Sunday, April 5, 2009

Xin Chào from Hanoi!


That is about the only way to describe the last 5 days.
The 1st of April saw Susie and I end up on a cruise trip (not a deep water soloing one unfortunately) of Ha Long Bay with 3 great English chaps we met the night before - Tom, Dan & Paul. We all headed off first thing in the morning and after sailing to Ha Long City and transferring boats we headed out into the bay. We met our other crew for the boat trip including Noa and her parents who were great fun. Ha Long Bay means 'Bay of the Descending Dragon' and the story goes that it was created by a dragon that came to earth to defend the local people from Chinese invaders. It is made up of about 3000 little islands and it is one of the most strikingly beautiful places I have ever seen. We headed to one island with a massive cave system on it and explored the cave, then went kayaking, then swam in the bay were all jumping off the top balcony of the ship, then had a great night of drinking and karaoke on the boat. It was such a good night, hilarious! The next day we cruised around the bay some more, saw the pearl farms then headed back to Ha Long City and off on a buss back to Hanoi. We booked into some hotels and backpackers hostels and had a fun night out in Hanoi where I met masses of great folk all staying in our little alley way full of hotels (Ngo Huyen if your coming here... its the best street to stay on in the Old Quarter for sure!). Noa, her parents and I headed to the Museum of Ethnology in the morning. Such a great museum full of the history of the different ethnic tribes of Vietnam and how they came here, what the live like, etc, etc as well as an open air section with replica's of traditional houses and villages that you can walk around and in, so cool. Then in the afternoon Noa and I were off into the Old Quarter to explore. We walked around and found some of our new friends and headed to Bia Hoi (street corner beer vendors where you sit on a street corner on the road in little plastic stools and drink 30 cent home brew beer from kegs on the footpath) for a few beers. Then Noa and I went for a look around the markets nearby and took some photos. After we got back to the hotels I found Susie again and we were off to the Water Puppet Theatre to see to famous show there. It was pretty amazing to watch the live musicians playing traditional music and seeing the water puppets dance through the water sets mimicking dragons and all sorts of historical events.
After that Susie plus Noa and her folks headed off to catch the overnight train to Sapa leaving me on my own again. But all was good! I found my new backpacker friends on a rooftop bar and we ended up having the most hilarious night out which included one little punk trying to pick pocket me in the street and Tony and I stumbling home at 2.30am, not lost, but fairly borderline haha, eating Pho Ba (beef noodle soup, the best!) then heading to bed in the small hours of the morning. Last night was not much better. I intended to have a quiet night but the hostel was having a Hawaiian night so that got out of hand pretty quickly and I ended up drinking and playing pool at Finnegan's, the nearby Irish bar, till midnight when the cops come and close all the bars down (apart from the ones that pay the bribe to stay open later), the eating Pho Ba atg 1am and falling asleep drunk at an absurd hour yet again haha. I swear I try to be good sometimes but my arm has the breaking strain of a friggin Kit Kat haha.
All is good hear obviously, having a blast, but I am off tomorrow morning to Hong Kong for a few days then out to Yangshuo! Can't wait to climb... all this partying and I feel like have put on 5 kilos and wont be able to do a thing! Hears hoping I haven't lost too much in my few weeks of laziness and excessive shenanigans :-)

Pics below are in reverse order for some odd reason, start at the bottom and go up :)

Water Puppet Theatre

Band at the Water Puppet Theatre

Tofu at the markets

Hanoi Markets

Noa, Jacko (from Queanbeyan, what are the odds?!?!), Rachel, Tony and an Irish guy who's name escapes me... all at Bia Hoi

Bia Hoi Corner

In a replica traditional Vietnamese house

One of the replica traditional houses

A scroll at the Museum of Ethnology

Me jumping into Ha Long Bay from our boat at dusk

Me and Dan ripping the karaoke up

And again

Ha Long Bay again

The cave on one of the islands on Ha long Bay (note the size of the stalactite formation on the right... 15 metres thick and from ceiling to floor like a huge column... massive!)

Ha Long Bay - The Bay of the Descending Dragon

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