Monday, November 14, 2016

Postcard: From Tam Đảo

Dear Friends and Family,

After two days in Hà Ni, I was determined to get out of the Old Quarter. My trip to Vietnam was short in general and I didn't want to say that I had only seen the city (and then later Halong Bay). The receptionist at my hostel recommended a trip to Tam Đảo, a couple hours away from the city. She had gone recently and showed me pictures of a waterfall. It is very peaceful and relaxing, she said.

It sounded nice, but I wasn't sure. It's one thing to randomly hop on a bus in Canada or Korea--in one I can speak the language and at least in the other I can read and make small talk--but to venture a couple hours from the city in Vietnam alone? That was scary. Terrifying, even.

But I was on vacation and determined to have an adventure. I approached a French tourist who had arrived when I did and convinced her to come along. With directions written by the receptionist, we headed out early the next day. Three hours, a taxi, three buses and a taxi-bike later, we arrived on a clouded and misty mountain side (See postscript for details).
On the road up the mountain.
Clouds rolling up the mountain.
Whoa. My brain was stunned as the motorbike rounded a bend (btw, I do not recommend taking the motorbike up the mountain in inclement weather. It was chilly and I wished I was in the taxi). Tam Đảo is a settlement in the mountain folds. The picturesque houses, add spots of bright colour to the forested slopes. I wished to pause the moment as the bike carried me all too swiftly up to the drop off point, but in that moment, the whole trip was worth it.
Exploring town led to some beautiful pathways.
If only the rain held off...the clouds come in quick on the mountain and the clear patches were brief amid the dreary weather. Still, my new friend Chloe and I made the most of our time, hunting first for the waterfall that inspired our journey. I guess it might be off season as we didn't really see many other tourists--or many other people.

As a bonus, the whole community had wifi and pokemon. So yes, I can say that I've caught an Evee at the foot of a waterfall on a mountainside in Vietnam. Ha.
View from the top of a temple/pagoda.
We also wandered up to a temple and found some lunch at a small restaurant. We would have liked to stay longer, but the rain, wind, and daunting journey back to Hanoi pushed us to end our trip after a couple hours. As a result, we were able to meet some other friends in time for dinner. Not bad for a day's outing! I'm glad Chloe agreed to go venture out into the unknown with me otherwise I doubt I would have had the courage to try by myself.

On to the next adventure!

Love and Hugs

P.S. Directions from Hà Ni (Our Journey):

  1. Get to Long Biên Bus Station
  2. Take Bus #58 to Mê Linh Plaza
  3. Take Bus #1 to Vĩnh Phúc Province
  4. Take Bus #7 to Tam Đảo
  5. Agree to take one of the Taxis/Motor-Taxis to the village as it is still 13km away (We paid 50,000 vnd for this).

On the way back, the taxi driver helped us find a bus that took us straight to Mê Linh Plaza where we caught the 58 back to Long Biên Station. It was a bit more expensive, but I think overall the trip cost us about 15$ usd.

P.P.S. Two more pictures...
Panoramic view as we explored the town.
One last shot before heading back to the city...

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