Saturday, 30 July 2011

Off to Hoi An

Due to Harry being simply brilliant we are about to depart on our 3 hour bus journey to Hoi An in luxury!!! We have managed to secure our own private minibus!!! The hotel in Hoi An is also 3 star so we are all rather excited at the prospect of even more luxury than what we have experienced so far!

Breakfast was good, all are well rested and everyone is excited about going shopping in Hoi An for the suits and other clothing and also the beach - though we are only allowed on the beach bit and not in the water due to the British Council regulations about students and the sea!

The weather is hot hot hot (I am sure that was a song title...Mr Nicholls any help on that one?)

Catch up with you all in Hoi An.

Love to all from Lucy, Jack and Weeksey xxx

The bus and Hue

Sadly no purple bus from Harry Potter and thankfully no goats or wooden benches to sit on. Instead we were presented with a 40 bed coach  - yes that is correct a coach which had 40 beds on it, which included reclining seats and blankets. The only downside to the journey was the 15 hours it took to drive through some pretty poor thunderstorms with a driver who thought that the speed limit need not apply to him. Around 5am we had a member of the communist party get on the bus and check everything was ok before we finally arrived at Hue for about 10am. 

The hotel we are in is lovely and has a swimming pool, the best accomodation so far and we have not even reached the 3 star hotel yet. 

Today, after checking in we got on a boat and travelled down the Purfume River and visited temples, tombs and cultural sites. It was a great success and the food on the boat was good, especially in comparison to the bread and cheese triangles we had for tea the previous night on the sleeper bus. 

We are off to Hoi An in the morning and Harry is our leader. The bus has been booked, lunch organised and I am now off for a sleep in a bed!

Love to all, Weeksey x

Thursday, 28 July 2011

A bed!!!!

Last night saw us scrub two weeks of dirt and grime out of our clothes and off our bodies, some of us just decided that the dirt was too much and binned t-shirts, socks and pants that had seen better days. How we all had missed having warm showers with lockable doors, where the locals don't walk in on you or you have to carefully position your clothes and towels over the gaps in the wooden walls so that others don't get to see a bit more than they bargained for.  We all managed to get a decent sleep in beds, with crisp white sheets and duvets, which were off the floor, in spider, flea or other creepy insects you can imagine free zones.

Breakfast this morning was bread, jam, egg and bacon (not quite how you imagine it, but a decent version). Due to the typhoon all water based activities near or around Halong Bay are cancelled, so we will be spending another day in Hanoi (the typhoon will hit Hanoi the day after we leave which is a blessing for us) before heading to the bus station at 5pm today to catch the sleeper bus to Hue. We aim to arrive at our new destination about mid morning. tomorrow and then hope to see some historical / cultural Vietnam (temples etc) before going to Hoi An (where we spend two days) 

Spirits are high and I think the pizza, cheese burger and chips combo at dinner last night helped this - a break from rice was appreciated. The boys cleared their plates in seconds, only stopping to catch breath. (Molly managed to eat all of hers before the boys!!)

The final part of this expedition will see us moving quickly through South Vietnam, with a different    view to look at each day, time already seems to have got faster  in comparison to the last two weeks of trekking and project. I am sure the greetings, reunions and goodbyes at Heathrow will be emotional as we end our adventure. 

The support from home and comments on the blog are great and make us all feel loved and missed. It helps us still feel connected to home. 

See you all soon, Weeksey and Ben xx

Back in Hanoi!!!!

Dear All

We have just made it back to Hanoi after saying goodbye to our project hosts, Kai the cutest child it the world, the cockrel that could not crow very well and sleeping on the floor! The project was a success and we completed the bridge on time and also levelled a road for the locals. They worked us hard, and the walk to the site and back to the homestays was tough but the end project saw us all pleased with our efforts.

On the last night, the locals put on a show for us, of which the whole village turned out for. We in turn were asked to put on some British culture. We sang the first verse of the national anthem (we did not know anymore) a bit from Sound of Music, Tom Sprinks led us in we will rock you and the girls danced a Hannah Montana classic "The ho down - throw down" Harry Carter has pictures of this which I am sure will cause great amusement to those back home. The evening was brilliant, with a disco afterwards (they only had three tracks which made a continual repeat for about 45 minutes) Good times!! We tried the local traditional drink and were greeted by the the leader of the village.

Rice has been our main food source and we look forward to eating something else. Just to warn parents, I think shopping lists of food will soon be coming your way, either facebooked, blogged or emailed and I am sure rice will not be on it.

Harry's toe is mended, the leeches however love his blood. Molly is fully recovered. Paddy has boots which are fully mended, Ben still has blisters, a decent beard and is still calling himself a lad. Paddy also had a haircut from a local for free (it's quite good)

We have also walked to the top of a waterfall, bathed in hot springs, been through caves, trekked through a river, walked through paddy fields, fallen down the odd mountain, bum shuffled down steep slopes, mopeded (Weeksey, Leah, Molly, Alice and Harry) through the countryside, and all heard Harry fart every night!!!!!!!!

We all look forward to the shower and comfy bed tonight. Sadly we are no longer off to Halong Bay tomorrow as a typhoon is approaching tonight and the boat trip company have cancelled it. We will explore Hanoi even more.

With love to all from a rather smelly set of travellers (but brilliant bridge builders!) xxxxxxxx

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

A little bit of news

Just to report, now that Mollys parents know, we had a Malaria scare in the group.Poor Molly was carted off to hospital to have a blood test, but thankfully she is fine and is on antibiotics for a gland thing, she is feeling so much better today. Leah had her ankle checked while she was there too, just soft tissue damage, she is very proud of her x-rays though! Harry has mammouth blisters so can't do too much walking but they are all in good spirits.
We have a car coming at 8am tomorrow to take us back up in the hills, we will be glad to be away from the fumes of the motorbikes. We will join them for lunch and then walk 8km's all together so we arrive at the project site as one. Those who are unable to walk will go by motorbike!
 I have just discovered that my trek shirt is still muddy even though I have scrubbed it several times since sliding in the mud like a break dancer last Thursday, so it was back in bath for that. I can't start the project muddy now can I! I would also like to report that I have really nice nails right now!!! They will all be gone by Friday.
It will all be quiet on here until next Thursday when we return. I want you, and everyone you know, to check the blog next Thursday as Kilpatrick and Weeksey have a bet on!!
Lots of love
Biz and Alice xx

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

From the trekkers

Dear All

Weeksey here, have managed to get a laptop from a local with internet access at our current homestay so thought that I would try and give a quick update before the power fails. Alice and Jayne have been doing a great job keeping you up to date with the brief contact I have made with them.

We are near the end of our trek, tomorrow we will be getting a van and then completing the final 8kms to our project site, where finally Alice and Biz will meet up with us again. Spirits are high with this on the horizon.

We have seen some amazing things, and all personally achieved much. The walking has been epic, with the blisters and bruises to prove it. Each night Tom Battye has cared for feet, compeed dished out and talc applied.

All are doing well. Harry has a bad blister on his little toe, though is enjoying sitting in the hamock currently with the mountain views and paddy fields behind him. Leah and her knee are fine, Ben has blisters but the tape is good and none of us have had any dodgy tummies. I took another fall the other day and now have a matching bruise on the other thigh - photos will eventually be posted (I am fine Mum and Dad - I have discovered I bounce off concrete and mountain cliff faces quite well - the crutchless shorts sadly have died - after several gaffer taping events they got to a stage where they could not be saved)

All the students have been great, are experts at puryifying water, washing thier clothes, cleaning dishes,keeping thier part of the room tidy so there should be no excuses when they return to home.

The food - the food here has been really good, and all of us have tried things we would never have expected to. Rice is with every meal (lunch and dinner) and finished with fruit. Breakfast has either been banana pancake or bread and laughing cow cheese wedges. However, each of us has ended up talking about what food we want when we have our first meal at home - mine is Spag Bol please (hint hint Mum and Dad)

The dreams - the dreams we are all having are pretty vivid - those of us on the malaria tablets maladrone are having quite surreal dreams (a side effect of taking them) which has caused great amusement over breakfast when discussing if the things we thought happened really did. For example, according to Ben, Lauren got up in the middle of the night, sprayed herself with Repel 100, announced this to the group, and fell back to sleep. Lauren and the rest of us are still unsure if Ben dreamt this or if we all slept through it.

The messages from home really do help us out here. THANK YOU!!!

We send our love to you all and miss home, though Nam is pretty cool!!! After Death Mountain, there is a sense that nothing can not be achieved.

Love Weeksey xx

UPDATE on Trekkers

I have just spoken to Weeksey on the mobile, she said to say that everyone is ok. There are some injuries and a few non-walkers now. They are all exhausted I beleive. There are NO dodgy tummies to report and the food has been fantastic along the way. They had Vietnamese style fish and chips for lunch today, not sure how that worked, probably with rice!!!
We are looking forward to joining them on Thursday. I will pass on all your messages of love and support to keep them going through the next leg of this epic adventure. We are back here online again next Thursday, hopefully from about 4pm ish our time. Pray it doesnt rain or we will have to walk 15km instead of 3km to pick up the mini buses. FB to the ready!!!
Love Biz xx

Not much today

Not much to report today, Alice is feeling a mixture of fed-up, too hot, homesick and sore shoulder! My mummyness is not cutting it today. I have wash some more clothes, for both of us, in readiness for our move early on Thursday. I was on the balcony and spotted a flip flop seller down in the street so i hot footed it downstairs and chased her, well followed really, and we started a conversation about the fact that I need size 10 and she only has 8's. I spotted a rather attractive looking english guy and suggested that I might borrow his feet to measure the flip flops for Ben. He, and his girl friend, were more than willing to help ( I am sure they thought I was barking!) I purchased the said flip flops, having decided that 8's were better than nothing.
Alice and I then watched Amazing Joe Young, a film about a rather plastic looking Gorilla, it was ok. We then had french bread and cheese for lunch. Alice is writing postcards and if it stops raining we will walk across to the post box, on the other side of the lake.
Just tomorrow left before we can rejoin the group. I spoke to Battye last night, everyone is more or less ok, lots of aching limbs and scrapes etc but in quite good spirits. They are taking some kind of transport for the majority of the last bit of the trek as I beleive it is similar to Thursdays terrain. They are now calling the mountain, "Death Mountain"!
All for now, speak soon
Biz xxxx

Monday, 18 July 2011

Weekseys famous gafa-taped trousers!

The rock climbing of treking day 2

Me and bizzle have been enjoying our lemon juices, finding them safe to drink!

Just look at the mud on our boots!

Our Luxorious Hotel!

Hello All!

Me and Bizzle are trying to upload some photos onto the blog today as I realised I brought a card reader with me! This photo is from the horrible second day, just look how steep it was! We the the water droplets on my lense just add to the authenticity of this place!

Today we had planned to go to the Musuem but after trying to confirm with the hotel attendant on where exactly it was, she told us that it's closed o Mondays and Fridays, so perhaps we will try again tomorrow! Instead she told us of a shopping plaza on the other side of the Lake, and so feeling brave we ventured out! After trying to navigate our way through the streets and across the roads (I have never missed English zebra crossings and traffic lights so much!) we managed to find the Lake and walk a little way round. We had hoped for an ice cream, how after reading the english translation of one flavour as 'Taro' we decided to wait until later and find a branded ice cream shop! We were also on a mission to find a post office (perhaps the one post office) in Hanoi, buy some postcards and some stamps. We found the post office coming to the conclusion that VNPT stood for post office here, and saw the one yellow post box outside so to post them we may have to venture out again. Although we couldn't exactly find 'the shopping plaza' we were in a more uptown district with air conditioned shops, selling more pricey stuff.. we also saw an Accessorise here, which is one of the first chain shops we've seen around. A lady nearby was carrying an IKEA bag and so maybe there might be a local one of them here too. We carried on round the lake, stopping for ice cream, I had the vietnamese version of a strawberry cornetto -definitely the safe option! Bizzle looked at some of the pots and came across a 'Rice Flake' ice cream pot.... deciding to stay away she too chose a berry sort of flavour ice cream (neither tasted much like strawberry, just a sweet berry general flavour) we hope that the rice ice cream wasn't a missed opportunity!
No news from the group walking at the moment, hopefully meaning nothing to report. Last time we spoke they were all happy relaxing at another homestay playing cards. We'll email Mark from True Adventure and try and get a message via the sat phone from them just to check in! They've had a couple of long days so we think they'll be pretty tired. When we join them on thursday we're hoping to take them some sort of treat from Hanoi, like some cakes of chocolate to eat that eveneing before we begin our project.
Will try and add some more photos of the Homestays and the Lake!
Much love, Alice and Bizzle xxxxx

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Alice and I

We managed to get 10 hours sleep last night which was much needed by both of us. Alice's shoulder is moving more freely now and her rash is going down. We have decided that it was an allergy to the mud!
Talking of mud, I washed all of Alices clothes in the bath this morning. I think half of Mai Chau was on her shorts and t shirt from Tuesday!! They're looking and smelling much better now.
We have watched Toy Story 2 and 3 and then ventured out trying to find Ben some flip flops as he only bought his walking boots. It would appear that mens feet only grow as big as size 8 here !!! Alice bought a skirt, then we came back in half cooked to go on FB etc. We have found somewhere different to eat later, and its not the place selling bbq'd baby chicks on the street round the corner - YUCK!
A strange man selling books would n't leave us alone earlier, we had to be quite stroppy with him. Everywhere we went he followed us.
We may venture to a museum tomorrow, it is quite a long walk though so depends on the weather and toilet requirements!!
We are both feeling more chipper today as have chatted on FB to friends and Baz phoned me last night, he was worried about me and wants to put us in a 5* hotel, just imagine! Need to stay here though as it has a been risk assessed and red tape firmly in place! I just love the Hilton toiletries though, oh and the pool! I think the rest of the group would be a bit miffed too as they sleep over cows, pigs, roosters, lovely toilets, shall I go on ??
I will sign off now and let you know if we make it to the museum tomorrow or not.
Love and hugs to all, Biz and Alice xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Saturday, 16 July 2011

A tough few days for all

We travelled to the start of our trek and received a roll and cheese triangle, some tuna and water melon for lunch, then we set off, straight up a hill. We were all gasping for air as it was so hot. A few moments later the lightening started and then came the rain, that was 5 days ago and its still raining now!!! All of our stuff was soaked through, but hey, thats part of the fun, we were told! First night in the homestay was interesting. The group was split between two. In my homestead we had Charlie sleep walking and talking, Harry with a reaction on his face, he was on fire! and me with several trips to the hole in the ground!! Cam fell through the floorboard but caught himself on the hand rail!
We had to change our route for the next day as the road was inpassable. We walked for 11.5 hours over the most horrendously challenging terrain I have ever experienced. Everyone did so well. There were many falls, scraps on rocks and general crying and swearing when it all became too much. Weeksey fell badly and has a massively black thigh and is now sporting crutchless shorts, kind of held together by gaffa tape, thanks Kilpatrick for that tip! Alice took a bad fall, she face planted the floor and we thought had broken her collar bone, but after two hospitals, a six hour car journey, getting stuck in the mud, I am glad to report it is just soft tissue damage, so she and I have been pulled from the trek back to Hanoi until next THursday morning when we will re join the group.
I have spoken to Battye, he says the group is happy and getting on really well with the job in hand.
Keep following the tracker and sending messages of support, it is really tough out here.
Biz (Jayne) and Alice xxx

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Hanoi in a day

Hey all Harry and Alice here!

We begun a day in and around hanoi today it has been INSANELY hot today, nice and sweaty! We began day with breakfast, i started thinking that i would have a omlette but too my incredable dissapointment it came out as a fried egg !!!! we then decided that  we would go out, we split up into 3 groups, our transport,  accomadation and food,!  in our group we decided to eat in a great street vending cafe we ate errm well we dont know excatly what we ate was nice! there are many different veiws some say it was a snake others a bulls penis but i still thought nice, after that we did a bit of shopping, it was nice to wander arround the streets and take in all the sights, sounds and smell ! ohh vietnam or hanoi isnt the most clean smelling country, i would explain it but i cant! we then went to walk arround the local lake, ben was fighting all his demons whilest all the locals tryed to sell him cigarettes. we are back now in the hotel, all relaxing in steam rooms of our own sweat! we will try to keep you all posted but we are going out on our trek this will take us 8 days to walk 100 miles!!!!! we are sending our love home and missing all ! xxxxx   

Monday, 11 July 2011

Arrived safe and sound

After a long and tiring journey we finally have reached Hanoi and are currently at Luxe Hotel. We have been out around the squares sampling the local food and getting to grips with crossing the roads and avoiding the motor cycles (all 3 million of them)

The hotel is standard, has air conditioning and comfy beds - which all saw us hit them at around 9pm local time last night. Bizzle and I fell asleep in about 5 seconds, two seconds slower than the rest of the group.

We have sung happy birthday to Charlie who turned 16 this morning and he has the honour of being our group leader for the day. We are soon to out exploring the city and get a better understanding of the local culture.

We are off to start our trek tomorrow and will not be able to up date the blog for about 15 days, so keep an eye on the tracker to see where we are up to. 100miles here we come!!!!!

With love to all, Weeksey and Biz and the rest of the TA crew xxxxxx

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Pre Departure Day

As we all met at Capron House Sixth Form block for the bag packing, team talk, team photo outside of Cafe Verdi (who have kindly given us some money to help with our project), distribution of safety kit and water puryfying liquid the nerves and excitement were high. So were the smiles....

Bizzle smiling proudly as she passes her bag check
To give you some idea of how much (or little) stuff we are taking, below is a selection of contents from various bags, the first one is Harry's...

 After Molly and Josie got thier bags checked...

 We then took a trip to Cafe Verdi for our group shot. The team at Cafe Verdi in Midhurst High Street kindly donated money to help with the project part of our expedition. 

 Before I go and greet everyone again at the airport (Heathrow T3 at 8.30am 10.7.11) I wanted to share the photo of Tom with his new shorter hair do! 
 Night, Weeksey x

Friday, 1 July 2011

Making a comment on our blog...

Dear Parents, friends, students, fellow staff members and the Boss!

We depart  in eight days time and I thought that I would post some handy hints on how to make a comment on the blog.(Just trying to help those who may be doing this for the first time... my parents being in that category!)

1 - Firstly click on the comment section at the end of a post...
2 - You then should have a screen which allows you to make a comment. 
3 - At the end of the comment box, you have a bit that says "Post comment as...". Click on the choices and then scroll down to Name / URL or Anonymous (this way you will not need to create an account or sign in and can make the name your choice)
4 - Then click Post Comment and you are done!

We all look forward to your comments, words of encouragement, snippets of what is happening at home / school / work and we will try and update the blog as often as possible. 

Night, Weeksey x