Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Halong Bay and Hanoi

I decided to take a sabbatical from writing on the blog. Mostly because I was busy as heck for a couple of months and, well, you know.

Last we checked in, I was on my way, via train, to Hanoi. I arrived in the wee hours of the morning and made bad choices in taxis. After thousands of miles of travelingI'm proud that this is the only time I've really got ripped off. Still, nothing like getting ripped off to make you feel like a real idiot.

My plan was to tour Hanoi and then head to Halong Bay for an overnight tour. Unfortunately I did not know that the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum was closed on Mondays. My hotel was great and was willing to rearrange my hotel room, and after a quick change of clothes and a spray of deodorant (not that it helped much) I was on my way.

We were packed into a tiny bus on the way there, with my feet up on a wheel well the whole time. Our boat, the Lemon Cruise, was nice enough, although a bit leaky (water pooled in the corner of the room, which was fun at midnight when my roommate came to bed). We had lunch, then cruised to a cave. Our tour guide took us through the cave, which was interesting, but not spectacular. Next was kayaking. They were very concerned I would hurt myself (fat people are very clumsy, right?), but I didn't. I could have kayaked for the rest of the day. Instead, we headed to the "beach". It was packed with tourists, dirty water, and there were little fishes in the water to nibble at you. Next came a sunset cruise, dinner, a lot of good conversation and some well-earned sleep.

 The next morning we cruised to Cat Ba island. It was pouring rain. We were forced to wait in the rain because the bus we were on was full of people and their stuff was on the seats. From there, my experience on Cat Ba island didn't get much better. The bus headed off to the town, with a stop at a national forest. I know my limits, and hiking in the rain is beyond it (on a good day, hiking is iffy). The hotel was the oldest one I've ever seen, although clean. I was nervous to walk around by myself. I also wasn't offered anything to do. No map, no suggestions. it was a bust. I spent the afternoon/evening power loading Bunheads and eating choco pies.

The next morning we got back on the boat and cruised back to bay. At least this bus ride I had an aisle seat by myself. I blew through my third Jack Reacher book. I was unceremoniously dumped in Hanoi (your hotel is down there, it wasn't). and finally found the hotel again.

I had to take a picture of this. It was a marble statue for sale at a rest stop.

An upgraded room, hot shower, and some seriously good food put everything right again.

The next morning I had booked an Urban Adventures tour, which ended up being a private tour in a BMW. Awesome.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. I just need Kim Il Sung and Mao Tse Tung to win dead communist leader bingo.

Like the shirt I got made in Hoi An?

The french governors house.

The Ho Chi Minh house

The Ho Chi Minh Museum. It was clearly financed by the Soviet Union.

The temple of literature

The museum of ethnology. Probably one of the most interesting museums I've been to. All about the different ethnicity's that live in Vietnam. Their language and culture. They even had a garden full of houses from different cultures.

I caught a water puppet show taht night, after the best KFC dinner I've ever had (my dad works for KFC, so I always stop at them wherever I go). I don't know if it was so good because I was hungry, or because it was really good. I hope the latter.
The water puppet show started with a dragon and a phoenix procreating. It was bizarre, but totally worth the no money I paid for the ticket (it was a gift from the hotel for the subpar experience in Halong Bay).

I slept in the next morning. My flight to Hong Kong was late in the evening, and I had no desire to do anything until it left. I should have lingered more, I got to the airport at 5 to find that the flight was pushed back from 7:30 to 9:30, because of a thunderstorm in Hong Kong. Also, there was no internets at the internet cafe (Homestarrunner always taught me that my internet comes in a bucket, apparently they had a hole in their bucket). It was a miserable few hours, although I finished another Jack Reacher book. And played lots of Candy Crush.
At some time in my life, I feel like I could have deserved this.
The flight was short and sweet, with tons of leg room. We arrived at the airport to the longest queue for passport control I've ever seen. Fortunately it went quickly. I grabbed a sim card at 7-11 and made it just in time to catch the night bus to my hostel by 3:30 am. Holy crap what a long day.

1 comment:

  1. you're amazing. can we do stuff in bangkok together before the search fair!? awesome


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