Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Bridge of River Kwai and the Death Railway, Kanchanaburi

For many travelers, the main sight of interest would be The River Kwai Bridge, as the start of Death Railway link into Burma/Myanmar, as well as many associated museums.

It's not hard to image why the Thais see the province as one of the most beautiful provinces in Thailand with easy access to waterfalls and national parks.

If there's a better time to visit The River Kwai Bridge, it's going to be in the morning between 8am-10am.

Any trip to the popular bridge later than the recommended interval it should be compromised, the bridge will be filled with countless tourists attempting to capture good takes of photos of themselves with travel mates and the surroundings.

The River Kwai Bridge, Kanchanaburi

World War II scene, an important piece of time

It's clearly understood why you should wake up early when you are traveling to get the best out of your trip.

The bridge, neither the most eye-catching structure nor it's being beautifully decorated, was aesthetically significant if you understand the historical settings.

The River Kwai Bridge, Kanchanaburi

According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Wikipedia:
"The notorious Burma-Siam railway, built by Commonwealth, Dutch and American prisoners of war, was a Japanese project driven by the need for improved communications to support the large Japanese army in Burma. During its construction, approximately 13,000 prisoners of war died and were buried along the railway. An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 civilians also died in the course of the project, chiefly forced labour brought from Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, or conscripted in Siam (Thailand) and Burma. Two labour forces, one based in Siam and the other in Burma worked from opposite ends of the line towards the centre."

An important piece of time, the River Kwai Bridge is situated at the up river, approximately 1.5KM from where I spent a night at the rafting Sugarcane Guesthouse, I've written briefly about Kanchanaburi's historical background.

Bicycles could be rented conveniently at the price of 20 Baht for a day to get around the town.

During World War 2, the Japanese used Allied prisoners of war to build a railway from Thailand to Burma so they could supply their army without the dangers of sending supplies by sea. 

Many prisoners died suffering under appalling conditions during its construction, and the line became known as the "Death Railway".

Riding on the 3rd class train was an exceptional experience
A closer look at the railway

The tour package I booked was about 1,000 Baht, it included trip to spend the day at Erawan waterfall, elephant riding and bamboo rafting.

The last stop would end at visiting the Death railway and riding the rail for couple of stops before dropping me off at River Kwai Bridge but I chose to return the next morning.

The bridge was bombed by the Allied in an attempt to halt Japanese's further intrusion
The bridge is an important supply link to the Japanese during WWII

The bridge over River Kwai

The bridge was the frequent target of bombing raids by the Allied in attempts to halt Japanese's further intrusion where they were believed to build the link to supply the war in Burma and India.

The Japanese would force the Allied prisoners of war out from the prisoner camp to line up on the bridge and to friendly wave off the threats of bombers.

The bridge was eventually taken out by the bombers in one of the strike, taking Allied prisoners of war with it. It's rebuilt after the war ended.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Ayutthaya

Thailand is recently hit by the worst flood in half a century, while the government estimates the total loss is now ballooned close to $4B, disruptions to the global supply chain is still underestimated according to the new sources.

One of the many badly hit province, Ayutthaya, my deep condolence to those who lost their friends and family in this devastating event, and now it has it Bankkok, the city of Angel.

It's hard to imagine this ancient site was so magnificent and beautiful just couple of months back.

Wat Chai, Ayutthaya at normal day
A quick search over the Internet and these images are very mind bothering, it's saddening.

Picture of Wat Chai, Ayutthaya - flooding taken of Internet source

One day, the beauty of the ancient city will be restored once again.

Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya, the ancient city of Thailand existed some 600 years ago that housed some of the oldest temples in Thailand, was truly sensational!

Wat Chai, Temple of long reign and glorious era

The central chedi at Wat Chai, Ayutthaya and the broken wall

A scaled down model of the whole picture of the ancient Wat Chai placed just before the entrance

It's always best to travel around the small town by bicycle, which I did back then.

The entry fee was around 50 Baht, Wat Chaiwatthanaram is a 400 years old Buddhist temple situated on the west bank of Chao Phraya River, outside Ayutthaya island.

It was less visited than those in the island, the quiet and peaceful temple was very photogenic, countless of headless Buddha statues lining up against the wall.

The ancient temple was constructed in 1630 by the King of Prasat Thong where it was being used by the royal family to perform religious ceremonies.

The temple's name literally means the Temple of long reign and glorious era. It was designed in Khmer style which was popular at the time.

Many intact pagodas surrounded the central chedi where one could climb from all sides, but it's restricted now to go to the top for a view of what it's like in the central chedi.

Staircase link to the top of the chedi

Ayutthaya is such an amazing ancient city, full of colours, it never lacks the element of excitement if you love cultural walkthrough this is absolutely going to be it! One of the stop you can't be missing!

It's only 4 hours away from the busy Capital of Thailand, it surely be one of my favourite touristy spot.

If anyone is going, I suggest you to stay at least two nights and spend your days roaming through the streets from temple to temples by bicycle.

At night, I usually decided to go on the street for stall food, and spent the rest of the gorgeous night at one of the chilling restaurant pubs with live singer.

Friday, October 14, 2011

What's in These Mysterous Sacks?

I'm very impressed by how great Blogspot's dynamic design, after applying the new design I was settling into staring at my own blog for more than 15 minutes with all excitement over the face.

Anyone who saw me doing that would have mistakenly thought I was watching porn, geeky nerd, haha!

I have decided to post short traveling story to heighten up my travel by bit as some feedbacks saying that I took too freaking long to post a blog.

In other words, it's revitalizing as I saw some stagnant in traffic growth or rather a drop on my total monthly visitors for past few months.

My travel posts are always full of details, and perfect in my way before it's being up there, I'm thinking maybe I should make more short postings while I work on longer post.

Cut long story short, I decided to drop in with little posts as and when I find interesting stuffs to share to spice up your life and mine on some boring days.

You won't wait too long, here's one.

Can you guess what's in these Mystery Sacks?

I walked down the street in Phuket town snapping some quick photos, I looked curiously for while when I stopped in front of a Chino-portuguese shop where there were sacks mysteriously being hanged outside.

There were plenty of them, I have interestingly edited the picture so it gave different moods and let your imagination go wild and out of the box.

Mysterious sacks, cinematic mood, looks pretty decent to me

In the 80's, are these rice sacks for sale? My grandpa told there's pointless to hang them all like these.

Mysterious sacks, what do you think is in it if it's in the 80's

This is my favourite, the bone chilling ghostly terrifying mood, a lot of things can go wrong if you are getting this in a movie where the characters are being beheaded, hands and legs being shoved inside the sacks with blood dropping on the floor.

Mysterious sacks, ghostly terrifying mood

I'll be revealing it when this post hits 10 likes, please help yourselves. Cheers!

Oh ya, this is a scheduled post ahead of my busy schedule tomorrow, I might have forgotten about it if so please leave a comment so it will remind me of coming back to post the answer to this blog.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

22 Ways to Make Your Backpacking Trip More Interesting

It's amazing about how much I can experience each time when I get out of my own country traveling to some parts of the world, I remember most of the details and highlights of each trip.

Friends are often fascinated about my traveling stories, I speak fondly about the climates, the amazing cultures, the great beaches and some fantastic people whom I met as if they happened just a day before, and I can continue to speak on and on for hours.

Some friends think it's difficult to travel like how I've traveled, look, it's easy. I figure to get more out of my vacation, I have done something extra without knowing it. 

Practically, I learnt a few tricks each time I travel and I adapt, change, and adapt through out the journey and they are literally becoming parts of my personality and characteristic. 

Here's a few tricks to get more out of your trip.

22 Ways to Get More Out of Your Trip

1. Learn more about the destination

It's good to learn the cultures to get more out of your trip

First homework is to learn as much about your imminent destination, conduct some online searches or ask your friends who have previously visited those places, get yourself familiarized with some literature knowledge about a country's cultures, historical backgrounds, and places to visit.

It makes your easier to settle down at foreign land and adapt to the local common practices when you know what to expect. It also helps you to avoid the dont's and do the do.

Sometimes, when a random detour happens, use services like Twitter to search about what people talking about your next random stops, there are a lot of Internet voices out there about the weather, political happenings, and etc.

2. Plan your trip but never afraid to make changes

A plan is good, never afraid to make last minute changes

My trip itinerary might be seemingly complete and full of details, but I amend it whenever necessary, that's why I have a lot of scribblings and corrections on my travel note.

It's not a project planning that requires you to stick to every single damn items on the sheet, and in reality everyone knows the execution is not always as perfect as we wanted, some places might not be as interesting as you thought it would be, if you screw up, learn to adapt and make it better.

I recommend you to have a plan, know where you going after, but never be afraid to make last minute changes to plan an excursion, plan is just a plan, be spontaneous! 

3. Motivate yourself 

Don't get defeated so easily by some unexpected events happen during your trip, you are the best person to bring yourself back up.

If you are traveling during the raining season, change your plan to indoor visits instead of outdoor.

The point is to enjoy as much out of your trip, don't waste your time whining about the things you can't change.

I remember I was disappointed with the weather in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, the constant heavy rain screwed up my plan. Instead of complaining, I quickly booked a bus ticket the same morning to Vang Vieng, 250km away from the capital where I got lesser rain and enjoyed most of the day with the Sun.

4. Talk to locals 

Pleasing morning tea time with random people

Use your newly learnt phrases with your newly met local friends, it's a friendlier approach and you get better treatment in return.

I remember having morning tea with a few uncles at the road side after walking tirelessly searching for new guest house to move, it's good time we spent in the morning even though we do not understand each other's languages.

We had fun time speaking to each other, with little help of hand signs and simple gestures to get our messages delivered.

Communicating with the locals leads to opportunity of finding hidden treasures, good bargained guest houses, good food, exotic shopping items, great dance club with fantastic music.

Then another day I started helping an old aunty selling her home made pancakes to travelers, it was awesome experience.

5. Make friends with other travelers

At times, it's fun to be in pubs with your travel buddies

Take the initiative to move into a group or single travelers and speak to them, get to know them and exchange your travel experience.

Many times, it makes it easy to greet them with a simple smile and say "Hey", then follows up with a friendly gesture for hand shake and says "I'm Bla bla, what's your name?".

Choose the travelers you feel most comfortable to go up and say "Hi", here are some tips for easy topic and breaking the ice.

  • Where do you come from, how is it like in your country?
  • Where have you been in this country and how long you going to stay?
  • What are you up to tonight or tomorrow, can I join?
  • How do you know each other?
  • What do you do for living?
  • How do you find this place, what's the most exciting thing you have done here?
  • How much did you pay for your guest house, where is your guest house?
Learn to illustrate your answers or stories, you will find most European travelers are very very good at telling their stories, that makes their stories more action-packed and overwhelming.

Here's an example, if you are asked about how it is like about your country back home, don't just reply where you from and stop there... Tell them how beautiful it is about your country, it's Malaysia, it's like a little Asia, we have the Malay, Chinese, Indians and other smaller ethnic groups living in peace and harmony that makes Malaysia the truly wonder of Asia.

We have the greens and one of the highest mountains in Borneo and big cities in KL, our capital, shopping is as good as Singapore. Navigating around the town is not a problem because everyone speaks English and the LRT systems gets you to where you want to go. But watch out for non-metered taxi and thieves, but this is quite commonly seen everywhere in the region. And the current ruling politicians suck!

6. Get lost 

Try to walk the streets, or you can rent a bicycle and roam the town making some pit stops for food and drinks, get as far as possible, and get lost. I bet you will find a lot of interesting encounters along the way, getting lost is a part of our traveling package, make it memorable and make it an interesting one.

My personal advise, get lost in safe town at right hours, it's probably not a good idea to be lost at midnight when there's little people to offer help. I've personally experienced that, it's not funny... Only fun to remember...

7. Travel differently

On the coach to Koh Samui from Bangkok

Try to change your travel behaviors, travel alone on a single day, and go out with a few new friends you just met the next two days. Feel the difference of having companies and solo.

When having travel mates, I'm happy about the companionship but I have to compromise on some decisions, but extra voices sometimes help too.

As you get along with each other, they are people whom you can trust and count on, at least for while, but there's no stable friends. They could come together and part, that's quite normal.

When traveling alone, I can use the quietness and peace of being only with myself, decision can be made easily but I bear on some inconvenience being on solo.

8. Negotiate for more 

Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate, learn to cut a good deal! Ask for more discounts, walk away and come back, survey a few more before taking on a deal.

Try to save every penny to maximize your purchasing power but don't squeeze to hard.

9. Change guest house 

I got this room for a reasonable USD12, it's an amazing guest house with terrific view over the mountains and river

I usually checks at least a few guest houses before making decision on which one to take on, negotiating for lower rate is a must.

No matter how comfortable are you with your guest house after staying in, always remember to ask travelers around and walk in to check any guest house you feel good about.

You never know you will find a better one at better rate, never let it be a hassle that hinders you from moving for better room.

8. Try local food

The most delicious Laos curry noodle 

I usually find good food from the street stalls from the morning and night markets, and I pick a local restaurant with reasonable number of customers, it makes every sense to think that restaurant with many customers serves better meals.

We all have different taste and appetite, another trick to remember, check out the customers if they are locals or travelers, I usually end up at a restaurant with many locals, it can never go wrong, and price is fairly cheaper.

9. Stay longer at a place 

Variety is good, but regular contacts gets you deeper

Try to go back to some restaurants or bars that you find good with its quality and get to know the people who help run the businesses.

You will find better service or discount, and they can be very informative on tips of non-commercial places to visit.

10. Keep a travel book 

I usually keep at least one travel book in my small backpack wherever I go, find out what's the most exciting things to do.

It's wise to have one for yourself to constantly look for more information about a destination. It's going to be handy, trust me.

11. Take good pictures with other travelers and locals

Do not forget to invite your new friends for photos, keep a piece of the history of yourselves, ask for their contacts to stay in touch with each other on Facebook, it's the warmest thing to do!

12. Be alert

Always stay alert not to lose a thing due to careless or theft, don't leave any valuable items in the guest house, I suggest not to bring them when you are on vacation.

If you do bring some valuable stuffs with you, carry them with you in a small backpack.

I've heard a lot of my travel mates who lost their wallet, iPod, laptop, and even passport due to theft and  negligence.

You don't want such incident to spoil your mood, some can be avoided if you are being more attentive in taking care of your own belongings.

13. Carry lesser and travel light

Every traveler has the tendency of bringing more than enough clothes on a trip, try to travel light by keeping a few sets of clothes that sufficient to last for several days, I think four days is good enough.

Use the laundry services at the hotel or guest houses, they are usually cheap.

Other equipments are very subjectives, depending on individual, I'd only bring an iPad or netbook and not a laptop. I bring only short pants and light t-shirts, and only a pair of jeans, sports shoes. I buy flip-flop and polo-t during travel, I don't bring.

14. Smile 

Smile is the easiest friendly gesture to earn respect of each other
A gentle node and a smile to whoever has their eyes contact with you shows a lot of respect, it's a universal key to unlock the door of friendship.

I node and smile whenever I have the eye contact with any strangers, and it's easier to approach them to make friends or for help of direction.

15. Get up early

Early bird gets to eat the worm

Try to get up early so you won't miss a thing throughout the day, you will also find it quieter and less tourists at traveling hot spots where usually are packed with people.

Occasionally, I'd head back to guest house for a power nap to get rid of the tiredness or go for massage to recharge for the rest of the day.

16. Pick up a few phrases 

Learning to speak other's language has a significant advantage and prove handy especially when you are traveling to places where the locals don't share the common language as you. 

Phrases like one to ten, expensive, where is the bus station, what time is it, how much, and hello are some common must-learn words.

17. Use public transport 

At odd time, the travel mini bus took on a few locals with all sorts of things

Travel with public transport, take the local train and bus, light transit or boat, don't always take the best and most comfortable transports to navigate from one place to another, experience the life of the locals and with the locals.

Sometimes, I will be transported along with all sorts of exotic things such as ducks, chickens, bicycle, stocks of grains and beans and etc.

18. Take your hobbies

I won two Chinese chess sets and lost one with the morning crowd, Malaysian power!
I played basketball on a completely random night with an entirely random group of basketball players, it happened after I got lost in a small town and bumped into the court having a game on.

I danced with a group of grooving hiphop dancers at one of the public recreation area.

It's fun to take your hobbies on to a trip, it gets you sweat and rare excitement interacting with locals who have similar interests.

19. Try Couch Surf is an online community for travelers to host and meet each other

Stay with local family run accommodation or volunteer host, use Couch surf to find one before you head to a new city or town, I've written about my first couchsurfing experience sometime ago.

These people are very friendly and willing to take you on extra mile, they will make you breakfast they don't have to, and take you for the nicest dinner and meet some of their brilliant local friends.

It gives you the cultural learning experience like you never did before, you will never find anywhere else if you are on a luxury vacation.

Bring them some good local food and souvenirs from your country if you are staying over at your host's as token of appreciation.

20. Rest more and recharge

It's a big group for home stay, we had a lot of fun exchanging our stories

Traveling requires tremendous energy and stamina, it's gets you fatigue easily due to the walking, exploration of new places, learning and adapting to others' cultures, meeting new friends and the talking that is more tiring than work. A good rest is very important to recharge the energy to keep you going.

I'd bring a towel and keep new clean clothes in my small backpack to shower at random guest house's bathroom or public bathroom at the cost of less than USD1 to keep myself fresh if I'm traveling far away from my guest house.

21. Vary your budget

Some days you might find spending less and some days you will be spending more than you supposed to, it's completely fine.

Use some of the money to treat yourself on things that relaxes you, I use some budget to go for massage and red wines if I have been consistently spending less on previous days.

However, there must be a budget cap to spend a day, I normally set a cap of average USD25-30 a day to spend on food and beverages, rentals and etc.

A good financial management can alleviate your overall experience, plus getting your further. A good habit is to mark down how much you spend each day and what you have spent with.

22. Focus on details

Sometimes, things can get very detail

Be an observant, spend more time on the details everywhere you go.

Register every faces and behaviors of people, the architectures, the surrounding environments, the lightings from the window, the wet floors, the passing cars, the shiny outfits that people put on, and etc.

Make sure you don't miss a thing that makes your trip more meaningful.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Amusing Raft House in Kanchanaburi

Things are moving now, though not at its full speed but it's moving seemingly well for everyone and myself so far. I'm a happier man, nothing else more important than this.

At point of writing, it should be at the near end of my exploration weeks backpacking in Taiwan, I didn't make it, this is supposed to be one of the most exciting trip that I've been looking forward to.

Well, I'm going plan for it again next year, or maybe this year around October.

World War II

World war two, or the second world war, was considered started in 1939 when the Germans invaded Poland, and ended in 1945, resulting of some believed to be around 70 millions fatalities.

The war of the Axis and Allies, which later became global with the invasion of Japan into Manchuria, was ended by the defeat of Germany and Japan in 1945, was the saddest incident that had left many in disaster and unimaginable pains to many lives.

I had been reading articles and books about WWII, it's very temperamental being able to understand the past, our grand parents' history, it's part of us.

I felt the duty to understand and learn about our pasts so we could appreciate what we have today. It was because of those warriors in the past who fought the war and defended our mother land from the intruders that we now could tell ourselves this is our home.

Sugarcane Guesthouse

I moved to stay on Sugarcane Guesthouse the next day in Kanchanaburi, it's a very pleasant and enjoyable guesthouse.

The guesthouse is located at Rongheabaoy 1 road, very much at the center where the backpackers hang out, but it's less travelers in the month of May which has the most raindrops.

Sugarcane guesthouse in Kanchanaburi

I managed to squeeze a little bit out of original rate of 500 Baht due to low occupancy of visitors at this time of the year, after checking at the room condition like I always did, I decided to take on the double single bed rafting room for 400 Baht a night with fan.

You don't need an air-conditioned room as the night usually is quite chilling. And these single bed room would ranged around 200 - 350 Baht.

Single bed room and the little garden

The staircase connects to the floating houses

I settled down quickly and rested outside my room, there were chairs outside each room, then only I realized how beautiful the river view was from the rafting room, it was believable to have such a stunning sight.

The river was motionless, it was perfectly calm, I could hear the birds singing, it's only this moment my mind was completely shut down on literally everything, the trip itinerary, work, problems and people back home, never was I feeling so focused and relaxed.

The river was perfectly calm and motionless, stunning, I'd never feel so relaxed

If you were wondering, I wasn't having beer bottle in my hand, it's 8 o'clock in the morning, I'd be freak if I did that =)

I'd later come back for the Sunset in the evening after my day tour to Erawan National Park, elephant riding and bamboo rafting.

Opposite the river bank, there were houses and what seemingly more luxurious hotels surrounded by the greens.

Top view of rafting house
The room was spotless and clean, the wooden floor and wall intended to make any traveler feel closer to the nature.

Wifi was within range, and pretty fast, one of the condition I must say would determine whether I was going to take on any room.

It's rather common to have Internet connection accessible in the room or at least at the dining or resting area, which was to me a facility that a budget hotel would have conveniently provided to any travelers nowadays.

Clean & spotless bed of Sugarcane guesthouse

400 Baht twin bed rafting house with fan

The toilet wasn't spotless but was ok enough for me to take the room.

The bathroom was ok, never mind the spots

Sunset was beautiful at the river front

The restaurant served good european food, though I haven't tried other than omelet for breakfast, it was fantastic! The price was quite fare for typical backpackers,

Crispy omelet served at Sugarcane guesthouse

That night, after a satisfying spicy Tomyam soup with beef rice for dinner at The Frog restaurant (no frog was served for your information), I was invited to join for wines and beers with a group of expats' wives, it was a retreat to get away from busy life in Bangkok.

I always liked random invitation and the occasional free drinks, those mothers, they were awesome, and strictly no photo!

I was told they didn't understand why people including their kids love posting pictures on Facebook, they felt their privacy was taken away.

Indeed, Facebook exposed our privacy, and you don't know when suddenly a random unpleasant photos of yours being posted and tagged and before you know it, your mom, husband or wife, bosses and thousands would have seen it!

Next, I'd be working on my last post of Kanchanaburi before moving on to edit some amazing Ayutthaya pictures for posting.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Faces of Sapa, Vietnam

The real deal is, I have to single handedly put everything back together with on my own, it will definitely take some time and is testing my patience and others, it's typically frustrating at this moment.

But there is a sweet encounter, a detour of personal interest, I do hope it turns out good for both of us. Breath, Andrew, breath! You will eventually reach the final line, slowly but surely.

Give me a hug if you see me, we all need a lot of loves, good time and bad time.

Sapa, Vietnam

The weather at night was still moderately warm before I embarked on Sapa Excursion, located at the the remote Northwest mountains of Vietnam, it is famous for its rugged scenery and also its rich cultural diversity - Wiki Travel.

Sapa and its surrounding is a host to hill tribes and rice terraces, it ranks among Halong Bay and Hoi An in terms of tourist attraction solely on the merit of its natural beauty and surrounding attractions.

It's particularly rich in opportunities for treks, homestays, and beautiful panoramic views, you can book such tour packages for as cheap as less than RM120 or $30.

The magnificent of rice terrace panoramic scene of Sapa

The Black H'mong lady with her baby, who stopped me from going into China border when I got lost in Cat Cat Village


The kids would be mingling around, normally the parents were the one doing the selling, kids at this age were too young to be selling

I will have detail writeup about Sapa in other posts.

Bia Hoi (Hanoi Beer)

There was at least couple of hours interval before catching up with the eight hours overnight air-conditioned train at 10pm after I got back from Halong Bay Excursion the same day.

I was carrying my backpack roaming around in Hanoi Old Quarter, realizing how heavy it was, I quickly settled down at the busy junction for some good street food, usually noodle soup or meat rice and cheap Hanoi beer.

A glass of bia hoi for RM1, no kidding

Busy inter junction famous for bia hoi

A glass of Hanoi beer (Bia Hoi) was as cheap as $0.30 or less than RM1.00.

I stayed there for at least two hours, I took a mouthful sip of the soothing beer and pulled out the "Nothing box" in me and started watching the people, cars and bikes went by.

A "Nothing box" according to Mark Gungor, is one of the many boxes in men's head that literally contains nothing inside. Hence, that explains why we can be stoned for minutes or hours (it looked like a man who was in deep concentration yet felt like his soul had wandered far away from the body, doing absolutely nothing but starting out at something blankly without soul).

Yet when you ask a man what is he thinking, he will say, nothing my dear.. Really, nothing..

It was interesting to be sitting at the what looked like a kid's chair, encountering some random drinking travel mates whom we shared our random experience about some of the highlight of our traveling experiences.

Sapa was one of the topic too, it's quite usual I'd speak about the next destination I was heading to with the travelers, they might be coming from these places, just to be sure I wouldn't miss out on things that worth doing.

Taking The Night Train to Lao Cai, Sapa

It was about 8pm I took off to find a guest house for shower, paid $1 buck for a quick shower before I started walking down to Hanoi Railway station at the east of the town, it was half an hour walk.

Probably wasn't the best idea to walk (half an hour >.<), but I was happy to be able to familiarize myself with the confusing streets since I'd be coming back, it was OK with little help from the easily shy-away locals who spoke very limited English.

Hanoi railway station

To Lao Cai, Sapa
The walk way mixed of departures and arrivals
I spoke about my fantastic experience with my local friend, Tien, who was my trusted driver in two separate post in Exploring Hanoi Old Quarter Streets and My First Couchsurfing Experience in Hanoi.

Tien was considerate enough to book a soft bed overnight train ticket for VND250k, but it wasn't easy to sleep on the train even with the soft bed. 

I was literally awakened by the noisy rail every other hour, the coach was moving swiftly which made it almost impossible for someone to go into deep sleep.

I shared the six bed coach with five other local passengers, it was more comfortable taking the lowest bed by paying additional couple of dollars because there was very little space between the top deck and the ceiling of the coach.

The 6 soft bed coach

There's very little space between the top deck and the ceiling of the coach, I took the most comfy lowest deck

I'd recommend anyone to take the lowest or middle deck for a lot of reasons particularly if you are traveling with your backpack where it would just sit beside you if you are taking the lowest deck.

And I knew an Israel mother who was traveling with her eighteen year-old daughter and booked all the four bed coach for $100 so they wouldn't need to share with other traveling passengers.

The Faces of Kids from Sapa

It was 6am when I looked at the clock, the train finally came to static mode and I knew we arrived from the faces of other passengers. They were all awoke by now, either playing with their phones or combing their hair.

The bus or minivan, for VND120k, took me from Lao Cai station to the town. The bumpy and curvy road wasn't the most exciting one, but the quiet morning with the beautiful green surrounding and fresh air were quite refreshing.

It was such a relief after a long eight hours ride, the surrounding nature consumed me.

I was feeling recharged with so much energy and excitement slowly building up as we neared Sapa town.

That day, I spent $39 dollars for guest house and a travel package for home stay and trek on the next day.

These were just some of the kid's pictures mainly taken from Cat Cat Village, 15 minutes on foot from Sapa town near the Church.

They were kids from Cat Cat Village, Sapa

He was sneezing and got some leftover between the nose and mouth

Had you ever hold a knife at his age?

She looked seemingly like the big sister in the group

The big sister taking care of the younger one

This boy looked like an old man

Beautiful girl

Walking up and down this little kid

She has beautiful oriental eyes

Playing with toys

Kids gathered to watch TVs, we weren't any different too when we were small

I remembered I had balloons too when I was small
These were such lovely kids, with pure soul, simple characters and genuine, I remembered every faces of them, though interaction was scarce and the sweets I brought for them ran out pretty fast.

When I looked them in their eyes, seriously, nothing else mattered. Their pure soul and smiles would melt every single traveler's heart, your life would never be the same again after you see them.