Friday, January 26, 2018

Ha Long Bay

The overnight train going back to Hanoi was a lot more comfortable than the one going to Lao Cai. This time I slept on the top bunk. It was a real challenge for me to get up into it, John captured it all on video and thinks it has the potential to go viral on the internet.

We arrived in Hanoi at about 4:30am and then went back to the L’Heritage Hotelwhere we had an area to clean up and wait until breakfast opened up at 6:30am.

My legs were stiff and sore from all the trekking the day before.

At 8:15am we were picked up by a coach that took us to Ha Long Bay to catch our two day cruise in the bay. There were 24 people on our cruise. It was a four and a half hour drive to get there on a coach designed for smaller Asian people.

There were 24 people on our cruise from Argentina, Korea, France, USA, and Pakistan. Our boat was intimate with amazing views of the famous Karst land formations of Ha Long Bay.

I noticed that at one point our captain was driving with his feet.

Once we were checked into our rooms, had lunch (large and delicious) and traveled into the bay the captain stopped the boat. It was cool out, but we still all changed into our bathing suits (with jackets overtop) and went kayaking in the bay.

We landed on a quiet beach. Unfortunately, I got stuck in my kayak and had to be hauled out by John and one of the other guys.

The water was cool but I got in with the rest of the group....ok, I only got in up to my waist and only stayed long enough for the obligatory picture. John went in all the way and had a short swim.

Back on the boat, we had ginger tea, shrimp chips and fresh fruit before consuming a very large supper.

We were all pretty tired so we went back to our rooms and let the boat rock us to sleep.

Cora and I joined some of the group for a Tai Chi class at 6:30am. Breakfast was at 7:00am and by 8:00am we were on a tender heading to some caves. At the landing, a lone female dog walked up to people and stared at them with the saddest eyes. She was quick to jump back if you came too close to her.

We walked up and up some steep steps into a cave. The inside was quite dramatic with one rock formation that looked like a dragon coming out of the roof.

We walked through to the other side where there was a wonderful view and on the return, checked out the beach. Dramatic scenery everywhere you looked.

Back at the boat we had a seminar on how to cut veggies into a flower bouquet. I’m going to have to try doing that when I get home.

We then learned how to make fresh spring rolls. I am getting quite good at it with all the practice.

After lunch we headed back to the dock and boarded the bus for our 4.5 hour drive back to Hanoi.

We went to Hong Hoai’s Restaurant for the Hanoi specialty of fried pork with fresh herb leaves and bean sprouts wrapped in lettuce leaves. Delicious. And a bottle of Vietnamese wine...not quite so delicious.

To walk off the food we went to the night market near the lake which was blessedly blocked off to the chaotic Vietnamese vehicle traffic on weekends.

I tried on one of the traditional Vietnamese dresses which are obviously designed for the tiny Asian figure. Suffice it to say, it was not a good look.

The area around the lake was packed with activity; dance classes, skipping, bamboo rod jumping, pavement board games, hacky sac games and vocal performances.

Walking back to the hotel was scary with the crazy drivers, endless motor bikes and honking horns.

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