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Experiences in Asia

From Halong bay to Hue

VIETNAM | Sunday, 4 December 2005 | Views [7609] | Comments [9]

Here I am on day 30, which also coincides with my Brother's 25th birthday. Happy birthday John! I have just got off a 12 hour bus ride from Hanoi to Hue, which is in the centre of Vietnam. Here's what I have been doing for the last few days - I haven't stopped!

For the past five days or so, I have been in a group of four- Ian (who will leave for Korea in a few days - good luck!), two Dutch girls, Nina and Eveline, and myself. On our last night in Hanoi we went to see the water puppets at the theatre. These are unique to Hanoi, and are really impressive. They were created hundreds of years ago as entertainment in the villages during the monsoon seasons, where many areas flooded. On stage there was a mock vietnamese traditional house, with a courtyard that was full of green water. The puppets danced and swam in the courtyard, being controlled by their operators from behind the house. It was really well thought out and at times dramatic. There were dragons, cranes, fish and human puppets. My favorite scene was the two cranes who danced together. At one interval, they dove into the water, to be jouned later by an egg. They then sunk the egg, only to be joined by a baby crane - it was really skillful puppetry, and along with the excellent band, a great way to spend a few hours.  

The following morning the four of us were up early to get picked up by the tour bus to take us to Halong bay. By midday we were on our boat that would sail us through the thousand or so beautiful mini islands. Our boat was fantastic, and was far too luxurious for backpackers! We had paid $55 each (everything included), but from the state of the boat, and the very nice hotel that we stayed in the following night, we should have got a cheaper option and roughed it - however, I'm not complaining too much!

There were only 12 of us in our tour, and soon the boat was moored and we were jumping into the ultra blue lagoons, swimming around and having a great time enjoying the scenery and relaxing on deck. After a few hours we were given Canoes, and were allowed to canoe to the various mini islands (some are very small, taking just two minutes to walk around). We canoed through caves and to beaches before heading back to the boat for some lunch. After messing about on the beach, we had dinner and did a spot of star gazing before hitting the sack.

The following day we sailed to an island to do some trekking and to enjoy the views. Then, it was back into the water for more of the same. In the evening the boat dropped us off on the island of Cat-ba (sp?) which unfortunately, reminded me of Rhyl! It seems as if they are just starting a big push into tourism there, because they are building new hotels and what not. The only thing that seemed to be missing was a few tourists. We got into a bar at 10pm to find it largely empty. After a few beers and a chat with our excellent tour guide, we went back to our plush hotel, as we were up early the next day to get back to Hanoi.

The only downside to the trip, and, if I'm honest, Vietnam as a whole, is the attitide of some of the middle aged men around late 20s upwards - they are so rude and have appaling manners - On the boat more than once we had shouts of "you, off"! in slightly threatening tones. I have also seen this behavour from a bus driver to a lone female traveller - it left a very sour taste, but I think we had the last laugh when we tipped our guide (who was excellent) $10 or so, leaving the others empty handed.......... ah, capitalism!

And so to yesterday - I had a goodbye dinner with Ian and the Dutch girls (perhaps we will bump into each other again, who knows?!) and at 7pm I got on the open tour bus for the 12 hour ride down to Hue. You might remember Hue as the fictional setting for the finale in "Full Metal Jacket", where the female VC sniper takes out some of the charaters of the story. Over by the citadel there still stark evidence of US bombing, and I am going to check that out in a minute. The bus that I took was a bargain. I bought an open tour for $20, and I can get off and on where ever I like, all the way down to HCMC (Saigon). It's so cheap because it's subsidized by the guest houses that it stops by along the way. I have also managed to score a decent guest house for $4, so I am happy.

One final thing about Hue, and Vietnam as a whole - the government has banned the sale of chicken and eggs due to bird flu. There are huge signs (in socialist the style) warning about bird flu, and I can't get an omlette anywhere!

Tags: Adventures



Am still following you on the map - sounds absolutely amazing - I think you'll have to get a job with Lonely Planet after this trip !!! Keep safe - loadsaluv M xxxx

  Marg Dec 4, 2005 8:38 PM


Hi Dan, First of all happy Birthday for Wednesday! Second, I'm actually in Hue. Well not really but I am where Stanley Kubrick filmed it! It was near Canary Wharf in London. Take care M

  Martin Dec 5, 2005 11:30 PM


Hey Martin, I thought it was filmed in the Philipines (or was that 'Platoon'?) - Kubrick did a good job there then- Thanks for all the comments, & say hi to the family for me...!

  dan_in_japan Dec 6, 2005 5:43 PM


Dan, No the final scene with the sniper was filmed in Becton Gas Works!

  Martin Dec 8, 2005 3:56 AM


I had travel with Vietholiday travel.com in Vietnam. It was a wonderful holiday in Vietnam. They gave us very good guides. We had a fantastic experience from Hanoi to Halong Bay, Hue city and Hoian in Central part and the Mekong delta as well.
Thank you mr Luu from Vietholiday.

Bermuda Kerill

  Bermuda Kerrill Mar 2, 2007 6:30 PM



We are going on a boat tour tomorrow at Halong Bay but are interested where you got your $20 open ticket to HCMC? this is just what we are chasing but can not find any tourist info centre here in Halong City.


  Tully Marwick Jan 3, 2009 5:20 PM


Wow, can totally not remember - did my trip almost 3 years ago! I'll try and find the card of the hotel I stayed at though....hopefully be in touch!

  Dan Jan 3, 2009 5:39 PM


Thanks, we will try at a local hotel (a flash one) and see if they can help as we have been unable to locate any bus stations....
wish us luck!

  Tully Jan 4, 2009 2:22 PM


Hi Dan
We would love to do a trip like you did in Halong Bay. Do you remember with whom you had booked the USD 55 trip?
Thanks in advance.

  Lilian Jul 18, 2011 5:13 AM

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