Day 4 – from Hanoi to Halong Bay

 

We were met by our Hanoi driver at the railway station on arrival from Lao Cai. He took us to a nearby restaurant for beef noodles breakfast and a cup of Vietnamese coffee. OK, I took two! The restaurant was not ready yet when we arrived. We occupied ourselves by doing a bit of street photography.

A wireman's nightmare.

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Notice the loudspeakers on the top-left. This was used during the Vietnam war for propaganda purposes and as an air-raid siren. Nowadays they are apparently used to play music which, I heard, is a nuisance to most. 

Wires everywhere.

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Nearby church.

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We soon left for Halong Bay after breakfast... a 3-hour drive away. We stopped at a half-way stop, a huge complex housing a handicraft centre with an adjoining toilet that would put some 5-star hotels to shame. I didn't, or rather couldn't take any photos as that was prohibited. This halfway stop is a joint venture between the South Korean government and the owner of the largest bus company in Vietnam.

We arrived at Halong at mid-day. Being mid-day the lighting was too harsh for photography, for me anyway, hence I didn't bother to take out my camera. My apologies. Anyway there were many yacht and junks waiting for tourists at the jetty. We had booked a whole junk for our group of 10 and was soon on our journey into this World Heritage site. For a package of US$70/pax we had our own private junk for 2D/1N full board and meals. 

Lunch was soon served. Being one who succumbs to motion sickness easily I was a bit apprehensive about this meal but thankfully nothing of that sort happened as the seas was quite calm. 

After lunch we toured one of the many caves that can be found in the many karst mountains of the bay.

The caves jetty.

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Having recently come back from a trip to Guilin with so many wonderful caves the cave that we visited at Halong Bay was nothing to shout about.

Climbing up.

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He stopped to look and I 'looked' before I stopped. 😉

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The view from the top.

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A 'shop' near our junk.

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On the way to another spot.

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We told the captain we would like to buy some lobsters for our dinner. He then took us to a few of  the many floating fish farms there.

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Then we realized that kayaking was part of the package that we had paid for.

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Unfortunately there wasn't any lobsters to be found from the few that we visited. Anyway the girls had a great time.

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We went to a quiet spot where the kids had a swim before dinner was served. We anchored there for the night.

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 All of us had a good rest that night. After breakfast the next morning we asked the captain to take us to one of the many floating villages there.

Row, row, row your boat...

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Floating houses.

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Fishermen and their nets.

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Boat with a pool....... pool table that is.

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Small floating market.

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More fishing boats.

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Cooking.

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Children playground.

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I took the opportunity to do a bit of portraiture on board.

Blowing in the wind.

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We arrived back at the jetty about 2 hours later, boarded the van that was waiting for us, and headed back to Hanoi. We again stopped at the luxurious toilet at the halfway stop mentioned earlier. Other than that the trip back was rather uneventful.

We had another type of beef noodles for lunch on arrival at Hanoi. It was delicious but as I have indicated in my first post of this trip, it was relatively expensive. Imagine a third world country and facilities but a first world food prices and you'll get what I mean.

After lunch we checked into our hotel, freshened up and then visited the Temple of Literature; the first university of Vietnam. It was recorded that in 1076  the Imperial Academy, was established within the temple to educate Vietnam's bureaucrats, nobles, royalty and members of the elite. The university functioned for more than 700 years, from 1076 to 1779. Given the extreme difficulty of the doctorate tests, few students were successful in passing the final examinations. This can be witnessed by the small list of names engraved on the stone stele every year during this period. The stele records 2,313 students graduating as doctor laureates. It now serves as a temple.

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Water puppets for sale in the temple complex.

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The above marks the end of my travelogue to this wonderful country. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have of this trip. Till the next trip then....

 

 

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