Temperature – 26 degrees C
29 stops and 29 cuisines…
11 time zones…
60 degree celcius temperature differences…
13 languages and countless dialects…
Numerous trains, buses, campervan, coaches, ships, tuk-tuks etc. …
… we have arrived!
Without planning it we somehow end our journey by arriving into Sydney on Australia Day(!) to find the population of 4.5 million people (plus tourists) enjoying a sunny public holiday, celebrating the arrival of the first fleet in 1788 (though some local people also call it ‘Invasion Day’ or ‘Survival Day’). We drop off the campervan, are kindly picked up by Chloe’s sister Holly, who then takes us to the beach to meet more family – all of which are as surprised as we are that we made it – from London to Sydney, without flying.
The newspaper front page written just for us! (though possibly adapted)
Someone is happy to be home...
The Sydney Harbour Bridge welcomes us back to civilisation!
Is there a more fitting way to end this journey than a barbeque on Australia Day? (left to right: Vikki, Sam and Jerry, with Yuen behind the lens!)
Finally, we bring Kangaroo home!
We take a taxi to Da Nang, have a quick lunch and then board the train. Another overnight journey, another dirty train! We take the 18 hour ride from Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh City (also known as “Saigon”), leaving at 1:30pm in the afternoon and arriving at around 7am. Fortunately this should be our last Vietnamese train ride! Once in Saigon, we manage to find a bus into the city and walk the rest of the way to the hotel.
We decide our taxi driver has misunderstood the concept of a seatbelt
At lunch, before the train, we met Bettina. It took 24 hours to get rid of her, but we managed eventually.
One of the many rice paddies we saw out from the train window
The sheets haven't been washed, and neither have our Vietnamese cabin-mates. This is first class and we settle in for another sleepless night on the train.
We arrive into Saigon an hour late. Health and safety is yet to arrive in Vietnam, as the train delivers us onto the adjacent train track, complete with moving train charging forward.
We're the only tourists who have caught the bus instead of a taxi. With a cost saving of about 5000%, and a priceless saving in stressful negotiations with the ever-dishonest Vietnamese taxi drivers.
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 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