We went to Hanoi in Dec 2006 (arrived on Christmas) and spent 2D 1N at Halong Bay on board an old junk. I missed Halong Bay... the peace and tranquility of the surrounding views and scenery.... wah... speechless..
This picture was taken in the late afternoon, as we were climbing down one of the many hills which are open for tourists in Halong Bay.
The climb up was easy but when going down, hubby was feeling queasy and he was breathless when he saw how steep the stairs were coming down.
For me, no difference, heck, I was actually rushing him to come down faster... probably this was due to my 2 decades of staying in the 15th floor of a government flat during my childhood days... (quite often the elevator broke down, so its normal to climb up and down the 15 flights of stairs...)
Believe it or not... this picture was taken at 4am Vietnam time... Thanks to my handphone alarm, which I dutifully set to wake me up at 6am so that I have time to freshen up and take a morning bath before going to breakfast at 7am... Well, my handphone alarm did rang at 6am... Malaysian time.. which is 2 hours ahead of Vietnam time...
So while my hubby happily snores away for 2 more hours, I am wide awake... gazing outside my bedroom window... soaking in the view outside... cannot believe its so bright but the time is still 4am!!
Back in Hanoi, this was one of the restaurant we went to. Had a great view from the top floor where we had our lunch. You can practically see the traffic below and how the cars and motorbikes and peddlers swerved and avoid each other which such acrobatic skills.
At one point, I remember one of the bikes knocked into an old lady carrying 2 baskets of oranges and you see the oranges spilling out onto the floor and getting squashed by the oncoming cars... poor lady!
Which reminds me, crossing the roads in Hanoi really takes skills and bravery! Once you decided to step out into the road, you have to continue walk on to the other side and not hesitate and stop to allow the oncoming vehicles to go. They will automatically swerved around you.
Also, in Hanoi, the sounds of horns are constantly blazing through. When we touched down at the airport, we hailed a cab to our hotel. It was about 7pm then and the sky is turning dark. Every few seconds, you will hear the vehicles around you pressing their horn. The cab ride itself was an adventure already! Cos the cab driver try to swerve around to avoid the motorbikes and honking them every few seconds!
This is what hubby and I ordered for our lunch.
(Clockwise from top): Vietnamese spring rolls, burger, cha ca' (one of those famous Vietnamese dish) a grilled fish (Cha Ca) dish which was created some 130 years ago. I totally love the dish, had it at this place so called the original shop called Cha Ca' La Vong. Address: 14, Cha Ca Street. One night we went there for dinner, gotta share a small table with a foreigner couple but the dish is worth the space cramping and sharing!
I also missed the cramp shop lots in Hanoi! Very cute!
Some of the ground was actually converted to a parking lot to park their cars so when you walked on the walkway, gotta walk carefully and look out in case a car suddenly swerve out right in front of you!
Another unique thing about Hanoi is they seem to have food stall at almost every part of the walkway and roadside!
Then they have this cute little short plastic stools and tables.. looks like those used for kindergarten... cute...!! :P
We didn't try the roadside food though... scared of food poisoning and the thoughts of those cars and bikes passing by... with all those exhaust fumes... nah... anyway, we frequented this 4 star hotel which serves great delicious foods!
Another thing that makes me amaze with Vietnamese ppl is their ability to carry almost anything on their motorbike!
Big piles of stocks, mattress, even dead pig (saw on the way to Halong Jetty)... amazing! There's other pictures I took of bikers carrying weird big heavy stuff on their motorbikes but I'm just showing one here so that I won't be labelled a 'sua ku' again... :P
We went to the Old Quarters, which consists of the famous 36 streets, each street selling their own unique things.
From toys, to silver items, to flowers, to tombstones, etc etc... amazing and very organized!
Hanoi is a place to go if you are into foods and cultural, laid-back life...
Halong Bay is for you if you just want to forget about the hectic life you have back in Malaysia for a day or two (depending on which tour package you choose, and of course depending on your wallet... :P)
Sleeping on the junk is really nice, very very peaceful, you don't even feel the junk rocking at all... very nice! And you wake up (albeit at 4am when everyone else is still sleeping) gazing at the mountains and calm seas and nice sky view... God's creation is so amazing!
In summary, it was a great holiday trip. Only regret we didn't get a hotel near the 36 streets (then can easily shop until we drop :P) cos we sort of thought it might be noisy if we stay around there. The people there are friendly and are accommodating.
If you are planning a trip there, don't miss out the Water Puppet show (warnings to anyone with long leg.. the seating are quite cramp) and try out the famous dishes there! :D