You can leave luggage behind at our Hanoi hotel and pack an overnight bag. It is a three-hour drive to famous Ha Long Bay, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of Vietnam's most spectacular natural wonders. Views of sailing junks navigating past over 3000 limestone islands and rocky outcrops jutting out of the bay are nothing short of spectacular. We travel to Bai Chay (Halong City West) where we board a boat for an exploration of the bay, enjoying a seafood lunch and dinner (non-seafood also available), as well as spending a night on board. We visit one cave in the area and, in the warmer months, there is a chance to enjoy a swim. Conditions may be somewhat more communal compared to staying in a hotel, however it is a wonderful experience to be spending a night on the bay – weather permitting, the views at sunset are incredible. Bedding and towels are provided. All boats used by Peregrine have twin-share cabins with en suite facilities and air-conditioning. There may also be the chance to do some kayaking (optional and extra cost involved) on Halong Bay.
Today is Friday and we are back in Hanoi after a two day sojourn to Ha Long Bay, UNESCO World Heritage site. Last night we bid farewell to our hearty group of traveling friends. We also received word that the proceeds of Worrall Wind are in the bank and our beloved boat is now in the hands of new owners. This is the first time in 4o years we have been without a boat. Feels both sad and for Russ liberating.
We just finished breakfast, Russ's is off to mail some packages at the post office so that our luggage for South China Airlines is under the 20 kilo max. Our taxi arrives At 10 and then we are off to the airport and Nepal. Our Indochina adventure is ending. Viet Nam has indelibly left an imprint in our memories. The rice paddies, gardeners, quaint shops, wonderful food, Buddhist Pagodas, historical sites where so many of our Americans died in an attempt to prevent communist take over of Viet Nam, and the craziest traffic we have ever seen.
Millions of motor bikes and cars vye for space and ignore laws. In Viet Nam green light means go, yellow light means go, and red light still means go. Why there are cross walks, one can only wonder, as pedestrians have no more right away here than anywherelse, which is basically none.
Motor bikes don't make 90 degree turns on cross streets, they start a block away moving into the on coming traffic to make the turn, and if it is too busy or one way street, they pop upon the side walk. Honk, honk. Horns are continually sounding to warn others to get out of the way.
We've learned to cross streets in horizontal lines, walking slowly and deliberately forward with mo quick movements as the traffic gauges our moves and weaves around us. I gave up watching our bus driver passing cars on narrow two lane roads with obvious oncoming traffic. It was too disconcerting so I sat farther back and tried to ignore all of his weaving, and horn blasting. It is truly an amazing feat to have survived the traffic here. Definitely and adventure.
We've learned much and appreciated our local guide's candor and knowledge of the country. He was very small when the war was over. His father was in the South Vietnamese Army and left when the Americans pulled out. Today his mother and older brother and family live in Texas while he makes his home here in Viet Nam with remaining siblings, his wife, and children. He dreams of sending his two small daughters to America to study when they are a little older. He wants them to broaden their perspectives beyond the politicized history and limited freedoms in Viet Nam, today.
We leave for our next leg of our trip, but not without sharing some of our photos of the last few days. Fortunately or unfortunately the weather was foggy and we did not get the stunning photos of greens and blues one would expect in travel brochures. Instead we captured the silhouettes and layers of the craggy limestone mountains in an ethereal mist.
|On Our Way to Ha Long Bay|
|Artist at Work - We bought a an embroidered piece just like this one.|
|Junk Passenger Port|
|Boats in the Mist|
|Captain Russ Couldn't Resist a Pose by the Wheel|
|Gliding into the Mist|
|World Heritage Caves|
We spent the afternoon kayaking in protected bay, but first we had to glide through a cave opening
|Monkeys jumped from rock to rock, and swung from trees.|