November 27-28 Hanoi, Vietnam

We headed back to Hanoi for our last night in Vietnam. That means we only had a few hours to explore Hanoi and I was still sick. I sucked it up moved very slowly through the streets. As with the other 2 countries you take your life in your hands when crossing the street! We stayed at the Cinnamon Hotel in the Old Quarters.
When I booked the room I had the choice of the city view or an old beautiful church. I thought the view of the church was the best bet.
I had to walk around the streets to locate the church without all the wires. It truly was a beautiful church. It is St Joseph Cathedral inaugurated in 1886.
I had an article about Hoan Kiem Lake so we meandered over to see it. According to the legend, emperor Lê Li handed a magic sword called Heaven's Will which brought him victory in his revolt against the Chinese Ming Dynasty back to the Golden Turtle God (Kim Qui) in the lake and hence gave it its present name (the lake was formerly known as Luc Thuy meaning "Green Water"). The Turtle Tower (Thap Rùa) standing on a small island near the centre of lake is linked to the legend. (from Wikipedia)

The rest are pictures I took of the street life.


November 25-27, 2011 Halong Bay

We flew in late on the 25th to Hanoi and then got up early for a 3 hour drive to Halong Bay. The roads are so congested and the driver was beeping the horn continually! So much so that Gene had a headache. We found out that the honking is just a consideration to the motor bikes that dart in and out of the traffic. I don’t know how many times we came close to colliding with one.

Halong Bay was designated a World Heritage site in 1994. There are over 2000 incredible islands rising from the Gulf of Tonkin. We took a Chinese Junk (Victory Star) through the bay. We spent 3 days and 2 nights on the junk in the Presidential Suite. The room was awesome! And the food was fabulous!

We went in bamboo boats through a fishing village. The boats held about 4 people and the person rowed us through the village.

Then we headed into a cave that is the largest cave in the world and walked around! It is called Hang Sung Sot (Surprise Cave). One of the areas is called the “cock rock” which is regarded as a fertility symbol. I’ll let you figure out which one that is.

Later in the day we had the opportunity to go swimming off the back of the Junk. Here is Gene bobbing around with his broken finger out of the water.

We had time on a beach that had a hiking trail too.

Check out the butterfly in the above picture.
Then Gene and another person from the boat went kayaking

Later we lounged on the upper deck of the boat.

On our last day I was sick. I was up most of the night and couldn’t get out of bed the next morning. On the last day the group went to Leon Cave with monkey’s! Gene said it was the best excursion and I missed it!