Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay was our most anticipated destination of the trip and was definitely the highlight. Fun fact: Bo's original inspiration for wanting to go to Vietnam came from watching The Man with the Golden Gun, a James Bond movie filmed in Ha Long Bay (which Bo made me watch a few days before we left). The bay has thousands of tall limestone rock islands and was unlike anything we've ever seen anywhere else. It was beautiful, though very foggy when we were there so the pictures don't quite do it justice. We were just glad the rain held off and didn't ruin our trip!


our room with a view



We took a ferry boat from port, and boarded a private junk boat where we stayed overnight. There were several boats on the bay doing similar overnight cruises whereas others were there for a week or longer. We had lunch on the boat and cruised around the bay for a while just taking in the scenery. It was such a relaxing day.




We passed several floating villages where many families have lived for their entire lives. I love the water but I don't know how they do that. Pretty much zero socialization, and you sure better not be allergic to seafood! Our guide mentioned that they have a hard time adjusting to life on land if they try. Very fascinating lifestyle.



the "Kissing Cocks"








We anchored in the bay, and tendered to shore to visit one of the many limestone caves, Hang Sung Sot. It was really cool inside, and when we climbed to the top we had a fantastic view of the bay from above.
















Soon after we got back to our junk boat, we went on a kayaking excursion to one of the nearby islands, and saw monkeys! Just hanging out, eating bananas, and swinging from tree to tree. It was incredible just watching them.





Dinner on the boat that evening was another delicious seafood meal, and then we had a pajama party! The previous day, we all bought ridiculous pajamas just for the occasion. Lexi won best outfit with her custom Batman onesie she had made in Hoi An - it was amazing.




Up next is our last stop in Hanoi!





Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hue

The next city we visited was Hue (pronounced whey, emphasis on the "h" - the way Stewie from Family Guy would say it). It was a long, beautiful, but miserable bus ride from Hoi An. Let me remind you, we had stayed up until 4am for St. Patty's Day festivities the previous night, and after only a few hours of sleep had to wake up to pack our bags and get on the road.







We (finally) arrived in Hue about four hours later, and went on a rickshaw tour of the city. We've done a few of these in other cities and they are so fun.




again with the crazy driving...eeek




Our rickshaw city tour ended at Hue Imperial City (the Citadel), where our local guide took us on a walking tour. It's an old fort surrounded by a moat, built by the French during their occupation and is now a tourist attraction.











After our tour of the Citadel, we went to the Thein Mu Pagoda, which is still a working temple today and the seven-story pagoda is the tallest in Vietnam.


 
 



Inside one of the buildings on the grounds is the car driven by a Buddhist monk who set himself on fire during protests against the anti-Buddhist government in place at the time in South Vietnam. It's hard to tell in the picture below, but the photograph on the wall behind the car was taken of this event.




The pagoda was right along the Perfume River and we had a gorgeous view of the sunset as we were leaving.








That evening, Bo and I had dinner on our own. His restaurant research paid off and we had one of the best meals of the entire trip at Xuan Trang. Nothing outrageous, just really delicious and classic Vietnamese dishes. Each city in Vietnam has their own version of pho and fried rice, and we both just loved the food in Hue. Their local beer, Huda, was also Bo's favorite of all the beers we tried in Vietnam. After this amazing meal we called it an early night and caught up on some sleep before heading out again the next morning.