Ha Long Bay

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December 17th 2002
Published: January 17th 2018
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Laos to Siem Reap

The flight to Hanoi took an hour we then boarded a packed bus into the city which took about an hour, one female passenger nearly fainted. Arriving in Hanoi’s old quarter a Vietnamese passenger on the bus pointed us to a guest house, the room cost USD10 per night unfortunately the bathroom wasn’t good, and Mark slept on a mattress on the floor. Next day we moved to the A-Z hotel then wandered the old town, we visited a rooftop restaurant at the top of some rickety stairs that served snake spring rolls which were full of little bones and drank snake wine. Unfortunately, a group of loud Canadians came in and destroyed the vibe, so we headed off. Not much to do in the old town at night except for the little home run Karaoke bars located on every street which consist of a TV and about six chairs while the owner is the only one there to watch you sing not what we call a raging nightlife.

Breakfast at the A-Z was first rate as was their ravel desk which booked our flight to Siem Reap via Saigon unfortunately we don’t have enough time to see the rest of Vietnam. From the old town we walked around Hoàn Kiếm Lake (Sword Lake) visiting the excellent Hỏa Lò Prison also known as the Hanoi Hilton which has exhibits from the French colonial period, including the guillotine room, through to the Vietnam war and includes the interrogation room where many newly captured Americans were questioned is now made up to look like a very comfortable, if spartan, barracks-style room. Propaganda in the museum includes pictures of American POWs playing chess, shooting pool, gardening, raising chickens, and receiving large fish and eggs for food.

We went for a meal at the Little Hanoi restaurant and then drank beers before heading to a night club which opened at 9pm didn’t get pumping till 10pm and closed at midnight we were hanging with locals who paid for our drinks, when Heidi turned up for a while, Mark and I left around midnight and rode home on the back of the same taxi motorbike.

We left at 730am the next morning for Ha Long Bay although at times we didn’t think we would get there in one-piece, crazy drivers rule the roads in Vietnam, we stopped around half way for lunch and we got the same meal for dinner. Ha Long harbor was packed with tourist boats our fellow travellers exited the van and boarded our boat the outward journey to Cat Ba Island was through thick fog which limited visibility for most of the day. We made a stop at either the Thien Cung Cave or Dau Go Cave I can’t remember which before continuing to Dao Cat Ba.

On arrival at Cat Ba we boarded an ancient bus into the town then the seven of us headed off for a walk around the enclosed harbour, the town abounds with seedy massage parlours and seedy bars but has a Christmas flavour with lights set up everywhere. After the usual rice dinner we headed to the Flightless Bird Café run as you may have guessed by a Kiwi and downed a few Tiger beers. We are hanging out with a great group of guys German diving instructor Thomas, Keith from Ireland and few other Irish guys, we all get along so well and had a great time celebrating Thomas’ birthday. That night we visited a few mostly empty night clubs before returning to the kiwi bar.

Awakened at 545am it is time to go we said our farewells to our friends, there was no Facebook back then so keeping in touch rarely happened, we arrived back in Hanoi at 9pm that night.

Thinks after that went down hill lots of rude people in Vietnam and I got abused once or twice I told one little bastard to stop following us when he got abusive I told him to fuck off, 15 years later and these incidents are still remembered when everything else about the trip are distant memories. Later that day the guys arrived back from Ha Long and we caught up for dinner and a few drinks we agreed to catch up with Keith again when he comes to Australia (did just that the next year while he was living in Melbourne).

Mark is sick as this morning, a nasty case of the runs etc not great way to be when travelling on to a new country, we headed to the airport for our 1130am flight to Cambodia via Saigon, the flight left at 2pm, poor Mark slept half the day on the cold stone of the airports floor. Vietnam from the air if certainly a lovely sight, jungle, mountains rivers and emerald islands floating in the sea. We changed aircraft here boarding a 20 seat Fokker 70 for our flight to Siem Reap.

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22nd January 2018
Stunning beauty

Stunning beauty
It really is!

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