Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Andaman Coast & Islands, Thailand


Long Tail Boat, Ko Phi Phi, Thailand, originally uploaded by Nice Logo.

It was a long journey from Pai to Krabby and we did it all in one go!

Bus to Changmai, Rickshaw to Train Station, Train to Bangkok, Change for Train to Surathani, then Bus from Gulf coast to Andaman coast, where we get dropped off in some random shady place on the outskirts of town,
frequented by hookers. We try to get a rickshaw into town - the driver was pissed, after we protest, we eventually get a guy who said he wasn't drunk but can't drive, still he drove us to a hotel in Krabby town. 36 hours after leaving Pai. We checked in and headed to the cool roof top restaurant, to enjoy some well needed Chang and Green Curry. Ahhhhh!

The next morning we caught the ferry to Ko Lanta island. A beautiful journey with views of the stunning Andaman islands.

We stayed in some nice beach huts, just off the beach on Ko - Lanta. We met Sinead and Kat from Ireland and American girl who were also staying there, it was nice place to hang out with its own bar, restaurant... and a crazy stoned Greek guy.

Just up the path on the road was a lovely cafe/ restaurant, with some of the best Thai food we'd had. I joked 'you'll have to show us how you make that and the girl said OK, is tomorrow good? So I went back and cooked us Tom Yam Pak (Spicy Sour Vegetable Soup),
Gaeng Kiew Wahn Pak (Vegetables in Green Curry), and Mussaman Pak (a nutty spicy sweet dish with potatoes, veg, coconut), with their guidance, then Kaz came up with Mum & Dad and we all tucked in! Bostin' !

We went to a pretty lively 'reggae beach party' which local legends 'Job to do were playing at. Do - Dooo Doo ....

Monday, January 21, 2008

ChangMai and Pai


Hot Tubs in Pai, originally uploaded by Nice Logo.

Changmai was great, we had a lovely day walking around the ancient city and temples, and had some amazing food in a Veggie restaurant. But we fancied being more in the country and mountains so we headed to Pai on a small crowded local bus.

Pai was lovely, still on the tourist map but
super chilled. We stayed in some bamboo huts over the river across the rickerty bridge. It had beautiful views of rolling hills, banana trees and lovely sunsets.

We done some lovely walks around Pai and went on an Elephant trek, Mum and Kaz even went in the river to bathe with them. Mum loves Elephants! as anyone who's visited their house can tell, she has Elephant pictures, models... everywhere. The family at the Elephant camp had some hot tubs we soaked in afterwards. Another perfect day!

video

From Pai we done a trek out to some villages around Sappong, staying with a family in a homestay . This area has many different ethnic groups which have kept much of their individual cultures, the largest of which is the Karen people. Our guide was an amazing cook! and whipped an amazing feast. After dinner, washed down with local rice wine, we were 'invited' to an impromptu market that had been set up for us, right out side the house. It was all clothing and crafts made by the village women and most of it was lovely. We brought some gifts including a cute hat for Maisie and Mum brought more Elephant themed goods.

Links

http://www.karenpeople.org/

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bangkok, Thailand


Tuk Tuk, Bangkok, originally uploaded by Nice Logo.

We had a couple of nights back in Bangkok with Jamie and Ellie, before they flew home. It was so sad to see them go after an amazing trip together. A few days later my Mum & Dad - Steve & Denise, came out. It was so great to see them again!
We had a couple more nights in Bangkok, exploring the city by river and Sky Train. We then caught the train north to Changmai.

Ko Tao Island, Thailand



Ko Tao was beautiful we had a day out on a boat going around the small island, stopping for some amazing snorkeling along the way. The nightlife was more relaxed than Ko Pha Ngan but there were some great bars along the beach front where we were staying.

Ko Pha Ngan Island, Thailand


Party Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand, originally uploaded by Nice Logo.

We set out early from Battambang, Cambodia in a taxi to Poipet and the border with Thailand. We walked over the border and got a tuk to tuk to the train station at Aranya Prathet. We had some Pad Thai, whilst waiting for the train to Bangkok.

On the train we got speaking to some art students from Bangkok, who were coming back from a field trip. They spoke excellent English, we chatted mainly about music, football and a little bit about Thailand, their King Bhumibol Adulyadej and former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Opinion was mixed , between the students, about Thaksin who was ousted out in a military coup on Tuesday 19th 2006. But They all loved The King.

Jamie and Ellie were in Thailand just after this coup and remember seeing Tanks with flowers in the guns in Bangkok. Thaksin has been living in England and has famously bought Manchester City Football Club. He returned to Thailand on February 28th 2008, to face charges of abuse of power during his time in office.

Having reigned since June 9, 1946, King Bhumibol Adulyadej is the world's longest-serving current head of state. Thai’s love him, there’s pictures of him, including huge billboards and posters the size of buildings, all over the country.

In November last year he was in hospital having heart treatment. Thai’s started wearing pink clothes to bring their beloved King good luck and health. A story on the BBC explained ‘Thai commentators said pink first became an important colour for him earlier this year, when royal astrologers determined it was a good colour for his health.’ And that Since King Bhumibol's 60th anniversary on the throne in 2006, many Thais have worn bright yellow shirts every Monday, because that was the day of the week on which he was born.’

The students had all the latest gadgets, we swapped ipods and they picked out their favourite Thai and western bands to play us. We were in Bangkok in no time.

We had dinner, the first of many tasty Thai Green Currys, at a street cafe near the station. We decided we’d catch the night train straight down to Surat thani, rather than stay in Bangkok. The only problem was we couldn’t get the excellent sleeper tickets, with bed, so we had the less comfy recliner seats, but managed to sleep a bit, although freezing from the full power air conditioning. We arrived in Surat thani the next morning, where we got a bus to the port and then ferry, via Ko Samui, to Ko Pha Ngan. On the island we got a sawngthaew (a small pick up truck, shared taxi/ bus, with two rows of bench seats down both sides of the trunk) from the port Thongsala to Ban Tai. A long journey!!! Over 30 odd hours in all from Battambang to Ko Pha Ngan.

We checked into some bamboo bungalows at Bay Hut, a beautiful place Jamie and Ellie had found last time they were here, and dived straight into the sea. It was a great place, super chilled, with hammocks to laze in under the shade of coconut trees and hardly anyone on the beach. The sunsets here were stunning!

There was supposed to be a Jungle Party, Jungle Experience, happening in Ban Tai but it had been cancelled due to the recent death of The kings sister, Galyani Vadhana, Princess of Narathiwat on 2nd January 2008. There was an official mourning period of two weeks, which was later extended to 100 days. Organisers had been asked to cancel parties in respect of her.

We were only a short ride away from, Hat Rin, home of the infamous Full Moon Party. Hat Rin is always busy, and even though it was weeks before Full Moon Party it was still packed with music and plenty of messy action on the beach. The music was OK, with the best being up at Mellow Mountain, with its infamous shakes. We had some Sangsum ‘buckets’, Thai Whiskey (made from rice and tasting more like Rum) topped up with coke and extra strong red bull, served in a plastic bucket with Ice and straws. Lethal.

Battambang, Cambodia



There wasn't many sights as such in Battambang, but it was one of my favourite places in Cambodia. Laid back and friendly. Jamie and Ellie done a cooking course at Smokin' Pot Restaurant. But the highlight for all of us must be the trip on the Bamboo Train or 'Norry' as it is known in Khmer.



Bamboo Train, originally uploaded by Nice Logo.


Links

'Jouney Man' documentary on The Bamboo Train

Friday, January 18, 2008

Boat Trip from Siem Reap to Battambang, Cambodia


IMG_6079, originally uploaded by Nice Logo.

We took a boat from Siem Reap to Battambang it was a beautiful if not a little hair raising trip. When we crossed the huge lake, which looked more like an ocean, it look as if it was going to be 50/50 chance that we survived it. The crew bailing out the water that was filling up the deck. To make things worse Jamie was suffering bad with diarrhea. Our guide book said the journey took between 4 - 8 hours, it took nearer 12 hours!

More Photos

Angkor Watt, Cambodia


Reflections, Angkor Watt, Cambodia, originally uploaded by Nice Logo.

We spent a couple of days wandering around beautiful Angkor, the site of the former Khmer Empire near Siem Reap. We stayed at a great guest house, Guest house No.9. They cooked the best Amok, a soupy Cambodian Curry with Coconut, Vegetable and fruits. At night we chilled out there, playing pool with the guys and drinking Angkor beer.

More Photos.

Links

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angkor
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khmer_empire
Vegetarian Recipe for Amok

Killing Fields, Cambodia


The Killing fields memorial near Phnom Penh is a chilling reminder of the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge and how the world largely ignored it. It makes you sick. How can we let the same mistakes keep happening, be it Auschwitz, Cambodia, Srebrenica, Darfur, Iraq...

America and 'The West's' responsibility for this attrocity is highlighted in YEAR ZERO - A Film by JOHN PILGER . Watch below on YouTube introduced by an American Viewer.

Links to Parts 2-6 Below

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBSZty5mCTw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfX7dBlfvac
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kv0d1O5OmoM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIAmQDO_3h4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTEykUkR5BQ

Also see John Pilger-Cambodia, The Betrayal (in 5 parts, part 1 below)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhYVk_Mttz8&feature=related

Read: War in Vietnam - Invasion of Cambodia

Visit: http://www.johnpilger.com/

NYE in Phnom Penh, Cambodia


NYE, We take over the sound system at a party on a sinking terrace on the lake in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Top Night! Great 'Happy Pizza'.

Mekong, Vietnam


Mekong, Vietnam, originally uploaded by Nice Logo.

We took a trip, 3 days, 2 nights, to travel from Ho Chi Minh City up the Mekong and onto Phnom Phen, Cambodia. It was a beautiful trip soaking up all the atmosphere of life on the water.


www.flickr.com








Nice Logo's Mekong Delta photosetNice Logo's Mekong Delta photoset



Ho Chi Minh City/ Saigon, Vietnam


We hooked up with our friends Tim & Michelle in Saigon. We met Tim and Michelle years ago in Hvar, Croatia, we got on really well and had kept in touch. They both lived and worked in Kyrgyzstan, for a while and we had hoped to meet them there, even planning a film project, but this was cancelled due to the Tulip Revolution. Tim and Michelle are now living here in Vietnam and have a beautiful daughter Amelia.

We stayed with them in their huge snazzy house, on the edge of Saigon. It was beautiful place on a sprawling new luxury estate. But they said it was a bit isolated, with little community spirit, they were moving next week to an older house in a friendlier neighbourhood.

Michelle recommended we take our camera to ‘The Camera Doctor’, it was playing up again, this time it was the mirror. Jamie and I headed there. The ‘Doctor’ was great. “If you’re not in a rush, I can have it fixed in about an hour” he said. He done a great job and only charged a couple of pounds! We then headed to some Museums the girls went shopping and to visit a temple.

The War Museum was intensely shocking and heart breaking. I’ve seen many images of the American War, as it is called here, but not as graphic as the images on show here. The most disgusting and disturbing of the photos were those taken by American Soldiers themselves, as souvenirs. There are photos of soldiers posing with decapitated heads of Vietnamese people, the soldiers pose as if it’s a football team photo, they smile as if it’s a game.

Other images on display had a shocking resemblance to the images we see coming out of Abu Ghraib, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan. The similarities between the conflicts are too much to bare.

As John Pilger writes, "It was a lie from the beginning, throughout the war, and even today." When US troops landed in Vietnam in 1965, they believed their cause to be a noble one, but it was a sham.

In another article, 'Torture is news but it's not new', he recalls how American atrocities and torture were not considered newsworthy.

John Pilger is perhaps one of the greatest investigative journalists, click here to read more of his articles from Vietnam.

That night we met Tim and headed to a fantastic Restaurant, in an old French Colonial building near Reunification Palace. The next night we had dinner at Tim & Michelle’s before hitting HCMC / Saigon, hard, on a pub n club crawl from the latest trendy Vietnamese hotspot to backpacker/ expat favourites - including 'Apocalypse Now', to local dives. It was a great night, from what we can remember.

Links

John Pilger articles on Vietnam

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Ghraib_prisoner_abuse
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guantanamo_Bay_detention_camp
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apocalypse_Now

Christmas at Nha Trang Beach, Vietnam


Rich & Jamie, Nha Trang Beach, Vietnam, originally uploaded by Nice Logo.

We arrived in Nha Trang early, after a night bus from Hoi An. Jamie and I heroically offered to look after the bags, sitting at a roadside café, whilst the girls found us a place to stay. We had some great Vietnamese Coffee and Cheese baguettes. The girls took their time. We looked at the clock, not even 9am yet, ‘Is is too early for a beer?’, which wasn’t too much of a difficult question, it was the day before Christmas Eve, So we got some beers in, and the tunes on the go with our portable speakers n’ ipod.

The girls found us a great place, in a quiet alley just back from the beach, after a few rounds of beer and the day heating up, we were just about ready for crashing out on the beach. The sea was lovely and the weather great, beautiful blue skies, the beach long and wide. We hadn’t been on the beach for ages and we’d all been longing for it! What a place to spend Christmas!

We met some girls from Lichfield who were handing out flyers for a night at The Sailing Club on the beach.

That night, we went to ___ which served great food, including one of the best Pho, Noodle Soup served with side plates of lime, chilli, green leaves and bamboo shoots, washed down with Vietnamese White Wine from Dalat. We had some Bia Hoi at a bar nearby then headed back to the Hotel. Someone mentioned, something about having a quiet night and saving ourselves for Christmas Eve tomorrow. We had a beer on Jamie and Ellie’s balcony, but Jamie and I had now got our second wind and fancied going out.

We took the tunes and headed to the café we went were at that morning. The guy was pleased to see us again, welcoming us and joining us for beers. With the tunes blasting out we soon attracted a few passers by. We had the ipod covered by Jamie’s Hat, we asked “any requests for ‘The Hat’ ”. The Hat Club was born. A Canadian couple, joined us buying a bottle of local rum for the table, he was a little crazy and was going on about Charles Manson for some reason, his partner/ wife looked a little worried. Some young Ozzie lads joined us along with a gang of Vietnamese girlfriends, the girls asked for Michael Jackson, and ‘dancey funky, disco stuff’, The Hat Club delivered. ‘Be careful I might steal this music, I like it’ one girl said, only half joking.
We headed home sometime after sunrise.

Jamie was quite good at avoiding the Ice that was going into the Rum cocktails, I less so. The ice was crushed from huge blocks which had been driven around the stinky streets of Nha Trang, uncovered on bikes, the water was probably not the best to start with, then could have picked up all sorts en-route. The next evening I felt terrible. I went back to the Hotel around 9pm, and spent Christmas Eve watching ‘Kylie – Showgirl homecoming tour’ on the TV between runs to the loo. Kaz, Jamie and Ellie went to the ‘Sailing Club’ and ‘Why Not Bar’ but weren’t too impressed. They said it also got a bit sketchy on the streets, where groups of girls were preying on pissed up tourists, getting close n flirty then pinching their wallets … Gangs of guys were close at hand to step in, should there be any trouble or fights. Kaz spotted some guys getting tapped and warned them, which didn’t amuse the girl who booted Kaz up the bum.

So perhaps a night in with Kylie wasn’t too bad.

Hoi An, Vietnam


Riverside, Hoi An, Vietnam, originally uploaded by Nice Logo.

Hoi An had a great laid back feel especially by the riverside and still has much of its old architecture intact. It’s famous for it’s tailors and we all had a little something made.

We had some great food in Hoi An, especially Cao Lau, a local speciality, of rice noodles, been sprouts, greens, herbs… which is usually served with Pork, but I managed to get a veggie version. The water used should come from the local Ba Le well, which dates back to Cham times. It is usually topped with seasoned croutons, and tastes great once you’ve added some extra lime and chilli.

Hue


Medicine shop, Hue, Vietnam, originally uploaded by Nice Logo.



We got to Hue later that evening after our tour of the DMZ, and went out for dinner and some drinks with the Ozzie girl, her daughter staying in, chatting to mates on t’internet.

The next day we had a walk around the Old Citadel and Royal Palaces. From 1802 to 1945 Hue was the Capital of Vietnam during Nguyen dynasty.

Later, we took a boat out on the river, although it was getting dark so we didn’t get too far.

Link

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Vietnam

DMZ

We were so glad we did take the tour of the De Militarized Zone (DMZ) from Danang. Our guide was great, he was so enthusiastic about everything. He had grown up here and was conscripted to fight with the South Vietnamese troops when he was 16. He had been through the ‘re-education programme’, when the North Vietnamese took control of the country after 1975. He wanted people to understand what happened here.

We drove along a modern highway towards the DMZ, the road follows one of the many paths of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which was the major supply route for the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong (VC), during ‘The American War’. Whilst most of the west refers to the war here as ‘The Vietnam war’, the Vietnamese, call it The American War.

We walked, sticking close to the path, through the jungle, past Rubber Plantations and black pepper trees, towards a high strategic point and a former US bunker. On the walls of the bunker, alongside the bullet holes, was the word CALIFORNIA, probably carved by a young conscript, sent to fight a war in a land he knew little of and for what?



Spider, originally uploaded by Nice Logo.

Along the way we passed scraps of missiles and other debris, which still littered the land. We saw two guys searching for booty with a metal detector.

‘For more than three decades four armies expended untold energy and resources mining, booby-trapping, rocketing, strafing, mortaring and bombarding wide areas of Vietnam… It’s estimated that as much as 20% of Vietnam remains uncleared, with more than three million mines and 350,000 to 800,000 tonnes of unexploded ordnance (UXO)… Between 1975 and 2000 it resulted in the deaths of 38,849 people and 65,852 injuries nationwide. Around 1200 to 3000 people are injured every year.’*

We were told that many of the people that are injured or killed each year are collecting debris to sell as scrap. Children are often killed whilst playing in their fields attracted by fatal shining objects.

What’s even more sickening is when you think, people still manufacture and use these ‘weapons’!!! Lady Diana was perhaps one of the most famous ‘activists’ against Landmines, and it is argued that:

‘Due to the amount of influence she had, her death in August 1997 sparked the Government of the United Kingdom and other nations to ratify and sign the Ottawa Treaty.’

Introducing the Second Reading of the Landmines Bill 1998 to the British House of Commons, the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, paid tribute to Diana's work on landmines:

“ All Honourable Members will be aware from their postbags of the immense contribution made by Diana, Princess of Wales to bringing home to many of our constituents the human costs of landmines. The best way in which to record our appreciation of her work, and the work of NGOs that have campaigned against landmines, is to pass the Bill, and to pave the way towards a global ban on landmines.” —Robin Cook

More

A much more fitting tribute than the Elton John Songs, fountains and celebrity concerts.

Thankfully the UK did sign the treaty, however China, India, Russia and the United States are amongst the 37 countries which haven’t. *

Cambodia also has a major problem with landmines today. At Beng Mealea, a major tourist destination near Siem Reap, I saw a sign saying that this area was cleared of mines by CMAC, started 08/06/2006, completed 12/09/2007, funded by The Federal Republic of Germany. Large areas still remain in danger.

Lets not forget about the ‘collateral damage’ in Iraq, Afghanistan... where UXO from cluster bombs are killing and maiming innocents today, funded by us nice British and US taxpayers. Many of these are Uranium enriched mounting to Nuclear Warfare.

We visited a cemetery for North Vietnamese soldiers. Many of the graves were unmarked, some had what information they could figure out from battered documents, whilst others had full details. We stopped at the Grave of a young female North Vietnamese soldier. She 'volunteered' when she was 12 and died tens years later.

We then headed ontoen Luong bridge on the Ben Hai river, which served as the demarcation line between the Republic of Vietnam (RVN; South Vietnam) and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV; North Vietnam). On the southern side of the bridge there is a Monument to women and children of Vietnam. The sculpture depicts mother and children looking north over the river from South Vietnam, waiting for their husbands to return, of course many didn't.

The speaker stacks that blasted out propaganda, from each side, were still standing.

We headed to the Vinh Moc Tunnels.

‘In 1966 the USA began a massive aerial and artillery bombardment of North Vietnam. Just north of the DMZ, the villagers of Vinh Moc found themselves living in one of the most heavily bombed and shelled strips of land on the planet. Small family shelters could not withstand this onslaught and villagers either fled or began tunnelling by hand into the red-clay earth.’*

The Vinh Moc Tunnels are an amazing 2.8km network of tunnels, built on the coast, just north of the Ben Hai River. Whole families lived here and 17 babies were born in the underground delivery room.

‘Later, the civilians and VC were joined by North Vietnamese soldiers, whose mission was to keep communications and supply lines to nearby Con Co Island open.’*

It’s impossible to imagine how people could live and grow up here, underground in the dark and damp with little supplies and under aerial bombardment and gunfire from US naval ships.

For more history and background on 'The American War' Read John Pilger's articles on Vietnam

Links and Sources

Support International Campaign to Ban Landmines http://www.icbl.org/
Read Robert Fisk on Cluster Bombs and US terrorism - http://www.robert-fisk.com/american_terrorism.htm
Mines Advisory Group http://www.mag.org/

Cluster Bombs Petition http://www.minesactioncanada.org/home/index.cfm?fuse=Home.Petition

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_mine
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cluster_bomb
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_War

Read Articles on Vietnam by John Pilger
http://www.johnpilger.com/page.asp?partid=273

* Lonely Planet, Vietnam (2007) pg 476, 203, 204.

Halong Bay, Vietnam


Floating Fruit stall, Halonmg Bay, Vietnam, originally uploaded by Nice Logo.

We went for an amazing boat tour all 'in-coo-ded' around Halong Bay, 3 days 2 nights. It's a beautiful place, made even more atmospheric because of the mist. We Went kayaking and bought some beers from the floating markets. We went trekking on Cat Ba Island, where we stayed the first night and had visited some caves.

After Halong Bay we headed back to Hanoi
. We had a sleeper bus booked for our trip from Hanoi to Hue. A mini bus picked us up from our Hotel, it was packed! A German guy huffed and puffed. We squeezed on, managing to pile our bags in, somewhere. We drove around the busy city at rush hour, then stopped at another hotel, an Australian woman and her teenage daughter were waiting with their bags. “This is ridiculous!!!” shouted the German, bursting in a fit of rage. The Aussies somehow squeezed in, with bags on their laps, “Allrrrrright”.

The mini bus took us to the edge of town where we changed onto a big modern sleeper bus. The bus had three strips of beds running down it, top and bottom bunks. Ellie got the front middle bed and was convinced she’d be fired straight out the windscreen come the first sharp brake. The back beds were cosy, four beds all together, romantic. The drivers mate was at the back, the bus was no smoking, he lit up a fag, Kaz asked him to please put it out, he pretended to not understand, Kaz took the cigarette and stubbed it out on the wall, the embers almost setting the day-glo carpeted walls alight. The drivers mate was shocked but said nothing, he looked a little scared.

There was quite a good buzz onboard, we chatted with the Aussies and some Kiwi’s. The German guy was still fuming about something. Listened to some tunes and watched the random collection of videos on the TV, downloads of funny adverts, Internet clips (including that great George Bush & Tony Blair Endless Love song), music… Then got some sleep amongst the crazy driving and non-stop horn blasts.



In the morning we could hear the German guy panicking again. We were supposed to arrive in Hue at 9am, he had booked another bus from there for 10am!??! It was now nearly 9am and we were a long way from Hue. “Why, What’s the problem, it’s a perfectly good bus, why so slow, this is ridiculous!” The driver looked lost, we thought he stopped to ask for directions at least once. We pulled up alongside a café near Danang, “OK 30 minutes, Breakfast stop” announced the driver. The German guy erupted “NO STOPPING !!!!” “NO!!!”, “This is ridiculous!!!!” We couldn’t help pissing ourselves laughing.

We got breakfast, I had Pho – Noodle Soup, a surprisingly great breakfast! The guy serving us asked us where we heading, what were our plans etc. We told him we were heading to Hue, and also wanted to visit the De Militarized Zone (DMZ) and Vinh Moc Tunnels. Excitedly he told us he ran tours from here (never!) and gave us the pitch. It worked out perfect, we could do the tour with him then get a minibus, ‘in-coo-ded’, to Hue after.

The German guy was pacing up and down outside the bus, Jamie went to talk to him, and it looked like he had calmed down a little. After some consolatory ‘you have to go with flow mate, don’t you, can’t plan to much…’ Jamie then added ‘I think they only stop here to get people on tours’, they both laughed, but he didn’t seem too amused.

Hanoi, Vietnam


Hanoi streets, originally uploaded by Nice Logo.

In Hanoi we couldn’t get enough off the Bia Hoi ! Which must be some of the cheapest beer on the planet! from 2,500 Dong (8p) a glass. It is fresh un-pasturised beer, straight from the brewery and should be drunk within 24 hours. Beer Hoi bars are mostly low key affairs with people sitting outside on the street crowd on plastic chairs. Many are on busy road junctions for the full Hanoi bustling atmosphere, with throngs of people, traders and mopeds whizzing by. Some of the larger places, with tables, served great food too.

We also went to see the Water Puppet Theatre which is famous in North Vietnam and generally minced about the atmospheric old town and around Hoan Kiem Lake.

Links

Bia Hoi - http://hanoibiahoi.com/about_bia_hoi.html
Water Puppet - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roi_nuoc

Sapa, Vietnam


Mae and child, originally uploaded by Nice Logo.

We walked over the friendship bridge from The People's Republic of China to The Socialist Republic of Vietnam. We met our friends Jamie and Ellie from home, in nearby Sapa.

Beautiful place, home to many hill tribes. We went trekking and met up with Mae, who was from the Black Mong Tribe. She invited us to her home where we had a lovely meal and too much homemade rice wine. We stopped the night in a Homestay in the next village with a Zao (Dzao/ Dao) family, where we drank more rice wine and Tiger beers whilst learning some Kung Fu moves from an 'old master'.

Links

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hmong_people

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sapa%2C_Lao_Cai

Kunming, Yunan, China


Music in the park, originally uploaded by Nice Logo.

We had a few days in Kunming before we headed south to Vietnam and meet our friends from back home. Kunming was a nice relaxed city, great parks, bursting with life. Musicians would gather and soon attract a large crowd. People stepped out of crowd to join them and sing a song. Meanwhile there was some serious kite flying action going on.

Team Tibet Film