Going to Hanoi and Halong Bay has been a bit of a dream. It has gone by as fast as a blink of the eye. We arrived at Hanoi Saturday night and were greeted by an angry car driver. He saw us, took on of our bags and then ran to the car. We desperately tried to keep up and not lose him in the crowd. We were so confused as to why he was walking that quickly but soon discovered the cause. When we got into the car he said one sentence to us the whole ride home: you were an hour late. Yes, our plane was delayed because of weather and so we were unfortunately an hour late. We didn’t really know what he wanted us to do about it. Kaylee and I kind of looked at each other and she said “I miss Bunly”. He was our tour guide and I couldn’t blame her. I desperately hoped that everyone in Vietnam wasn’t like as unfriendly. We arrived at the hotel and were greeted by Steven (I really don’t think that is his real name), the polar opposite of the man who drove us home. He is so helpful and eager to please. He has been amazing in terms of organizing our time here.
Hanoi is very different from Siem Reap. It is larger, busier, and crazier. I would not have known how to cross the street if I hadn’t lived in Siem Reap for 2 months. The traffic is the same but on roads twice the size. I really love Hanoi. As much as I miss Siem Reap it has been a nice change of pace. We saw a water puppet show that was incredible. It was unlike anything else I have seen. It was funny, silly, and beautiful. The entire time we have been here we have been comparing it to Cambodia. I at least expected it to be a lot more similar than it is. Hanoi is a lot more modern. Everything about it is more modern and yet it still has the southeast asian feel. Today we went to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. It was very bizarre. You waited in a line that moved well but went on forever. Every could of minutes a guard would stop you. When you finally got in you were there for a couple of seconds and then pushed out. It was also very bizarre seeing his body. It was a little eerie. While there I experienced more culture shock than I have in a while. Cutting in line,pushing, touching and shoving is accepted here. Kaylee and I were handing in our water for them to hold onto and a woman just shoved me out of the way and put her stuff down. I put my things in front of her and we started a little dance. We didn’t speak the same language but neither Kaylee or I wanted to tolerate this. Eventually the attendant told the woman to go to the back but it was very strange. Later another woman held onto my back as we walked through the crowd. I turned to face her confused and she let go but she was holding on for a couple of minutes. It has been quite the experience. Overall, I have greatly enjoyed my time here and the chance to see another country in this area. However, my favorite part of the trip has been Halong bay.
There isn’t much to say about Halong bay other than it’s my heaven so I’ll keep it short. We took a boat out for three days and two nights. We were with two older couples. This trip was amazing. We kayaked, ate lunch in a cave, swam, and relaxed. I felt so happy and comfortable. The water was the perfect temperature and it was a full moon. There was so much food. They just kept bringing out course after course. Every morning we woke up with the most incredible view out our window. The company we went with, Indochina sails, goes to another part of the bay from all the other companies so there were very few boats out with us. It was just incredibly peaceful and just what I needed before 8 weeks of research. I have loved both of these trips but I am ready to go home. I can’t wait to see everyone and relax before returning to Union!