A Travellerspoint blog

Halong Bay

Day 03 (part 2)

overcast

Got our keys and put our luggage into respective rooms. Take a look at my room!

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There is no electricity in the room before 5 p.m. I don't know if that is the same for all the boats or just this one. Anyway, I am not spending money to sleep through the day!

Lunch is served at around 1 p.m. The food is decent, both in quality and quantity. Drinks are not included in the package, so if you get any drinks from the boat you will have to pay. USD2 for a can of beer, around double the usual price.

Just hanged around the deck after lunch. Some pictures of misty Halong Bay...

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We reached the "Surprising Caves" at 2 p.m.+. The cave was pretty nice, nothing TOO surprising and the air was really cool! As if someone switched on the air-con in the cave. Come in and take a look!

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We left the cave less than an hour later, and moved on to kayaking. Not really a BIG deal and was doing it simply because it was included. Anyway it started drizzling on and off while we were kayaking so we just did a short one.

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The evening was spent lying around the deck doing nothing. With such weather, I guess there will be no stars tonight. What a disappointment!

Dinner is served at 7 p.m., food is still pretty good, with more seafood compared to lunch. The sky continue to be overcast, and even the moon is nowhere to be seen, not to mention the stars. Sigh......

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The dining hall.

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Halong Bay at night.

Posted by abellim 03:57 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Before Halong Bay

Day 03

overcast

Sinh Cafe said they will come and pick me up between 7:45 a.m. - 8:15 a.m., so I woke up an hour early to get some walk and breakfast. As in the previous two days, the sky was very gloomy with no hint of blue. I walked around the block and bought a bun for breakfast. Again, the lady spoke zero English. She showed me 7 fingers, I gave her 20k Dong. She returned me 10k Dong, and then a few hundreds. I guess she meant 7k Dong, but seems like she short-changed me by 100 Dong. Due to my inability to convey my thoughts, I just left it as it is. No point causing a din for 100 Dong, which is less than USD0.01. If it means something to her, so be it. Or it could simply be a mistake. Whatever.

I returned to the hotel around 7:30 a.m., just sat around browsing some magazines. The van came at 8:05 a.m. and the last passengers were picked up at 8:15 a.m. This is how the pick-up vehicle look like:

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There are altogether 12 of us in the group, including 3 Vietnamese, 4 French, 2 Australians and 2 Canadians. Some scenes along the way to Halong Bay...

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Very bad weather for Halong Bay!

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Highway toll... Their highway looks like our federal roads.

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Countrysides are where we still can see many people cycling about.

After 3 hours of tedious road travel plus a 30 minutes visit to one of those cut-throat souvenir shops, we arrived at the wharf around 11:50 a.m.

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Halong Wharf

The sky is still grey, no sign of sunshine, and the day seems to be doomed with bad weather. We waited 20 minutes for the captain to get the registration stuff ready, and another 20 minutes for the boat to find a place to park. 12:30 p.m., we are finally on board the boat!

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These are the captains of different boats.

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There are so many boats going out to Halong Bay!

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A better look at the boat they call junk.

Posted by abellim 03:34 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Coffee and Friends

Day 02 (part 4)

After visiting the big trees with the over-excited motor driver, I eventually arrived at my real destination...

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Highlands Coffee

And this is where I had a "newspapers" joke. Most Vietnamese really don't understand a word of English!

Me: Hi, can I have newspapers please? (complete with gestures of flipping newspapers)
Waitress: Ok Ok.

Seconds later....... She passed me..... a pack of tissue paper.

Me: No no no... Newspapers (again repeating the gesture, at the same time frantically looking for someone who is reading newspapers so that I have someone to point at)
Waitress: Ummm.... (looking puzzled now).... (gestured me to wait)

Seconds later........ She passed me..... two sheets of scrap paper.

Me: No.... Newspapers... (running out of ideas now)
Waitress: ......... (gestured me to wait again)

Seconds later........ She passed me..... the manager. And I got my newspapers.

I don't drink a lot of coffee, so I don't know what makes a good coffee. But Vietnamese coffee really tastes different from those in Malaysia.

After coffee and newspapers, I made my way back to the hotel to meet up with David at around 5:45 p.m. I reached there early, so went online to check and send a couple of e-mails.

David arrived on time, and we went to another guesthouse to meet up with Will and My. They are friends from California, Will is American while his wife is a Vietnamese. Well, a Vietnamese who have lived in the States almost all her life. They are going to Sapa tonight, so we met up and had dinner.

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Looks chinese and tastes chinese. Very nice!

We bid farewell at around 8 p.m., and I went on with my walking tour. This time for DVD and Heineken. DVDs are sold at around 25k Dong per disc (at this price I'm pretty sure they are pirated), so I bought an Alfred Hitchcock collection and a Snoopy collection. Then bought two cans of Heineken for my Halong Bay trip tomorrow. Heineken here costs around 15k Dong per can, around RM3.20.

Back to the hotel at 9 p.m.+, watched some tv, took a shower, did some writing, zzzzz...........

Posted by abellim 03:13 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Aimless Wandering

Day 02 (part 3)

First objective of the afternoon is to get a tour package for Halong Bay tomorrow. I went to Sinh Cafe to book a tour. There are tonnes of Sinh Cafes in Hanoi, supposedly only one is the original and the others are not, and I supposedly went to the one reportedly to be the original. But in Hanoi, who knows what is real and what is not? Anyway, most likely different companies will just register the customer and put he or her on any boat available for that price range. Whatever. I booked a 2 Days 1 Night deluxe tour to Halong Bay for USD72. It's actually USD55 for one person on a twin-sharing basis, but since I am travelling alone, I have to pay a single person supplement, which amounts to USD17. I felt that this whole single-supplement thing is most unfair, but then what can be done against capitalism? This Halong Bay trip is the single most expensive thing I spent my money on. It's best to travel in pairs for such a tour I suppose.

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The supposedly 'real' Sinh Cafe.

I continued my walk all the way till I reach Long Bien, which is north of Hanoi city. Truly a long way! Some scenes along the way:

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Hairdressing by the road.

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Stalls selling all sorts of stuff.

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Vietnamese love birds, both in a plate or in a cage.

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Hardworking lady. You see them EVERYWHERE in Hanoi.

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It's actually a railway track above.

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Strong head!

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Do you notice there are actually doors under the elevated road? People are actually staying under the road!

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Underneath Long Bien bridge. I would love to take a walk up there but it's out of bounds for pedestrians.

Been wandering about aimlessly and thinking of trying some coffee at Highlands Coffee which I saw this morning opposite the Lenin statue. It's too far to walk back, so bargained with a motor driver to bring me there for 15k Dong. Very friendly man who tried to chat with me on the bike, even though he can't speak a word of English.

As we pass by a certain place, he seems very excited and told me by his body language that "You must see this!". It was a small citadel (something like an old palace) with some trees. We got off the bike, and the motor driver started pointing around trees, saying things I don't understand and keep on giving thumbs up.

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This is the Citadel.

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And these are the big trees that Mr. Motor Driver got so excited about.

After failing to communicate his thoughts through speech, he started to write. But he wrote in Vietnamese too! I wonder what good can that do. Fortunately a couple came along and they seem very much like American Vietnamese. Anyway they are bilingual and did the translation for us. The man was actually trying to say that the building and trees are nearly 1000 years old, and it is an amazing sight to see such big trees growing on an elevated ground at the building with not much space for the roots to go (I hope you understand what I am babbling about).

Posted by abellim 08:42 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Together with David

Day 02 (part 2)

I reached the hotel just in time to see David. Haven't seen him before but then it's not that difficult to guess. Basically from that moment onwards till the end of the day I have been on the receiving end of his generosity. I got onto his motorbike and went for lunch. It's pretty much like the economic mixed rice sold by the Chinese in Malaysia, except that it's not economic.

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That's lunch for the two of us. Costs a whopping USD10!! Taste very good though.

Some of the workers at the food stall are RVs, so we spoke a bit. There is this one boy who always expects tips. After paying the bill he will continue to hang around and hinting for tips. David had already mentioned to him that if others want to tip, they will tip. No one ASKS for a tip. But anyway after David paid for the meal he still stood around there waiting for the tips.... that never come.

After lunch David took me for a tour around the West Lake, and saw a few couples taking bridal pictures there. We saw at least three pairs. On a Monday afternoon. Must be a popular spot.

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The building is not flooded! It's part of a hotel built on the West Lake.

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Many ladies selling flowers near the lake.

David had something to attend to, so he brought me back to the hotel and bid goodbye around 1 p.m. I went back to the room for a siesta and then started my Old Quarter walk at around 2:30 p.m.

Posted by abellim 08:18 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

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