Travel Theme: RED in Vietnam

Huc Bridge Over Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi is a vibrant city full of chaotic traffic and sights and sounds buzzing. The color red is prominent in so many places in this city. Peace surrounds the Hoan Kiem Lake where you can cross this gorgeous red bridge to visit the Temple of the Jade Mountain on an island.

Red Shutters at a Temple in Hanoi

Max at the Temple of Confucius in Hanoi, Vietnam

The Temple of Confucius also was a respite from the noise and bustle of the city. The amazing temples and gardens were a temporary haven in the middle of the exciting city.

Water Puppet Show in Hanoi

I loved the water puppet shows where the puppeteers stand in the water behind the backdrop. They move the puppets through the water on long poles.

Hanoi and Ha Long Bay for Spring Break!

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The Andrew family had a fantastic Spring Break in Vietnam!  The country was nothing like I expected, but it was spectacular! Vietnam was very different from other countries here in South East Asia.  I guess I pictured it to be like Thailand or Cambodia- it wasn’t! The pace is fast, but the people were very welcoming!  The architecture is very surprising because it is very European compared to surrounding countries here. 

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We arrived in Hanoi, met up with our friend, Tammy and began shopping and sight seeing.  We saw Ho Chi Minh’s house, mausoleum, and museum.  For the first time we experienced a water puppet show where the puppeteers stand in the water behind screens and maneuver the puppets on long poles and strings.  The puppets splash and glide through the water.  Very cool!  We visited museums and temples and had massages.  Shopping was amazing too.  Every item has its own block or blocks.  There are streets that have vendors selling only shoes or bags.  There was even a baseball cap street and a Buddha stature street.  It was a strange way to shop, but we had no trouble spending money!  Hanoi is very cheap compared to KL!

 

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The traffic was insane there!  You had to just step into the street and not look.  All of the cars, buses and motorcycles just went around you!  Terrifying at first, but we got used to it quickly!  WE were almost hit when we tried to go around the cycles… You learn quickly to not look and just keep moving! 

 

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We headed down to the coast to Ha Long Bay, a World Heritage Site, for my favorite part of the journey.  Breathtaking!  We thought it was cold there since it is always so hot in KL, but we had so much fun!  We started out by taking junks boats around the limestone islands for two days and sleeping on Cat Ba Island, one of the bigger islands out of the 2,000 in the bay. There were three beaches on Cat Ba that you had to access by walking along a “Cliff Walk.” Each cliff walk was a boardwalk suspended from the cliff going around the limestone rocks for about 1-2 Kilometers until they ended up at these amazing beaches! During the days, we took junk boats around to venues where we kayaked around the islands, went into amazing caves, mountain biked and hiked.   We only saw two Langurs, small monkeys from this area, from afar.  Every time we went to Monkey Island, which they inhabit, they were far up in the jungle. 

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On our final days on Ha Long Bay, we spent the night on a Junk boat.  We had been friendly with the group we were traveling with and our friend Tammy was with us from KL.  We ate dinner and stayed up late talking and playing cards.  We had small berths down below with private bathrooms.  When the sun set and all of the boats had their lights on it was an amazing sight!  It was so peaceful to watch the twinkling lights and hear the water lapping at the side of the boat.  We were sad to head back to Hanoi, but more shopping was calling us!

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I would recommend this trip to anyone. We booked a small hotel in the Old Quarter, which was fun and cheap, but nice and clean!  We booked the trip to Ha Long Bay when we arrived in Hanoi through Kangaroo Café and we had no trouble getting the days we wanted and a good price!  Note- we left for Ha Long Bay on a Monday morning because we discovered that most museums and tourist places are closed on Mondays!