13/12/2010 - 26/12/2010 21 °C
We’re now in Vietnam having left China almost a week ago.
We spent the rest of our time in China in Guilin, climbing up limestone peaks (only the free ones though, I think £4 is a lot to walk up a hill), walking along the river and avoiding eating random animals.
On the way towards the border we travelled to Nanning where we could catch a bus to Vietnam, we caught a train there and were in a carriage with some teachers & about ten 15 year olds who were fascinated by us asking us loads of questions, I still find it really hard to believe that people don’t see white people very often.
Until now I don’t think China was overpopulated, but Nanning was crazy, just so many people and really polluted.
The border crossing to Vietnam took forever, although weirdly we did have golf carts to take us between the Chinese and Vietnamese customs, it really wasn’t even that far, but people here definitely don’t like to walk. The whole bus journey all our instructions were in Chinese, so we just sort of followed everyone else on the bus as they got on & off for breaks, luckily a nice man spoke English and told us the food was included in the ticket at one stop! Then another long journey the other side to Hanoi, it was nice to take the bus in the day though as we saw lots of scenery and we were going so slowly you could watch everything go by. I did see the 1st animals of our trip (not in cages outside restaurants), including 4 pigs on the back of a motorbike and a huge basket of chickens on the back of a bike and a few ducks stuffed in the front basket.
We met Jay’s cousin Rob in Hanoi and spent a couple of days with him, they were supposed to have come to Halong Bay with us for Christmas but his friend was too ill for a 4 hour bus journey.
We bought a very cheap bus -> boat -> bus ticket from Hanoi out to Cat Ba Island in Halong Bay and weren’t expecting much, but just hoping that the boat didn’t sink. The boat remained floating, despite another boat literally crashing into it while we were stopped at some caves! The trip though Halong Bay was great, it’s really stunning scenery (honestly just like on Top Gear) and on our slow little boat we had ages to admire it.
We’re staying in Cat Ba town in a lovely hotel with a big balcony overlooking the harbour and it’s just £4 a night, we do however have this tiled in our bathroom. It’s really very strange, but everything else about the hotel seems ok...
It was Christmas day yesterday and we spent it with a group of people we’d met on the boat coming here, we had a long walk along the imaginatively named beaches Cat Co 1,2 & 3. Not warm enough yet to swim in the sea! We went out for dinner and had bacon burgers, I really have had enough noodles so a burger was quite a treat, then even found somewhere selling nice wine.