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Tam Coc and Hue – Snowball In The Sahara

Well my beautiful people, the time has come to have our smug smiles wiped clean from our faces. The beach days are behind us and the rainy season is showing us what winter is truly like for the Vietnamese folk. The silver lining is that my choice to bring the houdini is closing in for the bronze when it comes to traveling accessories. The reports of typhoons prior to our trip should have been an indication. But happily ignorant and with joyful thoughts in our hearts we knew that we would weave between the clouds, tan along the way and not encounter a drop of rain. After swimming through the last town we realized this may not be the case.

We left Cat Ba and took a short 6 hr bus ride south to a beautiful town called Tam Coc. A few clouds but no rain. The real kick came with the 10 degrees drop in temperature to a deadly 17 degrees Celsius. Being part of a Swedish family you’d think I would now have snow running through my veins, apparently not. Looking like the cool runnings team as they enter Calgary we layered up and embraced our new home for the next few days.

We resided in an elaborate hotel overlooking the river at a costly £8 a night including a buffet breakfast. As with most new locations its imperative to be a tourist on day one. Straight to the river for a boat trip where they filmed most of King Kong (apparently, We’ve yet to see the film to confirm). £4 per person, a bargain we say, sign us up for 2 and a one year old. “babies free” she said, even better we say to our new friend. £5 for the boat was the next remark. For the boat we replied? How do you do a boat tour without a boat? You can’t, our now straight faced ticket officer came back with. Well, you definitely have a good understanding of supply and demand here. The cost didn’t bother us as much as how it was sold to us. Ready to attempt the tour without a boat we swallowed our pride and paid the 390,000 dong. Within a minute the trip was paid for. Not only was the surrounding area picture perfect the 60 something year old lady who was to be our captain for the next 90 minutes, sat back, swapped her hands for her feet and started paddling. As relaxed as they come as she overtook, touched oars and bumped into a few other boats. A beautiful experience all round and a lovely start to Tam Coc.

Unfortunately our beautiful daughter came down with a fever and stomach bug. It could have been the food, maybe the hundreds of locals touching her face or even sauna like the bus ride down. Either way we decided to chill out in Tam Coc until she was better. Daniella followed with a cold of her own but the real problems occurred when I was struck down with a rare strain of man flu. Crippling, agonizing, like giving birth but tens times the pain and more uncomfortable. Being the resilient family that we are, we plodded on, sight seeing at a very slow pace. We climbed 500 lovely steps up from the Mua cave and peered across the breathtaking landscape. We walked among the rice paddies and mingled with the ducks, cows and goats. And, of course, a few bike rides into the city and around the countryside. Daniella managed to find a beautiful peppa pig rain coat for Prevelly that folded in on itself to become her new favorite bag. Unfortunately a moment was taken today, mourning the loss of said coat. After having time to explore the town and now that everyone was nearly back to full health it was time to move on. Next stop, Hue.

I will hold back on what was a horrific 12 hour overnight bus. It’s still too painful to talk about. A short post may follow with our lovely experience and who not to travel down the country with.

So we arrive in Hue in the early hours of the morning and have a wander to find our hostel. Using our new favorite app, maps me. The best map app we have used for offline traveling so far. We find our lovely little, newly renovated hostel down the side street off of what must be the main coffee shop street. They love their coffee in Hue. And so do I. It was the second cappuccino I’ve had in nearly three weeks and oh my god have I missed my frothy friend. 90 of the best pence I have spent so far.

Checked in and ready to make the place our own we venture into the town. Quite a busy city but with a relaxed vibe. Some beautiful clothes stores, excellent knock off watches and the very popular rain ponchos. Everything was perfect except for the non stop rain. After a day of looking around and sampling some of the towns notorious dumplings we did our usual purchase of a moped. The next day we set off for a tour to the tomb of Dong Khanh. A few miles in and the bike cuts out a few times. A quick change of bikes and we’re back on track. With the earlier purchase of rain ponchos we look like the locals and skid our way through the countryside. After a three hour round trip which included the cheapest, most tasty lunch we’ve experienced so far, for a mere £2 all in, we agree that the rain is not for us. The tomb was interesting but not enough to keep us from the sun. So a new plan was hatched and a flight to Ho Chi Minh was purchased.

Our new itinerary is to include bypassing the water logged central area of the country and see the bustling city that the locals still refer to as Saigon. Apparently there are beaches within a two hour bus ride, so we’ll be sure to find something that suits our family’s needs.

Even with a cold Prevelly continues to charm the locals and fellow travelers. We were estimating that if we had charged £1 a photo with our little superstar then we could of happily retired as of last week.

With a few destinations missed we would like to say that it’s done with only our daughter’s best interests at heart. The fact is that non of us really like the rain and everything seems a lot less interesting when your having to work so hard to stay dry. Hopefully we have said goodbye to the winter weather as we head south.

As always, much love to everyone around the world and we look forward to seeing you all soon.

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