We landed in Johor Bahru after a great time in Borneo. This was our second time in Johor Barhu, but this time we came for the specific purpose of visiting Legoland as we promised the kids we would do. Legoland Malaysia opens at 10 in the morning and closes at 7 pm and guess what? We stayed all day!
Callum’s favorites at Legoland were the Star Wars exhibit (of course) and the Lego Robotics Centre where Paul and Callum won the robotics competition. Callum attributed the win to all the practice he had when him and his buddy Rodi took a Lego Robotics course last summer.
WARNING!! Some kids may be freaked out by a couple of the pics below so parents please have a look first to be sure.
After a few days in Johur Barhu, we headed for Hanoi in Vietnam. In Hanoi we stayed at the Chezlinhlinh Homestay with Thuy, her husband and 3 daughters. We had a lovely stay with this family and they went above and beyond to help us get situated in Hanoi and Vietnam.
The Homestay was close to a little lake that offered a quiet area to walk and get away from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi. In the evening the lake is used by young lovers who park their motorbikes all around the lake and share a moment together. So Cute!! We loved this spot and headed here once or twice a day.
Ok, so we head to the “old city” of Hanoi and as soon as we cross the street a local lady hands me her load and hat for a photo-op. Well, I think this is all kind of cool and we are all having a laugh while Paul takes my picture. Of course after the photo is taken, they want us to buy some pineapple and as we r haggling I hear Lydia say, “dad, he has my shoe.” I look down and sure enough, Lydia is only wearing one shoe. Turns out, a man figured the shoe needed repaired and he took it upon himself to do so. I see him working on Lydia’s shoe and go over to tell him “no” when Callum pipes up and says, “that guy took my shoe mom.” So now both of our kids have only one shoe and Paul and I are running back and forth between the two shoe repair guys trying to get the kids shoes back. In the end, we did get the shoes back at no cost to us and I only lost my cool a little bit!
We headed to Sapa in the Northern reaches of Vietnam on the night train. We had our own sleeper cabin with 4 bunks. Once we arrived in Sapa we had a quick breakfast then headed to the small village of Lao Chai.
We were so lucky, as on the day we arrived, the local villagers, the H’Mong people, were holding a festival that only happens for one day, once a year.
Another tradition that occurs during this one day festival is called “pulling a wife”. A man can pull any unmarried woman he wishes and take her to his home. He will keep her at his home for three days and during this stay, he will try to convince her to marry him. At the end of the three days, he will take the woman back to her family and ask permission to marry their daughter. The woman also gets to decide if she wishes to or not. On the day after the festival, we learned that one woman was pulled. I guess she is quite beautiful and has been pulled twice before. Sadly, We will never know if she said yes or no as we had to carry on with our travels.
Rice wine stewing in the pot, pork on the grill, and some 5-color sticky rice all amounts to a fine lunch. After spending the day at the festival we walked up through the rice terraces to our homestay.
The next day we said good-bye to our homestay family and trekked through the rice terraces to another village called Giang Ta Chai of the Red Dzao people. Our volunteer trekking companions were two lovely ladies that were 50 and 70 years old. Just a wonderful pair of ladies and we very much enjoyed their company while we hiked.
After trekking around the different villages we had a couple of days in the township of Sapa. As you can see from the pic, the weather here was much cooler than everywhere else we have visited thus far and we even had to pull out our coats. Kind of nice to cool things down for a few days.