Instead of sticking to the origanal plan of going to Laos, we decided to catch the bus back to Bangkok (12 hours over night) and flew to Hanoi in Vietnam.
When we arrived in Vietnam we were greeted by a man holding up our names at the airport. We were then driven to our guest house in the old quater in Hanoi, which is the backpackers area. When we arrived they were very friendly and cooked us a free breakfast. After we checked into our room and a fight had cleared from out on the street we headed out for a visit to the lake. The lake is the center of hanoi where evryone comes to relax if you can get the sound of a million motor bikes out of your head. It is very romantic with people selling balloons and flowers everywhere. We visited a temple on the lake then sat and had a couple of drinks watching everything. The next day we tried to go to the museums and other historical things but it was a monday so every was closed so we ended up exploring more of the city.
The next day we were picked up at 7 and headed off on a 4 hour mini bus ride from hell to Halong bay. We Chose to do a 3 days 2 night trip. once we got there we were stuffed around by several people that were supposed to be organisers but we finaly got onto our junk boat and headed out to the islands.
our 1st stop were these massive caves that we explored and listened into other tour groups that were being told about the history. Our guide was no where to be seen. We headed off on the boat again through the amazing limestone islands that came out of nowhere and were at least 100m high as we approached some fishing villages. We arrived and got off the boat onto a pontoon and had the chance to pay a local lady 100 000 dong ($5) to row us though a cave where we could have a swim. After the
swim we went out of the cave and went around there floating village. We were showen the local school which had 4 children that attended. We also saw alot of pontoons where they caught and Kept the fish untill they were big enough to sell. We went kyaking for about half an hour around a island and then set anchor for the night about 100m away from the jetty. Everyone on the boat had dinner and chilled out for a few hours on the roof top. The next day we got off the boat and were transported to our beachfront bungalow on Cat Ba island. Caitlin and I spent the whole day laying on the beach. After dinner we went and done a little exploring of the Island, it was very quiet so all the rest Hanoi.
We enjoyed our trip, but is was definately nothing like the package which was sold to us. We stayed another night in Hanoi at a backpackers, it was so good to have a decent shower and an amazing european meal. Hanoi is a very busy but awesome place, but you definatley have to watch out for people ripping you off.