Stuif's Adventures

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Vietnam, July 12-21, 2007
Budget airline Air Asia has often interesting promotions. Like FREE air tickets to Hanoi! Who can resist such an offer? Including airport tax and fuel surcharge, it came to RM 260 pp, still very cheap.

We arrived in Hanoi in the evening, so it was only on the following day that we could start exploring. What a pleasant town! The center of the old town is the Hoan Kiem Lake, where even in the heat of the day (and it was very hot!) still some shade could be found. On small islands in the lake you can find a temple and Thap Rua, the tortoise tower.

Vietnam has been a French Colony and French influence can still be felt in many places. The baguettes for example, and the French architecture of the Opera House,the State Guest House, etc.

Just north of the Lake, the Old Quarter starts, a maze of shopping streets, where crafts and trades are concentrated in separate areas.

Food is not that special. Of course there are the ubiquitous spring rolls, but the national dish, pho, is a rather bland noodle soup. Of course Malaysia has spoiled me...:-)

After two days Hanoi, we decided to make a trip to the World Heritage site of Halong Bay. First with the bus to Halong city, where it became clear that we were not the only tourists with that plan... There were many dozens of boats waiting for their passengers. We had a comfortable one, rooms with AC, only 15 passengers. We stayed one night on board and one night on Cat Ba island. Even with all the tourists Halong Bay is still a beautiful place. We admired the views, visited one of the many caves, did some swimming and some kayaking. Gives you a real holiday feeling!

Back in Hanoi, we made a day trip to the Perfume Pagoda, south of Hanoi, before boarding the night train to Lao Cai, right on the Vietnam-China border. We had decided not to visit Hue, because of the heat, but instead to explore Sapa, where the Montagnards (hill tribes) live.
Sapa is located at an altitude of about 1500 meter, it was cool and we had quite a lot of rain. Also here (too) many tourists, but still interesting. We visited the Cat Cat waterfall and bought souvenirs. Will come back here, March-April is the best time, winter can be too cold!

On our last day in Hanoi we visited Uncle Ho, his mausoleum and the places where he lived. Quite impressive actually, I got goose pimples in the mausoleum.
And finally the peaceful Temple of Literature, founded in the 11th century as the first University of Vietnam. In that time in Europe we were still living in the Dark Middle Ages, a sobering thought!

Definitely not the last time we will visit this interesting country!

Pictures, marked with * , have a description with additional information

Our hotel in Hanoi *

Our luxury room

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Hoan Kiem Lake

Bridge to the Ngoc Son Temple

In the Ngoc Son temple

Thap Rua tower

Thap Rua by night
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The State Guest House (1918)

The Opera House (1911)

Hotel Metropole (1901)

St Joseph Cathedral (1886)

The Old Quarter

Hat shop

Shoe shop

Memorial plaques

Hanoi Haywire *
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Street vendor

Pigs and Ducks

Coffee *
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Card playing

Just in the middle of the street

Pork seller


Kite shop

Doll shop

Water Puppet souvenirs

Fascinating and colorful

Narrow and high

Quite amazing cityscape

Really tall

Boarding our ship in Halong

Halong Bay

Near the entrance of the Dau Go cave

Inside the Dau Go cave

Halong Bay

Boat vendor

Traditional Junk

Evening in Halong Bay

Dinner on our boat

Morning Swim
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Beautiful rock wall

Aric, taking off

Sea and Clouds

Halong Bay and me

Halong Bay, a world heritage site

Jetty in My Duc *

On our way to the pagoda

Temple guard

In the temple

View of Sapa, from the hotel

Terraced padi fields

Montagnard lady

Beautiful landscape

Cat Cat waterfall


Hmong (?) souvenir sellers

River trekking near Sapa


On her way home

Evening scene
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A well-deserved beer

And a tasty dinner

Sapa market

Memento Mori

Morning exercises in Hanoi *

A Malaysian H'mong *

Good food in "Little Hanoi"

The Water Puppet theatre *

Roadside seafood stalls

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Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Presidential Palace (1906)

One-pillar Pagoda

Entrance Temple of Litterature

In the temple

One of the temple halls


wrote on Jul 29, 2007:
Wow! That is what I would call a "Great" holiday! You have stolen "paradise"...with the free airline tickets. Was is it that some who go to the same places can find it boring? Beats me! Thanks for the education...Vietnam, here we come.....the Chins are invading.

wrote on Jul 29, 2007:
I can see the hard work! After the very enjoyable trip. Congrats and thanks for sharing

wrote on Jul 29, 2007:
thanks for sharing, nice trip

wrote on Jul 29, 2007:
I think you've captured the essence of Vietnam -- the interesting shops, food, architecture, people, scenery, not forgetting the humour in Momento Mori. We must watch out for the next AirAsia freebie to Vietnam!!

wrote on Jul 29, 2007:
Jan always captures the essence of anything he photographs! :) It makes me want to go to Vietnam, even though I have given up traveling, due to health reasons.

wrote on Jul 29, 2007:
Nice Viet pics but it took ages to load as I live at the fringes of Streamyx (they couldn't give me a 1 mbit line as I was just beyond the 5km radius of effective broadband - as I am told). I guess that's Multiply. Congrats

wrote on Jul 29, 2007:
I particularly like this photo...gotthe taste of "Venice" in it.

wrote on Jul 29, 2007:
haha, you really enjoy it!

wrote on Jul 30, 2007:
Great trip report. You should be in the travel line .... or be a travel writer? /stephen

wrote on Jul 30, 2007:
Thanks for the compliments. You made my day..:-)

lightlingmk2 wrote on Jul 30, 2007:
I remember all the scenes in these pictures. Nice work.

wrote on Jul 30, 2007:
Yeah, this is one of the few things that struck me when I was in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon to the romantics). Wires, wires everywhere, some hanging so low you can touch them almost. /stephen

wrote on Jul 30, 2007:
In Sumatra you similarly have Durian Tait Gajah. They swear it is the best tasting durian around. Like you, I did not venture to try it. /stephen

wrote on Jul 30, 2007:
Interesting association..:-)! You are right.

wrote on Jul 30, 2007:
Evokes memories of the patties on the way to Bkt Rengit. /stephen

wrote on Jul 30, 2007:
Did you notice the plate on the floor. Empty shells, or because there is not enough space on the table? No .... I am not going to tell what I saw a Ho Chi Minh roadside vendor do. /stephen

wrote on Jul 30, 2007:
I must say that it looks much better by night. The warts and pimples brought on by age (pimples?) are not that noticeable. /stephen

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