Showing posts from January, 2010

Japin' round the world: SUIT UP!

I have now left the overcast Northern province of Vietnam and have made my way to the sunny and warm, central coastal town of Hoi An which is about 30Km away from Da Nang. Instead of slumming it down here on the bus, I decided to take the slightly more expensive sleeper train down. This was a good call, I later decided, as it was comfortable and the views were spectacular. Also I was lucky enough to be sharing a cabin with 2 other Londoners which made for some interesting conversation. It was a bit of a coincidence to be fair.

From Da Nang I was forced to take a cab to Hoi An, as the town itself doesn't have a station. However, this wasn't all bad as en-route I got a chance to see some of the old US Military bases (Da Nang was where the Americans first set up base in Vietnam in 1963).

Hoi An itself is a massive breath of fresh air compared to Hanoi. Firstly there is a lot less traffic compared to Hanoi. Also its a lot smaller and easier to explore, and doesn't feel quite as …

Japin' round the world: I'M ON A BOAT!! (or at least I was)

I decided, after spending numerous days in Hanoi, to get out the city and to go to Halong Bay. I ended up booking up a 2 day 1 night sleepover tour with the hostel I'm staying with. This seemed like the best idea as I'd met a few people here who were going too, and also at least I wasn't likely to get scammed by a dodgy tour operator.

The trip set off moderately early in the morning, and it took about 3 hours to get to the harbour in Halong. Despite the fact that Halong is only about 100 miles away from Hanoi it takes longer than it should because of the insane traffic. When we arrived we were met, amusingly, by the captain who had turned up in a crip white uniform, which looked very official, and boarded the vessel.

The boat itself was really cool, it had three levels, with a bar on the second and a veranda at the top, and we were each allocated two to a cabin. Now these, after days of staying in hostel rooms comprising of at least myself and 3 others, seemed palatial. We…

Japin' round the world: Ho Chi Minh sends his regards.

So I have now spent a few days in Hanoi, which to me seems to be the city of 100,000 car horns. To be fair I haven't really seen anything yet with regards to extreme traffic; I'm told Ho Chi Minh City is worse. However, it's still pretty weird to behold the absolute madness of the roads here. Pretty much anything goes for the several thousand cars and several million mopeds that clog the streets. I was unnerved massively when the driver to my accommodation spent a majority of the trip sitting in the middle of the road straddling both lanes, except for when overtaking other cars and such. Also he seemed to hoot at every vehicle we passed, irrespective of whether he had been cut up or not. This was, at least, when he wasn't running dangerously close to mowing down several bike riders.

In the end you become so used to people beeping their horns that you just kind of zone it out. It loses all the significance that it has back home (where people often will restrain from us…

Japin' round the world: Hong Kong

So I had made my way to Heathrow Terminal 5, (which is actually very good despite the bad press at the beginning of it's life) and apart from wondering what good a condom machine was in the departure gate toilets, (you'd think they try and discourage people joining the mile-high club) it was you're average flight experience. Just longer.

Arriving in Hong Kong was naturally a relief as firstly, it was nice to get off the plane after 12 hours, and secondly it was much warmer here than the UK. 22 degrees to be precise. I've definitely had it with snow for one year, and here it seems to be guaranteed to stay away.

The first impressions I had of the city were good. It seemed to live up to my expectations of being a large modern metropolis. Then I got to the Hostel. I wasn't expecting much and that's what I received. The place I'm staying in is above an arcade of shops that seems to be based on Blade-Runner style LA. I half expected to see Rick Deckard running arou…

Japin' round the world: A Preamble

At the moment I am currently preparing for my round the world trip. Well I say round the world, it will take me to the other side of the world but I am not visiting the Americas on this trip, so it may be better calling it a trip to the other side of the world. That’s if anyone but me actually cares about the specific name for this trip, and I’m imagining they don’t. Anyhoo, I’ve decided to document my travels on this blog, firstly to keep people informed on what I’m doing and also just to keep myself writing for the next three months.

So I’m now going to enter the realms of the travel writer, and it’s a writing genre that I haven’t really tried as yet. My only real influence for this comes from reading a few books by Bill Bryson, and watching some Alan Wicker documentaries. Compared to these guys I lack two things, travel experience and defining facial hair. I mean, look at Bryson for instance. The man has a proud, thick, bristling beard, and even Wicker has a neatly clipped moustach…