Hanging out in Hanoi and Halong Bay (Day 108)

Oohh, the alliteration.  Here is a short post to let you know what has been happening lately.  I hope it lets you procrastinate from your job!  I have been cruising up the Vietnamese coast, making stops in Nha Trang, Hoi An, and Hanoi.  Great places.  Like Cambodia, I am spening more time Vietnam than I predicted.

A story for everybody from my home town:  so, I’m in Hoi An, a pretty small town in Vietnam.  I was partying with some guys and we end up at a very bizarre bar.  It is the seediest one I have been to in Asia so far (which is saying something):  lots of drinking and smoking, graffiti all over the walls, shady characters (both local and foreign), people dancing on the pool table, etc.  Great fun, really.  Amongst all the graffiti, one word catches my eye.  This word really hits home for me.  I can’t believe I am seeing it in this place.  I am disappointed that I don’t have my camera on me so I could capture it.  I explain this to my friend who responds, “I will help you”.  On the back of a business card, he draws the scene in front of us:


Whoa!  Ok, so he had smoked and drank too much and almost forgot the “N”.  But still.  I was blown away.  Is it possible somebody from my home town has been to this tiny bar in Vietnam before me?  Or is it referring to Cornwall, England or Cornwall, PEI?  I will never know.

I wandered the streets of Hanoi, the capital, for a couple days.  Traffic here is pretty crazy here as well.  I heard a story of two travellers who never left the block of their hotel in Hanoi because they were too afraid to cross the street!  Ha!  This story has probably been exaggerated as it made its way through the backpacker grapevine, but the streets are definitely intimidating.

So, in an effort to educate, instruct, and amuse, I present to you the first (and probably last) video installment of a “How To” series about travelling the world:  “How To” #1 shows you how to cross a street in Hanoi.  Enjoy.  It’s more hectic than the video shows.  Trust Me.

My friend Erez (from Israel) and I enjoy a beer on the streets of Hanoi.  This place set a new record on my trip for cheapest beer:  22 cents CDN.  Can beer in Asia get any cheaper??  I will investigate for us…

In Hanoi I signed up for a 2-day boat cruise of Halong Bay.  This bay is full of thousands of tall, jutting, limestone islands.  Very beautiful.  It is actually a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Halong Bay

A lone boat cruises through the bay at night

Obviously, I had to jump off the top deck of our boat.  This attracted a small audience.

I have now come to the mountain town of Sapa, in the very North of Vietnam, not far from the Chinese border.  Although the weather is cold and rainy, I am excited to be here.  This is my kind of town.  I plan to trek around to some minority villages.  Also, it happens to be a very interesting time to be in Vietnam right now:  in a few days it will be Tet, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year.  Very cool.  I will keep you posted…

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3 Responses to Hanging out in Hanoi and Halong Bay (Day 108)

  1. ida says:

    I miss those little plastic chairs… and the super cheap beer.

  2. laaganyola says:

    hahaha the video cracked me up. We do that a lot too here in the Philippines. No traffic light, cross at your own risk!

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