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Boats, buses and sleeper trains.

6am came and I staggered up to the top deck for my first experience of Tai Chi, my Dad does this so I knew what to expect but it was still hard keeping up with the master! It was very chilled and I think I’ve learnt a couple of moves. It was nice to be up and about to see the view at that time.

Breakfast was at 7 where I had my first Pho, a traditional noodle soup eaten all times of the day. The others tucked into bacon and sausage butties and we all had lots of fruit. They even had watermelon juice that was sublime.

Breakfast finished with it was back into a smaller boat to explore the ‘Surprise caves’ they’re named this after two women found them in 1901 and were surprised they were there.

The caves were good but they weren’t as big as I was hoping and it was full of tourists from about 20 different boats so you got shephered along.


The ‘finger formation’

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Our guide was good and pointed out some interesting points including one that he said was a finger pointing but it actually looked like something far ruder! We had a giggle like little kids and continued. Reaching the top of the caves there were great scenes of the bay, just a shame it’s full of boats.

 I guess you can’t resent the amount of tourists that are out in the bay, our guide works on the ships to improve his English so one day he can get a really good job. When I think of all the people who are involved with the tours and how many there are it must be keeping a lot of people in steady jobs.

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So back to the boat it was after seeing fisherwomen with their early morning catches and time to settle up with the bill. Once that was out of the way we had another massive lunch. Vegetable soup, weird doughy balls with egg yolk in the middle, noodles, fish and a big plate of squid! We even got a Swiss roll slice for pudding. It was now time to head back to land so we took this time to sit in the sun and I continued reading a great book. ‘The mechanical’ a sci-fi gem that was recommended this year.

Once off the boat we jumped onto the wrong bus, located the correct bus and dozed off on the three and a half hour journey back to Hanoi.

We got dropped off at the station as it was now time to head down the coast to Hue, where a Grand Palace awaited us.

We got our foreigner tickets for a 6 berth hard beds with air con for around £18 each. Then stocked up on food and treats for the thirteen hour journey. Including Banh Mi for around 60p!

The train soon arrived and there were already two guys on the bottom bunks, Leia and I had the middle bunks while Liam was on his own right at the top. They were hard but clean and we got duvets and a pillow. Once comfy with Liam above me creaking away and me fearing he was going to drop on me the train departed with us all snug and warm.

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This train was more basic than Bangkok to Nong Khai but I think I prefer it. I’ve had a better sleep even though as we departed the loudest music and announcements ever were made! We were in hysterics.

The train also rocks from side to side quite dramatically at times but it’s a good adventure! Next thing we know we’ll be in Hue, our 7th place in 12 days.

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