December 15 2006

street_vendor.jpgFriday December 15th 2006

I’m Currently at the “Gold Dragon Hotel” in Hanoi. This is the capital city of Vietnam. We’re in the Old Quarter which combines the colonial Parisian and Asian architecture. It’s a very peaceful city. A nice place to begin our journey.

The plan for the next three days is the following:
Take the 8:30 train from the Hanoi Railway station to Sapa. It is an 8 hour trip from here.

Sapa is home to the H’mong and Dzao people. The largest ethnic groups in the region. Mostly they are very poor, but are rapidly learning spirit of free enterprise. This city lies in Northwest Vietnam . The site of a former hill railroad station built in 1922. Nestled in a valley close to the chinese border, the scenery includes rice terraces and a range of hilltops filled with lucious vegetation.

We should be here for two days. On Saturday the locals have their weekly market. It will be nice to see all hand made products sold by the those who actually make them.

We will then be hicking through some of the hills to photograph the surrounding this beautifull area.

We will depart from the Sapa on Sunday afternoon and take the overnight train back here to the Gold Dragon Hotel early Monday morning.*(note to self- take the second malaria pill!)*
There will be enough time for a shower and a nice breakfast. Then onto Halong Bay.

I’m looking forward to this part of the Journey as this area is one of the most breath taking sites. There are 3000 or more islands rising from the emerald wares of the Gulf of Tonkin. These tiny islands are dotted with beaches and groettoes created by wind and waves. “Halong” translates as where the dragon descends into the sea.

One of highlights of this trip will be the overnight boat that will take us along the bay to view these islands by night and at sunrise. If it rains there may be reduced visibility which will not allow us to see all the islands at once, but either way, I’m sure there will be lots to see.

On Tuesday, we will return to Hanoi and depart on an overnight train to Danang. From there we will take a bus or taxi to Hoian.

I will write more on Hoian as I need to research more about that port that apperantly has a lot of history.

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