A Travellerspoint blog

Language is Power and Sport is Universal

sunny 38 °C

As we leave the north of Vietnam and head to the more central town of Hoi An tomorrow a few things have become more clear in my mind.

I have always been a huge believer in the power of sport but this trip has reaffirmed this fact. We were walking around Hoan Kiem lake at 5:30am and all groups of people were playing badminton around the lake and also this game that I had never seen before. It was a mix between hacky sack and badminton. Old and young alike were playing this game. The Vietnamese people were absolutely amazing at it! I was very intrigued in this game so I asked the lady at our hotel what it was called. She said it was called "Da Cau" and it was their national sport. She then offered to pick me up one of the foot shuttlecocks after her shift was over. I was blown away by her kindness. The next morning she gave me the gift and showed me how to play (I was horrible at it!) and in return I gave her a small Canadian ball as a token of my appreciation. Later on I was walking around with it on the streets and many locals pointed at the foot shuttlecock and seemed pretty excited that I was carrying it. Lots of interaction with the locals over a simple sport.

The second interesting thing we have reaffirmed on this trip is the power of language. We met a man named Hue on our overnight train to Sapa. He was born in Vietnam but now resides in Toronto. He spoke Vietnamese, English, Spanish, French, and Chinese. It was amazing to see him interact and make friendships with people all around the world simply because he could communicate with them. He also was given lots of respect from the locals as he could communicate with them in their native language. He was a great guy to meet as he helped translate Vietnamese for us throughout our train ride and Sapa treks! Makes me wish I was fluent in many languages like him!

From the insanely busy streets and amazing food of Hanoi, to squid fishing in Halong Bay, and the amazing views, people and agriculture of Sapa, it has been an amazing first 10 days of the trip. We now head south to Hoi An followed by Nha Trang. Not sure how great internet access is down that way but I will attempt to keep this blog going! Didnt bring the right cords to get pictures on the blog of the trip but there have been 100's taken so far!

Hugs to everyone!

Posted by kaitlynmitchell 08:38 Archived in Vietnam Comments (1)

Halong Bay and Sapa

semi-overcast 28 °C

Just finishing up an amazing trip to Halong Bay and Sapa...both places hold unreal beauty. I have access to a bit of internet access so I am going to try and write a quick blog before our overnight train back to Hanoi.

We started off our trip to the fabulous destination of Halong Bay which is a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the new 7 natural wonders of the world. Absolutely spectacular! We stayed 2 nights on a "Junk Boat" while it toured us around the bay. The food was incredible on the boat (12 course meal!) and the scenery was unlike anything I have ever seen before. We had the opportunity to go to a place called "surprise cave" which was a massive cave that we walked through. We then kayaked through some floating villages in the area. The next day we kayaked through this secluded area that took us through some caves...when we got to the other side of the cave it was a hidden lagoon like something you would see in a movie! A fabulous trip to say the least! Words dont do it justice...you will have to wait for pictures!

After we arrived back from our Halong Bay trip we caught an overnight train to a hillside village called Sapa. Arriving at the train station reminded me kind of a sketchy version of Harry Potter! The overnight train is definitely something you must do once in a lifetime but maybe only once! The train left at 9pm at night and arrived in Sapa at around 5am. I think we all got a couple of hours of sleep that night maybe! A very bumpy and noisy train ride but a neat experience for sure! When we arrived in Sapa we embarked on a 12km trek through the rice patties and villages of northern Vietnam. Probably the highlight for me this trip so far. We had local tribe ladies follow us the entire trek in the hopes they could sell us their "wears" at the end of the trek. Very interesting ladies with interesting insights to the local people. We even got to visit a local school that was built by UNICEF. The school was beautiful and the children were so well behaved (even without a teacher teaching them). The students were in grade 2 and doing algebra! Hard stuff! A really great tour that gives me new appreciation to the hard work that goes in to growing rice! Today my parents are on another trek to some different villages in the area, unfortunately a bit of a "tourist bug" has got me not moving very far today. Can't wait to see their pictures!

Well thats about all the "blogging" I will do today. I know I forgot a whole bunch of great details but I will post them later! Flying to a town called Hoi An in a couple of days to continue the adventure! An amazing last couple of days!

Posted by kaitlynmitchell 22:09 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Good Morning Vietnam!

The adventures of how not to get squished by the million scooters racing towards you!

sunny 42 °C

Okay here goes attempt #2 at this blog...the first lovely long one got mysteriously lost in cyber space. So here we go!

We arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam safe and sound. We have so many stories to tell already! After the plane landed and we exited the plane we begin to look for our driver who was supposed to pick us up. No driver to be found! After waiting around a while we decide to go inquire at the tourist information desk. It turns out that we arrived in Vietnam a day earlier then we had planned on! Our travel agent messed up our tickets! Go figure! Long story short we did get to our hotel safely and have had an action packed 2 days since then. Some notable highlights are below!

- The heat is unreal here! Put yourself into your dryer and turn it on high...yep that is the heat here with the added humidity. It got up to around 42 degrees celcius today!

-Vietnamese people are super street smart... don't let your guard down. I thought we were pretty 'schooled' being in Mexico. These guys are good! On a morning walk, a young kid bent down to clean Dad's shoes.... in a 'nano-second' the shoe was OFF and they were being re-soled. Poor Dad couldn't even run away; I guess he could have hopped away on one foot but that would have only lasted so long. We were laughing pretty hard by the time it was all over. We're finding out that this is the 'norm'. Stop and buy something from a street 'vendor' and you have a swarm of hornets around you.

- The traffic in Hanoi is something that I cannot even begin to explain. There doesnt appear to be any road rules and there are apparently around 3 million scooters in Hanoi. In order to survive crossing the street (which was very overwhelming at first) you simply need to slowly step out in to the street. Our instinct tells us to RUN but if you slowly walk across the street the traffic seems to miraculously weave itself around you without you becoming a bug on their windshield. One afternoon after becoming very lost in the maze of back streets, we took a rickshaw back to our hotel...death defying experience! We even hit a lady on a motor bike (not hard)...she cussed out our driver something fierce! Lived to tell the tale!

- A 5:30am morning stroll around Hoa Kiem Lake. In order to function in the heat here it is essential that you get going early in the day! There were thousands of older vietnamese people exercising around this lake. Participating in everything from Tai Chi, Badminton, Weight Lifting, Dancing, Running, Stretching, and my personal favorite... Da Cau (Vietnam's national sport which is like badminton but using only your feet and your body). Very amazing morning!

-We I get home, ask me about the "Frogs & Dogs"! Some things I try to forget. Lets just say their cuisine is slightly different then ours!

- We also have had a chance to see a few more "touristy" things in the city. We went to a water puppet show which was very neat. We also visited the Hanoi Prison (where John McCain was held in the Vietnam War) as well as the Temple of Literature (where students a thousand years ago studied about Confucianism).

- We had a once in a lifetime vietnamese foot massage. I say "once in a lifetime" only because there is no way that I'm doing that again!!! After we entered this little hole in the wall place, 2 male vietnamese boys greeted us to give us our massage (I for some reason was expecting little vietnamese ladies!). They then let us soak our feet in brown water before pounding on them like they were tenderizing meat! If I don't wake up with bruises I will be shocked! Hilarious story to say the least. There is so much more to say here... but it will be lost in translation.

Tomorrow we are off to Halong Bay (UNESCO World Heritage Site) for a 3 day Junk boat tour. We should have a chance to visit some caves, kayak, and enjoy the ocean. Following that, we are trekking to a hillside tribal village called Sapa for 3 days. Should have a chance to see some interesting things there as well!

Might be a bit until I post again but hope you are all doing great!! Having an absolutely amazing time in Vietnam. The sights, sounds, and smells are indescribable. Cannot wait to show you all pictures.

Kaitlyn

Posted by kaitlynmitchell 07:48 Archived in Vietnam Comments (2)

I'm sorry... You don't have a ticket...

The adventures of the calgary airport!

sunny 15 °C

Well, we arrived at the calgary airport safe and sound with lots of time to spare or so we thought. After my parents were successfully checked in, the ticket agent informed me that I didn't have a proper ticket to get on the plane. What?! ... Seriously!!! I paid for a ticket... I would like to get on the same plane! We negotiate...my Dad can be pretty convincing... A few phone calls and I am off to YVR.
I made our flight with 5-10 minutes to spare.
Now off to Tokyo via vancouver.

Posted by kaitlynmitchell 12:11 Archived in Canada Comments (2)

The Countdown!

overcast 10 °C

3 days until we take off for Hanoi Vietnam via a quick layover in Tokyo Japan! What a whirlwind of the past couple of weeks but now I am getting very excited! Travel immunizations are complete, graduated from University, booked all my visas and connecting flights, registered with the embassy and now I am starting to think about trying to pack everything I will need into a 30L backpack (small I know!).

The travel immunizations are a story in their own. After getting the runaround about what we needed and where we could get them, we finally settled on getting the Hep A, Hep B, Typhoid, and Rabies immunizations and 56 malaria pills (might need an extra suitcase for those!). 7 fairly painful needles later (and one fairly hilarious conversation to the doctor convincing him that he would not put that needle in my "tush"), I should hopefully be able to ward off any killer mosquitos or rabid monkeys that come my way.

So excited for this adventure coming my way. Hopefully I will be able to keep you all up-to-date via this blog along my trip.

Hope everyone has an amazing summer!
Kaitlyn

Posted by kaitlynmitchell 09:14 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

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