A Travellerspoint blog

February 2011

Ho Chi Minh Trail

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We have arrived in Hanoi May 20th and are setting out on a short bus ride to the Ho Chi Minh trail Museum before we jump on our motor bikes for three days riding a beautiful quiet road. We ride to Hoa Binh town passing extensive farming lands with seas of paddy fields. The tree-lined roads are punctuated by limestone karst scenery. After a light lunch in Hoa Binh Town, we crossed over two short mountain passes then descended to the mountain valley settlement of Mai Chau. The weather in the mountain ranges and valleys seem to have a beautiful calm to them. After a 160km day we finished first day with an authentic Vietnamese dinner cooked for us during our home stay in the village.

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On the second day we said goodbye to the villagers and we head south on a beautiful winding road which follow the banks of the Ma River. After 2 hrs of riding along the river we have a stop to see Fish Ferry Stream. It is a stream with thousand of big fish peacefully swimming in shallow water. We jump into Ho Chi Minh Highway and head to Khanh village, which is home to Muong ethnic minority. We again have an amazing dinner and stay overnight in a local house.

After breakfast at the home stay we ride on to Hoa Lu, the ancient capital on Vietnam which dates back to the 9th century. After here we have a stunning ride on the village road to Tam Coc, the well-known “Halong Bay on the rice field”. We will have a relaxing boat trip on the river. We stopped for lunch in Tam Coc a scenic landscape dominated by rice fields and karst towers. After lunch we ride back to our starting point of Hanoi and arrive May 22nd at 5:30pm.

Posted by tvtvietnam 07:34 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Getting Ready for Vietnam

Before we go...... getting excited!!

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Wow! Finally, the four of us are going to Vietnam! We’re getting so excited about going on the 14-day tucantravel Vietnam Adventure tour in May! Before that we will be going on a 3-day motorcycle tour of the Ho Chi Minh Trail with Vietnam Adventure Holidays.

There is so much that needs to be done in the next 6 weeks before we take off over the massive Pacific Ocean. We definitely need to get a tourist visa. The information we needed about visas is on the Canadian Government website, The Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (click here to be directed to the website). This website will keep us up to date with any travel advisories that may arise, even though there are no official warnings right now. Our passports are still valid and will be at least one month after we land back in Canada; one less thing we need to do right now! We will all need to be certain we get a stamp when we go through customs; there are huge repercussions if we do not have a stamp in our passports!

We have an appointment with the International Travel Clinic, here in Calgary this week for a Yellow Fever vaccination. The Yellow Fever vaccination does not take effect for at least 2 weeks, so we should be okay getting the vaccine 5 weeks out. We will need to make sure we bring our International Certificate of Vaccination (the ‘yellow booklet’) just in case we get stopped by the authorities. It probably wouldn’t hurt to get a Dukoral prescription as well; their water is going to be very different than Canada’s and who wants to be stuck in the washroom for the whole 14-day tour!

Money! We’re going to need to exchange some money into US Dollars before we leave. It will be much easier for us to exchange US Dollars into the Vietnamese Dong. Other major currencies can be exchanged but the USD will be the easiest, especially if we are exchanging at a bank like Vietcombank. We’ll have to make sure we exchange any money we need when we are in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City because the exchange rate gets worse the farther away from the tourist areas we are.

The summer monsoon starts in May which means 2 things: hot and humid!! We will need to bring loose fitting, non-synthetic clothing and a rain coat. If anyone of us has hair that goes frizzy, be sure to use conditioner and letting your hair air dry; no blow drying ladies!

It’s going to be so incredibly eye-opening to see the different culture and religion in Vietnam. Apparently 75% of the Vietnamese people follow a combination of Confucianism, Buddhism and Daoism religions. Religion plays a huge role in their everyday lives, similar to the Islamic faith of the Middle Eastern countries of Asia.

So far this is what we need to pack:

- Lonely Planet Southeast Asia Phrasebook (covers Vietnamese, Lao, Thai, Burmese and Khmer)
- Rain coat – chances are we will get rained on at some point
- Comfortable shoes and sandals
- EARPLUGS!! – I have heard that it can be very noisy between general traffic noise and the loud speakers; I plan to sleep later than 5 AM!

On May 18th & 19th, the four of us will be sitting on a Cathay Pacific flight from Calgary, connecting in Vancouver and Hong Kong, to our final destination of Hanoi. It’ll be great to be escorted around Vietnam seeing all of the amazing sites of this ever growing country, and learning the history that has shaped Vietnam to what it is today.

Keep checking back! We’ll let you know where we are and what we are doing next.

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Posted by tvtvietnam 10:16 Archived in Vietnam Tagged vietnam packing before_you_go Comments (0)

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