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Evidence Based Travel A short 48 hours after finishing my last day on service as a med student, Matt and I set off for a SE Asian adventure. The first week is planned, and we have a return flight, but that's about it...wait and see what adventures await us!

Hanoi and surrounds

VIETNAM | Tuesday, 29 April 2008 | Views [381] | Comments [1]

After spending a few hot but memorable days in Chiang Mai, we traveled east to Hanoi. Our cab ride from the airport provided a great introduction to Vietnam driving. Vietnam has driving laws similar to other states, but these laws are more of a suggestion than hard fast rules. Swarms of motorbikes mixed with a few cars and trucks barrel into intersections with blinders on and dance through cross traffic with their horns blaring, and by miracle or skill everyone comes out unscathed on the other side. To throw another variable into Vietnam driving, pedestrians play a game of chicken as they cross streets. Pedestrians pick a slow steady pace and step into the street with their fingers crossed as motorbikes carrying at minimum 2 people (I have seen 4) dodge around them without hesitation. After we spent a day trekking about Hanoi seeing a few sights and trudging through a flooded street after an unusually long downpour, we elected to escape the huste and bustle of city life and head for Halong Bay. We booked a 3 day trip aboard a renovated "Junk" with a few other people from the States and Europe. While in Halong Bay, we spent time exploring caves, kayaking, swimming, and trekking on Cat Ba island. Those few days allowed use recharge our spirits before we continued our trip through Vietnam. We originally planned to work our way South through Vietnam upon returning from our boat tour in Halong Bay, but we elected to make a quick pause in Hanoi before taking a night train North to Sapa. Sapa is located near the China/Vietnam border in the mountains. When we arrived at about 8AM in Sapa it was about 20 degrees celsius, quite a change from the mid 30's to 40's we had been experiencing in other parts of our trip. After finding a room overlooking the valley for about $7, we spent two days hiking to neighboring Hmong villages. The minority people make their living farming and selling handmade crafts to tourists. Their selling tactics are aggressive but done with a smile on their face, which makes it hard to say "no". After our two days in Sapa, we again took a night train to Hanoi to continue our trip South. Onward to Hue and Hoi An

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Hello-
My husband and I are on our way to Asia next week. We planning to stop in many of the same places that you have been. What company did you use for the Halong Bay cruise? I have heard about some really good, and really bad ones. Any suggestions?
Angela
Minnepolis, MN

  angelabuffjohn May 30, 2008 1:27 AM

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