A word of note. If you see this ứa or this ô; it's because I'm typing on our hotel computer which thinks I'm typing in Vietnamese. Try to figure it out or move on as ít is incredibly frustrating to fix :)
|Ho Chi Min Mausoleum|
|Paul's first authentic Bahn Mi|
|Outside the lake|
Then we saw the Old Quarter (backpacker area where we'll spend NYE), wandered to the Citadel, Paul got a shave, had amazing beef n veg noodles with ultra cheap (~25 cent) beers, then hit the Ho Chi Min Mausoleum which is conveniently closed on Mondays. Typical. Then back to the hotel to unwind and out again for an amazing dinner and drinks in the old quarter. And then we were spent.
|Pagoda at HCM memorial|
|Street side shave|
|Spring rolls, duck, snakehead fish and beers in the Old Quarter|
We lucked out on our first day. Despite the chilly (probably low 60s ha) breeze, it was mostly sunny and luckily didn't rain. Day 2 it was greyer but not rainy. We got up at 7 for a four hour van ride up to Halong Bay for a Christmas cruise. We were on board a lovely boat, the Papaya Cruise, with 8 others from around the globe; a hippie dude from Santa Barbara with his Taiwanese wife, a young French couple, a couple from Vietnam, an English dude who lives in France and works in Germany, and a guy who spoke no English so who knows. (Halong Bay photos are all on the camera, not iphone. Coming soon)
We immediately had a wonderful lunch on board complete with fish, spring rolls, meat skewers, soup, noodles, rice, and greens. It was awesome and a good way to get to meet our fellow cruisers. Then we got to check out our cute little cabin. For what we paid it was really amazing and really surprising. And off we went through thẻ crazy undulating jutting cliffs in the bay. On a sunny day the pictures would have really popped, but unfortunately it's winter and the sun rarely shows its face. We stopped and went on a walking tour through a giant cave (touristy and full of you guessed, tourists), kayaked around a fishing village and the bay for a bit, then climbed to the top of a pagoda on a new island for sunset. It was touristy (ie you were never off alone doing anything) but it wasn't cheesy; everything was really fun and just the right amount of time. Then back on board for a similar dinner to our lunch, and free time to which our tour guide (Mit #1) suggested we kareoke. Ummm we all passed. Then they park in the middle of the bay and we could sit out on the deck in the dark enjoying the solitude (even though there were 6 or so other boats in our vicinity).
|Rest stop on the way to Halong Bay|
Then another van back to Hanoi where we were immediately ushered to the bus station for an overnight bus to Hue. More on that later....