Thursday, March 10, 2011

Halong Bay to Hoi An

On Wednesday morning we checked out of our hotel, met up with Lon, and took the 3 hour drive to Halong Bay.  On the way we stopped at a shop where handicapped children make lacquer paintings, gorgeous needle work paintings (that really look like paintings, and jewels).  I got some lovely Jade earrings.  The countryside on the drive varied from lovely agriculture plots with cabbage, rice, pumpkings, etc. growing in perfect rectangles to industry (huge Canon electronics factory and othere garment industry), coal mining town, etc.  We finally made it to Halong Bay and realized why the 3 hour drive was worth it.  We took a tender to Ginger Junk.  It is a wooden sailing boat (Lon calls it Fancy Boat) with 10 cabins for guests.  There were 15 workers on board.  We were served a leisurely lunch in a beautiful little dining area while we cruised out into Halong Bay with thousands of limestone islands.  Those that were close were lush and green against stone cliffs.  Those that were further away gradually disappear lighter and lighter gray into the mist.  Very beautiful and like nothing we've ever seen before.  All we could do is just keep saying WOW!  Many of the other guests on board seemed to be trying very hard to NOT have a good time so we just avoided them.  After a little rest after lunch we took the tender boat to a floating fishing village.  Here we learned about life in a floating fishing village - a school that served 80 students, small cliffside temple, and floating homes.  We boarded bamboo boats and were rowed by an old woman along all the homes/school/etc.  I really wanted Jim to take over and let that woman have a rest.  After we rejoined our tender we were brought to a cave for some exploring.  It was pretty cool.  Our tender brought us back to Ginger Junk for a rest before dinner.  This was typically the time when guests would swim, kayak, etc, but it was too cold and misty for any of those kinds of activities.  Our dinner was yummy buffet style and we quickly went to bed afterwards - so sleepy.

Yesterday I had a TaiChi lesson on board the Ginger Junk - the bartender was my TaiChi master.  Then we had a cooking class  where we learned to make Spring Rolls.  After a lovely Pho lunch we got off the Ginger Junk and snoozed all the way back to Hanoi.  We had lunch at a wonderful little French place called Green Tangerine in the Old Quarter and shopped for a bit until Lon decided we better get to the airport.

We said farewell to our accommodating, trusty, flexible, polite and very kind guide (Lon) and boarded our plane for Danang to get to Hoi An.  Flight was simple and we were met at the airport by our new guide - Phong - for the next leg of our trip.

Our hotel - The Victoria Hoi An - is marvelous.  Our room looks out at the South China Sea and it is warm and tropical.  In one hour we meet Phong for a tour of the old Hoi An town and a place called My Son.

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