Monday, 13 October 2014

OCTOBER 2014 : VIETNAM : Day 16 : last morning in Hanoi


Last morning in Hanoi. Just a lazy stroll around the Old Quarter and around the lake. First stop a small cafe, enjoying all the early morning activity, sipping on an avocado smoothie.



Some locals caught our attention




Gardeners exhausted and asleep ... and it's only 10am



Wiring disaster


On the central lake, Hoan Kiem Lake, is the Confucian temple complex of Ngoc Son, with attractive entry gates, bridge and peaceful island setting in the middle of the chaos of the city.





Leaving the city you can see a 40 km mosaic mural,which was completed to commemorate the 1,000 years of the establishment of Hanoi city by the Ly dynasty.



PS Throughout the past two weeks we have been hearing elevator music, particularly Love Story, Dr Zivago, Fur Elise etc (even to the extent of being piped around Hoi An streets) and Mark came up with the culprit's name, Richard Clayderman. Was he still alive, whatever happened to him, we wondered? Walking around the lake this morning, our question was answered. He's alive and well and about to tour Vietnam - probably the only country who still remember and value his elevator-style music over and over again.



OCTOBER 2014 : VIETNAM : Return to Hanoi


Our return to Hanoi from Halong Bay and last night in Vietnam.

Returning  to Hanoi we saw al lot of activity in the rice paddies with manual and machine harvesting. Rice was laid out in front of shops all along the highway, drying.



Tall thin houses are the norm. Room for several generations on a small block of land.


Our rest stop was at a large commercial operation for the disabled - many suffering the affects of Agent Orange. There is marble carving, embroidery and lacquer work, all produced on site. Many of the workers live on an adjoining compound and earn a reasonable wage. And yes, I did buy something. I think it's stunning!




Some interesting fellow travellers


We met our representative from Indochina Voyages, Quyen, whom we've been dealing with for about a year. A small company with customer service their priority. 


Nightlife around our hotel



Hordes of locals and tourists out to sample delicious street food.


Small trishaws for rent for children.


Propaganda posters from bygone days.


Caught just outside our hotel. No sales all night. I could make his lucky day. So I did.


View from the Cao Go restaurant on 6th floor of a non-descript building from the street level. Every floor has a different type of cuisine.




Sunday, 12 October 2014

OCTOBER 2014 : VIETNAM : Days 13, 14,15 : Halong Bay Cruise



The final part of our tour was a 3 day cruise in Halong Bay. We cruised in Bai Tu Long, in the outer sections of Halong Bay. We went on the Dragon Pearl 2 with Indo-China Jumks and we cannot recommend them highly enough. First and foremost, the weather was perfect and the cruise itinerary worked like clockwork but with a fine balance of activity and relaxation.

Our boat had 17 guests on board, mainly young couples - Australian, French and English and 3 very eligible Norwegians.

Our cabin with hotel standard ensuite and view over the stern.

 A comfortable upper deck for lazing during the day and at night.

The galley


Our exceptional guide, Wang. Passionate about his job and improving the Bay's environment


We were mesmerised by the thousands of Islands along the route.

Loved the kayaking and swimming

Activities like visiting a floating village. They have been encouraged to care about their environment recycling rubbish, collecting water in blue barrels, Kambala (a girls' school in Sydney) has provided funds to establish a school and resources and as well as fishing, the community has established a successful pearl business.

We were ferried around the area by local women in bamboo boats by the slimmest of women.








We had excellent meals but the piece de resistance was a candlelit dinner in a limestone cave.





We were fascinated about life in the bay

And loved the sunsets...



Two very happy travellers