Tokyo to Hanoi to Ha Long Bay
Today was the first flight Vietjet Air made from Tokyo to Hanoi. This explained why it wasn’t possible to book the flight a day earlier. A new destination route, and the staff were heightened and nervous in their service. The dancing mascots and balloon arches marked the occasion with speeches and camera crews recording the grand opening.
The seats were small and leg room was minimal, but according to the price I paid for the flight.
I arrived an hour later than expected. I’m not sure how that happened as we left on time.
Hanoi is a busy, noisy city. Tall terraced houses, each balcony filled with plants and small potted trees. Hundreds of mopeds zipping in and around cars. Families on mopeds. 6-8 potted little trees on the back of mopeds. Fruits and vegetables balanced high on the back of mopeds.
We walked around Hoan Kiem Lake at night. The city lights reflecting in the water were beautiful. The red bridge was stunning, as was the pagoda in the water. We ate dinner on a rooftop. I had dimsum and Dorothea had rice and squid. We walked to Hanoi train street: the street so narrow with a railway track down the middle. Despite our wrong turns, we arrived at the train street just as the barrier went down. The train rolled by a minute later; a short train but thrilling to watch. Once the traffic cleared and the street was quiet, we walked along the track. A lady selling fruit in baskets strung over a bamboo pole offered to let me carry her pole while Dorothea took photos. The lady pushed cut pieces of pineapple into our hands before we could protest for a small fee, of course. It was delicious.
Over the weekend, the circle road around the lake closes and an outdoor market is set up. We shopped. I got my lanterns; some might argue in excess.
Saturday morning saw us get on a bus to Ha Long Bay. Our ‘happy house’ / potty break was at an embroidery workshop/market. Knowing there would be a sales push, we stopped and chatted with the sales attendant as he introduced us to a young gentleman embroidering a beautiful picture. He was mute and deaf. Most of the people embroidering were handicapped. The gentleman showed us photos of his completed work; each one taking several months. I did leave with one stunning piece. Very pleased with my negotiated purchase.
We had a delicious lunch on the boat around Ha Long Bay. They kept bringing dishes out! The fog lifted for visibility, but enough stuck around in the distance for some lovely photos.
We arrived at a cave and walked through the enchanting maze. Our last stop was a little tour around some caves via bamboo boat. It was incredibly peaceful. I enjoyed taking photos of the boat people waiting to ferry us around the bay. A little village on the water.