Returned from Sapa on a very slow train which took 10 hours to cover about 340 km of distance. At first, we enjoyed watching the countryside go past but after a million rice paddies it was getting a bit boring. Hardly an inch of the countryside is out of site of a house or a village. We got back to Hanoi Station at 8.30 pm and had a very short night at our hotel – check out at 7.00 am on the next morning for a tour to Ha Long Bay.
We arrived at Ha Long (near the port of Haiphong) after an interesting 3 hour drive from Hanoi. We have found that the maximum manageable mass in Vietnam is determined by what can be carried on a motor cycle. On one, we saw six pigs and on another at least 150 chooks. (Pictures to prove it too!).
Our boat was a replica French Paddle Steamer. very comfortable and great food. We left port at 1.30 pm on Sunday and headed down the bay. Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO world heritage site and has over 5000 limestone islands. We were fascinated as we sailed between hundreds of islands for a few hours. Every one that we passed was different and the scene ever changing. This is certainly one of the highlights of our trip. On one larger island, we went ashore to visit a large cave system – very splendiferous. We anchored overnight, sleeping on the boat, and returned to Ha Long by 10.00 am on the next morning for a return to Hanoi.
When we returned to Hanoi we spent some time trying to find our friend Trudi, who had just arrived on another tour. Eventually we found that she was at a different hotel and we met up for dinner and swapped travel stories. She was well and truly able to outdo our experience by telling us that she had seen a water buffalo being carried on a motor cycle! (I bet that she doesn’t have a photo of it though).