We kept up with the somewhat frenetic energy of Vietnam and managed to see a good chunk of the country in 3 weeks. In 21 days, we travelled from the Northern town of Sapa to the Southern tip of the Me Kong Delta, stopping to visit Halong Bay, Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) along the way.
After a night train returning from Sapa we were back in Hanoi for a quick stop before we headed for Halong Bay where we enjoyed a two day cruise.
Our Halong excursion was with V’Spirit and was an action packed, fun filled, great two days. During our time on board the V’Spirit, we had 4 outstanding meals, excursions to visit caves, beaches and mountain lookouts, kayaking, cooking classes, squid fishing, a Magic show and even a morning Tai Chi class.
Once back in Hanoi from Halong, we hopped on yet another night train and headed South for three days in Hue. Glad to have the three night trains behind us, we all loved our stay at the Romance Hotel that included a bathtub, which we had not seen since Canada. That’s 4 months without a tub…words can not express how good that felt.
On our second day in Hue we toured the city with our guide Sunny. The tour included the Imperial Citadel of Hue with the Purple Forbidden City, some of which had sustained a substantial amount of damage during the war and is under reconstruction.
After the market we stopped to see the Heavenly Lady Pagoda. One of the oldest religious structures in Hue dating back to 1601. Today, The Pagoda grounds are still used as an active Buddhist Monastery.
Our last stop took us to Tu Duc Tomb where the Emperor of the Imperial City built his own Tomb. On route to see Tu Duc Tomb, Sunny asked if we would like to listen to songs. Of course we all said sure, as a little music when you’re cruising down the road is always nice. But instead of fiddling with the drivers radio he turns to face us in the back seat and starts singing “I miss you like crazy” by Natalie Cole. A true fan of karaoke Sunny is and a pretty good singer as well. Gotta give him props…I could never do that.
The next day Sunny accompanied us on our drive over the scenic Hai Van Pass on route to Hoi An. Having his company was great, not only for his singing voice, but also because of his knowledge of the local area.
From Hoi An we took a flight to Ho Chi Minh. Unfortunately, Lydia and I were both sick for our visit to Ho Chi Minh so we stayed pretty close to our hotel. After a two night stay we drove down to our Homestay in the Me Kong Delta.
After our first bike and river tour, we made it to our home for the next three days, Le Jardin Homestay with Vinh and his family. We had our own villa at this homestay and a little doogie named Na that liked to hang out with us on the veranda. We were all very comfortable here and did not want to say good-bye.
Shortly after arriving at Vinhs we did a cooking class with the women of the house. Not sure what they are called in Vietnamese, but we made curry flavored crepes with shrimp, pork and bean sprouts. The women are preparing the veg and spices while Paul is “Churn’in up the Batter”.
For desert, the family surprised us with a birthday cake for Lydia. Still not sure how they pulled it off, as we only told them it was Lydia’s birthday when we were doing our cooking class. A nice Surprise indeed.
Even though the pace was quick, we had a great time in Vietnam and found the people very friendly. The fast pace of our tour however, left us poor, small town folk from Canada, feeling a little over stimulated so we decided to skip our planned visit to Cambodia. Paul and I have been before and the kids were ready for some beach time so we headed straight for an ocean front condo in Thailand. A little holiday from our holiday you might say.