Friday, August 5, 2011

Hoa Lu

Another step closer to home... The last day in Sapa I went on a Geocache Hunt, and found a treasure only 280 meters across from the hotel, but about 300m up the hill. Provided for some more exercise and took Ree and I to some great sights.

The night train home was uneventful apart from a dig sized cockroach, and we were glad to be back in Hanoi at the schwanky Rising Dragon Palace at about 5am yesterday morning.

I thought it was time to check the local pharmacy for insulin (Lantus) and sure enough the pharmacy my iPhone took me to had it in the fridge! Cheap too. I also bought some antibiotics that I was running low on! All without prescription of course, and all exactly the same packaging as what I get in Australia. Amazing.

Today we took a day trip to the ancient Vietnamese capital of Hoa Lu. The tour was poorly run but totally unique. It included an hour of cycling on the worst ever maintained bikes and an amazing row boat ride for about two hours through rice paddies and spectacular mountains. Mountain goats on the cliffs and going though caves, and rowing was done Vietnamese style with the feet!

My 8GB chip is almost full!!

Health holding out. For the life of me I cannot find any more saline sachets for nebulising and am using ventolin instead. I also apparently missed a CF clinic appointment in Devonport today :( Can't believe I stuffed that up.

Anyways, off to HoChiMinh City tomorrow with Vietnam Airlines and the day after back to Australia with Malaysian Airlines and Qantas.

So this may well be my last blog as I'll be busy eating and flying and trying to fit in my last massages!

Monday, August 1, 2011

High up in Sapa

The night train was comfortable, and I did an abridged neb session so as not to disturb Pedro and his girl, the Spanish couple sharing the cabin with us. It was about 5am when we were woken up by knocks on the door, marking our arrival in Pho Moi - right on the Chinese border.
Large green mountains around us, the buzz of typical railway activity, and in a sleepy stupor we ended up in a mini bus with other Vietnamese people. It drove us high up the green mountains to Sapa, a small But bustling town situated at 1600m. Sapa is one of the main market towns in the Lao Cai province, where several ethnic minority groups such as H'mong, Dao (Yao), Giay, Pho Lu, and Tay live. A crowd of traditionally dressed locals crowded the bus and followed us to the hotel.
All we knew was that we had 2 hotel nights and one 'home-stay' night here. I needed to do some meds and was hoping to get a hotel room.
Turned out we had to start hiking to our homestay at 930am and had to stay in the very dingy hotel restaurant and eat.
We quickly repacked our bags and left the wheeled weekend bag at the hotel, me carrying the absolutely bare minimum of meds.
The same crowd of local women and children were still waiting for us and with our guide they walked with us to the home-stay. Walk was great, as was the home-stay. the sales-pitch of all the locals and their babies and children was also great. We bought numerous bits and pieces of handicraft we didn't need. There were lots of rice paddies and lots of creeks, lively views and Vietnam Telecom/power poles and wires.
Doing good meds in the village was also minimal, but I coughed/expectorated plenty on the trail! Ree and I did keep up well with the small group of walkers. There were about 16 travelers that converged into the same hut with us.
It was a stormy night and we didn't sleep very well as the old tiles threatened to blow off the bamboo hut along with the rest of the structure.
In the rain we all decided to take a shortcut to avoid the worst mud and terrain. Late afternoon, via a waterfall for
lunch, we returned to the modest hotel in Sapa.
As typhoons were flooding cities in Vietnam we were saved as we were in about the only spared corner of the country.
Today we have a rest day and tomorrow we hike a little more and catch the night-train back to Hanoi.
Glad to be back in hotel room where I can empty my treatment bag on the bed and return each potion and device into the bag after using it. I needed a good session or two.

The previous adventure!

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