Last day in Hanoi we walked to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and saw the changing of the guard, unfortunately a lot of that site was closed on a Monday. I then had my first experience of a Vietnamese barber who was a really friendly guy (with a great top-knot) and he did pretty much what I wanted - who knew there was a chin under there! We walked round the botanical gardens which were OK, but a little tired, and we found some outdoor gym equipment to have a very brief work out/play!! We had a few drinks with a really nice evening view of the lake and the red bridge before we boarded our overnight train to Hue. It was actually quite nice as we had a 4 berth cabin to ourselves, the only problem was that we didn't get into Hue until after 2pm when it was originally scheduled for around 9am - apparently there was some flooding in the night which delayed our arrival. We had to eat what we could find on the train, the Vietnamese version of the pot noodle was actually alright!!
8 days ago
First full day in Hanoi and we had breakfast overlooking the Hoan Kiem lake a great start to the day. We walked to Hoa Lo prison, trying to dodge the enormous amount of scooters a lot of which were parked all along the pavements. The prison was built by the French and housed the Vietnamese communists in horrendous conditions during the French reign. Later we went to Com Pho co for food which was really good we had the set meal which only cost about 4 pounds for 5 courses, total bargain. On the walk home we saw the market by night and the old city walls.
The farms also cultured pearls which they made into jewellery and sold at a shop at the village, it took a lot of will power for Laura to resist a purchase!! The boat then cruised back to shore where we disembarked after a brilliant 3 days, the little slice of luxury was absolutely worth it!
9 days ago
First evening in Hanoi after returning from the bay, a nosey round the very busy night market (including skewered potato spiral) and a few drinks on "beer corner" where everyone sits out across a crossroad on small stools drinking Hanoi beer. On the stagger back home we found Laura a fetching new hat!
Dinner was 9 courses, so no danger of going hungry! The next day we had some relaxing time and then went on a longer kayak trip around the bay, through some awesome caves and eventually landed on a beach that we had all to ourselves for a bbq. Again the food was excellent and in great quantity! After swimming and relaxing we returned to the boat which took us to Thien Canh Son caves that we could walk into which was pretty cool. In the evening we had a good laugh talking with a German couple (Bastian and Anika), we set Bastian some food challenges for when he visits the uk! The last day we visited a floating fishing village which was interesting, they had moved out of living in the caves about 50 years ago and now had fish and oyster farms - the government provided the floating houses, whether or not the locals were happy about that at the time we weren't so sure.
13 October 2016
A bit of luxury to start our time in Vietnam, with a 3 day cruise around Bai Tu Long bay. We were picked up in a fancy minibus which gave us some hope for the rest of the trip, and we weren't to be disappointed. We met Steve and Lynn on the bus who were from Australia, a lovely couple who we are hoping to see when we visit Noosa in a couple of months. We drove to a small village called Yen Duc where the locals welcomed us with a water puppet show, they showed us how they made rice without modern machinery and they treated us to a really nice 7-course lunch! We got to Ha Long and met the rest of our crew, before boarding Dragon Pearl 1. The facilities and accommodation were really impressive (better than most we'd had on land), and we set sail out into the bay through the hundreds of islands. We anchored for the evening and went out into the sea on kayaks, I think we have a bit of work to do on our kayaking skills!