Mystical Ha Long Islands and Motorbike Madness in Hanoi
19.11.2013 - 23.11.2013 15 °C
We flew into Hanoi from Hoi An with no problems at all! Worth the £60!
Hanoi appeared to be the cultural capital of Vietnam! Despite the city now being very built up, it still has old french colonial buildings and the old quarter definitely has a definite charm. A great place to explore on foot, so we started with a stroll around the lake...
Temple in the middle of the lake..
Old Quarter, with its busy streets and markets
Statues and Memorials
Next stop the Hoa Lo Prison... Yes Terry loves his History and Prison Tours!!! This prison was used by the French colonists in Vietnam for political prisoners, and later by North Vietnam for prisoners of war during the Vietnam War. Also known as the "Hanoi Hilton", the prison was demolished during the 1990s, though the gatehouse remains as a museum.....
After a long day of exploring the city (old and new) we relaxed with a coffee in a cafe, taking in the buzz and culture of the city... and watching the chaotic traffic as vans, cars, bikes and pedestrians fought it out on this roundabout!!
Ha Long Bay
Usually we manage to pick out good hostels but this particular one was horrible. The staff (Tony) pretended to be your friends whilst ripping you off on a Ha Long Bay tour. Needless to say we didn't book our tour with them, but with the lovely Anna, in Anna's Booking Office.
Ha Long Bay Island Boat Trip
3 days 2 nights for $85 per person including all meals and accommodation.
Our Lovely tour guide 'Dinh' picked us up from the travel agent at 8am before a 4 hour bus journey to the port.
Once at the boat we took a short speed boat ride to our 'Fantasea boat'. Our boat was lovely, nice dining area, good bedrooms and even a sun bathing deck (shame there was no sun)....
We took a slow ride through the bay whilst a huge and delicious lunch was served before we stopped at our first point: the cave..
The cave inside was massive... and in true Vietnamese style every shape in the rock was named after something...
Guess what this one was....??
The view from the caves was amazing..
Back on the boat, we studied some of the magnificent scenery.... thousands of beautiful limestone islands.. until we got to a look out point... After climbing the hundreds of steps - the view was well worth it... (just a shame the sky was so grey - not quite the postcard perfect picture but with a more mystical feel)..
Close to dark about 4.45pm we got on yet another speedboat which took us to the kayaking station. ..
We kayaked under the islands and around the bays until it was dark..
After a first brilliant day, we showered and had a few drinks, and waited for dinner.
Dinner was something else.... plates and plates of food just kept coming... and the presentation was amazing!
After dinner we drank some more and played a few silly games until bedtime came! We each slept in our private rooms, listening to the sound of the waves of Ha Long Bay..
Next morning, after another magnificent breakfast spread we were taken to the largest of the limestone Islands - Cat Ba Island.
Here we went for a hike up a mountain for a view of the lush green national park.
Dinh, our funny guide!!
After working up an appetite, yes more food! We were taken to our Hotel on Cat Ba Island, checked in and gathered for lunch.
After lunch, we took another boat trip to Monkey Island...
And To the floating Fish Market.
Then we had some free time to explore the island. What better way to do it than to hire a motorbike....
Terry decided to rest up... so Els (from the Neverlands) drove our bike and Ali and Ali (Canadian girls) on the other bike.
We drove up the mountains into the national park where we came to the Hospital Cave..
Vietnamese Soilders were treated in the hospital built inside a cave to hide from the enemy. It was a bit creepy inside...
After the cave, we drove around the coastline to see the beaches..
and returned our bikes just after dark.
That night after dinner we hit 'Rose Bar' for a few drinks.
After breakfast we departed on our boat where we sailed a different route to see more of Ha Long Bay, as well as cook some spring rolls!
Becs in charge of spring rolls....
A great tour, Ha Long Bay lives up to its status as one of the 7th wonders of the world. Just a shame the weather wasn't better for some swimming and sunbathing!
Well Hanoi was our last stop in Veitnam. we wanted to go to Sapa for some trekking but our visa was short on days. So next stop, next country - Vientiane in Laos!