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One traveller's day-by-day account of a year-long journey through Japan, China, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, America and Canada

time for the Champions' League final). I booked on a tour to Sapa, a beautiful region high up in the mountains in the North of Vietnam and home to a number of hill tribes.

I shared my sleeper train compartment with a couple of guys from Eastbourne. As a kid I'd been on a few family holidays to Eastbourne, and we all fondly recalled the wonderful attractions the town offered for about, oooh, three seconds. I had cunningly brought along four beers for my compartment buddies to break the ice, so we sat, drank and chatted as the train lurched its way slowly up to the station at Lao Cai.

Day 112: 23rd May
The Village People
The flag of Vietnam

Sapa, Vietnam

Glad to wake up in one piece. In the night I had been woken quite a few times by the train making what seemed to be emergency stops. Perhaps the driver needed to stop for a piss, or a bowl of noodles. Still, that's no excuse to apply the handbrake as viciously as he did.

The Eastbourne guys were travelling independently, and I regretted booking on a tour, once again feeling constricted. The kid gloves treatment you get on a tour might be