Archive for the ‘marc’ Category

Do Miss Mekong

July 16, 2010

We had decided to take a two-day tour through the Mekong Delta on our way to our last stop in Vietnam, the fabled Phu Quoc island. Over the next two days we would watch local dwellers throw huge bags of rubbish into the river then bathe and cook in the same water. We would hold our breath as various bloated animal carcasses floated perilously close to our boat. And we would discover the armpit of Vietnam, a town called Rach Gia where no tourist should ever find themselves. Clearly, the Mekong Delta tour was not the best part of our trip.

Muddy waters

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Don’t Miss Saigon

July 15, 2010

Thankfully, Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) was a lot less hectic than Hanoi and lot more organised. It even had a supermarket where you can buy items for the price that is written on them rather than having to haggle for every product as we had done until now.

We didn’t stay too long in the city but we enjoyed it nonetheless. Whilst there we visited the War Remnants Museum, a haunting reminder of the atrocities committed by the Americans on the Vietnamese people. It is an exhibition that every person in the US should see but probably won’t. The museum also offered a stunning picture gallery from photographers who died during the war and who took an array of brutal yet beautiful images of battle in the countryside.

The US military vehicles outside the War Remnants Museum offer an ominous introduction to the exhibition

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Halong Amazes (but for how long?)

June 21, 2010

Halong Bay is one of the most beautiful places on earth. So it is a shame it is ruined by tourists. Being two of those tourists we were both delighted to be there and sad to be contributing to the many problems in the area – mainly due to pollution from the boats and rubbish from the visitors.

Bays and boats

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Hanoi-ing

June 21, 2010

The best thing about Hanoi was our hotel room. It boasted two double beds, a large plasma screen TV, a Jacuzzi bath tub and a strong wifi signal (a rare commodity in Vietnamese hotels). We were served with delicious Pho soup and fresh mango juice every morning and the hotel owner, Mr Tung, was incredibly welcoming and helpful.

Outside our sanctuary lay chaos and confusion, which crawled across all corners of central Hanoi. The first thing you notice about Vietnam’s capital city is that there are no rules of the road. The streets swarm with motorbikes, buses, trucks, taxis, bicycles, cycle-rickshaws and the occasional horse-drawn cart, none of them obeying any consistent approach to driving.

Beware of the bikes!

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A Kind of Magic

June 4, 2010

The main aim of our Australia trip was to visit the Great Barrier Reef. So we were more than a little alarmed when the day before we were due to arrive in Airlie Beach to begin our two-night tour of the Reef and the nearby Whitsunday Islands we were told that we had been double booked and there was no room for us on the boat.

A ropey situation on Airlie Beach

After a 10-hour bus from Cairns to Airlie we were no more certain of getting a place on our tour or any other. This was on a Thursday night and our original boat was due to leave on the Saturday morning. The next day we headed straight to the agency ready for battle with the inept girl that had wrecked our booking.

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Misiones Improbable

May 24, 2010

From Buenos Aires we headed north to the humid, subtropical climate of Misiones and its Iguazú Falls, where sunshine and warmth are virtually guaranteed throughout the year. It rained for the next seven days.

Its wet up north

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Big Ice

May 6, 2010

From Torres del Paine we headed north into Argentine Patagonia and the small tourist town of El Calafate. We went there with one mission – to walk on the Perito Moreno glacier. The mission was a massive (massif?) success.

Approaching the glacier

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No Paine No Gain

May 2, 2010

Torres del Paine

Marc: We hadn’t planned to go trekking for four days in a national park in Chilean Patagonia. But after meeting so many travellers who were singing the praises of Torres del Paine we felt compelled to go. It was the best decision we could have made.

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Warming to Chile

April 27, 2010

We loved Santiago from the first night we were there and we didn’t even leave my mate Patrice’s apartment.

We had arrived at the city’s airport dirty and drained from our tiring travels. Bolivia is an amazing country to visit but it is no walk in the park (more like a jostle in the jungle), so on arrival in Chile we were delighted when our airport shuttle-bus took us straight to our new ‘home’ for the next five days in the leafy neighbourhood of Providencia.

Sunny Santiago

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Ultimate Ride

April 6, 2010

I was on my own. Manna, quite reasonably, decided that she didn’t want to ride a mountain bike for 65km down the world’s most dangerous road. But I, quite unreasonably, was well up for it.

The road had earned its moniker. In its ‘heyday’ 300 people died on it each year. This is because it is more like a dirty, potholed, gravel path than a road; it is mostly the same width as the average vehicle but no wider; and it winds down its entire length with an ominously high cliff drop (up to 100m in places) on one side and a concrete cliff face on the other.

Yet one of the ‘must-do’ activities when staying in La Paz is to go on a mountain-bike tour down this treacherous track. This is dubbed the ultimate bike ride, and it proves to be quite literal for some (1-2 a year) who never make it back.

Geared up for the ride

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