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December 24, 2004

Christmas in Halong Bay

Hello!!!! And Merry Christmas to everyone. Just spending Christmas in Halong Bay!

So I arrived to Vietnam a few days ago, the 20th to be exact. I took a flight from Vientiane, Laos to Hanoi. The airport in Vientiane has to be the smallest airport in a capital city anywhere! There were only 5 flights in and out all day long!!!! Anyway the flight was uneventful...thank goodness. And I arrived safetly at the airport. I had booked my tickets with two other Britts who I had been traveling with for a few days in we took a taxi into the city. But then we went our seperate ways. I went to a guest house and checked in. Hanoi at first glance was nice....I thought I could live there...but after spending the next day walking around all day long, I was exhausted of navigating through the crowded streets, exhausted of hearing the never ending horns blaring in my ears, and scared to death that I would be knocked over by one of the motor bikes as it sailed past me! But other than the mere commotion that happens all the time there, it is a nice city. But I definately had to mentally prepair myself while on the plane to get ready to be ripped off or haggled at everystep of the way now that I am in Vietnam, as oppossed to clam and quite Laos.

The first night I was in Hanoi I went to a water puppet show. It was amazing! It was funny since the puppets immitate daily life, and they say that thousands of years ago this ancient form of entertainment was invented in the rice fields. I thought of this as the puppets were moving in the water, and it was hillarious! The way that they move and are coordinated with the other puppets it was amazing. A nice site to see in Hanoi.

Yesterday I took a (unfortunatley a small tour group) bus out to Halong Bay. Everyone said to take a small tour since it will cost about the same and the hassle can be massive it you try to organize and hire a boat by yourself once you get out here. But the "tour" hasn't been that great so far, especially for what I paid for it! We got a bus out here yesterday. Then we got on a boat. We sailed through Halong Bay. It was a beautiful day yesterday, sunny and blue skies, so it was nice to sit up on top of the boat on the deck and just watch all the small mountains pass by as we sailed along. The Bay was beautiful. We entered a cave, it was huge...nothing like the small cave I entered in Thailand...this one was completely lit, lit even with colored lights! Nothing to be sweating over here. We got back on the boat and sailed around some more. One hour of kayaking was suppossed to be included in the package deal, but there were only two inflatable kayaks on board our boat. So the guide stopped the big boat and four people at a time could "kayak" around a rock and back. There was only one paddle for each kayak so controlling the kayak was incredibly difficult! But it was nice to do, since there was almost a full moon starting to rise and it lit the bay. Then we slept on the boat last night.

This morning we arrived to Cat Ba Island. Some people from our group stayed on the boat to return back to Hanoi, they only booked a one day tour. But some of us continued on to check into our hotel for tonight. Then we headed out for a short hike. The hike itself was good, but the company was better, hillarious in fact! Three Australian girls returned back to the road after hiking for about 10 minutes, granted one was pretty sick. (Uh oh...guess the rest of this got cut off...I'll try to remember my train of thought!) Anyways, the guide left one girl to hike on her own...she ended up freaking out and screaming until we went to her rescue...don't blame her, I think I would have freaked out too, if I thught the guide sent me on my way to find my way back to the bus! Spent the rest of the day just wondering around...not much to do on the island, and the weather wasn't the greatest.

The next morning, Christmas moring we boarded our boat again, this time it was only me and two other people who had been with me the whole time on the boat. We pulled away from the dock and started sailing out...but 10 minutes later the captain got a call on his cell phone and we headed back to the dock to wait 30 more minutes for about 10 more people to come aboard. Same thing happened again once we got off the boat and back onto the bus....had been driving for 20 min and had to turn around to go back to pick up more passengers!

Lesson from this...I thought I paid a fair amount of money for this tour, but afterwards, having spoken with many other people, it turns out they paid much more for a different and better I guess the quality just all depends on how much money you fork out...guess I didn't pay enough!

Posted by annawojo on December 24, 2004 02:00 PM
Category: Vietnam

Did you feel the earthquake?

Posted by: Corrinne on December 27, 2004 10:07 AM

Thinking of you and hoping you are safe from the earthquake and tsunami. Happy New Year!

Posted by: Priscilla on December 27, 2004 11:32 AM

Let us know you are safe! Happy belated birthday Banana!

Posted by: Denyelle on December 29, 2004 09:40 AM

Hello!!!! Nice to hear from all of you! Thanks for the concern. I AM SAFE!!!! I am in Vietnam and was during the whole earthquake and I didn't feel a thing. I was actually in Hanoi, quite north and not on the ocean at all! So luckily I am fine. I will try to post more now since I have free internet now!

Posted by: Anna on January 3, 2005 06:14 AM
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