Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Plans

(PICTURE: My favorite people south of Hanoi!)

In three and a half hours I'll be boarding a Jetstar flight to Ho Chi Minh City. I'll be spending the next three days with Hien, my best friend in Vietnam, and Linh, my Vietnamese teacher.

On Saturday the 6th, I'm scheduled to fly Air Asia to Bangkok where I'm supposed to be meeting my sister at 7:15PM. At 9:00 PM we're scheduled to fly on a Bangkok Airlines flight to the island of Ko Samui.

Now, if you've been following the news, Thailand isn't exactly stable. The siege at the airport is supposed to end today but who knows what that means for flights this Saturday. My sister says that Cathay Pacific has canceled all flights to Bangkok until December 5th. That's cutting it pretty close for us to make back-up plans.

I have pre-written a whole bunch of blog entries to be posted during my travels since some readers get a tad miffed at me when I don't post anything. When I have time/internet access I'll be updating the blog about my travels in Ho Chi Minh and with Hannah.

Send good thoughts Hannah's and my way for our flights on Saturday.

See you in a few hours Hien and Linh!

Cat Ba Day 1: The Mountain Peak

Huyen and I arrived on Cat Ba and immediately rented a motorbike for the weekend. The man who rented us his motorbike also wanted us to come stay at his hotel. We scouted the room (100,000 VND for the room; 150,000 VND for the bike) but decided we wanted to ride around the island for a little while before deciding where we wanted to stay.

After checking out the main beaches we headed towards Cat Ba National Park. Upon entering the park we were told there were two hiking options. A short 15 minute hike or a longer 30 minute hike to the mountain peak. The "trail" -- a concrete set of stairs -- headed straight up the mountain. After walking for about ten minutes Huyen was out of breath and said that perhaps we should just do the fifteen minute hike. I was fine with this decision since it had just occured to me that I had left the motorbike keys in the bike (I had paid a drink vendor 5,000 VND to watch the bike with the promise of buying a Coke upon returning). However, after catching our breath for a minute Huyen insisted on going to the top of the mountain. Always up for an adventure (and rationalizing that if the bike was going to be stolen it would have been stolen already) we headed further up the mountain.

The trail wasn't that difficult except when we'd have to climb on old rusted ladders at extremely steep angles. The ladders would have lawsuit written all over them in America, but here they are standard operating procedure. Worries about Tetnis aside, we continued the trek. The trail eventaully led us to the top of the mountain where we were surprised to see a tall tower. If I had to guess, I'd say the tower was at least thirty years old. It was extremely rusted and looked like it could fall over with a strong wind....but we came that far so we headed up the steps.

I've got to say, I'm extremely proud of Huyen for climbing the mountain and the tower. Huyen is slightly scared of heights but didn't let that stop her love of adventure. We climbed to the top of the tower and got an amazing three hundred and sixty degree view of Cat Ba...while standing on old wood planks...with gaps in them...that probably weren't use to my weight.

Luckily the tower didn't break or fall over while we were on it. Also luckily my bike wasn't stolen when we returnd to the drink vendor. I bought a Coke and an ice cream from him.