Because it's been so long since my last blog I will try to put our Vietnam journey into two blogs. Since we are in Vietnam we got the feeling of being billionaires. Because of the beautiful sights we got to see, the great people we got to meet and the great experiences we had in this country. Oh, and the currency.
As I mentioned in my last blog our plan was to visit a little island near Halong Bay; Quan Lan. To get here was a slight challenge, because we try to do everything by public transport without any actual guidance.. But we handle it quite well if I may say. After some transfers to raging minibuses and a very short motorbike ride and another public bus we eventually found Cai Rong (Van Don). This is a small village near Halong city with its own harbor with limestone Karst Mountains rising out of the sea water. After a while we found a hotel that had a place for us to stay (which we never arrange beforehand, we surrender to the new place and see what we can find). What we didn't know about the place was that it was just located by the harbor, which meant we had the most breathtaking view in the morning. At 6am the harbor was already buzzing with life! Besides waking us on time, it gave us the chance to see the fishermen's way of life at the break of day, and let us enjoy the beautiful surroundings in the early morning sun. The water was so turquoise, and the mountains unbelievably green; legend has it that once there were dragons that moved in this area and by whipping its tail made the mountains this way: sporadic and peeking out of the water without any connection to each other. If the dragons necessarily did this to help protect the Vietnamese against attacks from the sea, the fisherman didn't really tell. This all, together with early morning eyes looking at the scenery, made the scene spectacular and one to never ever forget.
Later that day we went by slow boat to Quan Lan. We did this in style haha. We went by big, long, low boat, one usually used to transport only goods, but they take a handful of people with them to make some extra money. We were sitting on the deck in antique, wide wooden Chinese chairs. Enjoying the slight breeze, the first sunrays and letting the scenery sink in. True budget travel! Our trip to Quan Lan was planned to be during Tết holiday; Vietnamese New Year. During the actual New Year nobody was in our hotel so the owners took us under their wings; taking us to breakfast, lunch and dinner with the entire family. All Vietnamese style: on the ground, with all kinds of unknown foods in small bowls, rice and Italian (!) wine or rice wine. After dinner there is of course the endless karaoke. There was no escape, so Marcel and me ended up singing 'My heart will go on' by Celine Dion (the titanic song, haha). Peeps here in Vietnam take their karaoke very seriously, especially on this island. It was the first thing they did, when the power went on, and their songs had to be broken off by the power cut late at night. The best way to do karaoke is to sing as off tune as possible and as loud as possible. If the next village can't hear you, you are really screwing it up! Besides all, you have to know that these people almost didn't speak a word English, so all communication was through drawings, hand signs and passing the words on through some friends and family members hoping that one of them has the slightest idea what the word means. This went both ways, English- Vietnamese and Vietnamese- English. Taken all together, our stay on this island was a very special experience. The family we stayed with had the biggest hearts, sincerely kind and loving. We still often think of them J.
Next on our itinerary was Ba Be National Park, but were going to postpone that visit because of the bad weather in the north of Vietnam. Next stop now will be: Ninh Binh.
To be continued.
Love and Light always,
- BTW don't forget to check out Marcels blogs as well! -