Monday, December 1st, 2003 – Day 286

Monday, December 1st, 2003 – Day 286

I was up at 6.45am and I checked out. I left my bags there to collect later. The Sinh Cafe bus collected me at 7.15am. It was a small group of 5 Japanese with no English and 2 Chinese tourists. The other companies charge less but you may have 50 people with you. No pretty.

It was a 3 hour journey to halong city where we had a free lunch. It was included and I ate for 5 people. The weather was bad. It was wet and misty and foggy but not raining. Still I was not impressed. We stopped twice in the sea. The first time we took a speed boat under some caves and into lagoons. We also called to two massive caves. We also stopped at a sea fish and crap farm. It is here where the Japs went mad.

Halong Bay, a natural wonder, is 3,000 islands of varying sizes in the Gulf of Tonkin, many housing spectacular limestone grottos. It has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The bay itself is a 4-hour drive from Hanoi among often almost unbearably bad roads, and usually includes at least one overnight stay. Given the logistics, the trip is best done via an agent or with a group. When you book a tour with an overnight stay, you’ll probably cruise on a junk for 4 to 6 hours along the bay, stopping to explore two grottos. You might pause for a swim as well. If you’re really pressed for time, the tourist cafes do a daily trip for US$24 per person, departing Hanoi at 7am and getting you back by midnight. But that’s really pushing it. Overnight trips can cost anywhere from US$16 to upward of US$150 for one overnight. It depends on whether you hire a bus or a private driver, where you stay, and what you eat. Sinh Cafe does a fine job on the low end, and Ann’s Tourist is a good choice for the higher end.

Back to the Japs. When they saw the Shrimp, the crabs etc. out came the wads of cash. It was like peer pressure. One guy wanted one and then they all wanted one. When one bought a shrimp, the rest wanted two each. The fisherman could not believe his eyes and they never bargained once. Whatever he asked for he got. They had no English or idea of money. They could not distinguish between the notes. The guide had to take the money from there wallets. They paid nealy 100 USD for fish food. Yeah, 100 USD.

A lady on the boat brought them in and chucked all the crabs and fish into a big pot. It was unusual to see. She cracked their noses (the crabs) and they were frailing away and it was a bit sad as they tried to climb out of a the pot of boiling water. The japs were in full swing at this stage nd were knocking back the beer. They must have been here on business as they were in their 50’s and 60’s.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Hanoi – Halong Bay – Caves. (01-12-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Hanoi – Halong Bay. (01-12-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Hanoi – Halong Bay. (01-12-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Hanoi – Halong Bay – Boats Selling Fruit etc. (01-12-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Hanoi – Halong Bay – Boats Selling Fruit etc. (01-12-2003)

Anyway we left shore at 12.45am this morning and we were back at 4.00pm. We were back in Hanoi by 7.00pm. We stopped once where the Japs brough boxes of Green bean cake. If one bought one box, the next guy purchased 2 boxes and so on. They were totally broke after the day.

Once I got back in, I checked out some more hotels and decided on one for 6 USD. Same price as Lotus but I get TV, hot ensuite shower etc. I got them to send a moto bike for my bags. I was in bed by 11.45pm ater geting a bite to eat. I also went on the NET.

I see an Irish tourist was saved by passers-by in Buenos Aires

An Irish tourist was rescued by passers-by as she was being punched and kicked by a bag thief in Buenos Aires, the Argentine capital. Melanie Pratt, a 32-year-old engineer, was attacked as she was taking photos in the Palermo neighbourhood of the city. She was saved by a young couple, and a personal trainer, who heard her cry for help. They caught the thief and held him until police arrived. Argentinean Ernesto Gomez, aged 27, was arrested. Ms Pratt had minor injuries to her knees and hip.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Hanoi – Halong Bay – The famous bridge in the old Quarter linking the land to the temple. Hoan Kiem is considered the center of the city. It is also known as the Lake of the Recovered Sword. In the mid-15th century, the gods gave emperor Le Thai To a magical sword to defeat Chinese invaders. (01-12-2003)