Hello family and friends, we're having a blast and hope you're doing great as well. Friday, January 25, 2008
There are many places to visit in North Viet Nam but everyone says go to see Ha Long Bay, one of Viet Nam's natural wonders. Thu Ba had bought a tour for the three of us and the tour bus picked us up early Thursday morning for a four-hour bus ride to the harbor on the Pacific Ocean. From there, we boarded a two-story ship to head out to Ha Long Bay.
Ships going into and out of the harbor
Lee at Ha Long Bay
Thu Ba, Lee and Bo at Ha Long Bay
Ha Long Bay
After our ship had traveled around the Bay for a short while, the Captain docked the ship on the side of a mountain and our guide led us on a climb to one of Ha Long Bay's caves. The one we explored is called Serendipity Cave. It is high up in the mountain and very big inside.
Boat ride to Perfume Pagodas
After we came down from the mountain, a lunch was served and then we headed for the boat ride and van ride back to Hanoi.
We asked the driver to drop us off at one of the old quarters section where the Midnight Market has been set up. It was crowded and so festive.
On the way to Ha Long Bay, we were served a delightful lunch on the ship while enjoying the scenery. Ha Long Bay consists of crops of massive limestone rocks sticking above the water. It's said that from the air, it looks as if a dragon has landed upon the water and its body is partially submerged. Hence the name Ha (descending) and Long (dragon).
As our ship got closer to Ha Long Bay, we were amazed of the various shapes and sizes of the rock formations and the way nature has formed this place. The weather was cool and misty and that added to the heavenly aspect of the scenery. Obviously, my pictures do not reflect what we saw with our own eyes at all.
One of Ha Long Bay's caves
Climbing the cave gave us a major workout. Following the cave expedition, we stopped at a fishing village for refreshment then headed back to Ha Noi. It was a trip worth taking.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Today, we took a trip to Perfume Pagodas (Chua Huong). These are a group of Buddhist temples located in a remote area south of Hanoi. To get there, you would have to take a two-hour car ride and a one-hour boat ride. All of this can be arranged for you by one of the tour companies. The tour van picked us up early at the hotel again and off we go.
To see all the temples in this area, it would take three days because all the temples are on the side of the mountain and you would have to climb up to one temple, back down to the base and climb up to another. Today we would only see the main temple. Luckily, they had just finished installing a tramp system to allow people to get to the main temple in less than ten minutes. This beats an-hour climb.
The main temple is located inside a mountain cavity and I just don't understand how people were able to build the structures back in the 1800's. How did get the materials up the mountain? How many people were involved? How many lives lost? It was just so awe-inspiring.
I am posting a series of pictures for you to see.
Hanoi Tet Midnight Market
We walked around for hours then went to a restaurant for dinner. As I mentioned before, everything is so cheap. Our excellent steak dinners cost us $4 each. We made some new friends, had some drinks and called it the night. It was an excellent day in Hanoi. Tomorrow we will fly to Hue to see Lee's grandmother. I will post again in a couple of days.
(Written January 26, 2008)
The foods were in full displayed. If you're hungry and want finger foods, here is the place to get. Oh and don't forget the whiskey with a baby cobra in it.
Breads and sweets
Vietnamese cobra whiskey
Bo and Lee with Arthur from Montana and his friend.