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Hanoi take two

February 27, 2012 1 comment

Our return to Hanoi from the Halong Bay excursion was the opportunity to catch up on the few things we had missed first time round.

Top of the agenda was exploring the old town, where the streets are named after their activity, eg “Silver Street”, just sells silver. All the silver shops are here and you pretty much cannot buy silver anywhere else in the centre of town.

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Cuc Phong National Park

February 25, 2012 4 comments

After the previous day, only gluttons for punishment would don a backpack and head up to the Cuc Phong National Park. The next day we headed up to the Cuc Phong National Park, backpack in tow.

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Ninh Binh – like a ring donut.

February 24, 2012 4 comments

To continue our journey, we took what appeared to be the only option of a transfer via Haiphong to Ninh Binh. The bus, boat, bus and another bus combination took 7 hours and I am still convinced all the travel companies lied to us and ripped us off, but I am just about getting over it. The last bus certainly made for a memorable trip on public transport, with all the bags thrown on the roof and an interior designed for the residents of Lilliput.

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Cat Ba Island and the green lagoons

February 21, 2012 Leave a comment

As usual, we parted company with the tour and stayed behind on the island, taking some rickety old bikes (with Theo tied to an little bike seat with an old bike inner tube) up into the national park to stay in a small village in the valley. Basic was the name of the game, but once the cockroaches had been eliminated, the rustic charm came through.

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Halong Bay

February 20, 2012 Leave a comment

You can get away with paying just $30 to tour Halong Bay – $10 for the tour and $20 for the coffin. We played it safe, paid well over the odds, on the basis that the quality would be worth paying for – and it was. The cruise takes you into the 1500 sq km bay where nearly 2000 limestone karsks puncture the horizon. Being winter, there is a near permanent mist, adding to the sense of wonderment creating layers of diminishing shadows into the white misty distance.

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Hanoi – cold and misty – brrrrrr

February 18, 2012 2 comments

First impressions are of a quieter, smaller, more intimate and colder city compared to Saigon. Probably due to the fact that we arrived at 5.00am from the overnight train, the streets were deserted and our 24 hour(!) hotel was padlocked shut. After wandering around for an hour, we found a hotel that let us sit in their lobby until a cafe opened, where we sat watching Hanoi wake up over hot sweet coffee.

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Perfume river – crash course in Buddhism.

February 16, 2012 2 comments

Our day trip with Mr Happy was both a feast for the eyes and the ears with a philosophical lesson in happiness and Buddhism. His real name Hy, he was a philosophy student who packed in his studies in his final year, because he had enough thinking time to realise there was no career in philosophy.

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