Good Morning Vietnam

Trip Start Sep 03, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The first place we visited in Vietnam was Halong Bay, with its amazing limestone cast landscape, legend says that it was created by dragons descending into the water, well it looked pretty spectacular to me! We spend our time on a 'Junk' style boat exploring this World Heritage Site, the food was very good and apart from my cabin being next to the generator room it was very comfortable. As we sailed, what I can only describe as floating corner shops pulled up along side to try and sell everything and anything! We enjoyed exploring the 'Amasing Cave' with our guide who was most amused, and spent far to long looking at the penis shaped rock formation!! The sunset in the bay was beautiful and most of the group took the leap from the top of the boat into the sea, I chickened out, even with my new found diving prowess!
The next day we returned to harbour and the captain performed a miracle in parking, he parted a row of about 20 huge boats by pushing his right through the middle, Moses could not have done any better! We then headed for Hanoi. The first thing that strikes you about Vietnam is the amount of Red Flags Flying, from every fixed object their seemed to be a red flag with a golden star in the middle, it was colourful and patriotic. The second thing that strikes you is the amount of motorbikes on the road, carrying everything, including the 'kitchen sink'. I saw families of 5, numerous pigs (on one bike), washing machines, and even a double wardrobe to name a few...those bikes exploded any laws of physics you might have learnt at school, they are the work horses of a nation.
I think I fell in love with Vietnam from my first experiences, it was hectic, vibrant and alive. Everybody was doing 'something', it didn't seem to matter what. On arriving in Hanoi our first lesson was in crossing the road, our local guide told us that if we waited for a break in the traffic we would wait on the same side of the road forever. The technique in crossing was simple, take a deep breath and just step out into the traffic, walk slowly, at a steady pace and cross to the other side. After a while you even forgot about looking at the traffic, everything just seemed to flow around you, I even tested this out by crossing about 6 lanes of traffic with my eyes shut (purely in the name of research, and having had a 'couple' of beers), and I am obviously still here to tell the tale. The method certainly worked with motorbikes, but we were warned, four wheels or more and we had to be a little more cautious!
Hanoi was a great city, went to visit Uncle Ho in his final resting place, there were hundreds of local people and children filing past his body with us, making the pilgrimage to see him.
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