I arrived in Hanoi a few days ago and since then I’ve seen an amazing local violinist playing in a bar, went to Ha Long Bay, and met some awesome people. I’ve spent a few nights in Hanoi, one night on a boat, and one night on an island and now it’s off to Hue, Vietnam.
Beautiful Ha Long Bay
I left early on the 10th on a bus to Ha Long Bay city. The bay was full of boats, had a ton of islands, and so beautiful. I ended up meeting a couple guys from the states. One of them was born in Vietnam and knew the language so he was very helpful to get around with. After the drive to the bay we got onto a big white boat and made our way out through the islands to a little floating village where we went kayaking through some caves and around the village. We toured through a big cavern and then onto an island where we climbed up to the top and then went swimming near the beach. The water was pretty gross due to the machinery nearby, but it felt so good after being in the heat all day. The day was finished with us floating near an island where we slept on the boat. The provided lunch and dinner were alright, but the breakfast was terrible.
Cat Ba Island
The next day we went out for our next night to spend it on an island called Cat Ba. The island had a lot of tourists with a number of locals; but the locals were only there to work or sell stuff.
After getting off our boat we were taken by bus to their national park on the island. We hiked up to the top and took some killer photos of the place. I liked the place, but we didn’t get to spend a lot of time there. It was really just hiking to the top and back. The other thing I didn’t really like was the lack of animals in the area. The plants and hills around were cool, but left me wanting more.
We arrived to our hotel a little while later and after having a small lunch, I went off with Quan and Lane (the Americans) to the beaches. There were three of them around the island and after checking them all out we ended up hanging out at the farthest one with a couple girls, Sandrina and Charlotte, from Belgium that we met on the bus to the hotels. They were staying at a little resort place at the beach we were at in a bungalow. So jealous.
After a while of relaxing on the beach and in the water, us guys took off to get some food after making plans to meet up later. We ate at the hotel where a small dinner was prepared. Later we grabbed some beers and vodka and went back out beach and ended up staying up until after midnight sharing stories and trying to sneak into the water.
We got up early the next day for a cruddy breakfast and then back onto the boat back to Ha Long Bay city where we waited for our bus for an hour which took us back to Hanoi where Quan, Lane and myself have just been relaxing and enjoying what we can out of this city.
Prison, Vaccinations, Live Music and My Departure From Hanoi
My last day in Hanoi was spent just hanging around the city near the lake and taking care of a few things I’d been putting off. I went over to a prison, Hỏa Lò Prison, used back in the day by the French to detain Vietnam political prisoners and later used by North Vietnam for prisoners of war during the Vietnam War (John McCain was one of these prisoners). What a sad place. They had figures of the Vietnamese prisoners with their legs shackled. It was good to see, but quite disheartening. We left there and I left to take care of my errands.
The main thing I had to take care of was getting my vaccinations. I didn’t really think that it was dire for me to get them, but I figured that I’d rather be safe than sorry.
There was a very nice clinic I decided to go to called Family Medical Practice. The doctor was informative, but the shots were more than I wanted to spend, but did anyways. It all ended up being half the price it would have been had I been in the states, but I wanted to spend a lot less than that. Avoiding rusty needles by going in someones place in Hanoi wasn’t a good option I figured however.
Later that night we met up with a friend of Quan’s named Cuong who showed us around and took us to some great live music. After that we got back to the hotel, crashed, and got up for my departure flight to Hue.