New Blog Address


New Blog address


After having been largely blocked from posting on Blogger while in Vietnam (on a government provided ISP), I have now been advised that my blog is somewhat wierd, unable to accept comments, and been difficult to post to.

So, with no small degree of trepedation, I attempt, yet again to enter the blogosphere.

I have run a few times now; at Customs on Friday, at the BBQ Stakes on Wednesday and Lake Tuggeranong 6k Stakes this last Tuesday. A 72 hour lurgy wiped me out on Thursday/Friday/Saturday last week, but I did recover to head over to the Jogalong course on Sunday morning. I was very surprised at how few people I knew there - there seemed to be an intake of older women, and younger women (all good to see), but realatively few familiar faces. It was a long weekend though. An attempted walk on Monday was quickly aborted as the weather turned nasty, although I dusted off the Scooter again on Tuesday, this time to take the 30km trip down the Tuggeranong Parkway to the Lake Stakes 6k. Just clicking over the 200kms on the odometre indicating a running in period I was able to open up the throttle a little bit and was able to sit on (or just under - it is the speed limit!) 100km/hr when heading south on the Parkway. There must have been a prevailing wind, as I was somewhat slower returning (or is it uphill?), but still having no problems in cutting it with the flow of the traffic.

The hideously strong winds did not make the run at Tuggeranong any easier, and on the back of a surprsingly sub-six-minute paced Jogalong on Sunday, I tried to keep myself honest by selecting a handicap that would be 'challenging'. It certainly was. Once a month, this weekly handicap runs a loop of the lake in the opposite direction, and the headwinds at the start were draining and slowed me down to a snails pace. Being a loop course, it was far easier on the last stretch back to the start, however I had done my dash and waddled in a disappointing, but understandable 36:48 (6:08 pace).

The BBQ Stakes the next day should have been a cakewalk. The winds hadn't picked up, the skies were blue and clear and all seemed well with the world. Again, something wasn't quite right, and some medical problems started around the farthest point from the start finish, slowing me down and needing to assess whether to attempt to keep running/shuffling or to start walking. It was clear that I needed to get home as quickly as possible, and my lame attempt at running was going to be quicker than walking. There were no shortcuts.

Overtaking a man walking his two dogs on a short downhill stretch I was breathing a death rattle, but was pleased to pass someone. I was not so impressed when the uphill section was about to flatten out and the dog walker strolled past me walking so much faster than my 170 bpm heartrate would indicate.

I made it to the finish - understandably last - and without checking in (Friar indicated that he would take care of theat for me sensing my discomfort), and went straight to the scooter parked at the finish, threw on my helmet, and jacket, ignoring my pants, and raced (safely) home. Not much else was happening that day.

No running on Thursday, but I did get over to Customs this Friday (today). I was somewhat nervous after my episode on Wednesday, but found a place to park the bike at Regatta Point and navigated my way through the Floriade display to the start of the run. Having run off 3 minutes last time, I felt reasonably comfortable that my handicap was now 5 minutes. If I was running like I did a week before. I kept my fingers crossed.

At five minutes I headed off, not too worried that I was going way too fast on the longish downhill section. It got my legs rolling over and the uphills were coming soon. Somehow, I kept going, on my own the whole way, waiting for the guys coming up the rear to overtake me. On both the Floriade and regular Customs course, the last kilometre is the toughest, even though the moderate inclines are nothing compared to most runs. I knew that my surprisingly fast (still (just) sub 6-minute pace) was going to take a battering on the last incline and tried to keep the pace as fast as possible so that I had a chance of sweaking in under 30 minutes with the inevitable slow down at the end.

It was hard, but I managed to make it in 29:44 seconds. Whew! Not great, in fact slower than the pace I pulled out of the box at the Jogalong, but I was delighted nevertheless.

So, in summary my 'progression' and 'regression' since I returned has been:

26 Sept Customs 5k 32:38 6:28 163bpm
01 Oct BBQ Stakes 6k 36:55 6:08 161bpm
05 Oct Jogalong 6k 35:36(?) 5:56 164bpm
07 Oct Lake Stakes 6k 36:48 6:08 155bpm
08 Oct BBQ Stakes 6k
10 Oct Customs 5k 29:44 5:57 159bpm

Not a lot of running since our return to Australia, but a little bit nevertheless.

Onward and upward!

Back in Canberra, Blogging Service (hopefully) Resumes


It's been a hectic time.

Have I mentioned that I think that Jetstar sucks?

I must admit that we have been very fortunate with the weather since our return to Australia, although I miss the warmer Hanoi weather, the food and people.

After a 2 day course I am now legally able to ride a motorised two wheel vehicle on the roads, and to aid this Bob and I picked up our new family member on Wednesday morning, a cute little Italian whom I have nicknamed "Denny" or, to give him his full name, Tran Den Da (Den Da being the iced black coffee that we became so addicted to). 'Den' means 'Black' in Vietnamese, and to this end, Denny is predominantly Black (there were no options), with orange highlights and orange stitching on the saddle.

I have only run twice since our return - at Customs a week ago, going hard on the Floriade course and pleased with my 32:35 for the 5k - a slow 6 minute 30 per kilometre pace, but a start and an honest run. Mid way around the course I realised that it was the first time that I hadn't stopped to drink a half litre of water after 2 kilometres, and then at least every kilometre thereafter. I was a tad thirsty at the end, but then I hadn't drunk for four hours or so, and didn't until I return home.

Very different to Hanoi!

My next, and most recent run, was at the BBQ Stakes course on Wednesday. I was not prepared, or overly optimistic at getting up the hills without walking extensively. Hanoi might have been humid, but it was also very, very flat on the Red River Delta.

I wanted to test myself, and so chose to go off a handicap of 3 minutes, which would be challenging. Being more than 6 months since I had been to the 'Stakes I had dropped off the handicap list.

The first hill was testing, but I pushed myself, and managed to catch sight of the two runners in front of me who had left one minute earlier. I started to have problems with my breathing, cursing the cold, dry Canberra air, reminding myself that I had to return to carrying my inhaler with me in these conditions. I kept pushing though, and was overjoyed when I was able to finish in 36:55, way way faster than I was at Customs, on a longer and more difficult course. 6:10 pace mightn't be something to celebrate yet, but I feel overjoyed and over the moon.

Kama, Krama, Kramar Chameleon


Apart from the amazing Champa and Angkor temples of Cambodia, and the spectacular food, Cambodia was remarkable for one other thing; one which is probably common knowledge and I should have known if I had done my research (or was fully briefed by 'my people'): the cool, use as everything, looks-a-little-like-a-teatowel scarf that is most associated with Kampuchia is called . . . .drumroll please . . . . a Krama! On the basis of this, I bought a couple from workshops where the women were making them.

Since returning to Hanoi, we have continued to eat a great deal of excellent food, including a couple of visits to "Cha Ca La Vong" - a one dish restaurant around the corner from home. Here, ordering is a breeze. Do you want something to drink? Then there are a couple of bottled beers and cans of soft drink available. Otherwise, the food is a set price of 90,000 dong, (now about $7 since the AUD dollar plummeted). Cha Ca is a Hanoi speciality, where a charcoal burner is brought to the table with a skillet of partly cooked fish fillet pieces. Each diner has a plate with Bun, thin white rice noodles, and bowls of dill greens, roasted peanuts, special fish sauce, mint and other herbs, chilli and so on are on the table to share.

The waiter fires up the charcoal to further cook the fish with the dill greens. A diner then places the bun, fresh herbs and further greens in their bowl, with hot fish and greens, which is then topped with sauces, spices and nuts to taste. The greens and accompaniments keep coming, more cooking and serving until one is stuffed and replete with delicious food.

Restaurant Review - Siem Reab


Off the main tourist drag of Siem Reab, this funky cocktail bar / restaurant is hidden from the road.

Inside is a wonderland of inspired, innovative decor and a great vibe. Recently opened (June 2008), this truly is a family run place where brothers and cousins assist the most charming pair of English speaking sisters who also help with the cooking.

A couple of western style and height tables and chairs are in the main space, which also has a few well upholstered divans piled with cushions, and an inserted glass plate for dining and drinking. More comfortable cushions are adjacent to an internal fish pond, with gauzy curtains strung up Bedouin tent style and the most wonderful organic light fittings, some, it seems, made from the varnished slices of some fruit or vegetable.

After delighting in the decor, what about the food?

Ah, the food.

Admittedly, the menu is limited, but that shouldn't cause any difficulty. We were hungry on our visit and ordered a Khmer Lemon Soup(USD$1.50), Green Mango Salad ($2.50), Grilled Fish with Mango ($4) and Fireworks Beef ($3), all to share with steamed rice. The presentation of everything, from the soda with a sprig of mint and lime, to that of the dishes was exceptional and would tempt even the most jaded palate.

From the first mouthful, we savoured the complexity and the freshness of the flavour of each dish. Soon the next dish encouraged the same response, and we didn't know which one was better. The music was a terrific mix of world, blues standards and modern which perfectly suited the mood of the space and of us.

Complimentary fruit came with our modest bill and we were pleased to know that we would be back in Siem Reab for a couple of nights when we returned from Battambang.

Our next visit gave us the chance to try the Smoked Fish Salad ($3.50), Khmer Hot nd Sour Soup with Tofu ($2), Pork with Eggplant ($3)and the Seim Reab speciality, Amok Fish($4). Once again it seemed that each dish was the best we had ever eaten, and wanted to take this place home with us to eat at, always.

One more night, and one more meal, this time adding the Khmer style golden curry , Char Kheung Fish (stir fried with coconut milk) and some fresh spring rolls to a soup and salad. Since returning, we made a point of not eating lunch and cycling 60+ kilometres to ensure that we could have a great meal at night.

We weren't disappointed.

There are some interesting restaurants around Pub Street and the nearby laneways, but nothing can compare to the Silk Lounge and it's spectacular ambiance and food.

The GPS co-ordinates are 13.3611 North, 103.8535 East. The Street address is a little more complicated, on Taphul street next door to the Auberge Mont Royal D'Angkor Hotel. Just head one block east at the Central Market (past the service station) and then turn north and you will be there.

Make the effort, it's worth the trip.

Theme: Local
Comparison: less expensive than average
Prices: less than US$10 »
Address: Taphul Road, Siem Reab
Directions: The GPS co-ordinates are 13.3611 N, 103.8535 E. The Street address is a little more complicated, on Taphul street next door to the Auberge Mont Royal D'Angkor Hotel. Just head one block east at the Central Market (past the service station) then turn north

Back from Angkor Wat


Bob and I flew down to Siem Reab in Cambodia last Sunday (17 August). We had a Free & Easy deal with Vietnam Airlines which included 2 nights accommodation. On arrival at the airport, we were not the only ones stunned with the beauty of the airport, and despite laughing at the Japanese and Korean tourists taking photos of airport, until Bob finally relinquished and took a shot too. We really were fortunate with the hotel, the Allson Angkor Paradise Hotel, a four star hotel with great amenities and the usual SE Asian surfeit of staff.

We hadn't expected the smiling bowing friendliness of the Khmer people, reminiscent of the Buddhist peacefulness of the Laotians. It wasn't early when we arrived, and after a bit of a wander around the township settled on a local hole in the wall which looked popular with the locals. We were handed a menu which included English which should have caused us some cause for concern . . . we settled on a plate of white noodles with vegetables and yellow vegetables with pork. It was pretty ordinary food, and we didn't hold out much hope for Cambodian food.

On Monday we headed a few hundred metres down the road to rent some bicycles for the day. Bob spent far too long looking for a couple of mountain bikes, finally settling on a couple of department store quality machines, many years old and worse for wear. Before we headed off the national route 6 to cycle to Angkor Wat, we soon found out that gears did not work and the brakes were a bit iffy at best.

After getting our passes for the whole week at a cost of USD$60 each, we parked our bikes opposite the entrance to Angkor Wat and ran the gauntlet of young teenage girls trying to sell us anything and ingratiate themselves with us. Escaping their clutches, we headed across the moat into the great temple compound. We weren't prepared for what confronted us in this mass of stone and bricks 800 years old.



Having had a few forays away from Hanoi, Bob and I are about to embark on our next journey on Sunday heading to Siem Riep and the temples in Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Leaving on Sunday, we carefully planned our departure to be after the Red River Runners 5k Time Trial on Saturday.

Now, I don't expect to breaking any records other than the slowest run in the history of the event, but I am really looking forward to having a hit out. It's at the United Nations International School, in "Ciputra International City" - a rather obscene enclave of expats and the rich, who live in the gated community of high rise buildings and sterilised boulevards.

Held at 5pm for a handicap start, Bob did one time trial in June, before the monthly event was suspended for the worst of the summer heat in July, and found it flat as flat, very hot and exposed and humid. If I can complete the event in 35 minutes, I'll be happy.

Notes from a Rainy Da Lat


Bob and I flew down to the coastal town of Nha Trang, where the Miss Universe pageant was just held on Monday. After staying in a cheap motel ("The Perfume Grass Inn") overnight, we hired motor scooters and wandered up the mountains to Da Lat in the Highlands of Central South Viet Nam.

After travelling along the river flatlands for forty or 50 kilometres, we began to ascend sharply up the mountain on a brand spanking new road which was just a delight! With my backpack strapped on the back of the bike, and computer bag slung around the front between my legs, I must have looked quite a sight, and received lots of cheery greetings as we motored along through villages and past fields and paddies.

Once we travelled 50 kilometres the fun really started though, with the steep ascent from the coastal fringe giving way to a sharp incline on a new road which ate it's way into the mountain with spectacular views across the valleys which grew ever steeper as we climbed.

It was spectacular, virgin country, the road carved into impossible mountain sides and unfinished, it had still been subject to multiple landslides taking out huge swathes of road and barriers, proving that the retaining walls were not capable of retaining sufficiently.

It was frontier territory, even in this heavily populated and cultivated land, this are had proved too difficult. Now, once the pass had been crossed, shacks had been constructed of paperbark trunks and tarpaulins, or, further up the mountain in new frontier villages, planks of wood from local timber, swept dirt floors and shuttered, glass-less windows to keep the chilly mle-high mountain wind and rain out.

Overnight Scoot to Tam Dao Hill Station


Bob and my most recent trip out of Hanoi was a 2 day trip on Monday/Tuesday to Tam Dao, a National Park in mountains 80km north, with a town of the same name. We rode there on our motor bikes through the river flats that extend for many kilometres in all directions, until we reached the mountains, with a 1,000m climb in the last 11km of the ride. The national park covers the entire mountain area and, apart from the area of the town, comprises luxuriant rain forest. With the mountains rising straight from the flood plains, you can imagine how much rain they receive. We trekked through the rain forest, on Tuesday morning, climbing a substantial way up the highest mountain before running out of time.

In addition to the fabulous food, hot weather and wonderful countryside that we're experiencing, three anecdotes from the past 2 days will help explain why we like the people so much. During our trekking in Tam Dao I cut my left leg. It kept bleeding, despite our best efforts. While motoring back to Hanoi we stopped for a coffee at a roadside café in a small village. A young man came in for a beer and noticed my bleeding leg, expressing concern. He went off into the rain forest and we saw him return chewing some tree leaves. He came over to us, called the woman who was serving us to help clean the leg and to bring a long piece of cloth as a bandage. He put the chewed leaves over the wound and wound the cloth around it to hold it in place, before returning to his beer. It was all without fanfare and solely for my benefit. Needless to say, the wound stopped bleeding and is healing nicely!
Today we headed to a local 'hole-in-the-wall' (literally!) street eatery, with 2 small tables, for lunch comprising a bowl of fish noodle soup. A local Vietnamese man was enjoying his lunch and a couple of beers with his mate. Delighted to see us, and without more than one word of English, he engaged me in a spirited and friendly conversation, excitedly announcing 'Kangaroo!' when discovering we were Australian. With much insistence, he fetched me a glass full of ice and proceeded to pour Bob a beer and me a soft drink. He kept refilling Bob's glass to overflowing throughout the lunch and his fraternal discourse, eventually insisting that he pay for our meals as well.
The third incident occurred this afternoon while I was enjoying a couple of beers at our local bia hoi (draft beer at a simple outdoor venue). An old fellow rode up on his motor-bike, with a pile of tennis rackets on the front. He ordered one beer which he downed while still sitting on the bike at the edge of the road. I spoke briefly to him indicating his fitness and strength, and he spoke to us (well Bob) in French. He had just finished playing tennis with friends and was having a beer on his way home. He was a professor of medicine at the Hanoi University and was 84 years old! He wanted to know where we were from and whether we played tennis – he wasn't impressed by our running and cycling!

Viet Nam Plans


I love Ha Noi!

We have fitted in so easily to our life here, are part of the community and understand the ebb and flow of the street life with ease.

Nevertheless, we shall do some travelling while we are here, and have booked two flights to this end; first, to Nha Trang on the southern coast on Monday, 4 August, from where we plan to make our way to Da Lat in the hills for a few days.

The next journey booked is to Siem Riep (Xiem Riep in Vietnamese) in Cambodia a week or so later, leaving Ha Noi on Sunday, 17 August and returning the following Sunday. In the meantime we hope to jump on our zippy little Yamaha 'Nouvo' Motor scooters and do some further travel around the Ha Noi region.

To this end, we started travelling further afield earlier in the week, scooting the 65-odd kilometres down to the Perfume Pagoda (Chua Hu'o'ng) on the madness and joy of the Vietnamese road system. A very hot day, it was good to be moving in the open air, and I reluctantly replaced my spiffy little orange-flowered broad brimmed helmet hat with a sensible hulk-green head protector with a visor. I love my orange helmet, but unfortunately once one gets up to the dizzying speeds over 30 kilometres an hour, the brim acts as a parachute, both flinging my head back and slowing down my progress and attempting to act as an effective noose.

It was a good learning experience for us both, especially Bob, who became a little sunburnt on the arms and legs, and re-assessed his rather optimistic time frames for travel on the bikes to our proposed destinations. We found that a break for a drink and a stretch about every hour was necessary, as I had suggested having had spent some lengthy time in the saddle on my daily commutes and trips to the airports and so on.

Today we are attempting to book tickets for the Football Friendly between the Brazilian Olympic side and the Vietnam national team on the 1st of August. Without Vietnamese, finding information is tricky to say the least, however I seem to have a website for on-line bookings, however since it 'opened' for bookings at 9am, I have not been able to access it. I hope that we can go to the match, in this football mad country (there are at least three dedicated soccer channels on TV, with the sports channels and Vietnamese networks all having heavy coverage as well), it would be a wonderful cultural experience.

[To Be Continued . . . .]

Having too much fun to post . . . .


It has been a hectic three weeks; a four night trip to Sa Pa with my big sister.

The day of our return saw the arrival of her youngest daughter, the incredibly gorgeous Ingrid on a break from her studies in her first year of Uni after a Gap year.

We had a lot of fun, although commuting between the cat's house in Chua Lang and our apartment in Quan Thanh was presenting something of a logistical and time challenge, as the approximately 6km journey was undertaken in invariably heavy traffic.

A few days later, the 'boys' arrived, Sam (10) and Paul (30-something) from Canberra. My motor scooter skills are improving no end as I pillioned Bob the 40-odd kms to the airport, and rode home in the dark along the speeding traffic of the freeway while Bob and the boys travelled to the apartment in a taxi.

The next few days were spent visiting the Water Puppets (surprisingly good!), eating a great deal of good food, and becoming extremely competant at ferrying around Ingrid, Sam and my sister (or combinations of two, but never three at a time) around the streets of Hanoi on the back of the bike.

with organised tours and have done very few - the treks Bob and I did in Thailand and Laos 2 years ago were personally guided, as was the trip my sister and I took. This, however had a cast of - many - and there was much waiting around and it confirmed why I don't do tours. Our arrival at the wharf at HalongWhile the 3 boys, Bob, Paul and Sam went to Sapa, Ingrid and I took an overnight trip down to Halong Bay, a justified World Heritage listed are of natural beauty. I am not good City was reminiscent of herding sheep, with thousands of tourists being shepherded off, and then on to the flotilla of almost identical faux wooden hulled junks built for the tourist trade.

Despite my gloom at the tour group funk, once we were underway and the other boats started to thin out into the open bay and casts of the rocks jutting from the water, it all seemed worthwhile. A pleasant afternoon was spent cruising around the islands to the mandatory stop at a large, but crowded, cave system. We then spent an hour kayaking around the area, before stopping for swimming and mooring for the night.

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Adapting to Hanoi’s Summer


Adapting to Hanoi’s Summer


Bang Lang flowers

Summer is well and truly here. You can hear the cicadas in the trees. Along most of the streets in Hanoi these days, you can see the beautiful Flamboyant flowers. The hand fans are waving and the storm clouds are threatening. The temperature is on the rise forcing Hanoians to the lakesides and the streets in the evenings trying to get some breeze. Young boys drive their motorbikes around to have a good look at girls. Ice cream and sugarcane juice outlets are doing a roaring trade.

Summer rain

It’s all about staying cool in the brutal Hanoi summer. While the red and purple flowers make Hanoi look beautiful and signal the beginning of the school holidays, it is also a sign that it’s time to adapt. There will be no more cool days until October. One of the most noticeable ways that Hanoians adapt is in the wardrobe department and that doesn’t mean they wear less clothes. They wear more! Avoiding the searing sunshine is a priority, especially for the local women. A range of uniquely designed shirts which tie around the head have been all the rage these past few summers. Long gloves and the newly invented helmet rings complete the look.


Driving habits change, too. Motorcyclists do not stop at the traffic lights but instead 25 or 50 metres back from them – under the shade of a tree. It seems that half a minute stopped still in the open sun is too much to bear. At other times, motorbikers compete to pull up in the shade of a truck or bus. Motorbike parking attendants, in some locations, cover the seats of the bikes to protect them from the sun and their owners from a nasty burn.

Truc Bach Lake

Finding a breeze on a hot still night requires inside knowledge or an observant eye. Between Truc Bach and West Lake is an all too obvious one, with hundreds of couples getting in their good night kiss in the subtle wind. The breeze from the Red River can be experienced by hanging in the stop zones on Long Bien bridge. The bases of tall buildings like the Sofitel Plaza and by the waterworks on the dyke road are two other favourites.

Beers deliver

A tumbler or two of bia hoi (draught beer) or mia da (sugar cane juice with ice) will give an instantaneous chill.

If all else fails, seek air-conditioned comfort!

Sitting on the edge of my chair


I feel terrible.

Terribly responsible that is. I arranged for my gorgeous niece Ingrid to catch the 3:00pm shuttle to the airport (too much luggage for me to carry on the bike for that distance), having been assured that it would allow ample time to check in for her flight.

We made the bus in plenty of time, and waited, and waited, and . . .

It finally got underway at about 3:21pm and I was concerned and nervous at the prospects for an easy check-in.

Check-in closed and she missed the flight. Damn you JetStar! (OK, technically it was not JetStar's fault, but they suck and the website refused to allow access to her booking all day, so they are the kicking post du jour).

I attempt to call JetStar in Hanoi and after being on hold forever, get cut off. Text message to Ingrid. Attempt to call JetStar Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) on the number on their website, and find that it is not connected. Doh!

Try Hanoi office again. Eventually get through without being cut-off. English skills of operator marginal. He is very helpful, although the attempt to spell everything ("I" for Iceland; "N" for Netherlands; "G" for Germany - his descriptors, not mine) is extremely slow and laborious). He can't access the booking reference on his computer either. More searching. He starts to talk - and - the phone call is cut off. 25 minutes of phone call. No news.

Call Ingrid. Her battery has no charge. Explain quickly what was happening. She is wait listed for a 6:30pm flight.

Mr JetStar calls back. We try to sort it out again. he assumes that I am Ingrid. Tells me I missed the flight from Hanoi. Getting somewhere now. Attempt to explain the predicament again and see if the flight can be caught. Mr JetStar goes away to find out. In the meantime I am googling like crazy to find other flights to Australia. Ingrid had to have such a short visit, because flights were booked out - this is confirmed by my extensive google-fu. Try other alternatives, such as Hanoi to Bangkok and then to Sydney. Not looking good at all.

Feel despondent.

Mr JetStar calls me back after being cut off again. He is rally trying to help, although the language gulf is telling. Don't know about her being able to board the flight. Maybe yes, maybe No. However says that if she goes to the counter for a late check-in, for a payment of USD $75 she will be confirmed on the next flight (tomorrow night). Sounds the best that one could hope for, but I have no reference, nor name to confirm this. Hope for the best. Mr JetStar effusive about being pleased to be able to help.

Call Ingrid. She is boarding flight and is hopeful. I say goodbye quickly, and look for hotels in HCMC on-line. Am happy with selection, however they need vouchers printed out first. Attempt to call Ingrid's mama. No answer. Leave message.

So, here I sit feeling frightfully impotent, refreshing the screen for flight arrivals in HCMC to access the little information possible.

And I wait, and hope that I don't hear from Ingrid, although don't hold up much hope for the successful connection. Only a day or two ago we were basking in the sun of the World Heritage listed Ha Long Bay on the northern coast of Vietnam. It was gorgeous. However, after a too-long bout of Delhi-belly (we're blaming the cheese and crackers from her JetStar flight!), and a lot of hanging around, it seems a shame to prolong the trip in this inauspicious manner.

Bad Aunty Carolyne!

POST SCRIPT: Just received a text from Ingrid. She made the flight to Sydney. Yay. Now I can relax (a bit).

Bad Aunty!

Hanoi Duck


I don't even want to look to see how long it is since I've blogged - I fear that I won't recognise the date in this century.

After recovering from a bout of gastritis that laid me very low for too long, my big sister arrived for a short break en route home to Sydney from Hong Kong. She arrived late in the afternoon, and almost imeadiately we boarded a train to Lao Cai on the Chinese border for a three day tour of Sa Pa.

View Larger Map

We shared our overnight train carriage ('soft sleeper'), with two male polyglots, a Dane who spoke perfect English, was reading German and getting along in Viet; and (maybe) a French Canadian. His seemingly perfect French (too ignorant to really know for sure), and native mid American accent seemed to point to this. We both slept well, and were only disappointed that the call for coffee in the morning before we reached our destination was for an overpriced (10,000 dong) insipid paper thimble of nescafe.

We shared a minibus up the mountain to Sapa with various other tour groups, and after winding up the pass through a series of switchbacks and passing an increasing number of impossible terraces cut into the mountain sides to grow rice.

After showering and breakfast at the Golden Sea Hotel, we had time for a short walk through the markets before being met by our Guide ?Phin. Soon we were on our way, seeking to avoid the worst of the incessant cries of "Buy From Me" from the elaborately clad hill tribe women that lined the streets and accompanied any tourist who moved from the sanctuary of the guarded hotel or cafe.

Light rain started and stopped throughout the walk which was a pleasant stroll up the sealed road (Silver Waterfall Road) to begin with

Click for Hanoi, Viet Nam Forecast

About me

  • I'm Carolyne
  • From Canberra, Australia
  • I love to run! Staying in Weymouth, Dorset on the South West Coast of England until October. I'm 46, live in Canberra with Bob and have been running since 1990. This has been interrupted by long periods of illness, however I am extremely stubborn! I'll never be a fast runner, however I give it everything, and am slowly learning to read my body better and adjust my training and expectations accordingly. Or rather I would, if running were possible at the moment - I will retuyrn soon.
  • My profile

  • <>Vietname vs Brazil Olympic Football Friendly 8PM 1 aAugust 2008
  • A Hot time in the Old Town tonight
  • <>Trip to Nha Trang and Da Lat 4 August to  August 2008
  • Flights Booked
  • <>Scooter Trip to Ninh Binh  aAugust 2008
  • Planned
  • <>Trip to Cambodia and Siem Riep 17 August to 24 August 2008
  • Flights Booked & 2 Nights accomodation

  • Long Course Tri 2k/83k/20k 12 February 2006
  • Sri Chinmoy Long Course Tri 2.2k/80k/20k 6 March
  • Backpacking Laos & Vietnam 14 March to 26 April 2006
  • Thailand Temple Run 21k 19 March 2006

  • Customs 5k Fridays
  • BBQ Stakes  6k Wednesdays
  • Tour de Mountain 19k 18 December
  • 1:55:02 Results
  • Cross Country Summer Series 5k Tuesdays in November
  • Cool Runners Six Foot Track Slow Jog/Walk 46k 25-27 November
  • Wonderful!!
  • Sri Chimnoy Triple Tri Relay 20 November
  • 1:55:38 1:04:53 1:22:55 Results Report Photos
  • Tour de Femme 20k Fun Ride 13 November
  • 40:40ish
  • Bonshaw Cup 6.4k 16 November
  • 30:30ish
  • Hartley Lifecare Fun Run 5k 17 November
  • Belconnen Fun Run 6k 12 November
  • 28:38ish
  • Mt Majura Vineyard Two Peaks Classic 26k 5 November
  • Last! 3:08:00 Results Report
  • Wagga Tri-ants Duathlon 10k/40k/5k 30 October
  • Scratching
  • Bulls Head Challenge 27k 23 October
  • 2:20:49 Results
  • Weston Creek Fun Run 6k 16 October
  • 32:02 Results Results
  • Fitzroy Falls 42k & 10k 15 October
  • Results
  • Orroral Valley 20k 9 October
  • 1:52:44 Results
  • Sri Chinmoy 10k 3 October
  • 0:50:14 Results
  • Duathlon Championships 10k/40k/5k 23 September
  • 3:09:07 Results
  • Canberra Times 10k 18 September
  • 0:45:30 CR TE AM!
  • Sydney Marathon 11 September 3:47:13
  • ACTVAC Half Marathon 21.1k 28 August
  • Entered DNS
  • Black Mtn UpDown GutBuster 5.2k 16 August 0:33:38
  • Results
  • Mt Wilson to Bilpin Bush Run 35k 20 August 3:15:14
  • Results
  • City to Surf 14k 14 August 64:17
  • Bush Capital Mtn Runs 25k 30 July  
  • 2:17:09 Results
  • Shoalhaven King of the Mtn 32k 17 July
  • 2:53:15 Results
  • Sri Chinmoy Off Road Duathlon 3.3k/23k/7.7k 2 July 2:40:29
  • Results
  • Woodford to Glenbrook  25k 26 June DNF Injured Results
  • Terry Fox 10k 19 June 46:59
  • Results
  • Aust Mtn Running Champs9k 18 June 1:06:33
  • Results
  • ACTVAC Monthly Handicap 9k Farrer Ridge 29 May 0:46:05
  • ACT Mtn Running Champs  9k 28 May 1:06:50
  • Results
  • SMH Half Marathon 22 May 1:41:56 (1:40:50)
  • Results
  • ABS Fun Run 7.3k 19 May 0:34:45
  • Results
  • Canberra Half Marathon 15 May injured Results
  • Sri Chimnoy 10k 8 May 0:47:55
  • Results
  • Nail Can Hill Run  1 May 56:23
  • Results
  • Newcastle Duathlon  24 April 2:45:39.2
  • Results
  • Canberra Marathon  10 April 3:47:56
  • Results
  • Women & Girls 5k 3 April 22:53
  • Results
  • Sri Chimnoy 10k 28 March 47:56
  • Results
  • Weston Creek Half Marathon 13 March 1:43:23
  • Results
  • Sri Chimnoy Long Course Tri 6 March 5:30:35
  • Results
  • Hobart International Triathlon 20 February 2:52:05

  • Canberra Capital Triathlon 30 January 3:01:43
  • Results
  • Medibank Private Australia Day8k 26 January 38:39
  • Results
  • Lorne Pier to Pub Swim 1.2k 8 January 22:12
  • Results
  • Lorne Mountain to Surf 8k 7 January 0:37.56
  • Results

    moon phases

  • 5k 20:11 Cairns 2000
  • 10k 43:49 Moruya
  • City to Surf 1:02:57 2000
  • Half Marathon 1:33:50 Steamboat 2000
  • Marathon 3:47:56 Canberra 2005
    Chip Time (3:47:13) Sydney 2005

  • Kilometres Run
    January 212
    February 199
    March 214
    April 201
    May 188
    June 182
    July 255
    August 246
    September 155
    October 159
    November 200
    December 62
    Year to Date 2,267

    Last posts

  • New Blog Address
  • After having been largely blocked from posting on ...
  • Back in Canberra, Blogging Service (hopefully) Res...
  • Kama, Krama, Kramar Chameleon
  • Restaurant Review - Siem Reab
  • Back from Angkor Wat
  • Update
  • Notes from a Rainy Da Lat
  • Overnight Scoot to Tam Dao Hill Station
  • Viet Nam Plans

  • Days Sick
    January 10
    February 10
    March 10
    April 4
    May 7
    June 8
    July 9
    August 11
    September 11
    October 11
    November 9
    December Lots. ?15

    Distance Swum
    February 17,400m
    October 3,800m
    November 4,150m
    December .
    Distance Cycled
    November 120km
    December 297 km