May 24 - May 26, 2011
24.05.2011 - 26.05.2011
After a 4-hour drive, we arrived in Halong Bay – a spectacular area surrounded by beaches and known for its seafood. Our tour group boarded a junk boat for an overnight cruise – we visited the famous grottos which were filled with stalactites and stalagmites. We then anchored in a secluded spot for swimming, kayaking and relaxing.
Legend has it that Halong Bay was created by a family of dragons that the gods sent to defend the land when locals were fighting invaders. When the dragons descended down into Halong Bay (or ‘Bay of Descending Dragons’), they began spitting out jewels, which formed the various surrounding islands and thus created a barrier against the invaders. It is because of this that Halong Bay was kept safe and free from the invading warriors.
After a long and spectacular day, touring Halong Bay came to an end and our tour group sat down for a Vietnamese dinner complete with pho (a noodle soup in a clear broth), bun cha (fresh rice noodles with barbecued pork in sauce) and bia hoi (beer). During dinner, our tour guide taught us some useful Vietnamese phrases:
Hello – Xin chao (seen chow)
Goodbye – Tam biet (tam bee-et)
Thank you – Cam on (Cahm un)
You’re welcome – Khong co gi (Kawng koe gee)
Yes – Vang (Bahng)
No – Khong (Kawng)
How much – Bao nhieu (baugh nyew)
I need a doctor – Toi can bac si (toy cahn back see)
Excuse me – Xin loi (seen loy)
I don’t understand – Toi khong hieu (toy kawng hew)
When? – Luc nao? (look now?)
Where is…? – O dau…? (Er dow…?)
Drinking water – nuoc khoang (nook kwang)
Hotel – khach san (kak san)
Restaurant – nha hang (nya hahng)
Toilet – nha ve sinh (nya vay shin)
Turn right – Re phai (ray fie)
Turn left – Re trai (ray chrai)
After dinner, night fishing took place; however, the four of us were far too tired to take part so we all went to sleep. The next morning, the junk boat cruised the bay and we did more swimming and kayaking. In the afternoon, we departed for Hanoi again for a relaxing evening before continuing on to Hue.
We were told that seeing a water puppet show in Hanoi is a must- many say that you haven’t seen North Vietnam unless you have been to see a water puppet show and apparently Hanoi is the best place to see one so we jumped at the opportunity! It was very cool- the puppets are manipulated by means of long rods by puppeteers standing in purposely murky water behind screens and most of the puppets have moveable limbs and heads. Because of the murky water, the puppets appeared and disappeared almost by magic- it was very cool. We were able to gather more information about showtimes and cost by following this link.
The next day, we wandered the streets of Hanoi and made sure to pick up some local sushi for lunch. Now we’re on board an overnight train heading to Hue. It’s very cozy and we are ready for some shut-eye!