Monday, May 5, 2014

Hanoi and Ha Long Bay

 Finally, Hanoi! The third and final stop of my Vietnam adventure back in January. During our stay in Hanoi preparations were being made all over the country for the lunar new year. Signs and flowers were abundant along walkways and parks.

Bike full of blossoms, to go!

Bundles of bouquets! 

Selling cherry blossom trees on the street for the new year. I felt a little bad for the tree, but I guess it's like a giant bouquet. 

I love the flower vendors on bikes!

Hanoi knows how to pho. We wandered around the streets near our hostel looking for groups of locals sitting on tiny plastic stools, a good indication of delicious street food being near. We finally stumbled across a busy corner with different chicken parts displayed and fresh noodles being cooked on the sidewalk. The man behind the pieces of chicken asked us if we wanted "chicken soup", so we sat down and were promptly given giant bowls of noodles and broth. It was Pho-tastic.
Fresh noodles!

Hanoi was less warm than Ho Chi Minh and Hoi An, but still perfect for walking around and people watching. We enjoyed playing "Spot the strangest thing you've seen on a scooter" and spin offs such as"How many people are on the scooter?".

Family of four, straight ahead!

Many song birds are placed outside of businesses for good luck. 

Stuff on a stick kept sizzling hot by a stove right on your table.

To order, simply place what you want into a basket and then hand it to the workers in back to be cooked through before being placed on your table.

While we were in Hanoi we decided to go see the famous Water Puppet Theater since it had so many reviews. It was kind of neat to see such an old tradition performed in water but over all it was far too touristy. I would not recommend going. Maybe I'm just jaded from modern special effects and being raised on Jim Henson , but these water puppets were not for me. I found the folklore of the stories charming, but they went on and on. The live musicians were quite talented, but overall had an appearance of being bored and disinterested. It was an experience, so if you choose to go, go with low expectations.

We decided to take an overnight Ha Long Bay tour through our hostel. It was a really great experience to sail through the limestone karst formations and explore the caves and islands of the area. 
My cabin for the night.

Cabin buddies!

Look at all the GEOLOGY!

"Hello! Excuse me miss, you buy something?"

Just when you think you've left all of the street peddlers and vendors behind because you are in the middle of a bay, these ladies ROW up to try and sell you junk food and drinks. You gotta give them an "A" for effort.

Floating village in Ha Long Bay.

Going to the caves!

Can you see the "Back of man" ?

The "Front of man" is far less subtle and lit up to remove any doubt.

Twilight on the ship.

Our tour guide also serenaded us with his guitar skills.

I could get used to traveling like this.

Diane napping like a boss.

One of the boats in the harbor was on fire when we returned to land.

We spent our last day in Vietnam walking around Hanoi. We checked out the botanical garden, which was really more of a park with a couple of sad animal cages. It was still nice to walk around and enjoy each others company.

This girl!

Even I think I'm weird.
Phew! Finally finished with the Vietnam posts! Now I just have a month of the Philippines and Thailand to catch up on... I'll see what I can do between job searching and resume updates.

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