Saturday, 29 September 2007

Dodging the rain in Vietnam

We arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam on Saturday 22nd September via train from Guilin. The journey lasted 17 hours and we slept thel night in a soft seater coach with the exception of being woken for visa and passport checks.

In Hanoi we found cheap accomodation of 8US$ per night then went to see the very dead Ho Chi Minh in his Mausoleum. He looked like a wax work of Madame Tousaurds. In the same area was one pillar pagoda, the presidential palace and the museum.

The highlight of Hanoi was discovering Bai Hoi ( draught beer) for 2000 dong ( 6 pence) sitting beside a busy crossroad junction with hundreds of scooters passing by without crashing.

The next day we caught 3 buses and a boat to Cat Ba Island to the east of Hanoi in order to go climbing. A company called slopony are new routing there so we thought it would be good for a few days. We got one days climbing done before it rained and so all plans of deep water soloing on the Ha Long Bay Karsts did not happen:-( We did not even get a boat to look due to a promised storm. We waited a day incase but all forcasts said it would not stop for 5 days. Apparently it stopped the next day! (We've now been told a typhoon hit the next day and wiped out a few of the boats - Ed. 1/10/07)

We decided to go back to Hanoi and catch the overnight train to Hue. This time a hard sleeper, and hard it was. The only thing between me and the bunk was a carpet and a sheet. Surprisingly we slept quite well. Toilets and sinks were cleaner than expected and better than many I have used.

When we arrived in Hue we got bombarded by hoteliers and taxi drivers wanting us to use them. So we walked about a mile just to get away. That afternoon we walked around the Citadel. Many beautiful buildings in the Imperial Enclosure either having been repaired or being reconstructed after years of wartime bombing.

The next day we visited the Demiliterised Zone (DMZ) on a tour. It set off at 6am for 12 hours stopping only to briefly walk around or eat. Very interesting walking down Vietnamese underground tunnels at Vin Moch which were built and lived in during the war by both the local farmers and the Viet Com.

So today we moved on from Hue to Hoi An by bus. Still it continues to rain.

Farewell China

So we have now left Yangshou and china but on the long train journey to Vietnam we rememberd all the good times we had in the month there....

Daniel (Ger) doing comedy dives into the river, Karsts reflected in the water.

Dan (USA) banging out another tune at the crag.

Butterfly at the top of Moon Hill (Not Butterfly cliff!).

Dinner at the night market, Yangshuo

In the Karst Cafe, again..

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Stop press- Jo's lead climbing

Baby Frog buttress. At last something I can climb, not an overhang in sight.



After we celebrated with good farmer's food, a swim in the river and a beer or two.

Photos of Dan on China White

China White 5.12b (F7b) at White Mountain, Yangshuo.
Photos: top - mid route, middle - mid crux and bottom - just getting the jug at the crux.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

A Change of Pace in Yangshuo

We have now met loads of other climbers and so have stopped cycling to the crag and now share the cost of 'Speedy' the climber friendly taxi with a small mini bus. These mini buses have seats for 6 passengers, however they usually insist on cramming up to 10 or 11 in using miniature wooden stools in the centre isle - plus climbing gear and rough roads and you have one sweaty cramped journey.

Jo, Daniel (Ger) and Dan (USA) in the back of a Speedy.

Yesterday I managed to red point a 7b (5.12b) second go on lead - 'China White' at White Mountain. Being the first time I have managed to climb this grade ever I was quite pleased... In fact it was the target grade of the 15 months away, so what do I do now? Go home? No.

A photo will follow when i manage to get a pic from someone else.

Hand size spider with a lunch of dragon fly at White Mountain

We spent our last rest day kayaking down the Li River - saw loads of water Buffalo in the water and was extremely restful.

Jo on the Li River

Myself shortly before being asked to get out of the local equivalent on a transit van.

Don't forget the views...

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Over the Moon in Yangshuo

So we have been out and about, mainly climbing single pitch sports climbs but did quickly do a supposed 5 pitch route in just 3 rope lengths. The scenery is still amazing, seeing different things from different places.
Moon Hill is an amazing place to be. Took a few falls of increasing length up there too - but a guess this is sports climbing so its suppose to happen. Its so steep its an effort to get back in contact with the rock. Weee...

Moon Hill, Yangshuo - from the bottom. Most of the climbing is on the other side which is in the shade.
View through the Moon Hill arch - we climbed on the rock to the very right of the picture.
Is this a water buffalo or an Ox? The horny beasts are all over the place - wallowing in water and working the fields.

At last we found a river for a cooling mid climbing swim - near Twin Gates.

Jo starting the cycle back from Twin Gates (behind) - excellent climbing or orange limestone around the two caves.