In November I head for Vietnam for my 3rd trip, this time Sharon came with me so I was worried if she would like it as much as I do. Also since I wanted to take photos I gave her a camera as well. This sort of backfired as she got better photos :-) We visited Hanoi, a 2 night cruise in Halong Bay and finally 6 nights in Hoi An.
I love Hanoi, it's vibrant, brash, busy, noisy full of motor cycles, but the people are friendly and happy and Vietnamese food is amazing. We stayed in a really nice hotel in the Old Quarter. In reality I think I would happily stay for weeks in Hanoi, wandering the streets taking it all in and getting photographs. The last time we were in Vietnam we went to SaPa in the north of the country on the Chinese border but I remembered that when we took the train you could virtually put you arms out the windows and touch the houses. I wanted to visit the tracks and see how people lived along the tracks. It was great fun and we met some nice people in particular a young lady selling her own clothing designs in a shop on the tracks. I will head back here again.
We also met some good friends we made at a previous trip to visit the Haemophili Centre in a hospital. Dr Mai and her family were really nice to invite us to her house for a meal and we had a great night. On the Friday Minh and Hang took us out for a lunch and showed us around Hanoi, another lovely afternoon.
Halong Bay was a great peaceful break after hectic Hanoi. We spent two nights on a lovely junk, it was spacious, lovely bedroom, great food and excursions to some of the islands, caves and villages on the bay.
Hoi An is an amazing place, my daughter recently did a tour of Southeast Asia and it was her favourite. We were a bit apprehensive heading out as it was just at the end of a fierce storm the Damrey Typhoon which sadly killed 89 people, injured a further 174 and caused huge damage. However we had fantastic travel agents Exotic Voyages (link) who looked after us very well and they had arranged a five star replacement hotel for our first two nights. This is the second time I have used Exotic Voyages (Myanmar 2014) and they are fantastic.
What amazed us was the strength of character and resilience of the locals. They have regular floods, in one restaurant two streets from the river we could see the water line above our heads where the river water had reached. Yet within days and as the water receded the shops and streets were cleaned and up and open again. Of course it might have been due to the APEC conference in Danang and visiting dignitaries to Hoi An! We had a few trips arranged with Exotic Voyages that were great fun, a cooking lesson, trip to My Son Sanctuary, and tour around Hoi An. Sharon had a dress made and me a bamboo shirt. Overall a great experience and a place I would head back to along with Hanoi.