Ho Ho Halong Bay and Happy New Hoi An

There were so many people this year that didn’t get where they needed to be for Christmas; we were really lucky to be together, safe and relatively warm in Vietnam. So where better to spend a couple of days that in the awesome natural splendour of Halong Bay in North Vietnam?

After hooking up with Poppa Rex, we embarked on a gorgeous trip to Sapa to meet the hilltribes, who live in the unspoilt mountains of rice paddies with their beautiful personalities. Our night train was a veritable treat after the horrors of Indian sleeper class… we had a lockable door and free water and warm duvets! Sapa was a lovely misty place with loads of log fires (yes its really cold there) and hundreds of shops selling knock off North Face gear, which is largely manufactured in Vietnam. We did some great misty trekking and met the tribeswomen who followed us for hours making us decorations out of ferns and showing us their tiny babies strapped to their backs… magical!

The Hill Tribe Ladies in Sapa

So our Christmas escape from Hanoi was made good after a few days soaking up the culture, street duck and fresh fish of Hanoi. Boarding our junk boat at the harbour, we knew we were in for a great time… lovely boat with friendly staff and a huge christmas tree! we had a delicious lunch of fresh prawns, crab and fish… and started on the wine and beer!

Mmm Fishy

(well it was Christmas Eve!). Next up was a bit of slightly sozzled kayaking around the bay… surrounding by huge karst formations and the silent still ocean. We managed to find a spot with no other boats, despite expecting a crammed waterway… it was actually calm and the landscape astonishing.  Andy’s first experience of kayaking was great… so we celebrated with a dip in the sea – complete with Santa hats!

Our boat is the one on the right

Christmas Eve Vietnam style was a delicious and boozy affair, topped off with secret santa and some terrible karaoke… ranging from Black Sabbath (Andy), to Groovy Kind of Love (Rex), to Abba (everyone)… but the only person with a hangover on Christmas Day (as per usual) was Rachel!

Karaoke... painfully good!

Back in Hanoi, we took in some Vietnamese culture in the form of water puppetry… we will have to get some videos loaded up as this is so unique it’s hard to explain!

Water Puppetry... pretty blummin cool

Next stop was the imperial city of Hue where we  explore the royal tombs and had a delicious seafood hotpot… reward for the 17 hour bus ride that we took to get there! Now you may remember our blogs on the sleeper buses in India and their horrors… this was a total turnaround. We had comfortable beds, a toilet on board and 2 stops for food which was INCLUDED in the price! Amazing!

Now we are in the gorgeous town of Hoi An, all winding streets, gourmet restaurants, amazing tailors and bicycles. Staying in a truly lovely and distinctly non-backpackery hotel and munching on delicious noodles and soup. Today we took a trip to a UNESCO heritage site in the mountains called My Son… the most unatmospheric set of temples we have seen on the trip… to be fair they did have the sh#t bombed out of them during the Vietnam War… but with about 500 tourists swarming over them they really failed to ignite the imagination.

So we head into New Year’s Eve and we have tickets for a gala dinner, vietnamese cultural evening and rock concert… sounds ecelectic hey?!?.. we’ll let you know how it goes. Happy New Year to everyone… here’s to an amazing 2011.

Photos to follow when we get to a better computer.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Steve n Judy
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 15:43:42

    Hi Rach,
    you’re having a ball by the sound of things.
    Just to let you know, we’re up and running on Skype. Spoke to Carole on it today and it worked a treat. I’ll look out for you so you can speak to sis.
    Take care and be safe.
    Have a happy New Year.
    Love Steve n Jude
    xxx

    Reply

  2. tonton
    Jan 01, 2011 @ 23:15:15

    Just an impression perhaps,but it seems to me on reading your blog that you are both enjoying your time in Vietnam more than you did your stay in India.
    Happy New Year;it promises to be a very eventful one,with all those new countries to visit & different peoples to befriend.
    Loved your latest photos & videos.The Christmas party with Rex seemed to be a pretty swinging evening & I can’t wait to read about your New Year’s Eve bonanza.
    After 3 months of curries, you’ll appreciate the change of diet;soups,rice,noodles,fish,shellfish (Rex must be licking his chops),roast duck (yummy!),dog stew(yuk!) ps can’t get rid of red squiggles.
    Kayaking in Halong Bay reminded me of the coves & inlets at Sormiou all
    those years ago.Adventures galore to follow in 2011;yahoo!Tonton.

    Reply

    • bannisto
      Jan 02, 2011 @ 10:04:21

      Hey! Happy New Year. I wouldn’t say that we were enjoying it more than India… we miss India you know 😦 shocking considering how hard it was there… but we are finding it alot easier here in Vietnam… love you lots

      Reply

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