Hello ladies and germs! My god, I am hilarious.
Guys, please comment on my blogs. Mark gets all the love and I have resorted to begging. I will respond to anyone who comments with a personalized compliment and/or treasured memory about them that I would have otherwise kept to myself. Incentive!
We are in Hue, Vietnam now and today it reached 34 degrees Celsius. That’s 93.2 degrees Fahrenheit for those of you from the one country that refuses to switch to the vastly superior metric system (rhymes with Schmunited Shtates shmof Shmamerica). I’m not gonna lie, we are pretty gross and sweaty right now. On the plus side, I’ve been having freshly squeezed fruit juices daily in an attempt to cool down! Also, I procured some guava today, which is my absolute favourite fruit.
When we landed in Hanoi last week, it was much cooler. We had the foresight to arrange a hotel pickup from the airport, and there is basically nothing I like more than arriving at an airport and seeing a sign with my name on it…except for maybe arriving at an airport and being greeted by someone who is not paid to be there.
Our hotel was in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, which was right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city. Our first impressions of Hanoi were that it was like a slightly less chaotic Indian city. There was a lot of car/motorcycle dodging and noise, but we got used to it after a day or two. We had five full days there, and aside from one or two main sights, we mostly just lost ourselves in the streets and had some incredible food.
That last photo is of a 400-year-old, six-foot-long GIANT TURTLE displayed in Ngoc Son temple.
We took a half-day cooking class while in Hanoi, and it was fantastic. The menu was “Street Food” and included spring rolls and barbecued pork. It felt so good to chop some onions. It was almost therapeutic.
We knew we wanted to visit Halong Bay, which is about a four-hour drive from Hanoi. It’s a 1500 square kilometre area filled with over 2000 limestone islands. It was recently named one of the new seven natural wonders of the world and we had heard tell of its beauty. The most common way of visiting it is by taking a junk boat cruise through the bay. Because it’s such a popular tourist location, there are hundreds of companies offering this service, with an entire range of reviews and prices. We did hours of research and then just sort of picked one, but it turned out fantastically. This is not our boat, but it looked pretty much identical to this one:
This was our super schmancy cabin:
We were on the two-day, three-night cruise with 17 other travellers and a crew of about 8. Everyone on board was so friendly, and having the chance to have a bit of outside contact was really nice. When I travelled through Europe, many moons ago, a four-day gulet cruise through the Aegean was one of the absolute highlights of my trip, and I think Halong Bay will be right up there in our memories of this trip as well. The scenery was phenomenal. I have never seen anything like it and I don’t know if I ever will again.
The first night of the trip, we docked near a giant limestone cave and had a barbecue dinner surrounded by stalagmites and stalagtites.
The food and ambience were both amazing. They brought out course after course and each was accompanied by some incredibly carved fruit decorations. This is the very last one — it took the chef two hours to make and it’s a replica of our boat made from a watermelon and carrots.
The picture doesn’t even do it justice.
We did some kayaking, and would have gone swimming if it hadn’t been so cold and damp. Mostly we just gawked at the scenery — from the kayak, through our cabin window, from the deck of the boat.
We also visited a small floating village called Cong Dam and got to take a quick peek at the lives of the fishermen and their families. We visited the elementary school, which, aside from being only one room, looked suprisingly similar to an elementary school at home.
I won’t get started on the food, but let’s just say that it was some of the best food of this trip — and that includes our road trip. We were very lucky and happy. Plus, each meal ended with a plate of fresh fruit.
It was hard to drag ourselves away from the boat, but we have a lot to look forward to, including a two-day motorbike trip and some hardcore beach time coming up next!