Sunday, August 30, 2009


Some of you may be curious about what we'll be doing for the next few months before we make our return to the homeland just before Thanksgiving. This is the rough outline:

I'm going to leave Cat Ba in the middle of September and head off to the Yunnan province in southern China on my own. Matt is going to finish September on Cat Ba trying to squeeze in as much climbing as he can. His friends, Gregg, from home is also coming to Vietnam to climb with him. I'll let them climb their faces off, while I explore a bit of China.

I'll meet back up with Matt (and maybe Gregg) during the first week of October back in Vietnam. We're going to make a fairly quick exit for Laos for about two weeks, then back into central (Hue and Hoi An) and southern (Saigon and the Mekong Delta) Vietnam for a bit. Then we'll cross into Cambodia to Phnom Penh and to Siem Reap to see Angkor Wat. Then, last stop Thailand, we'll fly out of Bangkok and we'll leave tropical, steamy, fruity and spicy south east Asia for sweaters and pumpkin pie on the east coast of America!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A weekend in Hanoi

This past weekend, we headed up to Hanoi for a few days. I basically wanted to get off the island for a few days to do a little sight seeing, shopping, and soaking up a little city life. 
On Friday night, we went to a concert. We heard "the world's best beat boxer" was playing that night and decided we couldn't pass up a chance to see the world's best beat boxer, so we went. It was our first hip hop show and was pretty fun. I'm not convinced that Killa Kela is the best beat boxer in the world, but entertaining none the less. There was also a sweet break dancing dance off between two teams of boys from Hanoi. 
Here's a video of some beat boxing, he's making all the sounds with his mouth. 

Our hotel was on a little alley street in the Old Quarter. The street was a little bustling market in the morning, but very quiet at night. 

On Saturday morning, we went to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. They keep Ho Chi Minh's body preserved and mummified in this shrine. It's pretty bizarre. You must silently and respectfully shuffle around the mausoleum in a line. You cannot take your camera inside. The mausoleum is chilled and dark and only open three hours a day. Imagine if you could go see Jefferson, Lincoln, or Kennedy or any or all of our president's bodies preserved for the public to revere. It's a very somber visit for the Vietnamese, but for foreign visitors it's so bizarre to us, it's almost like a side show.  Ho Chi Minh wanted to be cremated and have his ashes spread across Vietnam, but those in charge after his death created this giant spectacle against his wishes. 
Inside the Ho Chi Minh museum. 

This is the one pillar pagoda, which is very near to the mausoleum. It's special because it's on one pillar!

Then we hit the next big tourist spot in Hanoi, the Temple of Literature. It is a temple dedicated to higher learning and where many Confucius scholars studied. 

Then we did a walking tour of the Old Quarter. It was originally the merchants quarter with each street selling a different type of goods, from an herb street to a towel and tin box street. Now, the Old Quarter is the main district for travelers. There are many hotels and restaurants catering to foreigners. 

There isn't actually too much to do in Hanoi besides drop money! There are plenty of shops and nice restaurants. We splurged on a few meals while in Hanoi (meaning we spent $15-20 on a meal for two rather than the $5-10 we usually spend in Cat Ba). I bought a new dress since the only dress I brought here got lost in the first week when our laundry disappeared from our hotel's laundry services. Matt picked up a few new books. We sought out a movie theater and enjoyed a movie resting in the cold air conditioning after a lot of walking around town. 
Below is Matt whining about being hot and tired. "Aaaashley, my feet hurt, I'm tired, I'm sweating through my shirt.....  don't take a picture of me!" Also, his beard is getting ridiculous. I threaten to cut it at night.