Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hanoi and Halong Bay

We thought that Saigon was hectic enough, but even though Hanoi is smaller (3 million vs. 7 million), the tightness of the streets and the fact that 2/3 of the population own scooters makes for a cacophony of noise. It really is scooter city. Crossing the road is not so bad though, like Saigon, if you hold your line and move slowly, the traffic will swarm around you. Hanoi has an Old Quarter, where centuries ago the 36 Guilds came together to form an area of commerce. Many of the streets have been taken over by things more modern, and we saw sunglasses street, shoe street, clothes street, and my favourite - shelving and storage equipment street. Imagine trading like that back home - a street full of your competitors!

While in Hanoi we're staying with Matt and Lindy who have been teaching English here for the past 18 months or so. Its so good to see some people from home and they've been amazing - showing us around on their scooters, taking us to amazing restaurants and making us feel at home. Its so nice to be in a house for a change, we have our own room here and have been able to do washing, watch the cricket and Wellington Phoenix, and generally catch up on life.

We took a trip to Halong Bay, north of Hanoi a couple of days ago - another UNESCO World Heritage Site which has almost 2000 limestone Karsts rising out of the sea. The scenery is amazing...if you keep your eyes above the horizon - the water is quite polluted, nothing like clean green NZ. Perhaps I'll tell you what we saw in the water another time!

We spent a night on the boat which was pretty cool, we kayaked around the islands into jungle surrounded lagoons accessible through caves, and there were only two other people on board and so we were upgraded to the "deluxe suite". The catch with these boats is that the drinks are pretty expensive, and I think they were quite upset that we snuck a bottle of vodka ($1.50) on board and dealt to it up on the top deck.

We're back in Hanoi now and organising our bus to China. I'm very much looking forward to this part of the trip, as I find China an intriguing country due to both its history and the rapid change its going through. A new country also brings new food and new people, which I've found helps keep the excitement up when you're on the road for a long time. Hopefully we can get into Tibet, and we also get to see Annelies which is so damn exciting too.

No comments:

Post a Comment