North Vietnam – Ninh Binh, Hanoi and Halong Bay

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North Vietnam - Ninh Binh, Hanoi and Halong Bay
North Vietnam - Ninh Binh, Hanoi and Halong Bay

We are sat in the reception of our hotel on our last day of 4 months. Can’t believe that our time is up! The last couple of weeks have been good ones though.

Ninh Binh was an interesting place. Beautiful surroundings, terrible (and I mean really awful) food. We didn’t have one meal there which we would consider to be good, and one place also wins the worst meal of the trip award! Tam Coc, which means three caves, and which is nicknamed ‘Halong on land’ was one of the main attractions of the Ninh Binh province. It was raining on the day we wanted to go, so after waiting for it to calm down we rented bicycles, asked directions and took the scenic route along the back roads. We got so lost, and it started to rain, so we headed back to the hotel. The directions were completely wrong and they even discussed quite how wrong they were between themselves! We almost gave up for the day as we were cold, wet and annoyed, but we decided we were already wet so we may as well head back out and try again.

North Vietnam - Ninh Binh, Hanoi and Halong Bay
North Vietnam – Ninh Binh, Hanoi and Halong Bay

This time we went down the much less scenic, and much more dangerous highway. We found the place easily this time. We bought tickets for a boat ride and were really impressed by the ability of our rower to use her feet to row! We were glad we didn’t give up because it was stunning, and the rain even gave it a dramatic, mysterious feel (might be searching for the silver lining). The next day we went to the National Park, we saw fields of pineapples, rescued monkeys, ancient trees, tonnes of bugs/butterflies and leeches closer than we would have liked – one on my shoe, one on Jamie’s sock and one managed to bite our tour guide! The park was beautiful and there was only a little rain!

We then went to Hanoi on our last major place change. We were putting off our Halong Bay tour by a day or two to hold our for better weather. We took a cooking class, and learned how to make spring rolls, papaya salad and chicken stir fry with lemongrass and chilli. We also saw a traditional Water Puppets show. This was something completely different to anything either of us had seen before but it was great!

Our Halong Bay tour was incredible. We certainly picked the right days in terms of weather! The first day we sailed through the beautiful scenery (its worth googling if you don’t know anything about it) and visited a huge cave. We kayaked around the rocks, which was loads of fun as it was just Jamie and I in a kayak, on our own in the middle of all this beauty. When we got back to the boat some of the guys were jumping off the top deck into the water, Jamie joined in but I was freaked out by the massive jellyfish! They gave us some great food on the boat, way more than we could eat, and that evening we spent drinking and socialising with the other tourists. It was Jamie’s birthday and our tour guide did the worst rendition of ‘happy birthday’ we’ve ever heard; everyone was crying with laughter! The following day we went to Cat Ba Island, which is stunning. Jamie and I were staying in a Bungalow in the middle of the National Park. We took a bike ride and a trek inside the park and the rest of the day we relaxed and enjoyed the scenery. The owners of the bungalow also had a 1 month old puppy, which took up a lot of our time and made us miss my dog Alfie! We had to get the boat back to harbour and although I felt travelsick, we enjoyed our last views of the bay.

Back in Hanoi and we had a few sights left to see. The temple of literature was beautiful, although it was raining again! We went to the History Museum, which was the best museum we’ve seen on this trip. Most other museums are propaganda driven or seem to fill their shelves with anything and everything they can find. This one had a small selection of some amazing pieces and imperial treasures. Most notable was our visit to see Ho Chi Minh’s body. A very strange concept, and even stranger experience – we were all shuffled round this glass box containing his body lit up in orange. Last night we went to a fantastic restaurant, called Bobby Chinn’s, for Jamie’s birthday. The food was incredible: salmon with wasabi mash and duck in pomegranate jus to give you a flavour. We also had some wine, which is something that has been severely lacking on this trip. Jamie even ordered a side order of compliments! This meant that every waiter had to tell me I was beautiful! I found this quite embarrassing, Jamie found it funny!

Today we have packed and checked out, and we are now waiting for our taxi to go to the airport. Its been an amazing 4 months, and I’m sure we’ll miss seeing something new and amazing everyday, but we are looking forward to seeing the faces of our friends and family. Now we have to go to a country where rice is served with a fork, and you have to wait till the road is clear before you begin to cross!

Thanks to above detailed information, I hope that you will get knowledge about North Vietnam – Ninh Binh, Hanoi and Halong Bay.