Motorcycle & Marine Madness

Trip Start Aug 22, 2012
Trip End Jun 16, 2013

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Flag of Vietnam  , Ha Nội,
Friday, February 1, 2013

At first we didn't like Hanoi, however, it did grow on us.  It is impossible to describe the chaotic madness of the city but once you hook into its rhythm it has a kind of curious charm that is quite compelling.

Wandering, or should I say dodge-walking, the streets of Hanoi for two days took us to some of the tourist sites including a memorable experience at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.  With guards snapping at us to queue here, march forward there, keep silent, hats off, hands out of pockets, we formed a solemn procession that passed by Uncle Ho's preserved body (that returns to Russia for 2 months a year to be restored). 

Here For a Good Time Not Ha Long Time
Ha Long Bay, in the Gulf of Tonkin, includes some 1,600 islands and islets, forming a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars. Most of the islands are unaffected by human presence because they cannot be inhabited.

Although cloudy with intermittent  rain, our 3-day, 2-night trip to the famous UNESCO world heritage site was really fun.  We stayed on a fairly small triple deck boat with 13 cabins in amongst a sea packed with boats of varying sizes.  One can imagine how magical this kind of trip was 20 years ago when your boat may have been one of just a handful.  Mary and I arose for a 6:45am Tai Chi class on the open top deck, then joined Jim and our fellow crew mates for breakfast followed by a long list of activities for the day.  Our favourite was kayaking to see a group of monkeys engaged in, what looked to be, a territorial fight across almost completely vertical cliff edges.  Their speed and agility was surpassed only by their evident strategy.  We sat in our kayaks mesmerized until a zodiac full of tourists hooting and hollering swept into the quiet bay.

Ha Long Bay, rain or shine, is an incredibly picturesque place.  We met some really nice fellow travellers on our boat, ate fantastic meals and enjoyed the surrounding scenery. 

Return to Motorcycle Madness

From the quasi-quiet to the noise of Hanoi was startling. Mary and I attended another cooking class, this time with Hidden Hanoi.  Being the only 2 in the class allowed us to ask lots of questions and dive deeply into the North Vietnamese cuisine.  Rendezvousing with Jim, the three of us visited the Women's Museum, saw a water puppet performance and found a local favourite restaurant called New Day.  Being with Mary and eating good food is an experience in itself as she is so appreciative of everything.  Every meal is 'the best food I have ever had!'. How can you not get caught up in that kind of enthusiasm?!

Sadly, this was our departure point from Mary.  Mary caught an early flight to Saigon to meet up with a tour heading into Cambodia while Jim and I ventured on a night train to Sapa in northern Vietnam.  Adios mi amigo!

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Sue Walker on

Oh WOW you guys are have an adventure of a lifetime. Lucky . We adore reading your blog and look so forward to the next.
Huge eastern Canada snow storm hitting all of us now Yes you guys in Halifax big time too (but NOT for you) lol
Enjoy your travels every place looks Amazing! Sue xo

Joanne on

hey all,
Incredible experiences, and I hope I will be able to benefit from the cooking lessons! Are all the women in VietNam as beautiful as the ones in the photos? And of course I include Donna and Mary in that comment.
A sunny, wintry Saturday morning here, and we are heading out snowshoeing. XoJoanne

Leigh Miller on

Fantastic pictures! Ha Long Bay looks much busier than when I was there!! And we couldn't do an overnight trip on the boat - it looks wonderful!! Enjoy it all!

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