an excellent meal. And with Jo entertaining us with some hilarious stories, time flew. Rather soon it was time to say goodnight with a promise to meet for one more time at breakfast. Yours, Pollybert

    

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Bac Ha market

My last day in the Sa Pa region was a Sunday. And the reason I stayed the extra night was a big local market in Bac Ha. Pick up was suddenly way earlier and at 7:30 After I had my usual Pho for breakfast

 I was downstairs waiting for the guide. I met Marsha from the long trek in front of the hotel and the off we went, collecting other tourists along the way.

It was a three-hour ride to get to the market and once we arrived at Bac Ha it was clear that it was very popular.

Our guide led us through a side street to the market and walking there we passed the horses and the birds.

    In this busy side street was our restaurant for lunch and from here on we explored the market by ourselves.

Marsha and I walked around together and we had our first stop after two minutes to a bean drink/dessert. It’s basically ice with red beans and then all kinds of jelly, shredded and toasted coconut, peanuts and more, topped with bean juice. Very tasty!


Other impressions from the market.

                

Look at this variety of greens/herbs.

  

When we passed the fish market we saw a customer choosing a fish. So if you’re squeamish please look away.

                    

And here is one who got away. I didn’t know if we should say something but then I could see that the sales lady had already noticed the runaway. When we left the stall it was still alive.

At this market you get everything from buffalo to your next dress.

                     I tried one of these fried balls, it was not overly sweet and filled with a yellow bean paste. Yummy!

And other food stuff I didn’t try (so far).

  

Then we went back for lunch which was boring and bland after everything that we had seen at the market. So let’s just forget about it.

After lunch we stopped at a local minority village to see how the tribal families lived in the area. The house that we visited had one room, the sleeping area was quartered off by curtains but the rest was one big space in which they worked and watched tv. There was a small table, probably for the meals and homework, but only one chair.

 

 

Here child safety was not an issue.           

A short bus ride later we got off at the Hang A Tuong Palace just north of the market in Bac Ha. It was swarming with the tourists but you still see the beauty of the building. Designed by a French and Chinese architect and built according to Feng Shui guidelines, the palace was the home of the ‘Kings of the north’. Father and son from a Tay ethnic people ruled the north with a 70% H’mong share. They exploited what the could but at least the palace is still left, now for everyone to see.

      

There was a small shop in the palace where I saw an old woman weaving.

Back on the bus we made our way to Lao Cai to catch the train. One last stop in Lao Cai for all though. What I hadn’t realized when I had arrived here three days ago was how close the Chinese border was. It was just across the river.

  

After the last stop three other girls and I got off at a small hotel near the train station, shared dinner and then took the night train back to Hanoi. Yours, Pollybert

PS: The food tasted how it looked, boring and bland again.

Yichang 

From the train station it was easy to get a taxi that knew the way to the Yiduo Youth Hostel. But easier said than done cause once the driver stopped, there was just another hotel. I mimicked him to go on searching and we drove in a bigger circle into the same street again. Since he was not giving up on that street I searched on both street sides for the hostel. And really, he was right from the beginning, the hostel was just the other side of the hotel. I am still not sure though how the numbering of the houses works.

Once checked in and in my room, I was glad to relax again. Not that I had done so much this day (except go onto the dam), but the momentarily terror of being stranded at the mini harbor had drained me of all energy and I needed to rest.

Since the room had no window except a small one onto the hallway, it was dark and quiet and I slept for 2 hours.IMG_2355

 

Once I awoke I spoke to the daughter of the owner who could speak English and was very helpful (she was also only on visit from Beijing). She had made a map of the area on where to find good restaurants and the main bus station.IMG_2357

 

There were also descriptions of the main sights in the city. I settled on a half day excursion, the 3 Visitors Cave.IMG_2363

 

The information on how to get to the airport was not so clear but once I came back from dinner she had also written up an information sheet for this.IMG_2365

 

Meanwhile I went out in search of the bus station for the next day and something to eat. On my way around I saw a Catholic Church, my first in China.IMG_2358

 

I eventually went into a restaurant that showed its communist colors broadly. From Karl Marx to Mao and Stalin, the who’s who in communism was up on the wall.IMG_2362
With the help of my efficient dictionary I ordered fish (I was near the Yangtze after all), some vegetables and the usual beer (very important to re-charge the electrolyte household).IMG_2359 IMG_2360The food tasted as always delicious although the fish was a tad difficult to eat since it was hacked into pieces from head to tail or rather fin, bones included. I think I had one of the eyes by chance. Not really sure what to make of that but I am glad I didn’t swallow one of the bones.

On the way back to the hostel which was anyway only 5 minutes off I stopped at a café/tea house/ bar. This place had a bit of the ‘Old World’ charm with cosy nooks and an upstairs dining room. I tried to order some G&T but failed on the translation of the tonic. After 10 minutes of discussion, using my dictionary and the waitress’s translation app, we gave up and I ordered her recommendation. Which was not good at all. We tried again for the second drink but then I got Gin on the rocks, really not much better. With a lot of ice and over time, it was drinkable.

It helped to get really tired and I was asleep in no time. Yours, Pollybert