#14 from Hanoi and Ha Long Gai Park

Post #14
February 10th, 2010
from Hanoi

Another good way to wake yourself up in the morning without coffee is to jump off the top of a 3 story boat before sunrise into the ocean, or more specifically, Ha Long National Park…

Ha Long Gai is a cluster of 1996 limestone islands rising near vertically out of the sea next to the coast of NE Vietnam. It is a world heritage site. The isles have their own unique biology. When we visited it by boat, it was cool, misty and foggy, as it is winter here. This added to the beauty.

This is the first ‘booked’ tour I have taken. I usually avoid them. From my guesthouse in Hanoi I booked 2 days and one night for $40 total. That included meals, transportation, park fees, and a private cabin on the boat. The boat itself was quite pleasing. Ours was a 3-story, traditional wooden dow, modified with a fine dining room and a comfortable open observation deck. I had heard about this place, and I felt I wanted to see it while I could.

I opted for the ‘rough’ cruise: kayaking, hiking, spelunking, swimming, diving. It fit well with me. It was mostly filled with hard-living and drinking Aussies, Brits, Canadians, and me. These are my people. As is usual, I am the only person from the USA. I am enclosing a few pixs of it.

About Hanoi:

It is a city of 6 million, with 4 million mopeds. After watching street traffic for a few minutes, you would swear that at each corner there would be a large pile of mopeds and bodies. But strangely, this is not the case. It is a scene of self-organizing complexity and chaos. Somehow, everyone adjusts to everyone elses movements in a non-aggressive way without accidents. US traffic cops would write out a million tickets a day. I keep watching it, and riding my bike in it, wondering ‘where are the accidents?’ But I haven’t seen one yet. The street noise is overwhelming.

Hanoi is a bustling, energetic, way too noisy, hectic city. I find it more pleasant than Bangkok. Everyone seems to have a business. I simply cannot imagine how hot these cities must be during the monsoon season. The expats I meet tell me that the difference with Hanoi and Bangkok is that Hanoi actually has seasons, while Saigon has hot, hotter, and hottest and humid.

When I booked my trip, I scheduled for 10 weeks. I thought initially that that might be too long. Now I realize it is not nearly enough time.

4 Responses to #14 from Hanoi and Ha Long Gai Park

  1. Hi Dwight,
    Rene and me (remember, we met at Dien Bien Phu) are now at Halong Bay (Cat Bay). Left the bikes in Hanoi and took a 3 days, two night trip to Halong Bay.
    We really enjoyed meeting you!
    Happy travels,

  2. I like those last two photos a lot.

    I did not realize that Vietnam had 90 million people!

    Any cool flora or fauna that you saw while visiting the islands?

  3. you look like the great american studman.vietnamese not used to seeing so much virility on streets.

  4. Hi Dwight, sorry I couldn’t join you for that morning plunge, but I had an excellent reason to stay in bed 😉

    We had a great time the previous evening too. I hadn’t enjoyed good conversation with so many people in a while. I got to translate between the Frenchman, the Spaniards, and everybody else. I share your love of languages. And talk about the setting: a good boat in the middle of Halong Bay with nice weather.

    Thanks for the career pointers, I’ll keep in touch.

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