From Nga Trang, we headed up the coast on overnight buses, first to Hoi An, then to Hanoi. The bus was a sleeper bus, meaning no seats, just “beds” (big enough, but not very big – pretty much fully reclined, thin recliner bunk beds lining the sides of the bus, then one row down the middle) .
Hanoi is very similar to the hustle and bustle, crowds and whizzing motorbikes of Saigon, but boasts a “touristy” area that is much more beautiful and pleasant to spend time in. The center of this area is a beautiful lake, with interwoven streets lined with shops, restaurants, and street vendos. Just next door is The French Quarter, where most French lived during the colonial period before (the much revered) Ho Chi Minh lead the Vietnamese to run them out in the 50’s. We enjoyed the fanciest meal of our trip there, in a nice French-Vietnamese restaurant, in celebration of our 2 year anniversary.
Jon taking motorbike to sites – quite a ride through the Hanoi streets!
Selfie at our hotel room in Hanoi, note the swan-heart folded towels in the background
View from dinner with our Aussie-NZ friends, overlooking the lake at night
Vietnam telecom – lines and wires everywhere!
The beautiful lake that forms the center of the nice neighborhoods of Hanoi
Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum – seeing his embalmed body was worth it, now Jon knows what Jen was talking about for all these years
Ho Chi Minh museum in Hanoi
Gate within the Ho Chi Minh complex
Pond within the Ho Chi Minh complex, buildings where he spent the last years working
Nice surroundings near the temple on the lake in Hanoi
John McCain’s gear taken when he was imprisoned in Hanoi during the Vietnam War
Very typical intersection full of motorbikes – the picture doesn’t show the chaos, everyone going in every direction!
We were lucky to celebrate again on our Halong Bay overnight boat cruise, where apparently our hotel concierge had informed the boat company of our special day, and surprised us with a cake! It was fun to celebrate again, especially with our eight boat mates.
We both agree this was the best sunset of the trip so far….
Glimpse of the top deck of our ship
This rock is on the back of the $20 Vietnamese bill
Our tour guide for Halong Bay with the boat’s chef – demonstrating the art of food decoration, seen often in Vietnamese food presentation
View from the outside of the cave we visited, 100s of feet above the water in a cool inlet
Kayaking in a lagoon – completely surrounded by the mountains except for a small cave you kayak through
AMAZING cave we visited in Halong Bay – both of us very impressed how huge, and amazing it was inside.
Sunbathing deck of our boat, where you could soak in the views
We also had a fun night on the town the following night in Hanoi with a Kiwi couple living in Australia. We are looking forward to seeing them again in Melbourne!
Hoi An was a much more quiet, quaint town in comparison to Hanoi and Saigon. The main part of town was clearly built and centered around tourism, and seemed to have some good money pumping in, as all the buildings and streets were very pretty, well built and maintained. In addition to getting tailored suits made there, we took a day trip to a nearby island, enjoyed some incredible snorkeling and time relaxing on a beautiful white, sandy, remote island beach.
View from the top floor restaurant of our hotel in Hoi An
Seafood assortment on the island outside of Hoi An
Temple on the island outside of Hoi An
Island paradise outside of Hoi An – great afternoon relaxing here after snorkeling near by.