I spent Christmas Day in Halong bay, about 3 hours from Hanoi. I went on a boat trip amongst the beautiful landscape, and exploring some large
caves in the area. I even swam in the sea before dinner (a very cold swim!). There was no traditional Christmas dinner, but a delicious sea food feast for lunch and dinner. We stayed on the boat overnight, and on Boxing day I got up early to watch daylight settle on
bay, and it was really peaceful surrounded by the dramatic landscape. As the boat took us back to the port, I sat on deck watching it all go by; the scenery was changing every second because there are so many rocks on the horizon passing each other. After a lovely brunch on the boat, we headed back to Hanoi.
Another day trip from Hanoi took us to the 'perfume pagoda' near 'Ha Tay'. After a 2 hour drive from Hanoi, we boarded a very small boat and were rowed down a beautifully serene river, for about an hour! I felt sorry for the man rowing! Again, it was a beautiful landscape and a calm river. Pink lilies reflecting in the water, and
some people washing from their boats or farming as we went by. We pondered these people's lives out there on the river bank in the cold countryside and marshy land.
The perfume pagoda area contains 100 pagodas, but the weather was so cloudy once we had gone up to the top in a cable car, that we couldn't see very far at all. We just visited the perfume pagoda in a cave. It was nice, but for me the boat ride to get there was more special than the pagoda itself.
After returning to the village via the boats again, we drove the 2 hours back to the polar opposite surroundings of Hanoi, during which I was the English teacher for the tour guide most of the way, he was very amusing though and had some good lines!
Random facts from the tour guide: Hanoi means city inside the river. Halong Bay means descending dragon.
Back in Hanoi, we went to a lovely restaurant for dinner by the river and strolled back to our hotel.
On the 28th December we departed Hanoi for Siem Reap! Here are my last impressions of Hanoi I noted at the
Originally Hanoi was exciting and bustling....now the horns and the traffic are driving me a little crazy! The incessant tooting! Absolutely no logic on the roads! Waling around Hanoi you have to look left and right for traffic or random obstacles like people cooking on the pavement or women carrying fruits, you have to look down for piles of rubble or holes in the ground, and small trenches for the rain water...then you have to look up because it's actually interesting! There is nice architecture and tonnes of wiring along the street amongst the trees. Then, there is a tonne of shops that catch your eye, and general Hanoi life to observe!
You definitely need your wits about you!
Source: Travel Blogs