Halong Bay & Hanoi

Halong Bay is beautiful! The surrounding 2000 islands are stunning! Unfortunately the beaches are very polluted,  but that is becoming a regular site in South East Asia.
We caught a boat out to the islands and ate a lot of seafood on the way. Some of the food was a tad iffy.
We kayaked through and between this spectacular scenery,  so relaxing. Even headed inside a cave and checked out some pretty amazings limestone. They filled the cave with bright lights and have created fancy walking paths and stairs; it looks like a log flume ride, which is a shame as it incredible without all the add ons.
Not as much wildlife as we had hopped for but a few cats and dogs and so many circling hawks. Absolute must see in Vietnam.

Hanoi
This city is crazy! The scooters and cars are everywhere, narrowly missing you, slightly bumping into you and tooting non-stop at you. You are constantly checking your back… It’s difficult to know where to look.
Crossing the road is a death sentence really; you don’t make eye contact and you just walk.
The streets surrounding our hotel have themes; a street purely for locks and basic hardware, a street for nappies, confectionery,  chinese goods (crap), alcohol… again, I don’t know how they make any money.
The nights are chaotic, people fill the streets drinking beer on the tiniest stools… 1500 dong for a beer (nz90cents), locals shining shoes and selling anything. It is so entertaining!
Lots of rats in this place, rats in restaurants and all over the streets. Lots of dogs too, tiny chihuahuas everywhere. We saw a hanging cooked dog in a trolley window for sale… not too nice.
The markets again are full of fake knick knacks where bartering is hilarious.
We’ve seen the literature temple and the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh which was very strange as i’m pretty sure he requested to be cremated.
Michael and I have been lost so many times in this city! Every street looks the same and the street names are impossible. Once we found the beautiful lake of Hanoi we had a quiet lunch overlooking a chaotic intersection.
It was a perfect ending to our adventure with a roof top dinner and a few quiet drinks at ‘beer corner.’
We were so lucky with our amazing guide and it was sad to say goodbye. We have experienced the opposite way of living, so different to anywhere we’ve been. Hygiene is non existent with the craziest toilets, spitting everywhere, cooking on the side of the street, rubbish everywhere, burning rubbish in the middle of the street… The most hard working people I’ve ever seen by far.

60 year old woman carrying heavy baskets of fruits all day, locals starting as early as 4 until late in the night and people constantly trying to sell you something or a service.
I would recommend this trip to anyone and I can’t wait to come back and see Laos.

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