April 4th and 5th . . .
Upon arrival into Hanoi at 5 am after our overnight train, we were greeted by darkness and light rain. Everyone in the train berth still sleeps. I peer out through the mottled window looking for signs of life. Hanoi is not only awake, but an outdoor market that covers several blocks is already bustling with commerce. The train slows. We had yet to see any existence of blue sky while in Hanoi. This is not necessarily a bad thing since the cloud cover minimized any excessive heat and humidity. We have had minimal rain throughout our time in Hanoi - the weather has been in our favor for venturing off in this big city.
That same morning, after breakfast, we headed off to the Northeast coast of Vietnam - the historical and UNESCO World Heritage site - Halong Bay. Our 3 1/2 hour journey consisted of a freightening introduction to the Vietnamese highway. No description could paint the picture of such chaos. Motorbikes on both sides of the road, heading in opposite directions. Cars and bicycles as well. Motorbikes having anywhere from 1 to 4 persons per motorbike. Bikes transporting large cages
full of ducks, or pigs, or dogs, or other animals or items. Add to this a regional bus service that competes for customers. The bus that arrives first wins the customer. The continual passing of buses, trucks and cars. A highway built for two lanes conforms into three lanes. The larger vehicles - work trucks or buses - have the loudest, most annoying horns. Horns blowing in a continual non-rhythmic pattern never cease. The larger vehicles are on top of the totem pole, bicyclists are on the bottom. The highway system is suicidal. None of us who experienced this would disagree.
There were only 7 of us on the designated Chinese
junk boat owned by the
company. The Bay was filled with boats, hundreds of them. The peace, the beauty and the serenity came later as we coarsed our way closer toward and through the maze of massive limestone rocks that jut up toward the sky - there are thousands of these islands.
We were all treated like Kings and Queens, continually served. Fresh seafood for lunch - squid, crab, clams. Even Mom stepped way outside of her comfort zone and cracked open the crab set before
Kober at the base looking upward.her during one of the meals - almost all seafood. Nothing but fresh and downright excellent seafood.
We all shared lunch together and we had the opportunity to get to know the Australian couple whom joined us on our overnight boat cruise. Both were of Ma and Pa's age.
The afternoon consisted of sailing, kayaking and eating into the evening. The boys stayed up for a little night fishing. Only Martyn caught something - a squid.
The next day we continued our cruise with a stop off on one of the islands where there resides a very large cave. This provided the opportunity to walk through the cave - up to 45 minutes.
After the cruise, we made our 3 hour suicidal drive back into Hanoi. A free night to enjoy Hanoi.
I am continually spoiled by the daily consumption of Vietnamese food. I had no idea how good the food would be.
Source: Travel Blogs