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Water Puppets and Birthday in Halong Bay

VIETNAM | Thursday, 30 July 2009 | Views [799]

We had a lovely lunch with Darren and Steph in a non-profit making restaurant called Ko-To which trains young, disadvantaged children to work in the restaurant industry and it was fabulous! They were all very friendly and attentive, and then we had to complete a survey about our experience. It was great to catch up with an old friend on the other side of the world! We'll meet them again in Bangkok!

After this we visited Hoa La Prison which was built and used by the french to house Vietnamese prisoners in harsh conditions, and later it is where the US prisoners were kept - according to the information in the prison in much better conditions!

Later that afternoon we took a group cyklotour of the city and went to the water puppet show. This is a good opportunity to describe the traffic system here - there isn't really one! The traffic flows (normally using both sides of the road and in no formal lanes) down the street. I don't know why there are traffic lights either as very few people stop at a red light! The traffic does move fairly slowly and when you want to cross the road you just cross, moving slowly and the traffic avoids you! It's an experience, and on the way to Ho Chi Minhs mausoleum our guide (Hoang) stopped at the first main road and waited for us all to get together before crossing with us all and was waving at the oncoming traffic! I thought it was hilarious! Darren said that when he first arrived last year that he stood at the side of the road for a very long time before admitting that he couldn't cross and went back home!

The water puppets were strange but nice to see, and are a Vietnamese tradition which has to be seen! I'm glad the performance was only for an hour though!

Then on the morning of the 29th, we got up early and it was my birthday! We had breakfast at a charity organisation on the way to Halong Bay and met some of the children that the 'Blue Dragon' is helping here and it was lovely to see. Some of the children speak English, and they all learn so we could talk to them and find out something about them. Then we went on to Halong and boarded our boat just in time for lunch. We had a wonderful lunch with various courses of seafood and meat and rice and it was superb! It just kept coming....

After lunch we went to see these huge limestone rocks out in the bay, there are about 2000 of them, coving almost the same distance in km/sq. We visited some caves and then had a swim. Very interesting were the people on small boats going between the tourist boats selling drinks and snacks at cut prices to what the boats sell them for! Very funny, and then they pass the goods through the port holes!

So the end of my birthday was beautiful, sitting on the deck and watching the sun go down and then enjoying another wonderful meal and some drinks before going to sleep on the mirror like sea, in our perfectly furnished cabin.   

Tags: caves, halong bay, ko-to, traffic, vietnam roads, water puppet

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