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.

Labels: , ,

Adapting to Hanoi’s Summer


Adapting to Hanoi’s Summer

From: VietnameseGod.Blogspot.com

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