Halong to Hanoi?

Trip Start Sep 16, 2012
Trip End Oct 08, 2012

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

After we went to bed last night we were woken around 1:00am buy some loud banging noises, vietnamese shouting & the junk swaying violently. Apperently we were hit by a typhoon & I think the tender had come loose from the junk & the captain started the junk to manouvere the
junk to get it. It was pretty scary as we looked out the back window & saw the rocks appear to be getting closer & closer as more shouting & banging & the tender banging up aginst the junk. Di was literally on her knees praying at one stage as she was that scared, I was thinking about the best place to swim to. Anyway, after an hour or so, the storm had passed & the tender was tied up so we went back to sleep & woke to a beautiful morning.

I was hoping the coffee man may have been up early, but no, so again we waited it out until he appeared at around 8:00am. We had some free time before breakfast for a swim if we wanted but I decided not to. Someone had a bright idea the night before that we to wear our Komodo's to breakfast as to which we all did & enjoyed our last breakfast on the junk. After breakfast
we all went up to the sundeck for some group shots. We were then asked to return to our rooms to pack our stuff & vacate the rooms around 10:00am & return the keys.

The junk set sail to Hon gai harbour around 10:00am as we chatted & swapped emails addresses & talked about the trip, it was a great group of people, very relaxed. Paid my bar bill which I think was around $80 for the 3 days. We enjoyed another huge lunch as we sailed in hon gai harbor ready for disembarkation. We boarded the tender around midday & taken ashore to the Indo-china-junk office & waited for our buses to return us back to Hanoi.

The halong bay trip on the Dragon Pearl has certainly been the highlight of our trip & will live long in our memories. Indo-china-junk are a great company & we can highly recommend their services. Their junks go to the less crowded area of Bai Tu long bay & halong bay so are less
crowded. We actually booked our trip thru an agent (Darian Culbert) which turned out to be a little cheaper than dealing with them direct & Darian was professional in all our dealings with him. Halong Bay is certainly a must see on any trip to Vietnam & we are glad that it’s ticked off our bucket list & for anyone thinking of going, don’t think, just book it. If time allows, book a 3d/2n cruise as it’s a long way to travel just for one day. For all my Phuket friends, Halong Bay is Phang Nga bay on steroids. Halong bay is a truly beautiful place.

I still don’t understand how the Indo-china-junk busses work but most of us were on separate busses back to Hanoi with other people who had been on overnight cruises. It was another long drive back to Hanoi & the road had not improved in the few days, did the stop again way where we had to hunt around in Di’s purse to find some AUD to exchange as I had spent all my
dong in anticipation of not taking any Dong out of the country tomorrow as its worthless once you leave Vietnam. We scrounged up $9AUD to exchange but had to settle for $5 as they wouldn’t accept coins, which was more than enough to get us some water & a mars bar each.

As we headed back to Hanoi, the bus driver amongst all his mobile phone calls suddenly held his phone up & said Darian Culbert (our agent) wants to speak to you, it was a wtf? Moment!!. So I grabbed the phone & Darian asked me if I was available to meet him at our hotel at around
6:00pm, I reluctantly agreed, not really sure what he wanted, but as it turns out he wanted to give us a gift of gratitude for using his services. So when we met back at the hotel we had a chat of how the trip went & he gave us a beautiful Vietnamese tea set from a pottery village which Di absolutely loves & will feature in our abode when we get home.

Anyway we arrived back at the Hotel around 5:00pm after  the bus driver took a bit of a detour to
deliver something to his wife in Hanoi. We were welcomed back like old family friends at Hanoi Elegance diamond & given the same room but on a different floor, our suitcases were already in the room waiting for us as was a special treat for us as I previously mentioned in an earlier blog.

Di wasn’t feeling well & went to bed around 7:00pm so I just ordered some room service, Nem Hanoi & a Hamburger, the Nem Hanoi at Hanoi elegance are delicious, & a couple of beer hanoi’s.

This is my last blog from Vietnam as we travel to Phuket tomorrow, Vietnam is a fascinating country, we have obviously only seen the Northern part in Hanoi, Ninh Binh & halong bay & in a previous blog probably said we won’t be rushing back but I am warming to the idea of
returning one day to see more of this country & the South. Visitors are flocking to Vietnam more & more, which means more tourist dollars, where there is tourist dollars you will find greed & unscrupulous people where ever you go in the world, something we all need to be aware of. I did fall for the Vietnamese donut sting which goes like this, Donut seller: "You want donut?" Me(being partial to a donut or 2): Yeah why not? How much for one? Donut seller: “20,000 dong” Me(Being schooled in these things): Haha, no way 3,000 dong no more Donut seller: “Ok you buy for 5,000 dong” Me(not bother to squibble over a few cents) “ok”. Donut seller(puts 4 donuts in a plastic bag): “20,000 dong” ME: “cheeky B@3ch only wanted 1” but I laugh it off & hand
over the dong. I’m sure she had a laugh as well.

Used my 28 Degrees Mastercard for withdrawals in Vietnam with no problems, any Australian looking to travel overseas really should look at using this card.

The weather for our 8 days in Vietnam was hot, or bloody hot with a bit of a haze in Hanoi on some days. We are both happy that we got to experience a little of Vietnam.
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