Arrived safely in Hanoi (the capital) nice and early Thursday morning after our 12 hour sleeper bus (2 hours shorter than expected!). We both surprisingly managed to get about 5 hours of sleep in, despite the driver honking his horn every 5 minutes, Nat losing her eye mask and the couple at the back not shutting up for the whole journey.
Unfortunately it decided to rain on arrival to Hanoi so we found the cheapest cafe to chill in and luckily Ann our lovely host allowed us an early check in at 8am.
The weather wasn’t great all day but nice not to be boiling hot for once, so we walked 15,000 steps exploring the old town in Hanoi and up to see Ho Chi Minh’s corpse. We decided it wasn’t worth the £4 to get in and we would rather spend it on desert so went in search for something sweet, although this took a while as very few cafes in Hanoi.
We spent the day visiting travel agents and reading lots of tripadvisor reviews about the cruises in Hà Long Bay and trekking tours in Sapa which we want to do for our last 5 days in Vietnam. There are a lot of bad reviews out there so wanted to make sure we chose a decent company to book with as they aren’t that cheap. We eventually found one with mostly good reviews at a good price so Ann kindly booked it all for us.
The rest of the evening was spent enjoying pizza (something other than noodles/rice) and watching first dates on our old school TV.
We were up early the next morning for yet another bus journey (only 4 hours this time) to Bai Tu Bay (the less touristy options of the cruise tours).
We were very pleased with our choice as there are only 50 boat tours in Bai Tu bay compared to 500 in Hà Long bay, so we didn’t feel surrounded by tourists like everywhere else we’ve been. We had a lovely wooden boat, with lovely staff, delicious 5 course lunch and dinners and a lovely group to join us - 2 Spanish guys, a lady from Switzerland (who speaks 5 languages!!), a family from India that travel every month usually around India, a family from New Zealand with 3 young ginger kids, a lady and her aunt from South Africa and a married older couple from France who we shared a table with at mealtimes - unfortunately the husband spoke very little English so meals involved some help from google translate but was fun tying to remember the French we learnt at school!
We were also welcomed to a bigger room with a balcony and we hadn’t even told them it was our honeymoon!
Our first day was spent kayaking through the bay to the beach (luckily the rain held off and our go pro decided to work this time) and an evening of squid fishing (2 were caught by others but Nat tried her best to persuade them to put them back in the water) and of course monopoly.
We slept very well on the boat, our first quiet night in a long time!
We were up early (6.15am) for an hour of Thai chi on top deck which was fun followed by a lovely breakfast. We then got a smaller boat out to explore a cave with lots of stalagmites and a mini beach and back to our last 6 course lunch on the boat. Followed by yet another 4 hour bus journey home.
Spent the eve walking around a lovely lake in Hanoi and found a popular street with the locals which they close to motorbikes - lots of street performers which were very entertaining - watched these whilst passing time waiting for our 10pm sleeper train.