Hanoi

IMG_4197From the moment we stepped out of our hotel, I was captivated by Hanoi. The people, the smells, the chaos of the traffic — it was so exotic and so much fun! Armed with an old school map (in lieu of our often unreliable GPS), we set off to explore. The names of the streets often changed from block to block but they were surprisingly well-marked. People were helpful and friendly when we did get turned around.

Venturing into the streets to cross or to circumvent sidewalks obstructed by erratic parking, food carts or the ubiquitous plastic chairs, required swift, tactical maneuvers to avoid the tangled mass of cars, rickshaws and a gazillion motorcycles. Honestly, I have never seen so many motorcycles! It’s said Hanoi has 8 million people and 6 million motorcycles!

Nick had always raved about the food here so first up on our “must-do” list was a street food tour. Honestly, every dish was better than the one before. Our guide told us that tourists love the food but young people are foregoing traditional dishes for western cuisine.

He also said that the local government is trying hard to preserve Vietnamese culture by designating and segregating tourist areas. “Outside the tourist area, it is more difficult for foreigners — less hotels, less people who can speak English.” It will be interesting to see if this goal is sustainable as their young people learn English and persist in their obsession with western culture.

Meanwhile, Hanoi is incredible. I liked everything about it.  Hanoi is absolutely one of our favorite travel destinations!

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Mai Chau, Vietnam

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The village of Mai Chau was exactly how I imagined Vietnam to look — rice paddies, stilt houses, etc. Frank and I took an overnight trip to the area, staying in a (somewhat) traditional bungalow.

Halong Bay

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I have a deep-seated aversion to cruises. It began right after I saw “The Poseidon Adventure” disaster movie when I was 12. And Frank has a mantra, “Never go to a party you can’t leave.”

But…
1. Halong Bay in Vietnam is considered one of the great natural wonders of the world; and
2. The optimal way to see it is on a 3 day/2 night cruise.

So, here we are on a Halong Bay Cruise. Travel is amazing in that it takes you outside your comfort zone. Fears and inclinations are set aside to make room for unimaginable experiences and fun, new friends. This cruise was one party we never wanted to leave!