A Travellerspoint blog

Vietnam Halong Bay

Tim on a Junk

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The cruise on Halong bay is a tourist thing. If you can survive the bus ride without getting an ulcer. For the four hour trip from Hanoi to Halong Bay I sat at the front of the bus. The driver enjoyed playing chicken with the on coming buses and trucks. He didn't care about anything smaller. The harbour at the bay s very congested perhaps a thousand junks and innumerable sampans. Ours was in need of a refit not desperate, but soon. The boat was 60m long and 7 wide four cabins to a side each with it's own head. The crew were attentive, the food was included and they made a little extra money on over charging us on the beer and wine. The activities were cool swiming, kayaking, climbing and squid jigging. And no I didn't catch any; even though tried! The scenery is spectacular. Disjointed fingers of limestone stretch to impossible heights, eroded and corroded there are some very neat caves. The crew wasn't very serious about the anchorage. They just dropped the 'hook' and left. We stayed up jigging for imaginary squid until late and at six the pitter patter of tiny asian feet woke me up. Did I mention the food? There was lots with six or seven different items evvery meal. The vegetarians were taken care of thought they had to sit in a corner together. The only vegetarians in Vietnam are the monks and nuns. Watch out for the water quality when you're swimming there are more tthan a few floaties in the oil slicks. The interesting thing were the floating houses, people and dogs on top, fishing outside, shrimp and clam farming iin the basement. The Vietnamese don't let anything go to waste. P

Posted by patgoodeve 09:46 Archived in Vietnam Tagged cruises Comments (0)

Vietnam Hanoi

Third world exciting

sunny 28 °C
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If your courage is up to crossing the street there is a lot to see. First the street; nobody and I me and I mean nobody stops unless they're sure they will hit something and break their ride. If you're driving a big bus no worries, if you're on a scooter; Millions of them by the way, pedestrians are fair game. Especially big slow anglos. The most common ride is the scooter. they're not tuned up or have working lights, but they do have horns. Everyone has a horn and they play this indeciferable code to tell each other to get out of the way. The Vietnamese love their horns. The streets are in reasonable condition. The sidewalks are not. Lots of pollution from engines combined with on the street cooking. The place is just hopping with activity. If I live going across the street for a bite to eat I'll write more. My game plan is to wait for a little old lady and match her time going across if she's lived this long here she will know how it's done. I'll be downs stream just in case she's wrong. P

Posted by patgoodeve 05:11 Archived in Vietnam Tagged transportation Comments (0)

Coming in to Viet Nam

A thrill ride in a taxi

24 °C
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Just a quick note. Viet Nam Air is great. The girls are pretty. I got a better meal in coach than I did in first class on Air Canada. The wine was free and the seats had leg room! The movie sucked. Customs was fun. You fill out a card saying you don't have anything to declare. They believe you you're done. Welcome to Viet Nam. The taxi ride was a great experience; if you kept your eyes closed. For sixteen US dollars you get thirty minutes of not stop dodging and musical horns. No stop signs, no traffic lights. The person with the biggest ba//$ goes first. No impression of what it's really like yet; sort of like Belize only everyone's oriental. P

Posted by patgoodeve 03:13 Archived in Vietnam Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Tokyo Tour

Making new friends

15 °C
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I did the tourist thing on the second of April. Made reservations through the counter clerk. Got a map. Here is something for travelers to remember! Japanese maps don't have north at the top. They have a system I'm sure but north isn't always at the top of the page. So my compass didn't help. Also if something is important it is printed big and not important, small. So much for scale. I bought an all day ticket for the subway. Used my camera to record my turns and stops. The ticket was 1000yen but after two mistakes it paid for itself, not to mention the aggravation of trying to buy a ticket for a specific in the kanji characters. The twenty minute ride took more than an hour. The bus terminal is attached to the Trade centre though on the map it shows as a seperate building on another block.
The tour guide called himself, Sugar an older man with a big smile, mean eyes and no information other than his spiel. There were nine people on board the bus, in typical Japanese fashion Sugar wanted us all crammed together in the first three rows off the bus. There I met Kenjimiy Akawajp. I called him Ken. Thirty seven years old, Ken had lived in Buffalo for three years going to school. His English was pretty good. His new job needed him to sharpen his language skills and find places to take European clients. He works and lives in Tokyo. So did another lady who was showing her mother around. Ken and I hit it off along with Fiona, a leggy blonde from New York who was sightseeing while her husband worked. We went to the Tokyo Tower, looks like the Eiffel tower only newer. went up the elevator packed closer than cornflakes in a box. Looked down on rooftops, took some picture, packed ourselves back in another elevator, ho hum. Next was th Imperial Palace grounds, more pictures. Mostly we walked around this big moat where the guide explained about the early construction and the Shoguns taking power, then giving it back to the Emperor's family who are apparently of Mongolian descent!. No inside the palace, no Emperor, ho hum. Next to my surprise, we drive right past my hotel to the big Temple around the corner . The Kannon Temple was cool. A tourist trap but interesting. Sugar explained about the animist native religion 'Shinto' used for daily living and Buddism used for getting into heaven later on, very practical people the Japanese. Next was the Ginza strip. The most expensive real estate on earth $300,000.00 per square meter! It looked like a cleaner New York with more people. We went into the many shops and department stores, ho hum. Fiona left at 7:00pm Ken suggested dinner. I suggested cheap. We went to the underbelly of the strip and there had a fine meal of sashimi, shiska bobs, boiled flounder in vinegar and beer. At about eleven my new friend showed me how to get back on the subway. I used my all day ticket!. Thank you Ken for a wonderful experience and the morning headache. Tomorrow I'll visit the temple again and work out how to get to the Narita Airport as I can't afford the 200,000yen for a taxi. P

Posted by patgoodeve 18:53 Archived in Japan Tagged tips_and_tricks Comments (0)

Tokyo town

Public transport

rain 12 °C
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Tokyo is just another big city only bigger. Reminds me of New York only more crowded and I can see over most people. Like most big city people Tokyo'kans are in more of a rush. If they're swearing at me I don't know it. It's like going from St. Johns Newfoundland to Montreal or Toronto in Canada. I'll just pick up the pace a little . Haneda airport is a monster. You get the usual long walk and wait for baggage. There are tremendous public transport connections. Multiple choices compared to what's at Toronto's Pearson. Why am I surprised? Canada must be in the grips of the oil cartels because they sure don't have a handle on public transit.

Posted by patgoodeve 17:10 Archived in Japan Tagged transportation Comments (0)

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