Hanoi will be 1000 years old in 2010.
We checked into our 2 star hotel and headed for breakfast. We were forced to walk down the street because the sidewalks were used for motorcycle parking and the odd speeding motorcycle (both directions...)when the street gets too crowded... We dodged cars, motorcycles, cyclos, and bikes along with other A four block walk/dodge brings us to the KOTO (Know one Teach one) restaurant.
This is yet another endeavor supported by Intrepid Travel. This is a training restaurant for local street kids to learn to work in the food industry. The breakfast was exceptional. The service was tops. Dave even got a cappachino! This was an "off" day and most of the tour group hung in their room recovering from the all
night train ride. We on the other hand headed off to look for a new camera. Ours is getting ready to crash (Someone left it outside for 2 nights in 2 rainstorms, i won't mention any names, but the initials aren't DLH). We didn't find any deals so we bought a battery charger for our camera to replace the one that we left plugged in the wall in Bangkok. We are so camera inept!
On the way back we toured the Fine Arts Museum. They had a fine collection of some very old pottery and sculpture dating back to the ninth century. Most of the contemporary art was focused on war. Sadly, I guess that is the predominant factor in this countries history. We walked/dodged our way back to the hotel and hung out in our room for the evening.
The next morning we're on the bus for a 4 hour ride to catch a boat. We arrive at the dock in HaLong Bay in the late morning. We are heading out on a luxury tour ship. We all get private cabins with full amenities. The ship is brand new! We are the first customers. Slowly the anchor comes up and we zigzag our way out of the harbor. A delicious lunch is served on white table cloths. We lounge around like a bunch of beached whales for a while then head up to the bridge to check out the captain's bridge. Dave takes the wheel just to show them how things are done on Freebird... Soon the hook goes down and we head to shore in the launch. Trekking up the hill we find ourselves at the entrance to the Hang Dau Go Caves.
The more we explored the more we realized how big this cave is. That's why they named it Surprise Cave. After a few hours we headed back to the boat for some swimming. Dave finds the only jelly fish for miles and decides that maybe a beer on deck would be more beneficial. As the sun set we went up on the top deck and watched from lounge chairs. A late dinner was served.
Afterwards, some folks decided to try out the karaoke set up...We headed for that nice cozy cabin....ZZZZZZ
The next morning we had breakfast on the way back to the harbor where our trusty bus was waiting. The four hour trip back to Hanoi was broken up at a pottery studio where Judy scored some kewl stuff.
That evening we had our farewell dinner with our guide Thanh. He took us to a little place where we went up 3 flights of stairs and had a little dining room to ourselves. Good food! Thanks Thahn for a great tour!
We wandered the streets for the next few days on our own. We toured the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Uncle Ho is loved by all Vietnamese and you can go in and actually see him laying there resting in peace.
On our last evening we went to the"water puppet show" where we watched puppets bounce around in the water to the tune of live classical Vietnamese music. Very beautiful to see.
The next morning we caught a cab to the airport and the ride was over. We enjoyed 21 days of Bangkok, Cambodia and Vietnam. All in all it was one of our most memorable experiences. Thanks for coming along........