Good morning Vietnam!! Sorry, it was just too easy 🙂 We’ve been wading through the streets of zooming motorcycles that dodge around you as long as you keep walking at a steady pace in one direction. You can’t not pay attention for one second walking around this city… it is crazy and full of life! We have spent our few days here in Hanoi staying with our friends, Arun and Priya, who we met in Melbourne. Arun moved here for a new job and they have been living here for about 6 months. They have a fantastic house which is 4 stories with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms on each level. You get a lot more for your money here!
Priya made us a wonderful home cooked meal which was so great after eating out for so many weeks now and we got to catch up with them both. We did a walking tour of the old quarter which showed us a lot of the different areas of the city. We saw more temples (which we think we’ve seen enough of now), markets, and lots of interesting things from the street. Adam’s favorite was walking through the streets of the old city where we felt like we were at Home Depot or Bunnings and each little street was a different aisle of tools, building material, etc. We went to the water puppet theatre for a show as it is one of the main things Hanoi is known for. They read little stories about life here and then they are acted out by the water puppets. We enjoyed dinner with Arun and Priya and some of their friends, who are originally from Boston working here for a few months, and had a drink on one of the big hotels with great views overlooking the lake and city.
We randomly met up with another coworker from Denver who happened to be here at the same time and visited the mausoleum where you can view Ho Chi Minh’s embalmed body. More interesting than actually seeing it was seeing the masses of Vietnamese who come to pay their respects to him. There were six of the cutest little ladies in front of us, probably all in their 80s and not taller than 4’6″ who were so moved by seeing him. It was very interesting to watch. We enjoyed a Vietnamese lunch in a family run restaurant which is run right in their home. We visited the fabric market so Arun could get some material for some pants to be made and then we picked our way through the local market attempting to find and translate all the ingredients we needed for our Thai curry dinner. There was this lovely lady, who didn’t speak a word of English, but from a tiny little picture in our cookbook, she was able to help us find just about everything at her little stall! Our first attempt at Thai green curry wasn’t exactly as it turned out at our cooking class, but it was edible and Arun and Priya even said they enjoyed it.
The next morning we headed off on a long and very bumpy bus ride to Halong Bay where we boarded the A Class Opera Cruise. There are over a thousand limestone islands here, which we spent the next two days cruising around. It was a little chilly, but the scenery was beautiful and Adam was even brave enough to venture in for a little swim. We kayaked around and saw some of the floating villages where people live off their fishing and now some tourism. We hiked to the top of one of the islands for some very picturesque views and visited a cave which kept getting bigger and bigger the further you went into it. We enjoyed the evening on the boat as there were people from all over the world traveling all sorts of different places. We compared stories and just one of our the lucky squid fishers was successful in catching one! The next day was much warmer so we sat on the rooftop of the boat as we sailed back towards the marina at Halong Bay.