BootsnAll Travel Network

Halong Bay, Vietnam to Hanoi (Captial city), Vietnam

After breakfast, Andy told us the schedule for the day, I went down to finish packing up, put my rain cover on my pack (so happy I bought that in Bangkok before I came on the tour) and before we knew it we were back in to the hectic and crazy halong bay docks. There were hundreds of boats jockeying for position closest to the actual docks so they would have the best chance of getting business for the day and/or night. At first it appeared that we would have to climb up, down and around several boats to get to shore, but after some crazy maneuvering of the boat, and the pushing away of other boats, our boat just parted the sea like Moses and we got dropped off right in the middle, front of the dock and our driver “the hero,” was waiting for us, like it was fate. We went from boat, to minibus really fast and before we knew it, we were off saying goodbye to Halong Bay. While I would have loved to spend two nights on the boat, only if the weather was good, given the circumstances of the current weather situation, this was perfect. We could also see in the distance that the weather was clearing up in the direction we were going, could it get any better?

An hour and a half later we stopped at a ceramics and pottery factory where they made from scratch ceramic vases, cups, saucers, tea pots, etc… I was a little bummed because I had bought a set in Hong Kong, which probably wasn’t hand made and really should have waited, but as they say hindsight 20/20 is a bitch. We walked around, and observed the men and women drawing on the pieces of ceramic, how they made the pieces of ceramic and all that stuff. Basically the process went accordingly. The clay was mixed with water and then poured in to a mold. When the mold dried it was brought to the forming station where the clay was cleaned up and a dude fixed any problems with the shaping. After shaping it was brought to the drawing station to be designed. After that it was taken to the kiln to be glazed over or not, but to be hardened then off the factory store right next door.

I walked in to the factory store with Andy, well she was behind me but stayed outside the store. One particular tea set caught my eye and before I knew it about three people came up to me asking if I needed help, which one I wanted to buy, was this one and this one and this one OK, and OK lets buy it and all this crap. I was like back off I am just looking around give me a second, holy crap. They backed off a bit, but as I walked around the store more kept popping up like freaking lemmings I swear its nuts over here.

Eventually I had to decide between two sets, a green one without a design or a blue one with designs on all the pieces. After consulting with Elizabeth and really looking at them both I decided on the blue hued one with the design on all the pieces. The set came with a nice large tea pot, six cups, with cute bamboo handles, and a bamboo/wooden tray for the set so that it would be easy to carry to the table and back. I was happy with it, and then I picked out a wooden toothpick holder which I thought was really cool and then along with Deb got an embroidered picture of a sunset in Vietnam. All of this stuff was handmade. It really didn’t cost that much, and since I was really looking for handmade stuff throughout my whole trip when I got to this place I went a little nuts. It’s ok, every once and awhile that is fine, but the real issue is how the hell am I going to get all this stuff home. My next step is to find out what my baggage requirements are for my airline rides home. I have two legs home, and my understanding is that the first leg I can have 70 kilos but the second I can only have 20 or 25 or something really low because my final destination is the USA, but I am not sure if that applies if you check it all the way through from Bangkok or not, if I have to get my luggage again, the visa situation all that stuff I will have to figure out when I get back to Bangkok. I am dreading having to ship more stuff home, I would rather buy a really cheap suitcase and just have two bags since this is my last flights back home, if they allowed it. Ideally I would want them to let me take two bags of 20 kilos or more, not total and then I would be fine. I would definitely be able to find a cheap suitcase for 10-15 bucks or maybe a little more, but it sure beats sending all my valuables home by boat or by air which would cost an arm, a leg and another elbow!

So here I am in my hotel room in Hanoi, we arrived on time, more or less as scheduled. The hotel is called Victory Hotel and Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam not Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), which people often confuse. There is a lot to do here; it is a bustling city of about 4 million, with not a whole lot of space to be spared. After eating a late lunch with the gang I checked my email for a while, but had to run back to the hotel as my stomach was about to explode. It was like those scenes from the movies where they show a volcano exploding, that is how I felt (is that graphic enough), but as they say “better out than in!” My plan is to quickly save this entry to my hard drive, run back to the internet place, upload this entry to my blog and meet the gang at 545PM for the famous water puppet show, view a cyclo and then off to dinner and fun afterwards.

My plan tomorrow is to visit the Hilton Hanoi which is the old POW war prison during the Vietnam (often referred to as the American) War, walk around the old quarter, the French quarter and we will see how far I get after that. I am also trying to get glasses made here, but unfortunately Dr. M was not in the office yesterday and since I waited till the last minute to get the prescription for my eyes I might not have time tomorrow, but we will see I will try, if not oh well.

Also in the morning as an included activity we are going to see Uncle Ho (Buck Ho) or the preserved and embalmed Ho Chi Minh himself in his gynormous mosoleum and complex. Apparently it is a very sober place and one of only a few really famous people to be preserved in this way (Lenin I know is another one). I am surprised Uncle Ho was preserved because he really wanted to be cremated and they did not honor his wishes.

So just like Hanoi I will be very busy the next 2+ days. After Hanoi we are taking an overnight train to Hue, and I have no idea what we are doing there.

Thanks for hanging in with me. Sorry I took a while to update these past few days, but as you can see things have been crazy and not that much time to sit and update the blog.

These 18 typed pages on Word took me about two hours, so I am working hard to keep you all in the loop.




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