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Stop 14 - Hanoi and Sapa


View Overland adventures - UK to Ho Chi Minh City and back without getting on a plane! on Chloemillen92's travel map.

Coming from Hong Kong to Vietnam turned into a bit of a mammoth journey; crossing back to the mainland by metro, border control, a metro to Shenzhen train station, a bullet train to Nanning, a metro to the other train station in Nanning and finally a night train to Hanoi! All this was made slightly more complicated by the border crossing as apparently our visas were only valid when crossing by road, not by train!!! We mainly reckon this was because the crossing was pretty old school and couldn't handle our E-visas. Anyway, they let us in on a 15 day visa, which we then got extended once in Hanoi.

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Hanoi is a pretty great city, full of scooters and lacking in pavements, but a lot of fun. The roads around the lake in the picture above are pedestrianised at the weekends and it's a good spot for catching local exercise classes, or being asked for help practising English by local students.

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We really liked the water puppet show, an hour or so show of the Northern Vietnamese tradition. The puppeteers are stood up to their waste in the water, hidden behind the stage, using wooden puppets on long sticks to play out a number of stories and scenes. There's an orchestra and some great voiceovers as well. The dragons with firecracker flames were spot on!

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Hanoi was also when we met up with friends from home to travel for a couple of weeks, so we were suddenly a group of nine! Here's most of us sweating away outside St Joseph's Cathedral.

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Here is Chlo with her new fan, because it is so ridiculously hot and sweaty.

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Vietnamese food and coffee is brilliant, so we spent a morning with Linh and her sister showing us the markets and teaching us how to make egg coffees (sort of like a little meringue on top), two types of spring rolls, papaya salad and attempting to make vegetable flowers. The best part of cooking classes is always the feast you get at the end, finished off with some ghecko and snake infused rice wine this time around...

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From Hanoi, we took the night train up to the north-west to an area called Sapa - famous for its scenery, minority villages and trekking. We arrived bright and early to cloudy drizzle and started our 18 kilometre trek up and down the Vietnamese jungle paths. A lot of this was super slippy and some of us got pretty good at styling out falls. The views made it all worth it though and our guide taught us his favourite Western song (If you wanna cry, cry on my shoulder...). We stayed the night in a "homestay" in a Hmong village (sort of like a little hostel), tried some more homemade rice wine and learnt a great news card game (karate snap). The next days trek was much flatter and less in the jungle, but gave us plenty of beautiful views of the terraced rice paddies the area is famous for.

Posted by Chloemillen92 01:57 Archived in Vietnam Tagged trek trekking city vietnam sapa hanoi coffee hmong cooking_class northern_vietnam

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