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Rea View Searching for warmth and calm

Northeast Vietnam

VIETNAM | Thursday, 6 December 2007 | Views [462] | Comments [1]

Hanoi is a buzz of bleeping motos and a flurry of activity everywhichway!  We loved it.  Nestled down a narrow alley tucked 5 floors above the street, we come and go to the streets below for superb 50cent Pho and the fun of it.  Everywhere in Vietnam the French have influenced the architecture, and in Hanoi it's at it's showy best.  In the midst of the moving masses we arrive fashionably at the opulent Hanoi Opera House, by motorcycle, for a surprisingly wonderful mix of Puccini and Figaro, Rachmaninoff Piano recitals, and Tremendous modern dance to the Brandenburg Concertos! 

The tours are so cheap to Halong Bay that we couldn't resist. 3 days for $45 each was a bargain, especially when you see how the moto mafia extort the individual travelers that arrive there!  The cruise to Cat Ba Island wanders through the 100s of karst hills scattered throughout Halong Bay and the captain exposes his patience with a lazy afternoon pace.  Cat Ba is a tangle of jungly hills.  It's quiet, calm and instantly likeable.  The island bus escorts us to Cat Ba Plaza in Ben Bei, and we are delighted to find our hotel spotless and the only one in the bay!  Beautiful oceanview from our $10 room (included in the $45!) just over the hill from Cat Ba harbour.  With an hour to spare we hop a couple of motos to the nearby beaches where only a handful of people shine in the sun...wonderfully peaceful.  We totally surprised ourselves by climbing to the top of the island for panoramic views across the hills and bays.  

The classic junk picked us up for a night on the water with a boatload of French people, and as the evening unfolds we gaze from the rooftop, islands and stars drifting by...and from one conversation and beer to the next...peel away to the maritime slumber below. 

We abandoned the tour bus halfway home at Haiphong, and after a dodgy transport ripoff scene eventually light in Ninh Binh.  It's a bit crude at first, Ninh Binh, but we end up 4 floors above the veggie and fish/meat (including dog parts...ewwww) market which teems with excitement and provides much colour to our stay.  The haze was thick enough for us to abandon plans of cruising the river amongst the limestone hills of Tam Coc, and instead we took to the streets for wonderful pho (noodle soup) and many "hellos".  We liked Ninh Binh after a couple of days but on the bus to Hanoi we experienced yet another attempt to extort money from us! 

We're becoming fans of Vietnam Airlines now...tehee tehee.  Flights are cheap and they treat you nice.  So off we go from Hanoi to Danang to shave a 13 hour journey down to 1.  Niiice.

Tags: On the Road




We will be going to Hanoi in January and are looking at joining a Halong Bay tour. Which tour company did you go with?

  felix_and_stephanie Dec 20, 2007 7:00 PM

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