Saturday, March 26, 2011

Days 31 thru 42 - Hanoi, Nearby mountains, and Halong Bay, Vietnam

Written by Dan

           Dear all, we apologize profusely for the sporadic blog entries. We are still alive but just getting extremely lazy.

           So, to pick up where we left off, our trip down south to Hue and Hoi An with Ariel, Dan's sister was awesome. We had good food, sun, beaches, historical ruins, quaint architecture, adventure, and more.
           For some reason, we decided to head back up north to finish our trip in and around Hanoi as that is from where Ariel would be flying back to the USA.

           Our itinerary for the last 10 days with Ariel was as such:

HANOI: Ethnology Museum, Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum (revisited), more Eating, Water Puppet Theater, and Partying

tens of puppets being controlled underwater by puppeteers
A traditional common house for one of Vietnam's minority ethnicities
Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum - where his embalmed body rests for all to see. It is blurry because we had to take it from far away
Tofu noodle soup with fresh greens, fried dough and chilli's soaked in brine and vinegar - about $1.5 USD per bowl
cold noodles and tofu with fresh greens and dipping sauce - about $2.5 USD per tray
Easily the best bowl of noodles ever with rice noodles, beef, fresh bean sprouts, fried onions, peanuts, and a fish sauce broth - about $1.5 USD per bowl
The vietnamese "Doner Kebap" (see the sign) - about $1 USD per sandwich
Emily munching down on some roasted pigeon - about $1.5 USD per bird
Vietnamese Fajitas with bread, veggies, beef, dipping sauce and more - about $10 USD (more than enough for 3 ppl
Ariel getting comfortable in Hanoi's nightlife scene
Dan and Emily building up liquid courage with a bucket full of Vodka and Redbull - about $4 USD but obviously intended for more than 2 ppl
Ariel is attracting admirers of all types
It's not everyday that you see a dog with a pearl necklace stand and greet people at the door
Nick Lachey personally endorses this hair salon in an alley way in Hanoi

COUNTRYSIDE BIKE TOUR: We took a 4-day ride out to see Perfume Pagoda, Hoa Lu ancient citadel, and karst peaks of Tam Coc
Day 32 - Bike route: Hanoi to Perfume Pagoda
Day 34 - Bike route: Perfume Pagoda to Ninh Binh (Hoa Lu and Tam Coc)
The crew on a balcony just outside perfume pagoda - the karst hills are just barely visible in the background

Boats on the river up to perfume pagoda - we never did make it on one of those due to price gouging and Dan yelling at a boat rower

Bro and Sis outside the Hoa Lu ancient citadel - we put this on a mug for our Mom (thanks for the suggestion Emily)

Ariel and Emily navigating some hairy single track between Hoa Lu and Tam Coc

Muddy cons in sepia tones

bicycle chic -  Spring 2011 fashion wear

Dan and Em overlooking the boat ride at Tam Coc

Panorama of Tam Coc karst hills and rice paddies scenic area

A kingfisher on the side of the river in Tam Coc

The inside of a karst hill cave with reflection from the water below

the mouth of a cave

Emily's attempt at capturing the moment in the cave - this why she doesn't get to hold the camera

HALONG BAY: by-pass the typical overnight-on-the-boat cruise tours and spend 3 days on Cat Ba island - a karst-filled island in the center of the karst-filled bay.
There were tons of dead mini-fish like these on the beaches on Cat Ba Island

Ariel and I took a small cruise around the closest bay to see fishing villages and karst hills in the middle of the ocean

This was the way off the "cruise" boat when we visited monkey island - this lady barely made it

Kayaking around the karst hills was all laughs til we found ourselves in midst of big waves and a tough fight to get back to the beach

A view of Monkey Island from the look out

Getting wild in the jungle of Cat Ba's National Park

The entrance to hospital cave -  a fully functioning hospital built into a cave in the middle of one of Cat Ba's karst hills

The cement entrance to the hospital - built in 3 years and used by the Viet Cong to treat the wounded during the war with America

A lone row boat drifting off into the sunset - in Cat Ba's main fishing bay

Our "cruise boat" for the tour around Halong Bay and to Monkey Island
Monkeys on Monkey Island
           All in all it was a great trip and we were sad to see Ariel go.  Her departure is also means that we start the next phase of our journey will be the most grueling but also most unique. 

           With lots of uphills and unpaved roads, we slowly inch our way across the mountains of northern Vietnam and into Laos. Wish us luck!!

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