A Travellerspoint blog

Getting wet rowing a boat in Ninh Binh!

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As a safety precaution, Vietnamese authorities had evacuated the whole costal area around Halong Bay, which is why we could not spend the night at Cat Bah island. So we went back to our hotel, the Splendid Star 2, which is kinda of our home in Hanoi at this point and fortunately they had rooms for us. Since we had a spare day, we decided to go to Ninh Binh, the ancient capital, which is two hours south of Hanoi. The weather was not that great, the bus was not very comfortable, but we had a interesting experience. After visiting the palace, we went for a tour in a river trough limestone mountains (the same as what you see in Halong Bay). Tourists board a small row boat where local folks row you for 2 hours in the beautiful scenery. Of course, another woman also jumps in your boat to help with the rowing with the expectation of a tip, and will try to sell you some stuff mid-way. It was rainy but quite fun after all. Oh... I forgot... Oscar and Matthias got to ride a buffalo... which, without a doubt, was the highlight of the day!

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Posted by AlainJacq 02:07 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

An incredible cruise in Halong Bay... shortened by Conson

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We booked a 3-day cruise in Halong Bay, 1 night in the boat, one night on Cat Bah island, so a minivan came to pick up us up early in the morning and we drove 3.5 hours east to Halong City. We boarded a wooden Chinese cruise ship. Cabins were all wooden and nicely decorated and the boat was very pleasant with a nice big sun deck. Food on board was truly excellent given that it was a packaged tour. We reached an interesting cave by 4pm followed by an absolutely incredible hour of kayaking. Then back to the boat for a dip followed by sunset cocktails (it sounds fancier than it actually was!), dinner and more cocktails on the deck way into the night. It was stunning, really, but the next morning was even more breathtaking with the morning mist giving the scenery a slightly eerie but magical feeling. Note to self: must watch "Indochine" again. Then bad news: because of Typhoon Conson, we could not spend the night at Cat Bah island which we later learned was being evacuated. We sailed back to Halong City with another half day of beautiful weather and stunning scenery. Rain is frequent in Halong Bay during the rainy season, so we can't complain.

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Posted by AlainJacq 04:25 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Busy day in Hanoi


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After breakfast, we were heading out for a nearby travel agency to book tours to Halong Bay and Sapa, but the energetic young lady at the front desk convinced us to hear her presentation about the Hotel's services and with great mastery, she manage to secure our gringo dollars. But in any case, we get to use the hotel between each trip, so it will be convenient. We then headed to a local restaurant serving a catfish specialty (delicious) then the Temple of Literature, the most famous Pagoda (Confucius temple) in the city, followed by a rickshaw ride back into our neighborhood and a quick stop at another pagoda overlooking the lake.
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Posted by AlainJacq 17:50 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

We've arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam


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After a short night (for me at least, World Cup finals finished at almost 4am local time in Bangkok) we are on Vietnam Airlines for a quick flight to Hanoi. I made the mistake of taking a cafe mocha at the airport, and my stomach is not happy. We have organized pickup at the airport and the ride to the hotel is smooth. I give the driver a 5,000 Dong tip, he's not happy (I later figured out that I only gave him 25 cents, so maybe he had a point). The kids are tired, I am sick-ish, so we spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the very charming hotel room. We have a nice dinner in the French Quarter, close to the cathedral, a mix of Vietnamese (us) and pasta (kids). The streets are really animated, people eating outside, having fun, etc. Hanoi is really fascinating.

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Posted by AlainJacq 18:47 Archived in Vietnam Comments (1)

A relaxing day at Ancient City


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We went to Ancient City, a park outside Bangkok where all the famous Thai monuments and temples are recreated at a slightly smaller scale. The kids got to drive golf carts, ring some bells, climb on stuff, we ate in a recreated floating market and even saw a "deer garden" to Oscar's delight. It was a very relaxing day in a beautiful surrounding, which concluded by a late showing of The Karate Kid for the kids while the parents enjoyed the finest Thai cuisine. Bangkok will be missed!

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Posted by AlainJacq 13:06 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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