Friday, 24 June 2005

Vietnam cycle, recovery in Sa Pa

Friday 24 June 2005

Hotel was quiet and did not wake until 6 am, after 11 hours sleep.

Felt better this morning but deteriorated through the day. Changed hotels to the Royal Sa Pa (Cau May Street), a nicer one in the centre of town, for US$12, including breakfast. My room has views across to the mountains but there were only clouds. Ate well - there is a good mixture of tourist restaurants and local com phos. Had breakfast at the Royal (15,000D), bought two big mangoes and two small pineapples in the market, and two sua chua. For lunch ate at one of about 10 com phos in the market: a big bowl of tasty tofu and noodles for 6,000D! There were no tourists here, only wonderfully dressed montagnards.

The weather was uninspiring: heavy cloud and fog over the huge mountains close by. Drizzled on and off. My six-year-old sandals eventually are showing bad signs of wear: the front of one start flapping, so had it repaired by a street shoe repair man for 10,000D.

Enquired about the train to Hanoi. Tomorrow will catch the day train - leaving 10:20am - to Hanoi from Lao Cai about 37 km from here. It's a downhill ride to Lao Cai so should be okay.

Then a 10 hour train trip, arriving after 8 pm. Have booked myself into the Camellia 4 Hotel in Hanoi, it's 2 minutes walk from the Camellia 2 where I stayed last week which has no vacancies. Will ride from the station to the hotel. Will make sure I recover before venturing afield again, probably to Halong Bay.

Spent some time in Internet joints clearing my emails (45 since Wednesday evening). While walking the streets saw a dog being bled and its fur singed in preparation for dinner tonight. The fog came into town and reduced visbility to a 100 metres or so.

Walked towards recommended restaurants but on a whim tried another - a mistake. Before ordering meal, ordered a cold Tiger beer (11,000). It arrived frozen solid and had trouble convincing the woman serving me there was a problem. She brought another but it was the same. She spent the remainder of my time in the restaurant pouring the little beer that defrosted. The only other diners were an unfriendly, smoking, old American couple. Ate fried, mixed vetables (8,000D), grilled wild boar with lemon grass 25,000D) that was excellent, and steamed rice. The staff were very friendly but I became frustrated with frozen beer and difficulty in getting the standard soy and chilli (she brought ketchup). Was insufficient food but could not bothered trying to get more.

Back at hotel did some blogging, amongst smokers and screaming kids.


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