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Monthly Archives: March 2013

We arrive in Valparaiso in the early evening by a very comfortable bus from Santiago - it's only a two and a half hour journey which for us feels like blink of an eye compared to some of our journeys so far. We take a taxi from the bus depot and head for our hostel Luna Sonrisa - we'd emailed them in the morning and were in luck that they had a room free for us. The lady that greeted us was very helpful and gave us lot's of information about the city and what there is to see, and also in what parts of the city it's not a good idea to wander.... There are many warnings in our guide about pickpockets and muggings in Valparaiso so we're on our guard anyway, but by the sound of the hostel lady it's not as bad as our guide wants us to think. One of the places suggested to us is the "Bar de Pisco" not far from our hostel so we start out with this one on our first outing. We try the "Berries & Menta" and one called "15 de Mayo" both very nice. After our quick pit-stop we continue on to try to find a restaurant. After a lot of walking about we finally decide on a little restaurant called Totobistro where we have some lovely tortellinis - it has an interesting concept to its menu where you choose your filling and sauce to make up your own dish.

[caption id="attachment_2168" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Bar de Pisco, Valparaiso. Bar de Pisco, Valparaiso.[/caption]

We again have a fairly early night - probably still jet-lagged from the Singapore - Santiago journey... This of course means that we wake early the next morning to an absolutely gorgeous breakfast spread at the hostel. On the table is fresh fruit, cheese and home-made breads and jams, I've got problems stopping and of course end up overeating, resulting in complete bloatedness... Teach me a lesson you would have thought, but the next morning I do the exact same... The breakfast spread is just too good.

After breakfast we head out to find the famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda's house - which is now a nice little museum - perched high up in the hills overlooking the city. One of the reasons Pablo picked this house was that he could see the whole of Valparaiso from this place. The house has a very quaint and interesting interior and collection of furniture and art, and much of it has a nice little story around it.

The walk up to the house is also quite nice and all along the route there is more street art than you can digest - I'm sure there was a lot of great work that we didn't notice because of it being overshadowed by other and bigger great works, or the fact we're going a bit blind after a while. After visiting Neruda's house we walk down towards the Open Air Gallery of street art. It's difficult to distinguish where the "normal" street art ends and the gallery begins but there are some placards next to the "official" works.

[caption id="attachment_2169" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2170" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2171" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2172" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2173" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2174" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2175" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2176" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2177" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2166" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2178" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2179" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2180" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2181" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2182" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2183" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2184" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2185" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2186" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2187" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2188" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2189" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2190" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View from Pablo Neruda's balcony in Valparaiso. View from Pablo Neruda's balcony in Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2191" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2192" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2193" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Cafe Sello Verde, Valparaiso. Cafe Sello Verde, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2194" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Lovely lunch at Cafe Sello Verde, Valparaiso. Lovely lunch at Cafe Sello Verde, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2195" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2196" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2197" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2198" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Valparaiso. Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2199" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2200" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2201" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2202" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2203" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Valparaiso. Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2204" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Valparaiso. Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2205" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso. Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2206" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso. Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2207" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso. Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2208" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso. Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso.[/caption]

Valparaiso.

[caption id="attachment_2209" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso. Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2210" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso. Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2211" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso. Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2212" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso. Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2213" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso. Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2214" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso. Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2215" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso. Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2216" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso. Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2217" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso. Street Art in the Open Air Museum, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2218" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2219" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2220" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption]

The architecture in Valparaiso is very interesting with buildings almost stacked on top of each other clinging to the steep hills - some look like they're only temporary shacks but you can see they've been there for a long, long time already. The houses and shacks are painted in all sorts of bright colours and all together it looks a bit like it could all have been designed by Pablo Picasso. Everywhere there are small handicraft shops lining the streets - some just consisting of a couple of objects displayed in someone's hallway and some more established galleries and whole houses shared between a collaboration of artists. It's a very colourful place which makes it difficult to put the camera down, something that attracts the attention of the locals who keep warning me to be careful with the camera as there apparently are a lot of "snatchers" about. Although we didn't have any problems at all, Valparaiso has a problem with petty crime - mostly pickpockets, so we're always a little bit on our guard and look around before getting the camera out of the bag - the problem is that as soon as you put the camera back into the bag you have to take it out almost immediately as you spot something else to photograph.

After visiting Pablo Neruda’s house and the Open Air Gallery we head down to the harbour and jump on one of the many boats offering a harbour sightseeing tour. It’s fairly cheap and quite interesting, although we can’t understand much of what the guide says as it’s all in Spanish and he talks quite fast as well as the sound of the motor makes it hard to hear... Still it’s nice to get a different view of the city and see the busy dock in action.

[caption id="attachment_2221" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Harbour sightseeing in the busy Valparaiso docks. Harbour sightseeing in the busy Valparaiso docks.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2222" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Harbour sightseeing in the busy Valparaiso docks. Harbour sightseeing in the busy Valparaiso docks.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2223" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Harbour sightseeing in the busy Valparaiso docks. Harbour sightseeing in the busy Valparaiso docks.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2224" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Harbour sightseeing in the busy Valparaiso docks. Harbour sightseeing in the busy Valparaiso docks.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2225" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Harbour sightseeing in the busy Valparaiso docks. Harbour sightseeing in the busy Valparaiso docks.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2226" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Harbour sightseeing in the busy Valparaiso docks. Harbour sightseeing in the busy Valparaiso docks.[/caption]

As it's getting towards the evening we're starting to feel the hunger creeping up on us, even me who ate a mountain of bread and fruit for breakfast. We decide on a local restaurant down on the more modern part of town - this place specialises on one of the national specialities called Chorrillana. We almost have an heart attack as they bring in a mountain of chips topped with another mountain of fried strips of beef, and to top it off a cholesterol laden thick blanket of melted cheese... if you ever plan on going to Chile, make sure you bring a massive appetite.

On our last day we have a bus booked for Mendoza, Argentina late in the evening. Our hostel is kind enough to let us come and go as we want during the day after we’d checked out. We’re even allowed to use the showers to freshen up before we head out. We go out for a wander and to get some food – on our arrival we’d been recommended by the lady at the hostel a restaurant called Allegretto and after walking about for some time looking for a place to have lunch we decide to head there to test it out. It’s a really nice place with an Italian menu and we order some pizza, which turned out to be very good indeed. All content we go back to our hostel for a bit of research of a place to stay in Mendoza and to get a little bit of blogging done. Before we know it it’s time to leave for the bus, and luckily just before we head off we get a reply from one of the hostels we’d emailed saying they’ve got a room reserved for us. The bus to Mendoza is an eight hour journey and again we get a very comfortable bus so it feels much shorter a journey – the only hassle is the border-crossing into Argentina which is very slow and we’re left out in the cold for what seems like ages.

[caption id="attachment_2227" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2228" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2229" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2230" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2231" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2232" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2233" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2234" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2235" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2236" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2237" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2238" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2239" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Valparaiso. Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2240" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2241" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2242" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Valparaiso. Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2243" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View of the Valparaiso Harbour. View of the Valparaiso Harbour.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2244" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2245" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2246" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2247" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2248" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Valparaiso. Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2249" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2250" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2251" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2252" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2253" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2254" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2255" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2256" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2257" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2258" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2259" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2260" align="aligncenter" width="533"]"Hearts for sale" Valparaiso. "Hearts for sale" Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2261" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Valparaiso. Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2262" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2263" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Pizza at Allegretto, Valparaiso. Pizza at Allegretto, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2264" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Piece of cake at Allegretto, Valparaiso. Piece of cake at Allegretto, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2265" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2266" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2267" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2268" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in the making, Valparaiso. Street Art in the making, Valparaiso.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2269" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Valparaiso. Street Art, Valparaiso.[/caption]

The journey to Santiago, Chile started in the evening at Changi Airport in Singapore and took in all about 30 hours with a few hours break in Sydney, Australia. On our flight into Sydney we got a brilliant view of Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House. Would have been nice to spend some time here but it'll have to be saved for a future trip. At Sydney airport we have to do some research on Tripadvisor for a place to stay - we'd emailed some guest houses before departing from Singapore but all came back to us saying they were unfortunately fully booked. One guest house suggested we should contact Hostal Casa Condell so together with a few more places we sent a few enquiries. We didn't get any replies by the time we boarded the 12 1/2 hour flight from Sydney, and with no free Wi-Fi in the airport in Santiago we couldn't check whether or not we had any replies - we decide to head for Casa Condell and see what happens. They had good reviews on Tripadvisor and had the most reasonable prices of the places we'd researched. As it turned out we had a few replies, also from our chosen guest house, and we were in luck that they had a room free. Casa Condell is a really really lovely family house that's recently been opened as a Bed & Breakfast. A lovely family runs the place, and although there were difficulties with the language - as my Spanish is so rusty it's almost completely disintegrated - we managed to somehow be understood and Adriana and Tatiana looked well after us. After a bit of freshening up we thought we'd have a nap and go out to find some food in the evening. Our plans went to pots as we slightly overslept... We went for a nap at about 14:00 and woke up 07:00 the morning after... I only managed to get one or two hours sleep during our journey from Singapore - it had been about 48 hours since we got up in the morning before our evening flight - so I needed a bit of a kip I suppose. It's a shame though losing a day of our stay in Santiago, but what can you do?

Still groggy from our "short nap" we venture out to explore a little bit of Santiago. First stop is the statue of the Immaculate Conception on the top of San Cristobal Hill overlooking the whole of the city. The old lift is unfortunately broken but there is a free shuttle-bus that takes us up the hill - it's a steep climb so we're happy we don't have to walk. It seems a lot of people have this route as part of their fitness routine, and all along the way we se people running, cycling and walking up towards the top. Finally on the top we find many sweaty people catching their breath, and we feel slightly bad for being lazy and out of shape...

[caption id="attachment_2120" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Santiago Street Art. Santiago Street Art.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2122" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Santiago Street Art. Santiago Street Art.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2123" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Santiago Street Art. Santiago Street Art.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2124" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Santiago Street Art. Santiago Street Art.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2125" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Santiago Street Art. Santiago Street Art.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2126" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Santiago Street Art. Santiago Street Art.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2127" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Santiago Street Art. Santiago Street Art.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2128" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Santiago Street Art. Santiago Street Art.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2129" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View of Santiago City from the top of Cerro San Cristóbal (San Cristóbal Hill). View of Santiago City from the top of Cerro San Cristóbal (San Cristóbal Hill).[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2130" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View of Santiago City from the top of Cerro San Cristóbal (San Cristóbal Hill). View of Santiago City from the top of Cerro San Cristóbal (San Cristóbal Hill).[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2131" align="aligncenter" width="533"]A statue of Pope John Paul II at the sanctuary dedicated to the Immaculate Conception on the top of Cerro San Cristóbal (San Cristóbal Hill). A statue of Pope John Paul II at the sanctuary dedicated to the Immaculate Conception on the top of Cerro San Cristóbal (San Cristóbal Hill).[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2132" align="aligncenter" width="508"]Statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the sanctuary dedicated to the Immaculate Conception on the top of Cerro San Cristóbal (San Cristóbal Hill). Statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the sanctuary dedicated to the Immaculate Conception on the top of Cerro San Cristóbal (San Cristóbal Hill).[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2133" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Prayer Candles at the sanctuary dedicated to the Immaculate Conception on the top of Cerro San Cristóbal (San Cristóbal Hill). Prayer Candles at the sanctuary dedicated to the Immaculate Conception on the top of Cerro San Cristóbal (San Cristóbal Hill).[/caption]

There are a couple of nice handcraft shops at the top, and Hannah spots a couple of things she'd like to purchase. She asks me to enquire how many Pestos it costs... I try to explain it's Chilean Pesos and not Chilli and Pesto which is the accepted currency in this country.

After a quick look at the statue and the view of Santiago we head back down to town to find a place for lunch and to visit some museums. We find a little local restaurant where they seem to have reasonably cheap food and order from the menu of the day - we can't believe our eyes when they bring the food out - the portions are absolutely gigantic and we have big problems finishing it off. It's really tasty, so we definitely picked the right place to eat.

To our surprise and disappointment all the galleries we'd planned to have a look at, save one, are all closed for refurbishment. It ends up with a lot of walking in the heat of the sun and not much but busy streets to be seen. The sun here seems much stronger than what we're used to and it makes us tired really quickly. When we finally find the Museo Historico Nacional open we're so glad to get inside sheltered from the burning sun. It's a small Museum so it's fairly quick and easy to look around and it's got a nice courtyard where you can sit down and relax afterwards.

[caption id="attachment_2134" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Santiago Street Art. Santiago Street Art.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2135" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Santiago Street Art. Santiago Street Art.[/caption]

After the museum we start to move towards our lovely guest house but do a detour to look for the Artisan market. It's not very big, and it looks quite expensive so it's a quick browse. The setting is in an old Romanesque mansion next to the Santa Lucía Hill, so I decide to have a climb up to the top of the hill to look at the view, whilst Hannah takes the sensible option of relaxing on a bench in the shade of the trees. The climb takes the breath out of me quite quickly but I'm rewarded with a nice view at the top.

[caption id="attachment_2136" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Santa Lucía Hill, Santiago. Santa Lucía Hill, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2137" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Santa Lucía Hill, Santiago. Santa Lucía Hill, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2138" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Santa Lucía Hill, Santiago. Santa Lucía Hill, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2139" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Santa Lucía Hill, Santiago. Santa Lucía Hill, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2140" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View from the top of Santa Lucía Hill, Santiago. View from the top of Santa Lucía Hill, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2141" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View from the top of Santa Lucía Hill, Santiago. View from the top of Santa Lucía Hill, Santiago.[/caption]

After my decent we head for the closest Metro station but get distracted by a market on the other side of the road from the Artisan one. We find this market much more interesting and actually do a little bit of shopping, but not as much as we would have liked to - it again boils down to the fact we have no space in our backpacks... Afterwards we abandon the idea of taking the Metro and do the healthy option of walking back to the guest house.

[caption id="attachment_2142" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Santiago. Santiago.[/caption]

Finally back we decide to have a rest before going out for dinner and again end up never going out but taking an very early night and sleeping till the morning - must be the jet-lag from our journey from Singapore...

Next morning we gather our stuff together for checking out, and after breakfast have a look at places to stay at our next destination Valparaiso. We find a few alternatives and send off some messages to inquire about rooms. We leave our bags at the guest house and head over to the bus station to buy tickets for the late afternoon. From there we have a wander over to Barrio Brazil, apparently an up-and-coming area of Santiago. It's quite a colourful neighbourhood with lots of street art and many cafes and bars scattered around its main square. Not much time to explore the neighbourhood properly we have a coffee and a few beers before it's time to go over to the guest house to pick up our luggage. At the guest house we have the pleasure of meeting the son of the house Max. He speaks very good English so we have a nice long chat with him before we depart for the bus station. The journey to Valparaiso is just over two hours and the bus is quite comfortable and leaves dead on time - something we're not used to after the relaxed air of Southeast Asia where they make sure no one is left behind before taking off.

[caption id="attachment_2143" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2144" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2145" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2146" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2147" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2148" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2149" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2150" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2151" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2152" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2153" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2154" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2155" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2156" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2158" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2157" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago. Street Art in Barrio Brazil, Santiago.[/caption]

Our time in Vietnam was sadly over all too soon and we catch a flight from Hanoi to Singapore for our connecting flights via Sydney, Australia to Chile. We fly with a budget airline called Tiger Airways and find the flight quite pleasant. On arrival we catch the metro from the Singapore's Changi Airport down towards the centre. It's pure luxury with very clear instructions everywhere, the metro is very simply laid out so it's a breeze to get around.

We didn't have much time to research where to stay in Singapore, but had a couple of hostels in mind. At our first choice they are full, and it wouldn't suit us anyway as they only have dorms. The guy in the reception is very good and calls up another hostel called The Hive for us where they have private rooms, and they’re not too expensive (relatively speaking that is - compared to the guest houses and hostels we've stayed in so far on our trip it’s ridiculously expensive). We're in luck and they have one spare private twin available for us, but only for one night. We reserve it and head over there straight away. It's an OK room for being a hostel - we even have a balcony - but they could have had more showers and toilets, the queuing is ridiculous in the morning. Also, although the staff is friendly enough they're lazy and work-shy and more interested in surfing the internet than doing their job. For the next two nights we move down the road to another hostel called Green Kiwi Backpackers. It's a bit more expensive but the staff is very attentive and helpful, and they do everything with a smile on their faces.

We don't do too much sightseeing in Singapore but we do a little self guided walking tour of downtown and Chinatown, and afterwards visit the Haw Par Villa gardens by the family that invented Tiger Balm. It's an old theme park with lots of mythical creatures and dioramas of mythical and religious stories. It's a great quaint attraction and there is a lot to see. By the dioramas there is an explanation of the story which is great for us who don't necessarily know of this folklore and religion. Some are unfortunately unreadable due to the erosion by the weather over the years.

[caption id="attachment_2069" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Singapore. Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2067" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View of the Marina Bay Sands from Merlion Park in Singapore. View of the Marina Bay Sands from Merlion Park in Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2070" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Singapore. Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2071" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Burning of incense in Chinatown, Singapore. Burning of incense in Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2072" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Chinatown, Singapore. Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2073" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Thian Hock Keng Temple (Temple of Heavenly Happiness; also: Tianfu Gong Temple) in Chinatown, Singapore. Thian Hock Keng Temple (Temple of Heavenly Happiness; also: Tianfu Gong Temple) in Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2074" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Thian Hock Keng Temple (Temple of Heavenly Happiness; also: Tianfu Gong Temple) in Chinatown, Singapore. Thian Hock Keng Temple (Temple of Heavenly Happiness; also: Tianfu Gong Temple) in Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2075" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Thian Hock Keng Temple (Temple of Heavenly Happiness; also: Tianfu Gong Temple) in Chinatown, Singapore. Thian Hock Keng Temple (Temple of Heavenly Happiness; also: Tianfu Gong Temple) in Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2076" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Thian Hock Keng Temple (Temple of Heavenly Happiness; also: Tianfu Gong Temple) in Chinatown, Singapore. Thian Hock Keng Temple (Temple of Heavenly Happiness; also: Tianfu Gong Temple) in Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2077" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2078" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2113" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2079" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2080" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2081" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2082" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2083" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2084" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Salvador Dali was here, Singapore. Salvador Dali was here, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2085" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2086" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2087" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2088" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2089" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2090" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2091" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2092" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2093" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2094" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2095" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2096" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2097" align="aligncenter" width="533"]It's been a while since last time I used any Konica film... Haw Par Villa, Singapore. It's been a while since last time I used any Konica film... Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2098" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2099" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2100" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2101" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2102" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2103" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2104" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2105" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2106" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2107" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Haw Par Villa, Singapore.[/caption]

While in Hue in Vietnam I had the unpleasant surprise of one of my fillings falling out and Singapore was the first place where it was feasible for me to visit a dentist, so soon after arrival I managed to book an appointment with the clinic DentalWorkz. It was fairly close to where we were staying and it was highly recommended on the website www.whatclinic.com. Doctor Abdul Rashid was very good and the staff at the clinic was excellent. It turns out he has his degree from London and used to live not far from where I used to live when I first moved to London - small world.

On the last day we have a few hours to kill before we head to the airport. We decide to go to Little India to do a little bit of shopping and have some food before taking a taxi to the airport. From Singapore we fly to Santiago, Chile via Sydney, so ahead of us awaits a 30 hour journey which we’re not particularly looking forward to.

[caption id="attachment_2108" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Fish market in Little India, Singapore. Fish market in Little India, Singapore.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2109" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Singapore. Singapore.[/caption]

Arrived fairly early by air from Hue and were positively surprised to find it very easy to find transport to the centre of town by a shared taxi, provided by Vietnam Airlines, and it's quite cheap as well. We head straight for Especen Hotel - it's a hotel we found on Tripadvisor, and incidentally mentioned in our guide as well - very conveniently it's only five minutes walk from where we get dropped off in the minivan taxi.

Especen Hotel is very nice, and we get a deluxe room for a much cheaper rate due to it being quiet times at the end of the Lunar New Year's holidays. The breakfast is also included in our room price, but unfortunately we don't get a chance to test it out as we're on the move too early on both mornings.  As we arrive fairly early in the morning we can't access our room yet - it's still being cleaned - so we just drop the bags off there and go out to explore the town. Hanoi is a little bit like a ghost town in places as only a handful of businesses have opened up after the holidays. Finding a place to have some breakfast is much more difficult than we'd ever imagine, and due to the very early start from Hue we're getting pretty desperate as we're nearing mid-day.

We decide to book a one day sightseeing tour to Ha Long Bay through our Hotel. It would have been nice with a two day trip to be able to spend more time on the boat around the islands but time is running out for us in Vietnam and we'll have to fly out early on the following day, leaving us only a day and a half in total in Hanoi. We spend a lot of the day walking about. The area just north of the Hoan Kiem Lake seems to be a bit busier - probably due to the density of hotels in the area, hence lots of tourists walking about. It's particularly busy around the Ngoc Son Temple which sits on a small island on the lake so we decide to have a look at what the commotion is about. The main attraction seems to be a bronze statue of a huge turtle. From here we walk down to the Lenin Park - it's teeming with life - it's got some funfair-rides and seems very popular with families. After a quick look-around we head back towards our hotel for a rest. En route to our hotel we happen upon the Hỏa Lò Prison Museum, also known as the Hanoi Hilton it was a prison used by the French colonists in Vietnam for political prisoners, and later by North Vietnam for prisoners of war during the Vietnam War, hence its nickname Hanoi Hilton.

[caption id="attachment_2030" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Ngoc Son Temple on Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi. Ngoc Son Temple on Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2031" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Ngoc Son Temple on Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi. Ngoc Son Temple on Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2032" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Ngoc Son Temple on Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi. Ngoc Son Temple on Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2033" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Happy New Year 2013, Hanoi. Happy New Year 2013, Hanoi.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2034" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hỏa Lò Prison Museum (Hanoi Hilton). Hỏa Lò Prison Museum (Hanoi Hilton).[/caption]

In the evening we head up to a strip of bars and restaurants along Dinh Liet and Ta Hien road and have a really nice dinner at a street-kitchen with baby-sized plastic chairs and a few nice drinks in various bars along the road. This strip of bars and restaurants is surprisingly busy bearing in mind all of the rest of the city seems to be dead quiet – I wonder how it is like normally...

[caption id="attachment_2035" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hanoi night-life. Hanoi night-life.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2036" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hanoi night-life. Hanoi night-life.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2037" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hoan Kiem Lake at night, Hanoi. Hoan Kiem Lake at night, Hanoi.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2038" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hoan Kiem Lake at night, Hanoi. Hoan Kiem Lake at night, Hanoi.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2039" align="aligncenter" width="531"]Hanoi. Hanoi.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2040" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Cycling balloon man, Hanoi. Cycling balloon man, Hanoi.[/caption]

Following morning it's time for our day-trip to Ha Long Bay, it's not as early as some of our previous tours but still too early to be able to get some breakfast - it's two hungry souls that get into the taxi to take us to our tour-bus. Luckily the bus very conveniently stops at an "art and craft shop" half way towards Ha Long Bay and they serve food - it's not the cheapest place to eat of course, but it's much better than imploding. A bit more satisfied we get back onto the bus and head towards our destination.

As we're arriving at the port the weather is very grey and foggy unfortunately, we're hopeful for the weather to improve, but this is unfortunately not the case. At the port we also get presented with our boat for the day - it's fairly basic, but then that's the cheaper package that we ordered. All the boats look more or less the same though, so it's not like we're particularly lucky or unlucky with our choice. Our guide is good and he speaks English very well and that's more important than the boat looking like a floating palace. Most of the boats are setting out on the same route it seems - we keep seeing the same boats around us all during the day. On the boat we get served an excellent lunch consisting of fish and seafood of various description and on our table we're seated together with some Korean tourists which pulls out some sachets of Kimchi which complements the dishes very well. Our first stop is a huge cave called Thien Cung Grotto where there are numerous stalactites resembling anything from dragons to people. After this we get to see a floating fishing village, and next to it we get put into a canoe and sent off on a little half an hour adventure through some arches in the mountains - we manage not to capsize, but we still become a bit wet from the paddles splashing over us when they come out of the water - by the time we're back onto the boat we look like we didn't reach the toilet in time and had an accident... No reason to feel self-conscious though - it looks like everyone is in the same boat, so to speak.

After our little watery adventure the boat takes us around in the bay, and we are able to enjoy the view, however restricted it is because of the fog. It still looks impressive, and the fog gives it a mystical feel. Due to our wet pants it's slightly chilly though. After some circling we head back to port and onto our bus back to Hanoi.

[caption id="attachment_2041" align="aligncenter" width="545"]A very misty day in Ha Long Bay. A very misty day in Ha Long Bay.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2042" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Thien Cung Grotto, Ha Long Bay. Thien Cung Grotto, Ha Long Bay.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2043" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Thien Cung Grotto, Ha Long Bay. Thien Cung Grotto, Ha Long Bay.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2044" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Thien Cung Grotto, Ha Long Bay. Thien Cung Grotto, Ha Long Bay.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2045" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Thien Cung Grotto, Ha Long Bay. Thien Cung Grotto, Ha Long Bay.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2046" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Ha Long Bay. Ha Long Bay.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2047" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Ha Long Bay. Ha Long Bay.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2048" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Ha Long Bay. Ha Long Bay.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2049" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Ha Long Bay. Ha Long Bay.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2050" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Ha Long Bay. Ha Long Bay.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2051" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Canoeing in Ha Long Bay. Canoeing in Ha Long Bay.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2052" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Canoeing in Ha Long Bay. Canoeing in Ha Long Bay.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2053" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Canoeing in Ha Long Bay. Canoeing in Ha Long Bay.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2054" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Ha Long Bay. Ha Long Bay.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2055" align="aligncenter" width="545"]A very misty day in Ha Long Bay. A very misty day in Ha Long Bay.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2056" align="aligncenter" width="545"]A very misty day in Ha Long Bay. A very misty day in Ha Long Bay.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2057" align="aligncenter" width="545"]A very misty day in Ha Long Bay. A very misty day in Ha Long Bay.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2058" align="aligncenter" width="545"]A very misty day in Ha Long Bay. A very misty day in Ha Long Bay.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2059" align="aligncenter" width="533"]A very misty day in Ha Long Bay. A very misty day in Ha Long Bay.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2060" align="aligncenter" width="545"]A very misty day in Ha Long Bay. A very misty day in Ha Long Bay.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2061" align="aligncenter" width="545"]A very misty day in Ha Long Bay. A very misty day in Ha Long Bay.[/caption]

We have an early start the next day for our flight to Singapore so decide to take it easy, just a quick dinner at a restaurant around the corner - a bit unlucky we pick a bit more "stylish" one where the food is expensive and rather plain. Very little choice though as it seems everything else is closed - could be something to do with it being a Sunday, and the last day of their Lunar New Year's holidays.

Next morning we're bound towards Singapore and are in luck to find a little street kitchen next to the office of Vietnam Airways where the shared taxies leave from. It was again too early for the breakfast at our hotel, so we quickly have some nice tomato omelette in a baguette before getting into the taxi.

The journey from Hoi An is only about three and a half hours, but it could have been a more comfortable ride if they'd given us a fresh bus. It seems the bus has been travelling overnight from somewhere and we just join it at the end of its journey. This means the air in the bus is very stuffy - it's like all the oxygen has been spent and replaced by the air of cheesy feet, and as we can't open any windows we're stuck with this lovely atmosphere...

We had done some research about hotels the evening before in Hoi An and had a few options selected. As we come off the bus we get approached by a lady who's suggesting we go to Ngoc Binh Hotel with a free taxi. We usually stay well clear of touts, but this time it was a good deal we got offered. The hotel she was promoting was one of the ones on the top of the list of our favourites researched the evening before, and at the same price as we expected to pay for that hotel. I'm sure the tout still make some money on this arrangement, but had we made our own way there we'd still would have paid the same for the room plus of course an extra £8 for the taxi. As it's still a little early we have to wait a bit for our room to be ready and we head out to get a bite to eat - of course leaving too early from Hoi An we didn't have a chance to get anything to eat and by now we're imploding. Next to the hotel is a nice little bar where we sit down for a nice little meal, and while waiting for our food we have a game of Jenga.

After breakfast we go back over to our hotel but our room isn't quite finished, but we're able to put our backpacks in there. We decide to head out to explore the old citadel, a world heritage site. By foot in the scorching mid-day sun it takes us a little while to reach the entrance to the citadel, and as I'm in desperate need of more sun-cream I keep looking around to find some kind of store that would sell some. Hardly anything is open, so it's a lost cause, but this of course makes the journey to the citadel significantly slower than it should be, meaning more exposure to the hot sun, so by the time we reach our destination we're already a bit exhausted. We wander about inside the grounds admiring the architecture but learn that most of the place had been completely destroyed by the Americans during the Vietnam War.

[caption id="attachment_1994" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Inside the Hue Citadel. Inside the Hue Citadel.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1995" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Inside the Hue Citadel. Inside the Hue Citadel.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1996" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Inside the Hue Citadel. Inside the Hue Citadel.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1997" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Inside the Hue Citadel. Inside the Hue Citadel.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1998" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Inside the Hue Citadel. Inside the Hue Citadel.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1999" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Inside the Hue Citadel. Inside the Hue Citadel.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2000" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Inside the Hue Citadel. Inside the Hue Citadel.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2001" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Inside the Hue Citadel. Inside the Hue Citadel.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2002" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Inside the Hue Citadel. Inside the Hue Citadel.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2003" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Inside the Hue Citadel. Inside the Hue Citadel.[/caption]

After wandering about inside the citadel we're feeling a bit parched to say the least and stop by a cafe for something to drink and rest our feet for a bit. The Lady that runs the shop tries to sell us everything between heaven and earth while trying to suck every passerby into the cafe. Normally we would get annoyed by this behaviour but found it quite amusing this time. Next door there is some sort of drunken argument happening and it's lasting for quite some time - seems to be over a girl but it's difficult to tell when not understanding a dickybird. If nothing else it's entertaining and it makes every passerby stop for a while to have a nose at the escalating spectacle.

On our map there is a tomb marked off as a historical attraction and we decide to head down too it, again on foot as it's not too far away. It does however take us a bit of time to walk there as it's not the most convenient roads to walk along - it would appear we're a rare breed of tourists walking along these bustling roads as people are staring at us as if they've never seen foreigners around this part of town before - most tourist it would seem come down here by bus or taxi. After about four kilometres we finally reach this tomb and realise it's not much to write home about really, we're slightly disappointed and decide to flag a taxi to get back to the hotel. With our luck there are no taxies in sight so we start walking back in the hope that we'll find one on the way - no such luck... We end up walking all the way back to our hotel of course.

[caption id="attachment_2004" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hue. Hue.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2005" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hue. Hue.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2006" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hue. Hue.[/caption]

For the next day we arrange for a sightseeing tour to the DMZ (Demilitarised Zone) area. It's a full day of sightseeing but most of it is time spent getting there and back - it's a fair distance from Hue. Along the way we visit the view of The Rockpile - an important US observation post and artillery base. A bridge marking the start of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Battle Hills and American air-strip at Khe Sanh, Vinh Moc Tunnels, Gio Linh Graveyard. After this we return to Hue, and tired from the sightseeing we have dinner and then just relax and take an early night.

[caption id="attachment_2007" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The Rockpile. An important United States Army and Marine Corps observation post and artillery base from 1966 to 1968. The Rockpile. An important United States Army and Marine Corps observation post and artillery base from 1966 to 1968.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2008" align="aligncenter" width="533"]A tribes village along the route of the DMZ tour around Hue. A tribes village along the route of the DMZ tour around Hue.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2009" align="aligncenter" width="545"]DMZ Tour around Hue. DMZ Tour around Hue.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2010" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The bridge at the beginning of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, Hue. The bridge at the beginning of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, Hue.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2011" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The American Airstrip at Khe Sanh, Hue. The American Airstrip at Khe Sanh, Hue.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2012" align="aligncenter" width="533"]The American Airstrip at Khe Sanh, Hue. The American Airstrip at Khe Sanh, Hue.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2013" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The American Airstrip at Khe Sanh, Hue. The American Airstrip at Khe Sanh, Hue.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2014" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hannah at the American Airstrip at Khe Sanh, Hue. Hannah at the American Airstrip at Khe Sanh, Hue.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2015" align="aligncenter" width="533"]The American Airstrip at Khe Sanh, Hue. The American Airstrip at Khe Sanh, Hue.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2016" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The American Airstrip at Khe Sanh, Hue. The American Airstrip at Khe Sanh, Hue.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2017" align="aligncenter" width="533"]The American Airstrip at Khe Sanh, Hue. The American Airstrip at Khe Sanh, Hue.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2018" align="aligncenter" width="533"]The American Airstrip at Khe Sanh, Hue. The American Airstrip at Khe Sanh, Hue.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2019" align="aligncenter" width="533"]A memorial marking the DMZ by the border between North and Souh Vietnam. A memorial marking the DMZ by the border between North and South Vietnam.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2020" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The Vinh Moc Tunnels. The Vinh Moc Tunnels.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2021" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The Vinh Moc Tunnels. The Vinh Moc Tunnels.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2022" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hannah in the Vinh Moc Tunnels. Hannah in the Vinh Moc Tunnels.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2023" align="aligncenter" width="545"]DMZ Tour around Hue. DMZ Tour around Hue.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2024" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Gio Linh Graveyard, outdside Hue. Gio Linh Graveyard, outside Hue.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2025" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Gio Linh Graveyard, outdside Hue. Gio Linh Graveyard, outside Hue.[/caption]

Our next destination is Hanoi and we've decided to go by air as we're running out of time here in Vietnam. It's one of those gruelling early morning starts again, so no breakfast resulting in two very hungry souls arriving in Hanoi (no restaurant at Hue Airport, only two snack-stands and several souvenir shops).

It's an early arrival in Hoi An from Da Lat with the night bus and we decide to walk over to where the cluster of hotels are rather than take a taxi. It's a really busy time in Vietnam due to the New Year’s celebrations, so it takes some time to find a place to stay. We finally find a hotel and get a room on top floor with a balcony - which is quite nice. The hotel is a bit run down though - you get what you pay for I guess - but it was adequate. Only later we read the reviews on Tripadvisor, and I don't think we would ever go near the place if we'd read them before we got here. Our experience was OK though, and the staff were nice and helpful unlike what had been experienced by the majority according to the Tripadvisor reviews. The room was also clean, although it was in a state of serious disrepair.

[caption id="attachment_1936" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Nha Trang. Nha Trang.[/caption]

Eager to have a look around we take to the streets for a little sightseeing walk. Unfortunately all of the museums and the historic houses that are normally open for tourists are closed due to the holidays. On the plus-side the temples are open, and due to the holidays, free to enter. We're instantly charmed by the interesting mix of French colonial with Chinese architecture as we walk along the historical centre, and it looks even more idyllic than normal because of all the lanterns and flower decorations for the celebration of the Lunar New Year’s. Also along the streets in town are countless of flower sellers - we've seen scores of them everywhere since arriving in Vietnam but this must be the busiest place with them so far - it's even difficult to walk in some places because there are so many of them. There are quite a few Chinese temples along our route, so many in fact that after a bit we just pass most of them by - we're gutted that the museums and open houses are closed as we'd love to have a look some of these - c'est la vie. Another popular attraction is the Japanese Bridge, so we do of course stop off by there as well.

[caption id="attachment_1937" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Japanese Bridge, Hoi An. Japanese Bridge, Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1938" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Japanese Bridge, Hoi An. Japanese Bridge, Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1939" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Japanese Bridge, Hoi An. Japanese Bridge, Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1940" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Japanese Bridge, Hoi An. Japanese Bridge, Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1941" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Japanese Bridge, Hoi An. Japanese Bridge, Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1942" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Lanterns, Hoi An. Lanterns, Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1943" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Lanterns, Hoi An. Lanterns, Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1944" align="aligncenter" width="508"]Cam Pho Temple, Hoi An. Cam Pho Temple, Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1945" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Cam Pho Temple, Hoi An. Cam Pho Temple, Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1946" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Cam Pho Temple, Hoi An. Cam Pho Temple, Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1947" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hoi An. Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1948" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hoi An. Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1949" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hoi An. Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1950" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hoi An. Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1951" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hoi An. Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1952" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hoi An. Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1953" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hoi An. Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1954" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hoi An. Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1955" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hoi An. Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1956" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hoi An. Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1957" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hoi An. Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1958" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hoi An. Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1959" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hoi An. Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1960" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hoi An. Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1961" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hoi An. Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1962" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hoi An. Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1963" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hoi An. Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1964" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hoi An. Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1965" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hoi An. Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1966" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hoi An. Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1967" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hoi An. Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1968" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hoi An. Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1969" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hoi An. Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1970" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hoi An. Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1971" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hoi An. Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1972" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hoi An. Hoi An.[/caption]

Another plan of ours that got squashed was to take a cooking class here in Hoi An, but again due to the holidays none of the restaurants were doing them. Many of the restaurants had even closed down completely for the New Years. The same story went for the tour companies, so we weren't able to book up any sightseeing tours either, we were just left to roam the streets and soak up the atmosphere.

On "Lunar New Year's Eve" we of course went out to have a look at the fireworks by the river. Just a minute before the show it started to rain - it was torrential and it didn't let up before after the fireworks show was over 20 minutes later. The fireworks were fantastic though even though everyone watching was drenched by the rain in seconds - I'm surprised the firework actually still worked with such a persistent heavy downpour. After the show was over we joined the very drenched-to-the-bone - but surprisingly cheerful - crowd heading back through town to get back to our hotel. Had we not been soaked we would have stopped for a couple more drinks in the centre of town.

[caption id="attachment_1973" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Lunar New Year's Eve in Hoi An. Lunar New Year's Eve in Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1974" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Lunar New Year's Eve in Hoi An. Lunar New Year's Eve in Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1975" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Lunar New Year's Eve in Hoi An. Lunar New Year's Eve in Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1976" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Lunar New Year's Eve in Hoi An. Lunar New Year's Eve in Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1977" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Lunar New Year's Eve in Hoi An. Lunar New Year's Eve in Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1978" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Lunar New Year's Eve in Hoi An. Lunar New Year's Eve in Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1979" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Lunar New Year's Eve in Hoi An. Lunar New Year's Eve in Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1980" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Lunar New Year's Eve in Hoi An. Lunar New Year's Eve in Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1981" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Lunar New Year's Eve in Hoi An. Lunar New Year's Eve in Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1982" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Lunar New Year's Eve in Hoi An. Lunar New Year's Eve in Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1983" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Lunar New Year's Eve in Hoi An. Lunar New Year's Eve in Hoi An.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1984" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Lunar New Year's Eve in Hoi An. Lunar New Year's Eve in Hoi An.[/caption]

The next day there is no busses running so we have to stay put in Hoi An for another day to wait for further transport to our next destination Hue. Of course, as it's the day after all the festivities pretty much everything is closed so it's a day of just relaxing for us.

We booked our bus to Hue through our hotel just after we arrived here to be sure we would get a seat. And on the day of travel we get picked up in a van to take us the 300 meters up the road to where the bus is waiting. If we'd known it was so close we would have opted to walk up there instead of sitting waiting for this van to turn up... We're soon on our way though and the journey is fairly quick.

The approach into Da Lat is quite scenic and interesting. It seems every household has a garden where they farm various produce, whether vegetables or flowers. However small a patch they have they're growing some kind of produce. There are of course larger fields as well, and it's like nothing I've seen before - they all look very well cared for and perfectly manicured.

When we arrive we're not quite sure where to look for hotels. We'd found some places on Tripadvisor but nothing cheap, and in the end decide for firstly try one that has a good write-up in the Lonely Planet called Hotel Chau Au Europa. It turns out to be a very nice hotel with friendly staff and an excellent room with included breakfast and daily cleaning - and as a bonus it's very reasonably priced.

On our first day we head over to a travel agency called Sinh Tourist - formerly called Sinh Cafe Travel - to book a City-Tour of Da Lat and its surroundings. We also want to book a bus, but they want to charge us a small fortune, and they can't accommodate a bus on the day we want to go. We decide to ask around in some other agencies before deciding what to do. We're in luck and get a bus for the day we want with another agency, and it's much cheaper than the one Sinh Tourist could offer us - BONUS!

The city of Da Lat is set around a lake where you can hire out swan-shaped peddler boats. Hannah has an old unfulfilled dream about going on a peddler boat trip and I give in to her wishes at last. The peddler is most definitely not made for tall Europeans and we find it a little bit difficult to fit into the boat. It also turns out to be quite an exercise for our legs to get this thing moving at all. After about an hour we're back on shore - I'm by this time drenched in sweat and we both have slight problems walking after our workout. Needless to say we head straight to the nearest cafe for some refreshments.

[caption id="attachment_1883" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Tea and ice cream at Pho Hoa in Da Lat. Tea and ice cream at Pho Hoa in Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1884" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Tea and ice cream at Pho Hoa in Da Lat. Tea and ice cream at Pho Hoa in Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1885" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Swan shaped peddleboats on the lake, Da Lat. Swan shaped peddleboats on the lake, Da Lat.[/caption]

In the evening we try out the local disco club/bar where nobody is dancing despite quite a good DJ. It doesn't seem to be a tradition to dance here and people just sit around sipping their drinks. We're the only tourists in the bar when we arrive, and by the look of the staff and clientele not many tourists come here. The service is impeccable though and we don't have to open a single door ourselves, or move a single finger to order drinks - the staff is very attentive. We're not used to this kind of service - it's almost a bit too weird...

[caption id="attachment_1886" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Drinks, Da Lat. Drinks, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1887" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Drinks, Da Lat. Drinks, Da Lat.[/caption]

Next day and it's time for our City-Tour that will take us to the Bao Dai Summer Palace, the Crazy House (Hang Nga Guesthouse), a Catholic church, a viewpoint over the city with a cable cart down to a monastery, lunch back at the office in town, the Da Lat Railway Station, the Valley of Love (more like a Valley of Tacky Hell), and finally a shop for a bit of tea and wine tasting. The tea was nice but the wine seemed very fruity, a bit acidic and young - perfect if you wish for a headache. The trip was very militant and if you were one minute late back on the bus the guide would tell you off. The most memorable place would be the Crazy House - the architect I believe is the daughter of one of the princes from back when they had a monarchy. She'd studied in Russia and on her return started to build this weird set of houses. It's still not finished and they estimate it will still take quite some years to finish it all. It looks very much like she's been inspired by Antoni Gaudi, the Spanish architect who's houses can be found scattered around in Barcelona, including the huge La Sagrada Familia Cathedral - another project that is still about 15 or so years from completion. The Crazy House lacks the attention to detail as Gaudi had though, so in comparison it looks a bit amateurish, or even naive. The Bao Dai Summer Palace was also quite interesting with its Art Deco style - it was a bit rushed though and we got told off for arriving a few minutes late for the bus. We also had hoped for a journey on the train from Da Lat Railway Station, but it was only a quick stop to get to see the Art Deco style station with its lavish waiting room and the old steam engine locomotive on display.

[caption id="attachment_1888" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat. Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1889" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat. Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1890" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat. Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1891" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat. Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1892" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat. Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1893" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat. Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1894" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat. Royal Summer Palace, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1895" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Crazy House, Da Lat. Crazy House, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1896" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Crazy House, Da Lat. Crazy House, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1897" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Crazy House, Da Lat. Crazy House, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1898" align="aligncenter" width="454"]Crazy House, Da Lat. Crazy House, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1899" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Crazy House, Da Lat. Crazy House, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1900" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Crazy House, Da Lat. Crazy House, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1901" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Crazy House, Da Lat. Crazy House, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1902" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Crazy House, Da Lat. Crazy House, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1903" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Crazy House, Da Lat. Crazy House, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1904" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Crazy House, Da Lat. Crazy House, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1905" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Crazy House, Da Lat. Crazy House, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1906" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Da Lat. Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1907" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Overview of Da Lat from the Telpher- Starting Point. Overview of Da Lat from the Telpher- Starting Point.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1908" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Tuyen Lam Pagoda, Da Lat. Tuyen Lam Pagoda, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1909" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Tuyen Lam Pagoda, Da Lat. Tuyen Lam Pagoda, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1910" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Tuyen Lam Pagoda, Da Lat. Tuyen Lam Pagoda, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1911" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Tuyen Lam Pagoda, Da Lat. Tuyen Lam Pagoda, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1912" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Tuyen Lam Pagoda, Da Lat. Tuyen Lam Pagoda, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1913" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Tuyen Lam Pagoda, Da Lat. Tuyen Lam Pagoda, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1914" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Thac Prenn Waterfall, Da Lat. Thac Prenn Waterfall, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1915" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Thac Prenn Waterfall, Da Lat. Thac Prenn Waterfall, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1916" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Thac Prenn Waterfall, Da Lat. Thac Prenn Waterfall, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1917" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Da Lat Railway Station. Da Lat Railway Station.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1918" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Da Lat Railway Station. Da Lat Railway Station.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1919" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Da Lat Railway Station. Da Lat Railway Station.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1920" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Da Lat Railway Station. Da Lat Railway Station.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1921" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Da Lat Railway Station. Da Lat Railway Station.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1922" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Da Lat Railway Station. Da Lat Railway Station.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1923" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Valley of Love, Da Lat. Valley of Love, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1924" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Valley of Love, Da Lat. Valley of Love, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1925" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Valley of Love, Da Lat. Valley of Love, Da Lat.[/caption]

Da Lat is supposed to be the honeymoon capital of Vietnam so it's no surprise to find the prices in restaurants and bars a bit higher than elsewhere, but we find a nice little restaurant called Goc Ha Thanh which is reasonably priced and with nice food, so can recommend this place if you ever come here. We can also really recommend the Hotel Chau Au Europa for a nice and reasonably priced hotel. We also quite liked the architecture in general in the town it seems to be a bit inspired by the type of houses you'd find in the Alps - it's also a hilly place, so the city has a bit of that Alpen feel to it.

[caption id="attachment_1926" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Overlooking the market, Da Lat. Overlooking the market, Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1927" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Da Lat. Da Lat.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1928" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Goc Ha Thanh Restaurant, Da Lat. Goc Ha Thanh Restaurant, Da Lat.[/caption]

It's time for our bus to Hoi An, our next stop. We leave Da Lat around lunch-time and the bus takes us to Nha Trang, here we have a break and have to "change bus" although it's the exact same bus that will take us on the rest of the journey to Hoi An - why we have to unload all our stuff and walk the 50 meters to the office only to load it all back on again is beyond my understanding. We're told that the bus will leave at 19:00, although it will arrive to start loading up at 18:45. We decide to go and have a look for a place to have a coffee or a beer and head down the road to find a bar. According to the lady at the bus company we have about 30 minutes before the bus will arrive to start loading up. We can't find a place for coffee in the direction we decided to walk and head back to look in the opposite direction. It's a good thing we do, because as we pass the office of the bus company we can see the bus arriving. We ask the lady whether this is our bus and the answer is yes. We grab our bags and get them loaded onto the bus and find a seat. We're under the illusion that we have plenty of time still before the bus will be leaving - it's only 18:30 and decide to go and get some snacks for the journey. But as we try to get off the bus to get to the shop we're stopped by the driver who says we can't leave. A bit confused we go back to our seats and just a few minutes later the bus leaves ahead of the scheduled time... What the??? One thing is to try to be on time, but to leave before schedule is a little bit stupid. The bus departs at 18:40, 20 minutes earlier than scheduled. Good thing we didn't find a cafe down the road and came back to look in the other direction of the office...