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Published: July 21st 2010
The trip from Hue to Hanoi was the longest leg of our trip in Vietnam yet. We left Hue at 5 in the evening and arrived in Hanoi on the outskirts of town at 7 the next day. Our first day in Hanoi felt like a big whack of bad luck, Scott was still suffering from his issues that started before Dalat, it took us 2 hours of wandering around the old quarter of Hanoi with a map of the area that looked as if it were made for another country all together (none of the streets lined up or matched what the guidebook was saying), we had originally planned to purchase our Chinese visa’s in Hanoi, and tried to get US $’s for this, but no one would sell to us except some sketchy looking woman outside one of the banks (probably fakes), and the best we could find for a room for the night, was only good for one night.
Hanoi relented our second day and we had much better luck. We found a nicer hotel room, in the area we wanted to be, we could have it as long as we wanted, and there was a free
buffet breakfast! (Hurrah for free food). We managed to get in contact with our travel agent from Vancouver and found out it was still possible to use part of our return flight to Vancouver to fly from Hanoi to Hong Kong (the return ticket was a safety precaution). We went to the Cathay Pacific office in Hanoi and scheduled our flight for the last day of our Vietnamese visa (for a hefty and un-reasonable fee). We also managed to find a hospital where our insurance was accepted and went to talk to a doctor about Scott’s problem. After 6 hours of waiting and two negative test results we were told it was nothing serious and given another prescription for a different pill. (Continuing good news of that is that they worked!! Scott is finally back to a regular pooper!! He can enjoy our free breakfasts with delight, hurrah!)
We spent a few days resting in our rather nice hotel room, Scott recovering from two and a half weeks (18 days all together) of mal-nutrition from... well I think I’ve brought it up enough, and me recovering from a brief bout of home-sickness (set off by Matthew Good Band’s ‘Beautiful
Midnight’). After a few days rest we booked ourselves onto an overnight stay in Halong Bay on a Junk Boat.
A Junk Boat, despite its name, is a rather luxurious wooden boat, anywhere from 2 to 4 stories some with very comfortable sleeping quarters and lovely decks with massive sails. There are hundreds of these boats in Halong Bay all going on tours anywhere from one to three days filled to the brim with tourists. Our boat was very nice, three floors, the bottom floor was lined with 7 cabins, the second had a very nice restaurant and bar area, and three more rooms, topped off with a nice sun-deck with tropical plants lining the sides. We spent two days on the boat, the first day cruising to the “Amazing Caves” which were jam-packed full of tourists, despite being out in the middle of nowhere. The first couple caves we went through were anything but amazing, smaller caves filled with so many people it was hard to see the beauty through the people, the last part was overwhelming; a huge cavern that took us almost half an hour to walk through, filled with coloured lights that accentuated how stunning
the caves were. After this we kayaked around the bay area where locals were living in floating villages which was quite interesting, and then back to the boat for some swimming and dinner. The second day was slightly un-eventful as we drove some of the people staying for two nights to Cát Bà Island before returning to Halong city where we caught the bus back to Hanoi.
One day left in Vietnam, we wandered around the old quarter a bit, stocking up on new shoes and making sure our bags were packed for the flight to Hong Kong.
We’re excited to be leaving Vietnam to start a new leg of our trip. We have been in South East Asia for just over 4 months now. We’ve had many ups and down, from hospital stays to explosive issues, being scammed and ripped off to finding ourselves completely lost in new cities, the ups have defiantly downplayed the bad times, trekking in the jungles of Chiang Mai, serene beaches in southern Thailand, The wonderful island of Penang in Malaysia, the majestic temples of Angkor, and the beauty hidden in the backdoor of Vietnam’s central highlands. We’ve met some amazing people
Old town Hanoi, Vietnam
a view over Ho Hoan Kiem lake
throughout the first 4 months, and tasted some truly amazing local dishes. We get the feeling that China is going to be a whole other ball game; a country so vast, so full of culture and life. I’m sure the next two months will have plenty of highs and lows for us, and will offer us a unique experience only obtainable in a country like China. We’re starting our journey in the very westernized Hong Kong before heading into Mainland China and working our way north to Beijing and then west to Tibet. As to what is to come, we can only imagine!
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