Halong Bay

Trip Start Jan 31, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Saturday, August 13, 2005

I just got back to Hanoi after an amazing trip to Halong Bay. We lucked out with the weather because the day before we left the trips were canceled because of a typhoon.

I spent a few days in Hue and then took an overnight bus from Hue to Hanoi (14 hours). It was much better than the last overnight bus ride though. This one was filled with more people but I bonded with Michael, the only other traveler on the bus, which made the time go by fast.

Our pee breaks were interesting though. The first one was just on the side of the highway - no bushes or anything. Although it was dark, the headlights from the cars were lighting up the side of the highway where 30 people were squatting or standing and peeing along the road. Then at about 5am we stopped at a place where they had men's and women's bathrooms but we had to pee in a communal trough. I think the side of the road was a better option. That's the first time I've seen that.

Michael and I got a cheap room in Hanoi and spent the day walking around the Old quarter of the city. Lots of motorbikes and horns. There is a nice lake in the city which was walked around in the afternoon. That evening we went to a water puppet show which was very cultural and interesting.

We found a cute restaurant called Little Hanoi, which served amazing, roll your spring rolls with carmelized beef. We are going back there tonight.

The two of us did a two day trip to Halong Bay. We got on a boat with about 14 other people. The scenary was beautiful with all the large rock formations in the bay (thousands of them). We stopped at a private beach to swim in the afternoon. We spent the night on the boat which was a bit hot. The boat wasn't in the best condition and our fan didn't work so we slept with our door open but we managed to get some sleep anyways. This morning we sailed around the Bay and anchored the boat to swim for a bit before heading back to land to get lunch. We then had a 3 hour bus trip back to Hanoi.

The scenary was spectacular. We stopped at a cave the first afternoon which was enormous and thankfully very well lit. (Much better than my caving experience in Thailand up in Chiang Mai in February). We sailed through fishing villages where hundreds of locals live in small colorful (mostly green) houses which float on the water, in the middle of the bay. It was very scenic and relaxing on the boat.

Tonight I'm taking an overnight train to Sapa in the north where I will do some trekking for a few days before I come back to Hanoi.
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