After we left Tokyo we were off for another backpacking adventure. Our first stop was Hanoi, Vietnam. Chris first went to Vietnam in 2009 and the entire time we were living in Japan he wanted to take me back. After a pretty terrifying (for me at least) "adventure" (that's what Chris likes to call these events) with our taxi driver, we arrived safely at our hotel room at 2am.
Apparently, in Vietnam a common scam is to take tourists from the airport to their friend's hotel, thinking they will get them to agree to stay there and help out their friend's business. I didn't know about this scam, so when our taxi stopped, I was opening the door to get out, but Chris said, "don't get out." I immediately started to panic. My amazing, map-reading husband knew this wasn't where we had reservations and was following the driver on the map. Then he was upset with us when we told him "no," and he dropped us at the end of a dark alley (remember its around 1:45am) telling us our hotel is "somewhere down there." When Chris said he wouldn't pay unless he took us to the hotel, the driver then said we couldn't have our bags. Chris paid the driver and we set off down the alley. By this time I knew we were going to die and I was sobbing. Not just little tears mind you, I was having a breakdown!! Somehow by the grace of God, we found our hotel. But, I did have Chris put the chair in front of the door our first night. That was our only crazy "adventure" in Hanoi and happy to say I didn't have any more breakdowns!
Hanoi was an amazing town... full of amazing sights and sounds (from the honking motorbikes). Here's a few common sights we would see while walking down the streets:
|I thought these hats were just a gimmick for tourist, but they actually wore them! They were everywhere! I love this lady's sweet smile!|
|And they carried these heavy baskets on their shoulders selling everything you can imagine: fruit, nuts, ducks, chicks... everything! I don't even want to know how heavy they are!|
|Birdcages. I loved these. I think the Vietnamese consider them good luck.|
|Sitting on the side walks on plastic chairs just eating and chatting with your friends.|
|And hacky-sack games. Here's Chris joining in on a game. :)|
Of course we spent time seeing Hanoi's most popular sights. We walked across the Red Bridge at Hoan Kiem Lake and saw the Ho Guom Tower.
We went to the famous "Water Puppet Show" where we sat in a theatre, but instead of a stage it was a pool filled with water. Puppets would appear and perform with the music. At the end the puppet-masters came out and showed us how the puppets worked. It was crazy!
|The grey building in the back is the mausoleum. It was huge!|
|Ho Chi Minh's house|
|A map of Hanoi Hilton|
We also had a great time trying some of Vietnam's most well-known dishes: Pho (a famous noodle dish) and Vietnamese Ice Coffee which was amazing! It was coffee made with sweetened condensed milk. Yum! I think I averaged three a day! :)
|The famous noodle dish, Pho|
|Chris sampling all the delicious dishes and an amazing "food court."|
|Cafe sua da (coffee with sweetened condensed milk)|
|Our breath-taking view|
|After one of our kayaking adventures!|
|Our junket for three days!|
|Some more of the amazing scenery|
|Our room on the junket|
|Our water taxis|
|Chris trying to row the water taxi... with no luck. :)|
|Heading to the village|
|A view of the village, water taxis and our junket in the back.|
On our final night they fed us dinner in a cave. It was quite fancy and delicious! They even insisted that we sit by the rose shaped heart because it was our anniversary!
|This junket was carved entirely out of fruit!|
After spending time in Hanoi and Halong Bay we headed south to Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon). Of course we spent time enjoying the sights. I'll keep it brief since this blog is starting to get long.
|Saigon's Post Office. It was designed by Gustave Eiffel in the early 20th century and it is still a functioning post office. We mailed a letter to Chris' mom!|
|Inside the post office|
|I don't know if this street is famous, but I just loved the cheery and bright yellow flowers!|
|The Reunification Palace|
|Enjoying a roof top snack.|
|And more motorbikes... a lot more!!|
|This is a super common sight... families on the motorbikes carrying children. Notice the helmets are on the adults, not the kids. :(|
|We traveled along a floating market.|
|So you knew what boat sold what item, they would display it on a long stick above the boat.|
|Homes along the floating market|
|I just love that we were able to watch this man fish!|
|I love the green grass and of course, her hat!|
|Our lunch! Check out that fish! But it was tasty!!|
|And while you waited for your food, you could hold the huge snake!|
|I know this one, it's a Jack Fruit|
|And these are my favorites, Star Fruit|
|A view of our hotel from the outside|
|Our room for the night! Oh, and that's not wallpaper, it was sponge painted to match the net!|
|A family posing with the nativity scene!|
|Talking to some of the children at the program. I love her sweet smile even though she didn't understand a word I was saying!|
Congratulations! You made it to the end!! I will try my hardest not to make the second half of our trip this long, promise!!