Back in Hanoi (2)

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March 4th 2008
Published: March 5th 2008
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We have been up since four so decided to go down to the lobby at 6 and update the blog and transfer photos. So I have been sitting here typing away and just did save and got the dreaded message -- there has been an error. Oh well. Now I will do save every line or so. I am trying to remember what I wrote so that I can write it again.

We went on a 2-day trip to Halong Bay. The weather was perfect and very clear. It is supposed to be very misty at this time of the year. We sailed around the bay -- there are limestone rocks sticking out of the water and it is very beautiful. Micha didn't want to stay on the boat -- even though I saw the cabins and they were quite nice -- so we stayed on Cat Ba Island. We were with an Indian guy working in Hanoi and a Swiss exchange student studying in Singapore. We all paid different prices for the trip. The Indian paid the most (nearly double) and we paid about $10 more than the Swiss guy. The Swiss guy chose 2-star, we chose 3-star and the Indian chose 4-star. We all ended up in the same hotel, in rooms next to each other. The rooms were quite nice and we had a lovely view of a brick wall. We missed the sunset because the van ran out of petrol. A guy on a motor bike turned up with a bottle of Sprite filled with gas but it wasn't enough as we were parked uphill so he had to go back and get more. The next time he turned up with two bottles of Sprite and that did the trick. We are meeting lots of nice people. For some reason we didn't really talk to anyone in Laos. In Vietnam, we are much friendlier. I was really looking forward to the food here -- there are supposed to be over 500 dishes but I think they added two extra zeros and there are really only 5 dishes because we seem to get the same food all the time.

We spent another night in Hanoi and then joined a group tour to Tam Coc which is supposed to be "Halong Bay on the rice paddies" and it is really. The weather was sunny but not very clear so I don't know if the photos do it justice. The whole area is rice paddies and seems very poor. Also seems to be a lot of pollution. They lost two-thirds of their rice crop in the cold spell so they are all out in force planting rice. They grow it in nurseries next to their homes and then transplant it to the paddies. They spend the whole day up to their thighs in mud, bent over in the water. What a life but they seem to be happy people. I am uploading some photos to picassa and it is taking ages. I am hungry so will eat breakfast and maybe later write some more. I hope nobody grabs the computer in the meantime.


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