Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Mui Ne - Other stuff

Bob says: The main attractions around Mui Ne, top - surfing the red sand dunes, centre - red canyon, bottom - the beautiful white sand dunes, like being in the middle of the sahara. No camels though.
We also took part in the most dangerous tourist activity, we hired a motorbike to get to all these places. Mums, you'll be glad to know we survived and it will be the last time......maybe. All Ruth's idea anyway!

Mui Ne

Bob says: Life is hard in Mui Ne, in fact its pretty unbearable. In addition to the sun, sand and sea, we've had to put up with cold beer, cocktails, beautiful food and afternoon napping. A bloody nightmare start to finish!

Mui Ne - Fishing Village

Bob says: Just outside the resort of Mui Ne is this fishing village where there are hundreds of fishing boats moored up during the day, by night they light up the horizon fishing before dropping their catch at the morning fish market and providing me and the wife with some of the finest freshest seafood. A worthy cause!
Ruth says: Mui Ne is also the home of Nam Pla ( the stinky fish sauce that you get in most Thai and Vietnamese cooking). The trays of little fish drying are used for that purpose, and you can imagine what the village smells like....lovely.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Hoi An

Ruth says: Hoi An was a totally cool little place. If it hadn't rained so incessantly (apart from the half day that we were on the beach) it could have got very expensive. In Hoi An there are over 400 tailor's shops. You basically go in there and choose a design from a catalogue or stuff they have in the shop and then choose the fabric, and they make it for you super cheap. They even make shoes. It is great. I beat Bob at pool ( obviously he was only playing one pocket) which meant that I could have, in addition to the two skirts I had already had made , a dress and some shoes. Sadly however the rain made us leave before the purchases could be made, but I think we will definately be going back one day.
Bob says: rain dancing payed off. First decent game of pool ever with the wife. Surprising how good she can be with an incentive.
Ruth says: the town was also really pretty as you can kind of see.


Bob says: Don't panic. We have not had accidents that have rendered our legs useless, needing the aid of wheelchairs. These are the tuk tuk carriages. One of our cyclists took the photo. Hue did have an interesting historic walled citadel, sadly it was not interesting enough to justify the extortionate entrance fee.

More Halong Bay

Bob says: spot the knob!

Halong Bay

Ruth says: After our travels through China and Kyrgyzstan I was dying for a beach, so after a day in Hanoi we booked a boat trip out to Halong bay. It was a bit like Yangshou in China, but at sea, and the added advantage of fruit sellers coming right up to our big boat.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007


Bob says: Hanoi is one of the best cities we have been to. Not least, because it has some of the finest 'creative driving' I have ever seen. Bikes out number cars about 100-1, making for some of the most hair-raising driving ever, and the bars are pretty good too!

Into Vietnam

Bob says: A mammoth overland trip from china to vietnam, 5hrs on a bus from dali back to kunming, overnight sleeper bus to the border with beds made for midgets, walk over the border and get a motorbike taxi(the only way to travel) to the train station then 12 hrs to Hanoi. Cold beer and great views on the train so not all bad.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

On China

Bob says: Chinese is such an indecipherable language that even ye chinese struggle. Certainly the beautiful yorkshire lilt does not lend itself to to the rather abrasive chinese pronunciations. Almost as difficult to work out is Chinglish, some of the best courtesey of our guide book are, 'Question Authority' 'Safety needing attention' 'Pay attention to civilisation' and the beautifully cryptic 'Please don't take the odds and ends put into the nightstool' meaning, obviously, don't stuff things down the toilet. My personal favourite(see above) was displayed all over Hua Shan mountain. Actually, whether this is chinglish or not could be debated, the views were exceptional up there and some sort of relief could be tempting to the most avid rambler?

Food, eating in china is a gastronomic experience not to be missed. A few beautiful peking ducks put paid to the Kyrgyz weight loss programme in a matter of days. Imagine the number of dishes available on ye average chinese takeaway menu and times by a thousand, throw in a few surprises, dog, frog, turtle and you have pretty much got it. What adds to the experience is the way the chinese eat, burp, slurp, drink soup, lick plates, smoke constantly, play drinking games and pretty much forget all the table manners yer mam taught yer. Brilliant! And if yer fancy hawking a globule, don't worry there's a bin next to the table to expend it (an old chinese proverb states 'Better out than in'). If yer table does not resemble a chimps tea party at the end then you've not done it right.

Ruth says: Just in case that wasn't all disgusting enough, and it it really is disgusting (we looked like the slowest, neatest eaters in China), there are a few other habits which are just gross. It took us a while to work out quite how the children were potty trained, as none of the babies wear nappies and they have trousers with huge splits in them from front to back. We soon witnessed exactly what was done, when a child on the bus needed the loo, their parents just held them out over the floor of the bus to wee. Lovely. This is also done on restaurant floors! When the child needs a poo, the parents very consideratley put newspaper down on the floor first. Nice!

The spitting is also at a level that i have never before witnessed. It really is hard to imagine how much people hawk and spit in China unless you have been there. It happens at least every 5 seconds, and everyone does it.

The last thing on my disgusting register is the toilets. They stink all over china,and the public toilets are just squatters with either no walls or just waist high walls between them, and definately no doors. All the better for chatting to your neighbour. They certainly take getting used to.

Bob says: The wife exagerates a bit. And as for the toilets, there are no cubicles to facilitate easy conversation, obvious!


Bob says; We travelled up to Dali, a backpacker hangout in the foothills of the tibetan plateau, for a bit of trekking. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate and it rained most of the time, so trekking was off and bar hopping around the town was on. Dali is full of hippy bars mostly playing Bob Marley and Pink Floyd, this mainly due to the easy availability of 'student concentration tabacco' that grows freely , in the no payment sense, around the town.

In case you're wondering, there was certainly no veg picking for this blog dog!

Ric, here's a dragon/lion, not sure, for ye. I feel we are pandering to your statue needs but there ye go!

Kunming - Hair styling

Bob says: The hair salon was yet another example of my fame in China. Where ever I go people want pictures, they stare, they point at this yorkshire superstar! Quite what I am famous for is another question, maybe my Salendine Nook High School Javalin record is regarded highly throughout China? Anyway, they insisited on the side parting which I feel is a good look for a superstar. During the washing and cutting surrounded by an expectant crowd, including the girl at the front of the picture who's first question after staring at me for a good 10 minutes was 'Are you married ' Ruth was asked whether her hair was 'made in america' astonished looks all round when she informed them it was all her's.
If your wondering what the V signs are for, apparently its for victory and it seems to be complusory when the chinese are in a photo.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Moon Hill, Yangshou

Ruth says: We climbed this funny looking hill on our last morning in Yangshou. The views were pretty spectacular ,though as you can see, as is usually the case in China everything was shrouded in a hazy mist. What with the water buffalo, and pretty surroundings and nice food, and lovely people we were pretty sad to leave this place.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Kayaking in Yangshou

Dragon Bridge on the River Li

Ruth says: Yangshou was a gorgeous little place with amazing scenery. We spent a few days there with friends we had made on the yangze cruise, cycling and kayaking. The day spent cycling was pretty eventful with numerous falls into the mud in the paddy fields and getting lost close to night fall. We had a great time though and swam in the river, and Bob showed how brave he was with an unbelievablyhigh jump.
Bob says: Considered a back dive with reverse pike, but did not want to appear too flash.
Ruth says: There were a million backpackers in yangshou too so it was as great place to get all sorts of western food delights. Bob stuck to the dog though.


Down the market in Wuhan

Ruth says: The market in Wuhan was quite astounding. There were bowls of frogs and snakes ( both of which you can see in the picture), and a million other different kinds of live animals including turtles to be used in cooking. It was really interesting to see but some of the methods of the Chinese for preparing the animals were really gruesome. We watched a fish being scaled before it was even killed!
We inadvertaently managed to order some of these rarer creatures when we were in a restaurant in Kunming. We ordered 2 dishes that we thought were squid and beef, but they turned out to be baby turtles and dog's tail. I just ate vegetables that night.
Oh and Helen, you are very right about the chicken's feet for snacks. They are everywhere.

More Yankze

Bob says: China is currently undertaking one of the most ambitious engineering projects ever in their quest to dam the yankze. A few facts:
The dam is 2 km wide
The lake it will create will stretch back over 500km
Over 1.5 million people will be re housed
In addition to this much of the impressive yankze gorges (the very things we went to see) will be submerged along with thousands historic sites. This highly controversial project has many practical advantages, not least much needed power and a reduction of flooding further down the river, but the loss in my opinion far outways the gains.
A classic bit of chinese propaganda was to take us on a free(very uncommon) tour of a new town development that will be on the shores of the lake. Sadly, although the town was only 2 years old it already seemed to be falling apart and all the buildings looked exactly the same, it did not inspire the confidence that I think the chinese are hoping for. Alongside this was a Ming dynasty historic town that had supposedly been rebuilt brick by brick to save it from flooding. This town was still under construction and was surrounded by stone masons fashioning new stone to look old, so quite how much of the original buildings were retrieved is questionable.
Another bit of food for thought, in the 70s china constructed 2 dams in different areas of the country, one was never completed and the other burst, with catastrophic results. 230,000 people were killed. The international community only got wind of this in the late 90s when the Yankze dam construction was already underway. Should the yankze dam burst it would wipe out the city of Yichang where millions of people live........extremely worrying!!
Above is a picture of the kids from the new town with their goods to sell.