We are in Hoi An currently, passing the time before we get on a sleeper bus to Nha Trang.
I last wrote from Hanoi, at which point we were becoming really frazzled by the motorbike madness of the city. Halong Bay did prove a quieter experience, although we were surrounded by tourists in a way we never expereienced in Laos.
Our first night in Halong Bay was spent on a junk at sea. The boat was pretty luxurious, considering the trip cost relatively little. We kayaked around some islands as the sung began to sink, and managed to sport a monkey climbing up the side of a steep rock outcrop. Matt ventured for a night swim off the boat. He tried convincing me the water was warm - but it was clearly a lie. It is winter here in Vietnam at the moment. The next day our boat took us to some amazing caves on another island. One of them was enormous inside, and local Halong Bay based Vietnamese people had moved into them to hide, and for protection during the 2nd World War.
After the caves we got a taste of beach life on Monkey Island. And yes, spied another monkey. Matt got quite friends with this one. I think they connected!
After an afternoon of lounging we went to Cat Ba Island, the largest island in Halong Bay, and the only one properly lived in. We spent the night here, before being taken for a slow cruise around the bay on the way back.
We had a few hours to kill in Hanoi befor getting on board a sleep train to Danang, to start our journey south along the vietnamese coastline. We spent it in a coffe shop there called Highland Coffee. A sort of Vietnamese Starbucks. Highly overpriced, but one of the few places you can get coffee that drips as opposed to 'slicks' and has real milk, as opposed to condensed milk - the favoured accompaniment to coffee here.
The night train was pretty 'functional. We had a cabin with 4 beds in. We ended up with a sound Canadian couple (another set!).
Danang is a real business city, full of convention cities, and not really somewhere to hang around. We moved on pretty quickly and came to Hoi An. Hoi An is a pretty town with lots of old Chinese and Japanese influenced architecture. It is also full of tailors, who will whip you up made to measure clothes overnight. If only we weren't living out of back packs, as you could fill a wardrobe with some beautiful clothes, for very little.