Sunday, June 3, 2012

Vietnam: partying, shopping, drinking...

Well it has been a week since we flew out of Brisbane and I am sitting in my Hotel Room in Hoi An relaxing before the Full Moon Festival tonight.

We got into Hanoi on Monday afternoon, met up with the girls and settled in at our hostel The Hanoi Backpackers Hostel (best backpackers, easy going, good atmosphere, wicked people).

Below is us enjoying our first night's dinner at a local restaurant (I had spiky chicken, vegetables and a Tiger beer). Food here is amazing and very cheap, around 5 Australian dollars for dinner and 2 Australian dollars for a beer! We had an early night on the Monday so we were ready for an early start and our Party Boat and Island three day tour of Ha Long Bay and the Islands.

Our tour of Ha Long Bay or "booze cruise", as one of our fellow backpackers called it, was awesome. Great food, hilarious tour guide (Irish dude called Steve who couldn't seem to differentiate between Sonja and I) and awesome activities. We met loads of other young people from England, Canada, America, Germany, The Netherlands and so on.

On the first day we were taken on a bus to Halong Bay, we were taken by small boat to taken out to "The Jolly Roger": a three storey luxury boat, this is where the party begins... Sonja and I had our own room and ensuite on this boat equipped with everything we needed. Our tour guide Steve set out the international drinking rules: no drinking with your right hand (punishment down your drink if someone catches you and says Buffalo), no saying mine or ten (punishment 10 press ups). Of course I was the first one that had to skull my drink, what a blonde.

That arvo we went swimming off the boat, kayaking, and inside a cave on one of the islands. That night we played some drinking games... antics followed.

The next day we were taken for our Island stay and day of activities. On the island we did biscuiting, rock climbing and swimming. We stayed in little stilt houses and enjoyed a relaxing and fun night.

One of the tour guides, Dustin, had passed away a few weeks ago and so there were a number of tour guides and family there to scatter his ashes and farewell their friend. RIP Dustin.

Our final day we had a long trip back to Hanoi before another night with our new boat and island mates at the Hostel and in the local bars. All and all an awesome trip and much recommended!

Over our next couple of days in Hanoi we tried some of the local Pho Bo soup and went: on a bicycle taxi, shopping, to the Water Puppets, the Prison and the History Museum. There was so much more we could have done and I certainly will have to come back to this lively city at some stage.

A definite memorable moment was our last night where a group of us went out to a local restaurant to try a local delicacy: snake. When we got to the restaurant we were taken into the kitchen and shown the live snakes and other animals.

The boys then went to a great deal of trouble to barter and arrange the price for our meal. You see we all wished to try snake, but we did not want to feast on it. We ended up paying six Australian dollars each for our dinner. So our snake was brought out and slaughtered in front of us.

We then shotted the blood and bile, had snake skin soup, ground snake bones on crackers, snake meat spring rolls, snake meat and vegetable parcels and some rice. Our mate Stefan shotted the beating heart!

The morning following the snake feast we flew to Danog and got a military jeep (so freaking exciting) to our new hotel Vinh Hung 3 in Hoi An.

In Hoi An we caught up with our friends, enjoyed the town, did some shopping and got some shoes and clothing custom made. I would not recommend the shopping here as it is far more expensive, but the people and the town are very cool and it is a great place to get clothing and shoes made just for you!

Today we attended a four hour cooking class at the Morning Glory restaurant. It was fantastic, we were taken around the market to choose the ingredients...

You then learn to cook several different Vietnamese dishes...

From left to right: cabbage soup (in Vietnamese society women have to cook this soup as a first meal for their mother in law), rice paper rolls (thin rice paper is a must!), rice pancake (an absolute treat) and mango salad with chicken skewers.

Over and out!

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