Today we are changing hotels, going to the beach and picking up our custom made clothes...

The day before yeserday we arrived in Hoian and were very pleased with what we found. Hoian is a chilled touristy yet absoluteley beautiful city. Full of old french buildings on the waterfront, cobbled alleys and hundreds of tailors and shoemakers. The first day was spent walking round soaking up the relaxed and laid back atmosphere, sleeping and drinking juice. We were pretty tired from our four hour car trip and really just wanted to eat and sleep. WE found a restaurant near our hotel which was amazing. Mum absoluteley died because it was so nice. It was a really old mouldy building with loveley shutters and mossy green walls cracking plaster but it was filled wiith old and new asian and european furniture which just made the whole thing very elegant. And the food was delicious.

Yesterday was also VERY lazy and was a girls day. We said goodbye to Dad and Cian and went to town to see the tailor. At first it was a bit awkward because we were in this big room full of mannequins and lovely fabrics and a bag full of drawings and ideas and were thinking.... "How do we start? What do we say?" But I finally made Maeve start because she is the bravest. Maeve got has ordered a party dress (designed by me) and a cropped jacket (designed by me) It was so fun walking around with the fiendly ladies talking about cut and fi and choosing fabrics for lining, jacket dress. After I had built up some confidence I pulled out some red and white stripy fabric that I wanted to be made into a swiming costume with crossed frill back and pockets in the front. I was a litte nervous that they couldn't make swimming costumes but she gave a quick glance at my drawings and closeley inspected the fabric before reassuring me that this was fine. Also on the list was a gold jumpsuit and a few pairs of pants for Mummy. We got measured up and agreed on a price before saying goodbye. The most astonishing thing was when they told us it would ALL be ready tomorrow at 4:00pm!!!!
I couldn't believe they could make all that in such a small amount of time...


Next we had a drink before heading out in search of some school shoes. I am a bit more nervous at how the school shoes will turn out and if they will be school earable, but hopefully all wil be well. After a drink a nice lady asked f we woud like a manicure; and infact I did want a manicure as a little reward for my long nails! So I left Mum and Maeve and followed this lady through the bustling markets, down a small alley and into her dark salon. It was my first ever manicure and it was very nice, I left with my nails all spiffy and pale pink with white tips and white flowers on my thumbnail.

Yesterday was great and hopefully today will be too, I can't believe our travels are coming to an end it makes me very sad but I am excited to be home....
 
It NEVER rains in Vietnam (except in wet season) but not in the dry season. Yet today, it did.

So after our first blissful sleep in in AGES I woke up to find myself with the sniffles and sneezeys but otherwise in high spirits. After a miserable attempt at a bath which ended up being cold and raining we had breakfast where Dad told us the days plan, a cycling trip to a beach about 14km away. Looking around us we looked a tad doubtful due to the rather dribbly grey weather but it wasn't raining so we shrugged and agreed and went to the bike rental.

Thank goodness dad made us bring rain coats because very very soon after we started it started to pour and pour and pour. I already had a cold so I spent the trip sneezing and coughing with rain and snot dripping from my face (gross but true). Other than being completely soaked though it was really fun and interesting. The beach was lovely though we didn't stay long because of the weather and the journey was fabulous.

I would like to take this moment to tell you all that it has been 10 days since I've bitten my nails!!! This is a HUGE achievement for me and they are the longest they have been EVER in my whole life. I hope to NEVER bite my nails again as my new years and new life resolution...

It is also 10 days till Maeve Dad and Cian are back in Sydney. Mum and I have a different flight which will take us 12 hours or so longer but its okay because Mum will probably spoil us without all the others there!
hehehe....
 


In other news a couple of days ago we went to Raffles for high tea! It was a bit spiffy in an old colonial hotel. We had the high tea in the conservatory which was like a old fashioned glass room and the food was delicious. Afterward we went to "The Elephant Bar" which was also very cool. It was an ecclectic room with big paintings of elephants on the walls beautiful elephant themed cushions and elephant heads on the walls. The whole thing was very special and really amazing...

So goodbye from rainy Vietnam...
Tomorrow we leave Hue for Hoian which is famous for food, tailors and shoe makers!!!

I am very excited but a bit sad as it will be our last stop on the trip:(

See you later,

Happy holidays,

Niamh
 
Yesterday we went on a daytrip to a river boat ride through caves along canals through valleys. It was very pleasant and we were all on little three people boats with drivers. Me and Maeve were on a boat together and our rower was very nice,

What wasn't nice was the journey there...

We thought that e would go straight to this river, maybe a 2 hour drive but after driving aroung Hanoi for an hour picking people up we realised this was not the case, when Cian threw up in the bus we knew something was even worse than a little bit of a long bus ride...You see, Cian never gets car sick, in the roughest oceans he is still reading so we knew that it was something worse than Niamh disease. He may have had a tummy bug but in anycase he wouldn't stop so I had to play Cinderella while my ugly sister and went bicycle riding Prince Charming (Dad). so I nursed Cian right through the uninteresting and unnesascary stop at a temple and at lunch. By the tme we got to the boat ride he was better....

So here I sit,  waiting for Mummy....
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Yesterday we went on a daytrip to a river boat ride through caves along canals through valleys. It was very pleasant and we were all on little three people boats with drivers. Me and Maeve were on a boat together and our rower was very nice,

What wasn't nice was the journey there...

We thought that e would go straight to this river, maybe a 2 hour drive but after driving aroung Hanoi for an hour picking people up we realised this was not the case, when Cian threw up in the bus we knew something was even worse than a little bit of a long bus ride...You see, Cian never gets car sick, in the roughest oceans he is still reading so we knew that it was something worse than Niamh disease. He may have had a tummy bug but in anycase he wouldn't stop so I had to play Cinderella while my ugly sister and went bicycle riding Prince Charming (Dad). so I nursed Cian right through the uninteresting and unnesascary stop at a temple and at lunch. By the tme we got to the boat ride he was better....

So here I sit,  waiting for Mummy....

 
I have to admit, when Dad told me our last day in Sa Pa would be spent doing a 15km mountain trek i was a little miffed. Not really very happy. Yet 15km later I am smiling ear to ear and typing enthusiastically about this walk.
    
It wasn't an early start
(thank goodness) so I was able to "sleep in" before some yummo breakfast. We met our guide (most things you do in Sa Pa must with a guide) who was a lovely local lady in traditional clothes and very good english. We packed our bags so we were ready for that night when we would be taken away by a night train back to Hanoi. I wasn't too enthusiastic when we started out but it only takes a bit of that stunning scenery and interesting winding path and you can't help but smile!

So we walked and walked and it is really hard to write how good it was, how fun it was, how amazing it was. We finished in  a small village where we ate lunch and met our driver who took us back to hot showers and free internet. So now we wait and relax till 7:00, when our train comes to whisk us away.

Goodbye sa Pa....


This is truly an amazing place.......

 
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Before.
A ruff angry looking man woke up, to a most spectacular mountain view. We had decided today to rest, to have a little holiday so we slept in, read and had a nice, easy breakfast. After a bit of dazing and dozing we decided to stroll through the village of Sa Pa, in which we were staying.

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During.

A man in a stripy top, sat the gruff looking man; with hair everywhere possible on his face, down in a barbers chair in the middle of the street. A cracked mirror hung before us, and plenty of little knifes and razors. He started by giving Dad a careful once over. Over grown eyebrows, badly done choppy haircut, nostril hair and ear hair as well as an unkempt beard and rough face.
He carefully selected a bussing razor and started with the hair (on his head) by the end it was a work of art and he was like an artist at work carefully selecting his paintbrushes and making a few careful strokes before changing brush. the whole thing was so intriguing to watch, to experience.
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After.
He was a new man.  Smooth and relaxed and happy. trimmed eyebrows, even haircut, clean ears and beard, soft face...
So we celebrated with an afternoon stroll up a mountain and visited pretty gardens dotted around the mountain and stunning views that accompanied them. There was one which was a bit Alice in Wonderland because to get to it you had to go up a tiny passageway of a path with big rocks to either side of you. Then it came to a dead end. We were very pussled until i carefully looked at the rock next to me....It was a secret low tunnel!!!! We crawled through it and after a bit more of a maze of passageways came to the most stunning view.....


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First thing, Do you like the new look?

The colour scheme is inspired by Vietnams strong use of the plant indigo and the colourful peoples. Most of the clothes and fabrics here are dyed to a dark dark blue called Indigo...Even the rice!!!!

Today while walking through a market which was wobbling over a cliff in the mountains and looking at colourful women in traditional dress (as seen on front page) we ate rice wrapped in banana leaves dyed indigo!!!
It was very yummy and pretty to eat, as was our day. And if you havent already guessed, that title image is the indigo rice. So today after a wonderful trip to the market we hopped on a long roofed long boat and sailed down the river and enjoyed the tall mountains around us and the beautiful scenery. It was all very pleasant and now after a hot shower I am typing all about it on the blog for you to read. I got one of the skirts you may see in the pictures which is very pretty.

So we are having a bit of a rest now after a pretty busy day, hope to post soon,

Niamh

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First of all,
To those who are involved; Have a wonderful Speech Night (HA!!!) and a really fantastic picnic day!!!

I wish I could be there...

Then again I am having a wonderful time in the mountains of Vietnam...
This morning we arrived in Sapa, The famous mountain village of Vietnam really early on an overnight train, We had to take a long taxi to our hotel but it was all worth it for the views and the beautiful indigenous tribes. After checking into a room with some really stunning views, we had a rice noodle breakfast before heading to the village markets. Sapa is pretty touristy and they sell alot of touristy souvenirs in the market but among the junk there are some really beautiful peices which are traditional to these people and there tribes. All the women here wear gorgeaus patchworky skirts with dozens of pleats through them with embroidered long tunics over the top dyed with the indigo leaves that are harvested in the mountains. Its a little chilly here but its mainly just foggy from being so high up....So as we entered the market dad says: Guys we're here for 4 days so look around, don't buy the first thing you see you like, on the last day we can go get all the things we liked best.

3-4 hours later we trudged through the door -tired from our long hike into a village located in the valley- with three bags full of indigo stuff. Cian was the first to break the vow with a little coin he bought that had a Pig on it...He loves to buy the funniest things. Then admittedly I bought a really gorgeaous blanket for my bed. Anyway you know how it goes, a funky little hat later (that you'll never wear) and you seem to have bougfht something from everyone in town. After Cian had a streetside haircut in a little alleyway (which was actually very good) we decided to check out a little tribes village which was located in the valley underneath the mountain where we were later. getting down was fine, and the little village was very interesting, but getting up was a different story. We spent a good long while climbing back up that  mountain......

sigh.

Anyway, today has been a great start to our little Sappa adventure and I'm sure we are going to have a fantastic time..
 
So we've been here 3 days and it is very clear that the vietnamese eat very differently to us...

Dog is a favourite on the menu, and last night we were given a pot of cooking chicken bits...And I mean bits, you might get some breast or a wing, but you could get a head or an...armpit?

but it is really lovely here  today we paddled around the big lake in a swan paddle boat before going to a rooftop restaurant for icecream!!!!

Yum! The food id good *other than the occasional frog or worm and the people loveley *except for the beeping of motorcycle horns in face.
Tonight we take the overnight train to Sappa, which is a loveley mountain village full of small tribes. Vietnam is really cool, We're having a great time. Today we mainly chilled and discovered that 11 30 to 1 30 is sleep time and EVERYTHING is shut so you can forget doing anything except sleeping or eating.

So so long Hanoi, we will be back very soon (a couple of days) and Mummy will be here too. We are missing her very much and can't wait to see her soon!!

 
Last night -or was it this morning?- we arrived in Hanoi after a bumpy and jumpy flight. I was so tired after my constant airsickness and odd security check in Hong Kong where we bizaarly had a stopover and almost missed the plane because of Dad and his shifty looks....But after a bit of running through the airport we made it onto our flight.

Anyway we had a big big big big sleep and woke up lateish with news of Nannys safe arrival home so this was good. We woke to the noise of beeping and shouting, chopping and zooming which seemed rather odd. But after a delicious breakfast and a walk around we realised this was the daily noises heard in Hoian. Dad took us to the lake which is basically dead center of Hoian and this is when we discovvered how central our hotel was! Hoian is a crazy bustling of motorcycles , ladys walk around with baskets weighing 40kilos on there backs in little cone hats. The atmosphere is intense and exciting. We decided to walk across this bridge we had spotted which was really long and very rickety, with plenty of motorbikes speeding around. The only other person on this bridge 9who wasn't on a motorbike) was this lady who we passed who grabbed Cians arm and started walking with us after a bit of pushing and Dad's stern "no" we got her off Cians arm but when we looked behind us she was following us. Of course our first thought was she just happens to be going the same way, but as we left the bridge this was obviously not the case. We walked fast and got rid of her so we were okay and found this teeny weeny allyway which we walked through and found ourselves  outside our hotel!!! This was especially incredible since it is very hard not to get lost in Hanoi. I look behind m and jump, the lady is standing there!!! Dad shakes his head and says "c'mon kids dopn't go into the hotel, we don't want her to know where we live." So we walked away and she followed. I was quite scared at this point (Id never been stalked before...) but we kept walking twisting ourselves through the busy hectic streets of Hanoi trying to rid ourselves but she stuck like glue. We saw a place which looked good for lunch and dived in. We just wanted to escape. We had a delicious lunch and were about to leave when we saw a back exit which we decided to take just in case she'd been waiting. Although this proved good for never seeing her again, we got terribly lost but eventually found our way home. WE had an afternoon siesta and went for some dinner. So far its been great.

hanoi is intense and wild, totally crazy and hectic but I love it here!!!