We leave Ha Noi to head South down Vietnam’s coast for Hoi An – easy to mix up. A single sleeper train takes us to Da Nang and then a car picks us up to the historic Hoi An.
It is so dirty on this train that we dont want to touch a thing
Some remote and beautiful houses hide beside the train tracks
Our French train-mates leave us on the train as they head for Hue
We see rice fields in the foreground and the South China sea behind
Cuisine sold on the train consists of rice and tofu with lettuce for 60 pence. Not bad!
We get off the train and get in a taxi to our hostel. The Central Vietnamese coast is being destroyed by resorts!
Temperature – 22 degreesC
Our first stop in Vietnam is Ha Noi – the capital of Vietnam and the country’s second largest city with a population of 6.5 million. 2010 travel guides describe it as one of the world’s “Top Destinations”, but is it?…
- We couldnt find the train station so we walked along the tracks
- Crossing any road at any time in any place is absolute chaos
- We sample street food – at local prices (50p a meal)
- Hoan Kiem Lake, meaning “Lake of the Returned Sword” or “Lake of the Restored Sword” in the historical center of Hanoi
- Chloe in traditional Vietnamese dress
Chloe and Kangaroo catch the light in the Temple of Literature - constructed in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius, sages and scholars
Chloe advertises a not-so-classic Vietnamese drink
Everyone in Vietnam is apparently employed - even this guy
The opening sale at a Ha Noi superstore consists of a stack of open shipping containers on the street
After leaving Hong Kong to re-enter China we take a sleeper train West to Nanning to catch a morning bus down to the Vietnamese border before heading to the Capital of Vietnam, Hanoi.
The border crossing is a bit of a holiday resort – though scary in different ways. Passport checks involve holding up your passport whilst being escorted by golf buggy, whilst a guard glances over from his cabin ten metres away to see if you are holding something passport-shaped…
Another enormous waiting room at Guangzhou East Station
Who on Earth designed this train interior? You have to like blue.
Traffic in Nanning is not so different to anywhere else in China. Madness.
The golf buggy through customs on the China-Vietnamese border
The North of Vietnam - rice fields, karste formations and traditional tribes
At a comfort stop in Vietnam Chloe trials traditional pork meat served in a leaf. She doesn't like it.
Temperature – 17 degreesC
We basically eat and go shopping with Stephen’s Aunt for two days!!
Our clothes have shrunk?....
A market trader measures out some almonds for us
After a wonderful stay in Hong Kong, we head back to China to check out Stephen’s aunt’s holiday home near Guangzhou. The journey involved two minibuses and three coaches mixed in with a couple or border checks… But actually it was really easy! Especially with Auntie Irene there to do the talking.
Minibus number 1
Coach number 1
Coach number 2
It's a proper holiday apartment - we must first turn on the water supply
Temperature: 14 to 23 degress C
Hong Kong!!! We are so happy to arrive in this “civilised” place. The signs which say “No spitting” are promising. It’s burning hot when we arrive, but gets rapidly colder after Chloe’s 27th birthday. Ominous!
We decide to stay a long time (12 days) and settle in to the family home in Choi Uk Tsuen.
Stephen gets up early for a spot of tofu with his aunt
Being sacreligious at Ten Thousand Buddhas Temple
Stephen manages to get in a big film
Daydreaming about architecture
Being silhouettes at sunset in Sai Kung
One of the many market streets
This one's for Natalie
Had to put at least one sparkly picture in! The view from the Peak on Chloe's birthday
Big Buddha on Lantau Island
Climbing the stairs to the Big Buddha
But he is hiding in a cloud
The Wisdom Path
Karaoke at Neway, with Karen and Batman!!! I especially enjoyed that tested favourite, "Chihuahua"
Possibly our easiest journey to date, crossing the border from China into the “Special Administrative Region” of Hong Kong.
We leave our Chinese hostel by underground metro to Guangzhou East train station, board a train with seats(!) and walk across the border at Shenzhen into Hong Kong. We go for one stop on the metro in Hong Kong, jump off and find a bus to Yuen Long, New Territories, Hong Kong, where we meet Stephen’s Aunt.
- A view of Shenzhen from the train
The suprisingly comfortable train into Hong Kong - no-one is spitting at all
Hopefully the last time for carrying our big bags, as we can leave some heavier clothes behind!
We arrive at Choi Village!
What Stephen's Aunt thinks of us travelling by train to get to Hong Kong
We are well over the halfway mark in terms of distance "as the crow flies"
and now that little bit closer to Sydney...