Vietnam…Simply Divine (part four)

Hanoi Street SceneHanoi – a fusion of ancient, traditional, modern and chic.  We stayed in the old quarter, which had super narrow streets, tons of handcraft shops and smooth, locally brewed beer that sidewalk vendors provided while you sat on foot high plastic stools on the sides of these narrow streets. Hanoi_Drinking Local Homebrews on the street New years eve we walked down the tree-lined streets and found a really fun three piece band playing to a crowd (again sitting on foot high plastic stools) on the sidewalk and sipping really fun cocktails – a prefect way to ring in the new year! Hanoi_Band New Years day we all wandered about, enjoying the crisp sunny day, drinking coffees, writing postcards.  Then we met for the infamous water puppet show.  This is a traditional and very revered art performance that takes place entirely on a water-filled stage.  The puppeteers are hidden behind a curtain and the puppets are manipulated through an intricate system of long levers and pulleys.   We couldn’t take photos during the performance, but the “retired” puppets were on display in the lobby. Hanoi_Water Puppets Sumo Wrestlers Hanoi_Water Puppets HorseContinuing our wander, we each dawdled here and there, wandering around the city-center lake, sipping Vietnam coffees and viewing the abundant art scene. I found this bright and fun painting that I just couldn’t resist.  Although the artist isn’t smiling, I promise you he was happy to sell his art. Hanoi_Artist with Painting Next day we headed to Ha Long Bay with its 2,000 karst islands that tower hundreds of feet.Ha Long Bay_View2 Arriving on our “junk” – was stunningly beautiful and the cabins were gorgeous.  We all wished we had stayed a couple more nights.  But I have to say it was really cold and not the best time of year to really enjoy it.Ha Long Bay_Arrival on BoatHa Long Bay_View1 Ha Long Bay_Sunset School for the floating village.Ha Long Bay_School Ha Long  Bay_Child Rowing We then hiked up into the Hang Sung Sot cave.Ha Long Bay from the Cave  Cave_holding up the ceiling CaveThen we headed back to Hanoi and a flight to HCM City (Saigon), Bangkok and then Mandalay.

It was an amazing 15 days.  Way too fast.  We never got up to Sapa – our original destination as it had snowed heavily and the roads were really dangerous – plus we just didn’t have enough time to really appreciate it.  But I am determined to go back in the spring/summer and further explore the north of the country, see the hill tribes, the rice terraces, the crag-topped mountains…

Great food, great coffee, beautiful handcrafts, wonderfully warm people, stunning terrain…simply divine.

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Filed under Adventure, Photography, Travel

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