After failing to get there in our previous Vietnam trip, this time we made it to the biggest karst in the world! Not that it matters to me much, but it's one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. Not that it matters either, but it just looked amazing in postcards and magazines!
I'm not going to write a whole lot of details of our trip since I'm being realistic about my spare time, so I'm only sharing the pictures I took with my phone. Hopefully I'll manage to write more about it later.
Let's hit it!
HALONG BAY TOUR
|center: Vietnam flag on every cruise boat.
top left: one of the karst in Halong Bay
top right: the Madames Vindhya, me and Mumun on the deck
below right: Mumun's & my room in the cruise boat
below left: swimming in Halong Bay's cool water..!!
|The view from our room. Oh the phone camera doesn't do it justice at all..
We took the tour with Alova cruise, booked it online about a week prior departure. After a little haggling they gave us the rate of USD 184 / person for a 2N3D tour. At first I thought it was too pricey, but there wasn't any better option that we knew of. Turns out, with all the comfort, abundant food and friendly services amidst the beautiful scenery, I think it was worth all the money I spent :)
|Amazing Cave, truly was amazing!
I wasn't aware that visiting a cave was included in the tour itinerary. That's what happens when you have too many things to do before a vacation. Despite the tacky guides that showed shapes that resemble many things like a screaming monkey, a dragon, a huge turtle, I think the cave was AWESOME! It was vast with contours that seemed to be like something in a outer space movies that I don't watch, lighted with several colors which gave it a more dramatic feel.
We were scheduled to get into the cave once, but I went there twice.
At the first visit, my camera battery died when we were only about 10 minutes inside the cave, out of the almost 45 minutes. Urghh! I couldn't take enough photos!
So when the other group in our cruise (the 1N2D gang) went the next day, I joined them with a new battery. Hooray!! I got lots of panorama pics and am so happy about it :D
|Quan An Ngon. We're back in this cafeteria with lots and lots of good food.
Hanoi didn't change much since we last went there in 2009. Neither did our taste buds. We went back to Quan An Ngon in the Hoan Kim area and continues (yes, continued) our dinner there after having the famous and super delish Ly Quoc Su pho in the French Quarter.
What? Diet? What diet?
The first meal I had when we hit Hanoi, still carrying our backpacks and hadn't gotten to our booked hostel, was bun cha. Not pho like what my friends had cos I wanted to taste something new. And it was de.li.ci.ous!
Later I found out that the meat in bun cha is usually pork. Oops! I'm not supposed to eat pork, but..hehe..I didn't know.. and it was yummy :P
Bun cha is easy to find. Even we had it at a sidewalk diner in the Old Quarter.
Hanoi Backpackers Hostel on Ma May street is where we spent the first night and last night in Hanoi (and the 2 nights in between at the Halong Bay).
Located in the Old Quarter area, Hanoi Backpackers Hostel is crowded with western backpackers 20-somethings that's presumably out here in Asia to see the world and to find themselves while partying with their western backpacking mates in the banana pancake trail. It's a nice, clean and well-organized hostel n' all, and it was also cheap (about USD 9 / bed / night in the dorm room), but I don't think I would've booked it if I knew it was going to be that busy.
|The mural was nice, though :D
|We each had the single dorm bed, but there are a few double dorm beds, too.
Hm..I wonder what could happen when these beds are occupied..
Remember this story? :P
Honestly, we didn't shop much. At least, not as much as we used to :P
But Vindhya and I did buy a lot of postcards because we just love sending them so much! I'm thinking of signing up to postcrossing, actually.
Most of the postcards we got only cost VND 5,000 each, a few were VND 20,000 each, with better and more artsy designs. (Guess what, I sent one of the best ones to myself! Muhahaha.. Cos I want it to be in my postcard line at home so much. Teehee!)
The stamps cost a lot more than the postcard, VND 12,500-13,000 per card to Indonesia. I only sent postcards back home this time :)
|The Rembrandt-lighted Uncle Ho is my most favorite amongst these ones :)
This was my 3rd time to Vietnam and I had always wanted this ubiquitous tourist t-shirt. But I always managed to restrain myself from buying it because I didn't want to bear a political statement that I don't actually comprehend much, let alone support, but.. this time, the temptation grew so huge. I couldn't resist it. I didn't care what the symbol is about.. All I know is that I love it visually. I love Vietnam's flag and I love the t-shirt design. Unfortunately, the size was too big for me, so I dedicate this t-shirt to my boyfriend.. hehehehe.. I might borrow it sometimes :P
|VND 45,000, bought it at the night market.