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Published: October 30th 2015
Flight to Hanoi was uneventful. Arrived on time, not bad through customs and our guide was there to get us to the Sofitel Metropole. We had been told we were upgraded and the way the guide was extolling his abilities to get us the upgrade had me very suspicious. We had been told earlier that the old wing was the more characteristical and historical wing. On the way Ng was saying it was better than the new wing which was just too modern and no atmosphere. On check-in we discovered we were really in the new. However it was Le Club floor where you had a perosnal butler to assist you, free cocktails, free canapes, etc. practically all day. The room was fantastic. Took off walking through the old town and saw amazing ways of doing business. Saw hostel rooms for $5 which included free beer. I think our 5 star doesn't have the same economic value. Back to the hotel for free cocktails and food. Then out for dinner to Ly Club. Back for an early bed since we had been up for 36 hours plus.
Picked up at 7:45 am for a 4 hour drive to Halong Bay.
Interesting countryside and the driver must have trained with James Bond as he dodged scooters, buses and transports all the way. The 2 lane highway became 4 lanes regularly as everyone blared horns and passed with reckless abandon. Did not need to be reminded to put on seatbelts.
Now we were anxious to see how the upgrade on the boat turned out. Again we lucked out. Instead of a boat with 30 to 40 passengers we had a boat with 6 passengers and at least 8 crew. We were in the balcony cabins instead of the first floor outside view cabins. Another excellent upgrade. If you ever go to Viet Nam you must do a boat cruise in Halong Bay for at least 2 nights. We wish we had chosen 3 or 5 nights. So beautiful, so relaxing, so amazing. We were treated royally, saw wonderful natural sights and everyone was so friendly. Except - on one of the floating villages there were 2 women having an all out screaming match. No idea about what and our guide pretended it wasn't happening. Our guide took us through caves as big as the Carlsbad caverns, swimming in bathtub warm water,
biking to a commune villaage on Cat Ba, kayaking through tunnels and into secluded bays. Meals onboard were very good and we even had a cooking class for Vietnamese spring rolls. It was sad to leave this morning - such an idyllic place.
Now we are on the road to Hanoi and should be back in an hour. Internet in this van is excellent but the driving is again like a contest to see who can jockey through traffic the best.
Tot: 0.028s; Tpl: 0.015s; cc: 9; qc: 23; dbt: 0.0068s; 1; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.2mb