On Thursday morning after a real breakfast at Hanoi Guesthouse -- eggs over-easy that actually tasted like eggs rather than than leather, we walked across the street to Handspan Travel where we met a group of 30-year-olds and our charming and knowledgeable guide for the 3-plus hour cloudy and sometimes rainy drive to Halong Bay.
We took a tender to the Treasure Junk, where we were assigned to our rooms -- ours was fine-- a standard room with big bed, two windows, and a bath. We've had a relaxing time on this two-night, 3-day cruise, although the weather has not been the best. Yesterday after an elaborate multi-course lunch that included hot and spicy soup, spring rolls, squid,and something that tasted like Swedish meatballs in broth, plus a fruit dessert, we had a kayaking lesson, and shortly after were launched onto kayaks, kent and me sharing. We had some trouble with ours as Kent couldn't get his long legs to connect with the rudder pedals, so we spent quite a bit of time trying to keep on course with paddle strokes. Nevertheless,we navigated in and out of a cave, and onto a sandy beach where we swam.
Dinner was from about 7 to 8:30, and by the time it was over we were both having trouble staying awake. Again there were multiple courses, and by the time the main poached fish with vegetables and rice came, we'd already eaten more than we really wanted. We went outside to look for the moon, but there were too many clouds and too many lights on the boat.
I think I was asleep by 9 p.m., and could have slept longer than six when I awoke to the sound of the anchor lifting, then ran up to see what the day had to bring. Rain!
I joined in half-hour tai chi class,held in the dining room because of the rain. Then after breakfast our small group of those staying two nights had another couple of hours of kayaking and swimming. The sun actually came out for a brief glorious time on the beach. This time I sat in the back of the kayak and we got the rudder working, so our kayaking was much smoother.
Halong Bay is a UNESCO world heritage site, and the sheer limestone rocks that rise out of the water are spectacular, even in rain and mist. We kayaked back to a second boat and lunch, and it immediately started to rain, sometimes very hard. I fell asleep on a bench after lunch, and we are now back in our room--no sun deck this afternoon--washing off the salt water, watching from our bed as we float through the amazing rock formations, and napping again....
Hoping for a bit of sun tomorrow, our last day.
Back in Hanoi. Sunday morning. We enjoyed our last evening on the boat and the morning excursion to the fishing village where we were rowed about by a boat woman and saw how they implanted the young oysters to make pearls. Then, after brunch, a long drive back to Hanoi in dense clouds. Back at Hanoi Guesthouse and another honeymoon suite, which however had its problems -- a balky door lock and impossible to figure out light switches (one was a remote control), and power outlets that didn't work so I couldn't change phone, camera, or iPad.
We ended up eating at the lovely, delicious, and economical New Day across the street again. I've discovered "bun" which I think of as Vietnamese Swedish meatballs, served with noodles or sometimes rice, and a light delicious broth. We also lucked out on an evening streetside show at the end of out block. It was crazy before the traffic was blocked off, with numerous pedestrians, motorcycles, vendors (including women in traditional hats carrying baskets of fruit and vegetables balanced on a long stick before and behind), and an occasional big taxi crowding through the totally congested street, to which was added a stage and a ring of plastic chairs at the intersection.
More clouds today, and cooler. I a back to skirt and leggings again,and we'll probably take our rain jackets when head out to explore Hanoi today.