Never take a gamble…..

…. on the back seats of the bus!!

Ray and I sat there all smitten & proud with the fact we had the next 10 hours to roll around like pigs in our spacious 5 seats that lined the back of the overnight bus– well, lets just say that all the sudden out of know where we heard the voice from that Knight in the movie Indiana Jones in the Last Crusade booming in our ears….. "You have chosen….. poorly."The bus stopped at one of its "oh so shady" pickup points and let about 10 Vietnamese on. The next 10 hours of our 17 hour journey were spent sitting straight up packed in like sardines.

All we could do was laugh hysterically as the Vietnamese man to Ray’s left fell asleep on his shoulder. Ahh… tis’ the life of travelling. :)

10/1– On the road again……. (is our theme song– we deserve all rights.) We just plopped back down in our seats after slurping down a couple of bowls of "Pho." (favorite dish of Vietnam) and are now making our way up the mountain toward the city of Dalat, which is a part of the Central Highlands of this country. I find myself "ooooohhhing" and "ahhhhing" at the landscape as I feel its been a long time coming as the "scenic concrete" of the city just wasn’t cutting it anymore. I was feeling a little cramped in that big ol’ 5.8 million populated Saigon. Funny what you yearn for sometimes- I find myself on this trip anything but the city girl I am back at home.

Never the less, I fear I cutoff Saigon/HCMC a bit too abruptly as my fingers felt the burden of our last drawn out blog… (as I am sure you did too- tehe) But wanted to quickly share with you how very unique this city was to the others we have experienced in Asia. Ray and I found ourselves on sensory overload- but Saigon (as the locals still call it) had so much charisma in every section of the city. We stayed in the backpackers haven where it was lined with cafes, bars, restaurants, guesthouses and minihotels. And then just 1KM away lies a section of the town that feels ultra European with even a replica of the Notre Dame Cathedral- not something you can even prepare yourself to see in a place like Vietnam! But Voila– there you have it. And finally- the motorbikes– oh the bloody motorbikes how they consume the streets of Saigon. Much like how the schools of fish in the sea move around an object is how they do with you as you cross the city streets….

Which leads me to this crazy drive up through the mountain side in this Jurassic Park-tastic window view. Its a never ending sea of green- and I am smiling ear to ear. As we teeter on the edge of the cliff on our bus I am…. Oh my goodness…. I seriously can’t even think right now as Ray is at it again with his hysterical obnoxiousness. (there is no other way to describe it) So ends this portion for now while I enjoy the ride…. with crazy Ray. :)

10/3– Wednesday, I think? Back on the bus after quite a delightful stay in Dalat. However a chill to the air, it was nice to take a mini-holiday away from the sticky heat of the lowlands. You immediately felt the french influence as we drove in there was a radio tower shaped as the Eiffel Tower that welcomed you into the quaint city. Although a bit of a struggle finding our hotel through the windy streets in the dark on Monday evening, we ended up at a place called Thien An Hotel, and before we knew it we were swept inside a lovely 12 dollar room with the most amazing hospitality and wonderful breakfast– (which was included, by zee’ way) The next morning, after a baguette, eggs, dragonfruit, passion fruit juice and coffee (numalicious) we hopped on some bicycles and went off to explore the town.

As my legs quivered biking up the steep incline of the hill towards the cable car, I silently cursed myself (okay, loudly) that we didn’t have a regular exercise routine. After having to walk my bike up the final few metres (yes, I am such a wuss) we frustratingly found out that the cable car wasn’t running that day because of the high winds– and well, after watching the car tip back and forth, even Ray the dare devil extraordinaire was relieved he wasn’t on it.

That then left us oodles of time to lazily pedal around the town and visit the flower garden, take a loop around the lake and then walk through the central market and have lunch.

We have this newly devised "food plan" where we order 2 items and split it 50/50. But what Ray doesn’t know is that it was truly "deviously" designed by me as his food ALWAYS looked better then mine. So now, I get the best of both worlds…. I know, pretty cheeky– but it beats getting "dooped" on every meal!

Took er’ easy last night as Ray is getting over a very nasty cold– that or still getting INTO it.

And here we are today– with Ray sleeping beside me (which is the only reason why I am able to write this in peace) we have just about a 6-7 hour journey towards Nha Trang…. Where the beach is already beckoning! Lets hope for some sunshine to warm up the leftover chill from the mountains…..

I’M AWAKE… YEEEEEAH BABY… 9:26AM….. So as you can see- I am forced into entertaining the beast has he has now awoken.

***Just a little sidenote– (and not for the faint at heard) but after Ray awoke we made our VERY steep decline down the twisty crazy death defying mountain side and witnessed about 5 Vietnamese "expose" of their lunch and then just tie the SEE THROUGH bag ever so nonchalantly on the back of their chairs. Um… GROOOOOOSSSS. This happens MORE then you could imagine.

10/6- Wow- crazy how much you can get in before noon when you set off to explore all the sights by 7:30am! But, thats what will happen when your bus pulls in at 6:30am from a very loooong and exhausting journey from Nha Trang. So, we decided we either keep truckin’ or fall head first into our pillow. We chose the latter– and wow, do we every feel– "accomplished." That or it could just be that awkward level of sleep fatigue that can trick you into all sorts of questionable decisions…. One being trying to write in my journal right now. This oughtta’ be interesting. So lets start with gorgeous beachy Nah Trang– both a bustling tourisic-tastic city bordered by mountains and a beach tracing a long swoop along a bay…. then dotted with islands. You can imagine how happy this made me.

We scored a $10 room with balcony overlooking a construction site– BUT– if you looked JUST beyond, by-gawd there was the beach! No complaints as we still shake our heads as we paid double if not TRIPLE just camping in Europe. Pretty amazing– which is why we didn’t even bat an eye whilst booking that boat cruise for $6 on Thursday.

The booze cruise…. ahem… I mean DAY CRUISE– island hopped around as we snorkeled amongst the reef, did some deck side dancing, (which may or may not have been from this crazy "floating bar") and had both a wonderful lunch AND fruit party to match. Although the best deal we got was the friends we met throughout the day– A couple from Holland and another from England we ended up all spending the rest of the day together on land- and had ourselves a wonderful dinner and then an even more festive time out on the town.

We revisited a bar called Gauva that Ray and I enjoyed so much from the night before as we had gotten a chance to visit with the owner (who is from Canada) and he then introduced us to Vietnams most prominent photographer, Long Thanh that has a huge gallary in town that showcases his work. It was one of those nights that is so fantastic that is can only mean it will bite ya back but good the next day. And did it ever- one will never learn, and I choose to be a professional "werps" at that game.

Never the less, we bid farewell to our new friends and headed up the coast towards Hoi An where I write this now.

The bus journey was a bit horrific– as they woke us up at 11:30pm to get off at a rest top that had cockroaches running along the floor- but Ray assured me that they will not affect any part of the food…. Um, Yah– but it sure does affect my appetite!

But sure enough- and somehow we always survive through the most hairiest of journeys, we sit here now in one of the most charming towns we have visited yet, Hoi An. It still holds so much ancient history as it escaped the destruction of war- and you can instantly see that as it oozes cultural flavor in every turn. The silk lanterns line the streets along the ZILLION of tailors that all have "tape measure crazy eyes."Ray and I still don’t understand how they can all stay in business as there is exactly 500 tailors within the town.

We just happened upon a silk-art store where we actually got to see how they harvest the silk– it was amazing! I couldn’t believe I never knew how it all worked– who da’thunk that they breed the worms, feed them until they get all plump- and then coax them along to create their little silk cacoons which they then pull the delicate string from. Fantastic.

So tonight we are going to meander around the town and then rest my honey up as hes a trooper, but fading fast as this cold is a doozy — I think this is day 5 of his uckiness and all this running around and nutty travel has halted any further excitement as this old man needs to rest. Its officially movie night.

Sidenote– OK…. confession time… I must admit that Ray and I haven’t done our own laundry since Italy– yes, thats right. I know you’re all shaking your heads in horror (or just pure jealousy) but it would have been even sooner if we had realized that it could be done, well- just about ANYWHERE and @ just the same price if you did it on your own. (if not even cheaper) Although in Cambodia I dare say the clothes they were washing in the Boeng Cak lake were ours…… But its truly a saving grace not to have to spend an ENTIRE afternoon fighting for a washer.

And no, not one bit of guilt– it just frees up more time for us to live.

10/17– Whoooo Doggie! We scored the "ever sought after" back seat on the overnight bus to Hanoi. Now lets just hope we can continue to secure our new found territory as they always seem to puck up a few dodgy passengers along the way– all the side business Ray and I figure the bus drives run for "extra cash" cause’ these people hopping on "don’t be the tourist kind"…. if ya know what I am sayin’.

I know you are all probably DYING to know how movie night went last night– And I am pleased to share that it was a HUGE success– we had pizza and all as we cringed through the movie Bewitched– and munched down our "Asian concocted Pizza." Just what the doctor ordered as Ray is looking better then ever and his voice is slowly coming back. (though’ I know that deep down he secretly loved his new scruffy vocals)

With a few new tailored skirts in toe from Hoi An (thats right- I be shoppin’) We are off to the capital of Vietnam. So far Ray is behaving quite nicely- we’ll just have to see how he’s doing 12 hours into it. HEEEE!

Yes my friends…. he is like a deliquintent child. But he sure does make me smile.

***And as you know now– the trek didn’t go as SMOOOTHLY as we had hoped from the beginning of this blog. 😉 …..we chose oh so POORLY. Live and learn, right?

But we made it in one piece, with yet just another story to tell.

Oh my goodness– and can I just quickly add that Ray and I have had the "luck o’ the crazy wyatts" with us as we have basically missed EVERY storm/typhoon/disaster possible by mere days…… Keep your fingers crossed we can keep making this happen. The weather has been a dream! And if anything does happen… we will let you know the second that it does!

Today is Monday the 8th and we are in beautiful Hanoi city….. Tomorrow we leave for the MUCH anticipated trip for Ray and I… spectacular Halong Bay. 3 days 2 nights sailing on board a "Junk," or an ancient Chinese boat. There is said to be about 3000 or more incredible islands rising from the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin in Halong Bay– and the views are to be breathtaking with the mystical landscapes and limestone islets. Thanks to Mamma Jode and Papa Tom’s anniversary present we were able to take this lil’ cruise happen within our budget— SO THANK YOU AGAIN for letting us be able to make this sail happen.

***Please check out–

This will give you a 360 degree view in full panorama of Halong Bay.

So on that note– while we hope to get some more pictures uploaded (we are about 120 or so behind now… werps) we need to make a few shout outs to let our most beloved ones know that we are thinking about them…. always!

…um, brother bear? What is this I hear about flying in a cockpit to NYC? You are such a rock star!

Happy Anniversary to Grandma and Grandad Wyatt!!! We miss you so much and hope everything is wonderful….. Which goes to prove, once again– you are not past your "sell by date." :) We love you!

Happy happy birthday to my Grandma and Grandpa G!! Thinking about you both and hope you had a wonderful birthday! Grandma, I hope you get a chance to see some of the incredible pictures of flowers I took for you in Vietnam…. You would have been in heaven.

Happy Birthday to you, Rocky! Oh girl…I wish I could have been there to help celebrate!! Can’t wait hear all about it…. You are so very missed. :)

Oh Phillis…wat er u doings tomeee. u nows i huv a problum speleng.

You are the bestest’ for all your endearing comments– we miss you like we miss a DARN good bottle of wine which there isn’t a LICK of in Asia… Give our love to Isabella! 

…And finally to my bride-to-be… Kristy…. I can hardly imagine the excitement running through your veins…. I AM FEELING IT WITH YOU TOO!! I can’t wait for your big SPECIAL DAY and am thinking about you something crazy…. CAN YOU FEEL IT!?! I am going to do everything in my power to get a hold of you…. You know that I will! Have the time of your life. And then some… you deserve the world andmore.

Speak soon and take care!! Hopefully this one will allow a more "easy reading" feel.

Keep the comments a comin’…. you know who you are and it makes our day when we see you send us a few words. Thats the first thing we do when we get to any computer… So thank you for being to involved and caring. (Rita & Jen– you are our #1)

Miss you all!

–Alyssa and Ray

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