A Travellerspoint blog

Sapa, Vietnam

overcast 15 °C

We had a long travel day from Cat Ba Island all the way to a northern mountain town called Sapa. Luckily, we traveled with the Irish couple, so we had a few later evenings out with them, drinking and playing pool (hence, not blogging for several days!). We had two great days of lovely weather for touring through the hill tribe villages with local guides, and eating local lunches. Though the rice was harvested last month, the view of the mountains and rice paddies were still stunning, and we enjoyed learning about village life from our guides.
Nous quittons Cat Ba pour le nord du Vietnam, vers Sapa. Nous passons deux jours avec le couple d'Irlandais, a partager bieres et histoires (d'ou le retard dans les blogs :) ). Nous avons un superbe temps pour ces deux jours en Montagne ( 1500m d'altitude) que nous passons dans deux treks de quelques heures a travers les villages locaux. Bien que la region est fameuse pour ses rizieres (Avril-Aout), nos apprecions neamoins la vue spectaculaire et la vie des locaux, expliquee par nos guides.

Waterfalls

Waterfalls


Plenty of bamboo forest

Plenty of bamboo forest

Rice fields

Rice fields


Rice paddie

Rice paddie


Rice paddies

Rice paddies


Rice paddy up close

Rice paddy up close


Stunning rice paddies

Stunning rice paddies

Babies don't wear diapers- saves on clean up!

Babies don't wear diapers- saves on clean up!


Hill tribe ladies scootin around the village

Hill tribe ladies scootin around the village


Kids bathing in the river

Kids bathing in the river

Dye from the indigo plant

Dye from the indigo plant


Indigo plant for dying cloth

Indigo plant for dying cloth

Lunch of fried noodles, veggies, pork, egg and spring rolls

Lunch of fried noodles, veggies, pork, egg and spring rolls


Taking a break to gnaw on sugarcane

Taking a break to gnaw on sugarcane

Lake in Sapa

Lake in Sapa


Lake in Sapa

Lake in Sapa


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Posted by jillandloic 03:13 Archived in Vietnam Comments (2)

Hanoi and Cat Ba Island, Vietman

overcast 20 °C

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Our first day in Vietnam began with a day in crowded Hanoi. We visited the Royal Palace, former home of Ho Chi Minh. We also visited the Ho Chi Minh museum about his life and the political history of Vietnam, as well as the Hoa Lo Prison museum, where under French rule many Vietnamese were held, as well as Americans (notably, John McCain), who were captured during the Vietnam War (known here as the American war). We also passed by the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and through the Temple of Literature.
Nous arrivons au Vietnam a Hanoi. Apres un episode interessant sur le sujet des prix des visa, nous arrivons a l'hotel, en plein coeur de la vieille ville. Arrivee a 18h, entre les foules de touristes assoiffes et les scooters presses, ambiance garantie :). Le lendemain nous visitons le Palais de Ho chi Minh, et le musee-prison de Hoa Lo. La prison fut etablit par les Francais, et fut utilises a cette fin jusqu'a la fin de la guerre du Vietnam (Vietnam-USA, ici appele "American War") avec entre autre la presence d'un pilote americain, futur homme politique (McCain). Nous visitons aussi le mausolee de Ho Chi Minh et le jardin du temple de la Literature (Confucius, 500 av. JC).

streets of Hanoi

streets of Hanoi

Ho Chi Minh Palace

Ho Chi Minh Palace


HCM stilted House

HCM stilted House

Hanoi french prison Hual Lo

Hanoi french prison Hual Lo


John McCain POW at Hua Lo prison

John McCain POW at Hua Lo prison


The french and the guillotine

The french and the guillotine

Temple of literature

Temple of literature


A very big Bonsai

A very big Bonsai

The next few days we travelled to Cat Ba Island, in Ha Long bay. This area is known for its emerald waters and towering limestone islands topped by rainforests, and the island itself is 50% national park. Our first day we took a boat tour through the bay stopping at Monkey Island for a hike and a great view, and a quick swim at the beach. On our journey we passed several floating villages, stopping at one to rent kayaks which we paddled through some sea caves. We met a lovely Irish couple, who we ended up traveling with for a few days (see next blog).
Nous quittons Hanoi pour l'ile de Cat Ba et la baie d'Halong, fameuse pour ces eaux turquoises et ces ilots de calcaire coiffes par une jungle. L'Ile de Cat Ba fait partie en grande partie d'un parc national. Pour notre premier jour, nous prenons une excusio en bateau pour l'ile au singes, la baie d'Halong et une balade en kayak dans les caves. Nous y rencontrons un couple d'Irlandais qui voyagent eux aussi pour une annee.

Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay


Ha Long Bay boat tour

Ha Long Bay boat tour


Floating island in Ha Long Bay

Floating island in Ha Long Bay


Fisherman

Fisherman

Viewpoint on Monkey Island

Viewpoint on Monkey Island


View of Monkey Island

View of Monkey Island


Swimming in Ha Long Bay

Swimming in Ha Long Bay

Kayaking in Ha Long Bay

Kayaking in Ha Long Bay


Kayaking in caves in Ha Long Bay

Kayaking in caves in Ha Long Bay

Our second day on the island we rented a moped to travel along the coastline and to the national park, where we did a very hot jungle trek to a viewpoint. We also visited Hospital cave, which, during the Vietnam War, safely housed 100-200 people during the American bombing. Parts of the cave have been constructed with concrete into a surgery room, dining rooms, and sleeping rooms, but the main part of the cave served as a movie theater and is still natural cave. We spent the rest of the afternoon at one of Cat Ba's 3 beaches. Overall, a beautiful place to visit!
Notre second jour a Cat Ba, nous louons un scooter et faisons le tour de l'ile. Nous passons au parc national ou nous faisons le classique parcours vers le sommet de la montagne locale, sous 80% d'humidite et environ 30 degre Celsius. On a finit plutot humide :) Nous visitons aussi la cave de l'hopital, dans laquelle les centaines d'habitants de Cat Ba s'abritaient durant les bombardements Americains. La cave est immense, et doit son interet a la structure beton construite en son sein. l'etage superieur servait meme de salle de cinema geante. Nous passons le reste de la journee a la plage. Au final, l'endroit est magnifique.

View of Cat Ba Island from Hospital Cave

View of Cat Ba Island from Hospital Cave


Manmade part of hospital cave- various rooms

Manmade part of hospital cave- various rooms


Movie theater in Hospital Cave

Movie theater in Hospital Cave

Viewpoint in national park

Viewpoint in national park

Beach on Cat Ba Island

Beach on Cat Ba Island

Posted by jillandloic 04:09 Archived in Vietnam Comments (1)

Yi Peng Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand

sunny 26 °C

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We planned our visit to Chiang Mai to coincide with the Yi Peng lantern festival, which also happened to be at the same time as Loi Kratong. Yi Peng's main activity is decorating the city with paper lanterns and releasing hundreds of lanterns into the sky in the evening. Loi Kratong's main event is purchasing a flower boat with candles and incense to float down the river. The result is a beautiful scene of fire in the sky and fire on the river. This year felt chaotic because there was confusion over whether the lantern release was even allowed, and if so, when and where, due to the recent passing of the king. We did eventually find where everyone was releasing their lanterns, and we joined the mob on the bridge over the river. It was crazy crowded and loud, due to the honking cars and mopeds that were trapped in the sea of people on the bridge. Because nothing was officially organized this year, pre-planning to make a pedestrian only, protected area to release the lanterns didn't happen, and it seemed like the participants just picked a spot (a very small, dangerous spot). The energy and camaraderie among everyone on the bridge was great, though, as each of us with a lantern was helped by those around, and everyone cheered when someone's lantern finally lifted off (like at the balloon fiesta).
Nous avons synchronise notre presence a Chiang Mai avec le festival Yee Peng des lanternes volantes, qui tombe le meme jour que le festival de Loi Kratong (lanterne flottante). Pour le festival Yi Ping, les habitants/municipalite/moines de Chiang Mai decorent les rues et temples avec des lanternes, et un lache de lanternes volantes est connu pour se pratiquer a cette periode. Le festival de Loi Kratong est plus global et celebre dans toute la Thailande. Une petite lanterne flotante, fleurie, est lachee sur la riviere. La combinaison des deux festivals se traduit dans un magnifique ballet de lumiere sur la riviere Ping et dans les airs. Toutefois, cette annee, les festivites furent amoindries en raison du deuil national en respect du roi de Thailande, decede il y a peu. La confusion reigne, personne ne sais si les festivals vont avoir lieu, et quels en sont les details precis. Bref, le jour dis, nous suivons la foule, et relachons nos lanternes avec les milliers d'autres festivaliers, dans une ambiance conviviale ! La symbolique et de relacher notre haines/peurs/angoisses. Le lache de lanternes volantes fut particulierement appreciable En effet, du a l'absence d'organisation, les participants decident de prendre le pont (riviere Ping, Est de la ville) comme point de raliement, malgres le traffic continu. Plusieurs centaine, voir milliers de pietons ont raison du traffic. Les lanternes sont laches de 19h a beaucoup plus tard dans la nuit.

Chiang Mai's evening sky

Chiang Mai's evening sky


Streets are filled with candles

Streets are filled with candles


Jill with our Krathong

Jill with our Krathong


Krathong release on River Ping

Krathong release on River Ping


Crowds walking towards the river

Crowds walking towards the river


Loic and the sky line

Loic and the sky line


Loic lighting the lantern

Loic lighting the lantern


Other people's lanterns

Other people's lanterns

The last two days of Chiang Mai, we took a vacation from our vacation (yes, we do need that!), and went to an amazing swimming pool at a resort that allows non-guests to swim for a fee. We practically had the pool to ourselves both days, and had perfect pool and reading weather. A much needed break from feeling like we needed to make the most of every single day!
Pour nos deux derniers jours a Chiang Mai, nous decidons de prendre des vacances bien merites. Sissi, vraiment. Nous allons a la piscine d'un club local pour les deux jours, ou nous profitons d'une piscine olympique avec eau salee, un temps ensoleille, et zero bruit. Gros moment detente, bien merite :)

Serenity, at last

Serenity, at last


Life is so hard

Life is so hard

Next stop Hanoi, Vietnam !
Hanoi, nous voila !

Posted by jillandloic 01:40 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

Chiang Mai, Thailand- pre-festival

overcast 25 °C

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We spent a lovely first 3 days in Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand. Our first day we visited a nearby market to stock up on fruit for the week. Then we rented bikes to visit the Old City, which is loaded with wats (Buddhist temples).
Nous passons nos 3 premiers jour a Chiang Mai, au Nord de la Thailande. Nous visitons un marche local pour nous ravitailler pour la semaine, louons deux velos pour nous deplacer, et hop nous voila parti a la decouverte de Chang Mai. La vieille ville est un quartier d'environ 1km sur 1km, entoure d'un fosse rempli d'eau. La vieille ville comporte une douzaine de temples bouddhistes (Wat).
Wat

Wat

Wat

Wat


Inside a wat

Inside a wat


Another Wat

Another Wat


Waiting out the rain

Waiting out the rain


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My favorite sign- a squat toilet converting to standard toilet country needs these signs!

My favorite sign- a squat toilet converting to standard toilet country needs these signs!

Day 2 we spent a leisurely morning at home due to the rain, and then rented a scooter to visit Art in Paradise, (check out more pictures)the world's largest 3D art museum. We had such a blast taking photos. On our way there we got stuck in a huge downpour, and we stopped to watch the streets flood in a matter of minutes. Luckily, when we left, the rain had stopped. We got a taste of rush hour traffic here, and stopped at Bar Lab for drinks until things settle down.
Le second jour, nous regardons la pluie tomber, puis louons un scooter 125 et allons visiter le musee "Art in Paradise" (album photo). Le musee propose des murales avec des jeux d'optique qui permettent au visiteur d'integrer la scene. On s'amuse comme des petits fous. Entre les averses, on "profite" du traffic en heure de pointe (kof-kof, pollution) et on s'arrete finalement dans un bar "bar Lab" pour un verre.

Art in Paradise

Art in Paradise


Art in Paradise museum

Art in Paradise museum


Loic in a snowglobe

Loic in a snowglobe


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IMG_20161111_170632491


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IMG_20161111_165329348


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IMG_5497


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IMG_5478


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IMG_5456

Our third day we took the scooter up the mountain to Doi Suthep Pui National Park, a steep, windy, jungly road, that lead us to another famous Wat. On the mountain we also visited a Hmong village and the Royal Palace Gardens, which is known for it's roses, but they were out of season. We still saw a few, and enjoyed all the other flowers, along with a bamboo forest. The lookout view of the city was completely blocked by fog, which made for a mystical feel in the woods, but on the way down the sky cleared and we got our views.
Le lendemain (Samedi) nous amenons le scooter a la montagnem visiter le temple et le parc national Doi Suthep Pui. La route est sinueuse et le temps s'eclaircissant, nous apprecions la route. Nous visitons aussi un village Hmong et les jardins du palais royal, tres reposants avec ses centaines de varietes de roses (hors saisons, peu de fleurs) qui, du fait de l'altitude, subissent un climat bien plus tempere. Le point de vue vers la vallee est sous les nuages, donc pas de vue grandiose. Nous trouverons un autre point de vue sur le chemin de la descente.
Up to Doi Suthep Pui

Up to Doi Suthep Pui


Doi Suthep Pui

Doi Suthep Pui


Waterfall in a Hmong village

Waterfall in a Hmong village

Waterfall garden in Hmong village

Waterfall garden in Hmong village


Walking through foggy forest

Walking through foggy forest


View of Chiang Mai

View of Chiang Mai


Royal Palace Garden

Royal Palace Garden


Bamboo forest

Bamboo forest

We ended the day with dinner at the Saturday night market. Tomorrow begins the festival of Yi Peng and Loi Kratang!
Nous finissons la journee au Marche de nuit. Ce soir et demain, les festivals de Yi Peng et Loi Kratang debutent !
Nigh market

Nigh market


The city moat enlightened

The city moat enlightened

Posted by jillandloic 17:36 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Kanchanaburi, Thailand

overcast 25 °C

We landed in Bangkok and spent the night, but boarded a train the next morning for Kanchanaburi, Thailand. The town is famous for its role in WWII, as one of the towns that still has part of the railroad bridge from the Death Railway, a horrific event that until this visit, I had never even heard of. During WWII, the Japanese used 16,000 Dutch, British, American and Australian POWs, as well as 200,000 Asian laborers, to build a railway that engineers at the time estimated would take 5 years, in only 16 months. The Death Railway, as it is remembered, would serve as a shorter and secure line of supply between Bangkok and their forces in Burma. 100,000 of the laborers and 12,000 POW’s died of malnutrition, exhaustion, torture and diseases. The POW’s ate two servings of rice and veggies a day (no protein), and worked up to 18 hours a day in harsh conditions, sleeping in cramped bamboo huts infested with lice and fleas. To learn about it, we visited two awesome museums, one of which was a replica of the bamboo huts the prisoners slept in, as well as the very well done cemetery. We looked in the book of the deceased, and there was no one on either side of our families. The photos in the museums showed soldiers who looked exactly like concentration camp survivors. We also visited the bridge that was eventually bombed by the Americans, and rode a portion of the Death Railway train. As always, in Asia, we visited ornate temples whenever we saw them.
Samedi 5 Novembre, nous quittons Hong Kong pour Bangkok et la Thailande. Nous arrivons a Bangkok dans la nuit, dormons et partons directement pour Kanchanaburi. La ville est connue principalement pour son pont, qui traverse la riviere Kwai. Oui, nous sommes au pont de la riviere Kwai ! Sortez vos projecteurs, et revivez ce film magnifique des annees '57. (Ou lisez le livre). En bref, durant la second guerre mondiale, les Japonais ont envahis la plupart des pays du sud est asiatique, et ont un accord a l'amiable avec Siam (qui deviendra la Thailande). Dans l'optique de rebouter l'ennemi britanique, l'armee japonaise decide de relier Siam et Burma (nouvellement conquise en 1942) avec un chemin de fer. Le projet est gigantesque et au final, une prouesse d'ingenierie ( 600 ponts en bois, 415 km, en seulement 18 mois de construction). Evidemment la prouesse est due aux conditions atroces de travail des 60.000 prisonniers de guerre (16.000 mourront en 18 mois) mais aussi des 100.000 a 200.000 travailleurs asiatiques plus ou moins locaux (la encore, beaucoup de morts). Bref, le musee au centre de la ville regorge de details, tres instructifs. Outre cela, la ville (comme la thailande) est tres accueillante pour les touristes, et nous apprecions le marche de nuit a ciel ouvert pour manger local pour moins de 3$/EUR (c'est pareil non ?)
Kwai River Bridge- bombed by US and reconstructed later|Le fameux poont de la riviere Kwai

Kwai River Bridge- bombed by US and reconstructed later|Le fameux poont de la riviere Kwai


Death railway

Death railway


Death railway

Death railway


Riding the Death Railway train|Dans le train, sur le fameux trace

Riding the Death Railway train|Dans le train, sur le fameux trace


Bamboo hut replica of POW housing- JEATH War Museum (Japan, England, America, Australia, Thailand, Holland)|Replique des abris des prisonniers de guerre (Australie, Royaume-Uni, USA, Hollande)

Bamboo hut replica of POW housing- JEATH War Museum (Japan, England, America, Australia, Thailand, Holland)|Replique des abris des prisonniers de guerre (Australie, Royaume-Uni, USA, Hollande)


War cemetary- check out photo of severly malnourished POW|Le cimetiere des prisonniers de guerre

War cemetary- check out photo of severly malnourished POW|Le cimetiere des prisonniers de guerre


The bomb the US dropped but did not go off- found in the river|Une bombe qui ciblait le pont n'a pas exploser. Retrouvee dans la riviere.

The bomb the US dropped but did not go off- found in the river|Une bombe qui ciblait le pont n'a pas exploser. Retrouvee dans la riviere.

Our second day we took a tour to Erawan National Park, which is known for its seven waterfalls, though there seemed to be many more than that. You could swim (and we did) in all of them, but the fish nibbling our bums was a deterrent. Nothing like a school of foot-long fish attacking you. We did, however, really enjoy the hike through the jungle and the waterfalls immensely. Every night we ate at the night market, which served delicious rice and noodle dishes, which cost $1.15. I am enjoying Thai food much more than the other Asian cuisines we’ve tried so far, and Pad Thai in the U.S is exactly the same as in Thailand!
Le second jour nous suivons un tour organise vers le parc national d'Erawan, et ses fameuses sept cascades. Nous nageons dans la plupart d'entre elles, dans une eau plutot agreable. Les poissons et crevettes sont affames et nous le font savoir, ce qui tent a gacher un peu le cote relaxant d'etre arrives avant les 5 bus de touristes russes. Peu n'importe, nous apprecions la journee dans le parc ! L'air semble plus frais dans la foret ce qui en fait un temps ideal. On retourna au marche de nuit pour decouvrir un autre plat local, toujours aussi delicieux et si peu cher.
Fish waiting to get us!|Les poissons nous attendent

Fish waiting to get us!|Les poissons nous attendent


Erawan Falls

Erawan Falls


Erawan Falls NP

Erawan Falls NP


Erawan Falls National Park

Erawan Falls National Park


Erawan Falls

Erawan Falls


Waterfall

Waterfall


Refreshing swim in the hot humid climate|Une baignade rafraichissante

Refreshing swim in the hot humid climate|Une baignade rafraichissante


People offer expensive clothing as gifts for prayers to be answered, believing these 700 year old trees have spirits|Les locaux offrent des habits aux arbres centenaires, qui hebergent des esprits

People offer expensive clothing as gifts for prayers to be answered, believing these 700 year old trees have spirits|Les locaux offrent des habits aux arbres centenaires, qui hebergent des esprits

Wednesday, we traveled back to Bangkok to catch a plane to Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand, where we hope to celebrate the Yi Peng lantern festival (if they haven't cancelled it due to the passing of the king).
Mercredi, nous retournons a Bangkok en bus, et nous envolons directement pour Chiang Mai, au Nord de la Thailande. Nous esperons voir les celebrations des lanternes (Yi Peng), si toutefois cela n'est pas annule en raison du deuil national (mort du roi).

Thai version of a food truck at the night market

Thai version of a food truck at the night market

Random ornate temple|Un temple

Random ornate temple|Un temple


Interesting pillar|Un autre temple

Interesting pillar|Un autre temple

Posted by jillandloic 02:46 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

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