Vietnam 2010

A whistle-stop trip from north to south (and a hop next door)

It’s happening slowly…

Posted by activeafrica on March 2, 2010

I’m on tour at the moment and struggling to find regular internet access. Please keep checking back — the trip report will be completed!



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Days 8-9: Hoi An

Posted by activeafrica on March 2, 2010

Day 8

Our stay on the junk was an abridged version of the 3-night, 4-day stay, so the following morning, we pulled in at the Ben Beo jetty shortly after 7am. After paying Slo and collecting our passports, we made our way to the Hoan Long office to buy our tickets back to Hanoi. The 4-hour ferry-and-bus journey (once again accompanied by a violent, interminable Chinese mob/action movie) was relatively painless and saw us back in Hanoi with sufficient time to take a taxi to the Church hotel to collect our stored bag and have a last bowl of phở from La Place. Then it was off to the airport for our Vietnam Airlines flight to Da Nang. On arrival in Da Nang, we were met by one of the B&R drivers who bundled us into his comfortable, air-conditioned minivan, threw the bags in with the two new Canondales in the back and drove us silently to Hoi An. We arrived at the Hà An hotel approximately 12 hours after disembarking the junk in Cat Ba. I have to credit Chris for having the foresight to book a comfortable hotel after two nights on the junk. The Hà An was the perfect option for our stay in Hoi An (please see the Hoi An Travel info page for more information on the Hà An hotel). My only complaint is that we weren’t there long enough.. Read the rest of this entry »

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DAYS 6-7: Cat Ba junk cruise

Posted by activeafrica on March 2, 2010

Day 6

Our train from Lao Cai arrived in Hanoi at 4.30 the following morning after a much more pleasant journey. The bone-breaking stops and cacophonic wheel noise that characterised the outward journey were mercifully absent. The most uncomfortable part of this experience was filling the time between arriving at the station and catching the bus to Hai Phong at 9am. We decided to take a taxi to the area we had stayed previously, hoping that at least one of the hotels or restaurants would be open and serving even basic (preferably caffeinated) sustenance at 4.30am. Despite being asked to drop us at the Metropole Hotel, the taxi dropped us at St Joseph’s cathedral and left us standing in the dark, deserted street with all of our luggage. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by activeafrica on February 17, 2010


We were both excited about the overnight train trip. Our last overnight train ride was a Rovos Rail trip between Pretoria and Cape Town in 2004. So the King Express deluxe cabin isn’t quite a Rovos suite, but it’s still a train ride and we were excited to be going somewhere new. As the train left Hanoi, we lamented having neglected to buy snacks (is that still called ‘padkos’ or is it ‘spoorkos’?) so we shared the complimentary Hanoi beer in our gift basket (our ticket notes that the services include: 01 drink and 01 high quality cold tissue). The high quality cold tissue was stashed for future roadside emergencies and we settled down to enjoy the clickety-click…. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by activeafrica on February 12, 2010


I left Cape Town on January 22nd feeling thoroughly exhausted after Christmas with the family (3 kids under 10), a Christmas season private tour and its pre-trip and then 10 days of hosting aforementioned family in the Cape, all off the back of a busy tour season at the end of last year. In fact, the last thing I needed was to be travelling to a foreign country to spend 2 weeks chasing from one new experience to the next. “Get some rest before you come, cos our itinerary is hectic…” These important words were buried deep in one of the many emails Chris sent before I left. And it was precisely because I had not been able to comply with these instructions that I found myself waking from a doze somewhere over the Indian Ocean, sometime on the date/time continuum, sweating and gasping with anxiety and wondering what the hell I was doing back in the air for the seventh time in four weeks. Read the rest of this entry »

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Keep checking back!

Posted by activeafrica on February 7, 2010

We’ve just returned from an awesome trip to Vietnam and Cambodia and have committed to recording details of the trip for various reasons. Once we get through the usual post-trip chore of dealing with unanswered emails, overdue bills and finding work to pay for the holiday, we’ll make a start on editing the 900-odd images and posting the trip report. I’m going to put Chris’s proverbial “c..k on the block ” and suggest that you keep checking back within the next week (8 – 15 Feb 2010), for details and photos. For those who wish to travel to Vietnam any time soon, we’ll include details and reviews of the places we stayed, ate, visited, etc.

Trip overview

Woman in paddy field - Hoi An

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