– A city of tailors
The three of us slept very well during our first night in Hoi an as we were exhausted from the odyssey that we had undergone the day before. When we woke up we had the pleasant surprise of finding two school friends, Adam and Archie, waiting in our homestay lobby.
This was of course not by accident but a organised meet up, our friends are travelling north so we knew that we would cross paths at some point. Once we had a lovely breakfast we started walking through the town looking for tailors as Hoi An is known for that craft. The town is magical and beautiful, roads lined by green trees go through orange buildings dating back to French administration. The roads are overhung with yellow and orange lanterns hanging from above and communists/Vietnamese flags on the side.
We walked past many tailors, their walls full of silks and other such materials and also many leather shops in which you can get custom shoes, handbags or coats. We had a look at a few tailors and decided to get ourselves a tailored suit. The hard part was deciding what materials to go for, in the end I went for a light blue with a bright inner lining. After they took many measurements we were told to come back tomorrow to see if they fit. In the evening I decided to go walk to the beach. The road to the beach took me past a beautiful river which was lined by coconut trees on one side and rice paddies on the other. Eventually I made it to the beach and I strolled north for a while looking at a group of islands on the horizon. The walk back took me a ‘bit’ longer as I got lost but I was able to view a stunning sunset over the rice fields and the river. Seeing the traditional fishing boats floating in the orange light next to the rice paddies made the longer walk worth it. In total the little walk to the beach and back took me two hours.
In hoi an we discovered something we had not yet encountered, the legendary Bahn Mi. The Bahn Mi is a legacy of French influence on Vietnamese culture. It is a baguette filled with meat (mostly beef or chicken) vegetables and many sauces. We quickly grew very fond of these and had them at least once a day. As evidence of french colonial administration gets stronger the further south you go, so do the Bahn Mi shop frequency increases and their products in taste.
The nights where usually spend in a hotel that offered unlimited drinks for two hours, and at night we saw something we had not seen yet, that being completely empty roads (cities like Bangkok or Hanoi never sleep). One evening we met up with the older brother of one of our mates who was working in Da Nang (something in renewable energy). It was interesting to hear him discuss the pros and cons of working in Vietnam (the latter mainly being the corruption). Also we found several bars that sold beers for 3000 VND which is about 10cent.
During the days we would often rent bikes and cycle through the town or down to the beach. One day near the end of our stay there I went back to the tailor to pick up the last items I had purchased there and decided to visit the old town. This area was closed to motorised vehicles and full of pedestrians, both locals and a fair amount of tourists. The old town was full of beautiful pale yellow colonial buildings, all of which had paint crumbling of their walls, however that only added to their charm. These buildings also usually had this green plant growing on them with intense purple flowers. In these shops you could find many things, from leather products to colourful spices, from silks and fine cloths to fake Adidas and Nike shirts. As I continued my bike ride trough this part of town I reached the river on which there where many long wooden boats with ladies in rice hats slowly gliding above the sunset dyed calm waters. The river was lined by the colonial style buildings, Chinese lanterns and tall trees. Crossing the river was made possible by a very old bridge which separated the Chinese and Japanese districts. As it was getting darker I decided to head back along the river. I cycled through a market full of fruit I have never seen before and big strange looking fish gazing at me with their big eyes from the piles of ice they where kept on. My way back took a bit longer than it should have as I got lost again which I did not mind however as I was cycling through peaceful rice fields as the sun was setting.
A day after we first went to the tailor we came back to check if our suits needed any readjustments, the ones that needed readjustment where told to come back the next day. After all of us where satisfied we had our suits packed up and put in a parcel for sea shipping (they should arrive in 3 months).
Saying goodbye to Hoi An was hard as our room and home stay had been amazing, and the town was magical. From the windows of the bus we had one last look at Hoi An before heading south on the road to Nha Thrang.
Our trip in Sapa ended in a bit of a close call as we almost missed our bus. We were told to wait in the hotel as someone was supposedly picking us up, which did not happen in the end so we had to rush down to the bus and just about made it. Continue reading “Two more days in Hanoi”
We arrived early morning in a town called SaPa and were taken to a hotel in which we had showers and left our big bags. The town was build on the side of a mountain and around us we could see many peaks, one of them being over 3000meters above sea level, the last great peak of the Himalayas in the east. Continue reading “The alps of Tonkin”
Overview. First day in Vietnam. 24 Hours in Hanoi.
Our arrival in Hanoi went very smoothly apart from that the hostel we planned to stay at did not have any beds left. However we quickly found a hotel in a small alley, which cost a bit more (10€ in total) but we got our own room, proper beds, bedsheets, towels and our own bathroom so it was worth it. The nightlife is a lot tamer than in Bangkok (apart from one situation in a bar where there was a small situation involving some waiters trying to inflate the prices, which we obviously weren’t happy about) and we wanted to make the most of our day in Hanoi so we went to bed fairly early. Continue reading “Kingdom to Communism “
At the airport I got myself some Thai baht and jumped on the sky train that took me closer to the city centre. During the train ride there was a short but heavy rainfall that luckily stopped as I got out. At the last station I showed a tuk tuk driver the address I was heading to, which he did not recognise so I just asked him to drive me to the Center thinking that It was close to where I was supposed to go.
It turned out not to be. Continue reading “Bangkok has you now”
This morning I woke up extremely early, I assume a side effect of my immense excitement, and had breakfast with the relations. After taking the toddler for a spin in the park I head off taking various modes of public transportation to the airport. This whole part of the journey went very smoothly and I soon landed in Amsterdam. I had a little time before my next flight and went for a little wonder. The airport itself is rather ugly, however what the airport was filled with made up for this, from a tulip garden to a cheese house one could find everything you needed and more.
My flight to BKK left late in the afternoon and I was glad to find myself sitting at the window. The flight was spend watching a variety of movies and gazing out the window, at least until the sun set. (Which it did so in a stunning display of purple and violet over Bohemia). After a few bumps just north over the Bosporus we flew over the Caucasus mountains and the Caspian sea.
Roughly half way through the journey we crossed over Afghanistan and a short while later came to the highlight of the flight. The Himalayas. A crystal clear sky allowed a perfect view of the moonlit snowy valleys below.
I then landed safely in Bangkok (translates to “City of the wild peaches”) Haven’t slept for quite a bit and now have to go meet up with my travel companions. Hopefully I will find them.
Around 2000 years ago today Julius Ceaser left his home, even thought both a fortune teller and his wife warned him against doing so. Later that day Caesar was stabbed repeatedly by a group of republican Senators including his friend Brutus who delivered, or so the story goes, the final blow.
I on the other hand left my house this morning leaving with a sense of wonderment of what this journey will be like. Having packed and repacked my bag, checked and double checked my travel items I left my home late morning. Continue reading “The Ides of March”
One of the main reasons I started this blog was to tell the story of my impending journey. For the next three months I shall travel through the farther Indian subcontinent, nowadays know as Southeas Asia with a few friends that I will link up with in Bangkok.
On the ides of march I will be leaving Lower Saxony on a journey that will take me through Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Bangkok with the final flight taking me to the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi. From there I have neither planned nor booked anything else apart from my return flight leaving Bangkok sometime in June. The rough idea is that we will make our way south, linking up with friends from the United Kingdom along the way. Throughout this journey I hope to be able to share my stories with you and will try to write as much as time and the availability of wifi permits.
Flying with budget airlines has become a lot more common over the last decade and as a result we now value “premium” airlines more. There are many reason why we value these airlines such as slightly more comfortable seats, the better service and the superior gate locations. However all these little perks aside there is one thing that I valued the most, which in my view is the flagship difference between budget and premium. That is when a little while after reaching cruising altitude a smiling stewardess offers me some drinks and a snack. The quality of this “offering” varies between airlines, with British airways definitely serving more high end treats such as their delicious wraps with exotic ingredients that are preferable to the standard bag of crisps. Now for reasons unknown to me BA has decided to stop offering this complementary service on short haul flights (under 5 hours).
There has been a revolution in Germany. For years trains have had a monopoly on travel, at least at distances where flying was inefficient or not available. As there was no real competitor the German train system has gotten inefficient and their prices shot sky-high unhindered by the lack of rivals. But this has drastically changed over recent years as there is a new player on the market. Flix Bus. This long distance bus operator is now carrying over 20 million passengers in Germany per year, with predictions going for over 25 million in the years to come. (After Flix Bus took over its biggest rival Postbus it now owns 90%+ of the bus market share). Over 45% of the passengers would normally travel by train and 30% would take the car. This is serious competition for the Deutsche Bahn as there are many advantages for travelling by bus. Continue reading “The dawn of the Bus -The end of the train ?”