Vietnam: Hanoi (Part 2)

We heard in Hanoi that there was a show called the Water Puppet Show that was supposed to be good, so we decided to find out where it was showing. We found a place opposite Hoan Kiem lake. And it was really worth it!

There are certain times that it’s on, so we decided to buy tickets for the 4:10 one. We went for a walk and a beer until the time came to go. We entered and we had tickets with the seat numbers. However then a lady working there said we couldn’t sit there (I don’t really understand why, maybe they doubled booked those seats) so we ended up right at the front row. So in the end we got perfect seats!

And you definitely cannot go to Hanoi and miss Hanoi Train Street. The train tracks run though the city, and you can wait for the train to pass you by. We were walking about and we just stumbled upon it! We then found out that the train would be coming in 10-15 minutes, so it was perfect timing! It was so exciting seeing the train coming ahead, and you really need to squish yourself to the wall, it’s very close!!

I really enjoyed it! I saw this on TV years ago but I never thought I’d experience it myself!

What else is great about Hanoi is just the different types of buildings that you see. Most people stay around the Old Quarter as it’s the main tourist area. I love the buildings and there’s so much culture about! It’s crazy busy, but I found the area really interesting!

Where we stayed:

The Daisy House Hanoi

Good: The bedroom was nice and the location was great. It was only about 1 minute walk from Hoan Kiem Lake. There are food places nearby and things to do.

Bad: The owner spoke very little English, so sometimes it was hard to communicate to her. Also there’s no lobby area, as the lady owns a salon downstairs and rents rooms upstairs. The place is also a little difficult to find, we walked past it without realising.

Would I recommend? Yes

Nam Phuong Home

Good: The location was very good. Literally in the heart of Old Quarter. Very easy to get about! Also the shower pressure was unbelievable; it’ll definitely get the dirt out of your hair! We stayed in the Daisy Room (Economy Double Room)

Bad: It’s ‘Economy Double Room’ for a reason! The room itself is too small. If you are 5 feet 8 or over you’re going to be hitting your head off the ceiling. One wall wasn’t a wall at all, merely a plastic partition with a plastic door. So we really felt we weren’t safe at all. Plus the window in the bathroom faces windows the opposite way, so I constantly felt they could see me showering. As you can see, the stairs from outside are literally outside the partition, so we didn’t exactly enjoy it when people were walking upstairs to their own rooms.  Finally, to allow the others to carefully walk up to their rooms upstairs, a light was placed outside, so of course it was never dark. That picture below was how dark the room was at night.

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The ‘wall’ in question

Plus, it didn’t help when he brought us to the wrong room when we arrived…. entering a spacious two floor bedroom, with a seating area and everything! Upon realising his error, we were rather deflated to be brought to this room.

Would I recommend? Definitely not. The other rooms are much better, but the one we stayed in wasn’t very good. The room itself is clean and a nice looking room, it’s just there are too many problems with it. I’ve stayed in a few hostels, but this is the only one where I really didn’t want to come back to at the end of the day.

To find out about Part One; click here:  Vietnam: Hanoi (Part 1)

Aisling

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Enjoying Time With Family

Enjoying Time With Family

I’ve been back in Ireland for just over a week and so far it’s been a mix of peace and quiet…. then all hell breaks loose once the nephews are over, but it’s great to see them and play with them! I can now play more with my nephew, who is 6 years old; having me race him up and down our garden, doing tumbles, playing frisbee and of course hide and seek! I can now have more of a grown up conversation with him compared to the last time I was over.

My youngest nephew is now around 2.5 years old, and although he’s still not speaking, he knows exactly what I’m saying to him! At the moment he’s slow at talking, but he’s trying to make out words; banana is ‘ana’ for example.  So he’s trying at least!

With my fiancé in Mexico, it’s nice to be with the family and be like ‘old times’.  Although I miss him, I’m enjoying my time with the family.

Being back in my own bed means I’ve been having really good night sleeps. In Chengdu I never feel rested after a night’s sleep; maybe it’s our rock hard bed, but here I sleep really well. I forgot how super comfy my bed is!

And the weather has actually been better than Mexico for once! I hear it’s raining, thundery and sometimes cold where my fiancé is, but yesterday the weather in Ireland was fantastic! So so far it’s not too bad! Anyway I don’t mind if it’s not too good; I’m not visiting just for the weather.

So so far I’m having a lovely time. I’ve been so used to having just my fiancé as company, so it’s nice to be able to talk with the family and interact with them. I suppose I just got so used to having only my fiancé about in China, so when I came back here, I realised how much I missed having others company.

I’ll enjoy it while it lasts!

再见

爱玲

Trying to hide from our secret admirer! (aka Beag)

Trying to hide from our secret admirer! (aka Beag)

In one of my previous posts; Our Secret Dog I’ve mentioned our secretly adopted dog called Beag. He lives in the same building as us and we regularly see him in and around our complex. He’s such a cute dog and we would love to have him as our own. But, pity to say we can’t actually just rob him from his actual owners… but we like to pretend he’s ours!

A few days ago we had to pick up a box which my family sent me from Ireland, arriving in Chengdu in only about 6 days, it was extremely fast! We had to go and pick it up at the storage area, so we took a bus to go.

We stepped out of our building and started walking, and who did we meet but Beag. We were delighted to see him! So he started walking with us and sniffing about, out of our complex and down the road with us.

He would disappear for a few seconds, then suddenly reappear at our sides!

But then we started getting worried, we were still walking down the road and he was still following us. ‘I hope he doesn’t follow us all the way’, I thought. ‘What happens if we get on the bus and he jumps in with us?’

We were also afraid in case he becomes confused and can’t find his way home. Or a car or scooter hit him. They don’t stop for pedestrians crossing the road, they certainly won’t stop for a 1.5 foot dog!

But still he followed! And the cute thing was, he would be walking in front of us, and then look back to make sure we were still there!

Suddenly, he ran across the road and and started sniffing about ‘Good, maybe he will get distracted and will forget about us’. 

But no! Suddenly I see he’s back at our side!

Oh! A dog! He’ll definitely want to go over and have a smell, that’s our chance to lose him! 

Wrong again… Beag really wants to find out where we are going!

So we start getting to a corner of the street…. and we look around.

“Right Aisling, he’s distracted, quick, we’ll run around the corner and hopefully he’ll loose us and he’ll head back home”

So we started running around the corner and down the road to where we have to cross the street.

We made it to the road and look behind…

“Oh Aisling I see him! He’s coming this way! He’s looking around for us!”

Oh no, I really don’t want him crossing this road; it’s too busy and we don’t want him to get hurt.

We stand still and hope he doesn’t appear next to us.

“He’s passed us, but he’s still looking around” my boyfriend says.

The green light appeared, we quickly cross and start walking to the bus stop.

“I can see him, he’s at the bus stop at the opposite side, we’re ok!”

Phew! We didn’t exactly want him following us onto the bus. We had to go pretty far to collect my package.

…..

After we collected our package and headed home, we were wondering what happened to Beag… did he get home safe?

But thankfully the next day we saw him at our building!

He came running up to us and we started petting him, glad to see he made his way home!

Chinese people really love their dogs, but when they are on their own, it’s a little dangerous for them. Drivers only notice pedestrians crossing the street when they are literally 1 foot in front of them and then nearly crashing into them (haha sometimes we say drivers here wear those blinkers/blinders for horses and only see people when they are literally right on top of them), so they definitely won’t be looking out for small animals.

But hopefully Beag has a bit of common sense and will avoid the roads… oh and look left and right!

再见

爱玲

Two Mexicans in China

We have been busy lately, with my boyfriends Mum and Dad coming to visit; bringing with them plenty of Mexican food, nuts and my favourite spicy watermelon lolly pops. Oh and a very good quality Tequila with them!

So far they have really been enjoying their time here; walking around the area of our community, going to Walmart and Carrefour, and having a wander in and around Chengdu.

While we were not working, we brought them to a few famous places… we definitely had to bring them for some Chinese tea in a tea house, so they can experience the relaxed nature of Chengdu people.

High on the list was of course food! So far, they have both really enjoyed everything that Chengdu has to offer; hot pot, rabbit, different varieties of dishes… all they really liked.

This Monday we will take them to Kunming, a city that is south of Sichuan province. Here we will spend 5 days where will we have a look at the city, then we will go to Dali, a supposedly quite attractive ancient town. Although I have heard it is very touristy, but that’s no surprise in China!

They still need to go and see the famous pandas, and there are a few more places where we would like to bring them if we have time. Coming back from Kunming, we will have another few days in Chengdu to go to more places.

Because the weather here is becoming colder and colder, that of course brings more smog. Thankfully there have been 2/3 days where the weather hasn’t been that bad. But I suppose they have been warned about the smog so they knew what they would expect!

There are some things that they have been surprised about; such as people appearing more rude than in Mexico. But they have also been surprised about our life in Chengdu and I think they figured out why we have been living here the past few years and what has kept us here.

So all in all, I think their holiday has been going well so far!

再见!

爱玲

Chinese Golden Week

Once again China has their annual ‘Golden Week’, where they all have 7 days holiday.. usually from the 1st to the 7th of October. During this time China becomes mad with people travelling here and there… but I certainly won’t be going anywhere!

It’s great to get a week off going to University, but unfortunately China is just too busy during holidays. Many just stay at home and relax, while others will venture out and join the swarm of other millions of people.

It’s such a pity though. I would love to go and travel during this time, but I know, from experience, everywhere you go there will most certainly be too many people. Plus the roads leading out of Chengdu will be jam packed with cars.

No, I think we’ll leave the travelling to the braver ones. We plan on relaxing, saving some money, try and study Chinese…oh and work.  Just because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean the children have a holiday. Of course they will have tonnes of homework and will have to come to English class.

I asked one of my 14 year old student what were her plans for the holiday. She replied ‘I’ll go with my family travelling but my teachers gave me a lot of homework, so I will have to bring my homework with me and do it during my holiday’.

The poor Chinese students never get a break from school. I really feel sorry for them. No wonder many families are sending their children abroad to study now…

Her Mum is planning on sending her to America next year to study so fortunately she will be out of the Chinese education rat race to be the best. Although she is extremely clever, with the 2nd highest exam scores of her whole school for her summer exams. So she will be fine in America.

So with no school for a whole week… when I return I will certainly not want to get up early in the morning again!

再见

爱玲

 

 

Guilin, Longsheng Rice Fields & Yangshuo

Guilin, Longsheng Rice Fields & Yangshuo

For the start of my travels, I met my boyfriend, his sister and her own boyfriend in Guilin. In China, Guilin is quite a famous tourist destination. For natural beauty, it is the place to go.

So for our time in the province, we decided to stay in Guilin city for 2 days, then head to the rice fields. With the rice fields in the north, and Yangshuo to the south, you need to pass through Guilin city to get to these places.

Surprisingly, none of us enjoyed Guilin city. Every park or scenic area has a fee. And it’s expensive! One famous landmark is the Elephant trunk; a hole in the middle of a mountain that supposedly looks like an elephants trunk, hence the name. So we decided to have nosey at the price; 75yuan!! What!!?? Why the hell is it that expensive??

We then tried to look around the area and see if we could spot the famous trunk. But no….they put huge trees in the way so no one can see it. So you either pay the ridiculous price or not see it at all.

We couldn’t wait to leave. We couldn’t do any sightseeing as it was just too expensive. So Guilin was a bit of a disappointment.

We heard of a small ancient town outside of the city so we decided to go and visit. It’s called Daxu Ancient Town.. and it certainly looks ancient! In Chengdu, most of the towns are reconstructed, but this one really hasn’t been touched at all. People still live in the small town which was nice to see.

We made one small mistake though; we saw an old man ushering us into his small house.. I was a bit hesitant… I didn’t want to intrude. But he seemed ok about. So we had a look inside; very old. Their kitchen was literally in a shed. It was very cool to see how they live though. I was very thankful and said thank you in Chinese. Then I hear from him; 4 people is 5yuan each.

What?? He’s charging us?? He’s the one who invited us in… but anyway, my boyfriend gave him 20yuan altogether, about 3euro and out we went. I was a little annoyed about being conned. I thought he did it out of kindness. Then I see on the door that they actually have prices to enter! We never saw this until it was too late. So it was our fault really. But I suppose they need to make their money some way. After that we  made sure to look everywhere in case we stumbled into a fee paying place.

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I really enjoyed the small town and thankfully it hasn’t been demolished; unlike most other places in China. Hopefully the government will forget about this little gem of a place.

Our next stop was to Longsheng Rice Fields. I have always seen this fields online and I always wanted to visit them; I just never thought I would have… so I was very impressed when we arrived! It was more than what I imagined. Really pretty. The fields change with every season, but for me visiting in the summer is the prettiest.

We had to hike 1 hour up a mountain to get to our hostel, and it was tough!!! Especially with our bags.. but the view was definitely worth it. IMG_9047IMG_9057IMG_9061IMG_9087

 

We spent 2 days in Longsheng, then made our way south to Yangshuo. This is where the creators of Avatar got their idea for the huge floating mountains in the film. Yangshuo is a vibrant city and we all loved it.  Being surrounded by mountains made it really beautiful. We were only there for 2 days unfortunately; we could have done with 3/4 days; theres plenty to do.

We walked around the city, climbed a huge mountain and watched the sunset go down over the high mountains and spent another day cycling in and around the beautiful area.

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We enjoyed Yangshuo that much that we are thinking of going back when my boyfriends parents come to visit. 2 days isn’t enough to spend there.

After our stay, we had to get the train to Chengdu, and that was a nightmare altogether. I will do another post about that ordeal.

再见!

爱玲

 

Visitors in 中国

At the moment, my boyfriends sister and her French boyfriend are in Chengdu visiting us. Flying into Beijing, they saw the most famous of places, before heading to Xi’an and then to Guilin. This was were they met me!

We spent a week in Guilin, where we visited the Rice Fields and then to Yangshuo, a beautiful place which everyone should try and visit one day.

We then took a 25 hour train from Guilin to Chengdu (although we very nearly missed it; that will be another blog post) and we arrived to a lovely sunny day! Chengdu really did pull out all the stops for our visitors.

But I am so glad we are back home in our own apartment. I’ve only been travelling a week but I’m exhausted. It’s nice to get back to familiarity and not having to worry about how to get somewhere or where to eat.

In a few days we head out to Western Sichuan to an area called Kangding, where we will do some hiking and visit the pretty grasslands.

I will post pictures of my trip in my next blog!

再见!

爱玲