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L&L On the Road Lars & Louise on a world-sampling tour

Pulsating, bubbling, buzzing Vietnam

VIETNAM | Wednesday, 13 January 2010 | Views [880] | Comments [1]

Where the Dragon Descends into the Sea

We ended up celebrating the holidays in Vietnam, and as a little Christmas treat to ourselves we took a two day tour of Halong Bay, sleeping on the pretty junk boat ‘Oriental Sails’.  A tour is by far the easiest way to experience this wonder of nature, although you may have to stomach overly keen tour leaders who want to play road games and what-not with the passengers of the bus over to the bay. That’s four hours. Lars and I are not really big fans of forced socializing, but we did find another couple wincing as they had to 'tell the group a little bit about themselves', and they became our dinner partners and accomplices, on the cruise and later on in Hanoi as well. We actually ended up having a really great time, although the tour guide might have felt slightly left out…

Halong Bay was just beautiful. The tippy landscape looks a lot like the Chinese landscape around Guilin and Yangshuo, only, here it’s set on water. These mountain-islands where according to legend created by a clumsy dragon who tried to go for a swim and messed up the earth in the process. We can only say thanks! It was a bit overcast when we were there, but it was still breathtaking. We used kayaks to reach hidden lagoons and we awed at the caves and grottoes. We also did a tour of one huge cave with tons of lime stone art, and we visited a little fishing village. Besides this, we partied with our tour group on board our junk! And Lars had his first swim of this world tour of ours in the emerald waters of this lovely bay. He claims it was warm. I didn’t and still don’t believe him!

Stitched Up

After a few lovely days in Hanoi we took the night train to Hué, which is a lovely relaxed city in central Vietnam with a really nice ol’ citadel. After a few uneventful days there, we took a bus to coastal town Hoi An, a “ well-preserved example of a Southeast Asian trading port of the 15th to 19th centuries, with buildings that display a unique blend of local and foreign influences”, according to UNESCO. Spot on we’d say. It’s like stepping back in time! It’s a very, very charming town with cute houses alongside the river, lovely little restaurants and a beautiful beach 5 kilometers away. And smack full of tailors - some very average and some very good. We tried out both, and now have little packages on their way back to Sweden and mummy’s storage. 

We had planned on staying two days in Hoi An, but as the holiday feeling struck we ended up staying a week and celebrated New Years here, which was absolutely lovely. Most days we borrowed bicycles (again, some average and some good) from our hotel and - with our lives at risk, seriously! -  ventured into the think fog of Vietnamese motorcycles and scooters on the road to the beach, energetically trying to defend our right to exist by ringing our cheerful bicycle bells. Don’t think they noticed… It was a beautiful ride though, the little we saw of it that is – we kept our eyes on the road and just occasionally glanced at rice paddies, beautiful rivers, creeks, fields and bridges. 

Hoi An is also a culinary treat with loads of delicious local foods, like awesome shrimp dumplings called white roses and a noodle dish called Cao Lau, which can only be made with water from the Ba Le well situated in town, so you’d have to come here to try it. And why not, the town has got it all. Food, beach, shopping – and culture. It’s not far to the ancient Cham city My Son, filled with eerie ruins. We went up at four thirty (this was the only morning it didn’t feel like we were on holiday…) to be there when it opened, before the busloads of tourists arrived. And it was worth it! Plus we were back in town before our hotel closed down breakfast, so I still got my insanely delicious banana pancakes!

 

 

--(@

Louise

Comments

1

Glöm inte hälsa på oss när ni reser genom Tyskland!

  Ulrich Streckfuß Jan 21, 2010 11:56 PM

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